Friday, June 11, 2004

Mr. Kreskin Strikes Again

Mrs. A and Mrs C, our librarians, were both out all day at a meeting leaving me and Mrs. B in charge.

Around 4 p.m, Mrs. B asked me if Mr. Kreskin, the semi-psychic president of our library's board of directors had called.

"Nope," I said, "but I'm expecting a call from him any second now."

Mrs. B slid a piece of paper across the desk to me. "Well, if he calls, we're supposed to give him this phone number."

Not if. When.

As chronicled here a couple of times in the past, the only, and I stress ONLY, time I ever hear anything from Mr. Kreskin is when both Mrs. A and Mrs. C are out of town. I know it sounds fanciful and exaggerated for me to make this claim, but I assure you: He DOES NOT CALL unless the two people he is in a FOAM to talk to are NOT there. That's the formula and its more reliable than Old Faithful. And let me also stress that I don't mean to make fun of the man, even though I'm about to do it anyway. He's genuinely a nice person; he's just a pain in the ass to have to deal with when he gets his panties in a wad. And with all the activity and drama he's involved with in the effort to raise funds to build a big new library building for us, his panties are perpetually wadded.

At around 4:30 p.m. the phone rang, I answered it and was hardly surprised to find Mr. Kreskin on the line in an absolute panic.

"Is Mrs. A there?" Mr. Kreskin asked.

"Nope. Sorry, she's not."

"What about Mrs. C?"

"No, I'm afraid she's gone too," I said.

"Well, where did they go?"

"They're both at a meeting in TOWN-Y."

I could tell he was already royally pissed about this. See, before he retired, Mr. Kreskin used to be a big wig in the business world and he's somehow still accustomed to having people he wants to speak with instantly be at whatever number he calls, at all hours, ready to do his bidding. Snap snap, chop chop. And when he does eventually reach the people who are to do his bidding he is unsatisfied that his bidding has actually been done until he's checked behind them in triplicate.

"Did they send that FAX for me this morning?" Mr. Kreskin asked.

"I'm not sure, sir," I said. "I've only been here since one."

"Well, I need to know what was on that FAX, right now! They were supposed to send it to GROVER CLEVELAND and JAMES FENIMORE COOPER. What was on the FAX?"

"Um. Well, sir, I'm sure that they sent it, but I wasn't here so I don't know anything about it for sure," I said. Then I spied the piece of paper Mrs. B had passed me earlier and noted that the name on it was none other than GROVER CLEVELAND.

"Oh, sir. I do actually have a message for you here. Mrs. A said we're supposed to give you the phone number for Mr. CLEVELAND..."

"No, I don't want THAT right now! I have to know what I said in the FAX to JAMES FENIMORE COOPER."

I should mention, Mr. Kreskin has no grasp of modern technology. I think his hold on all things "hi-tech" let go sometime around 1987. So while he knows that such things as FAX machines, the internet and e-mail exist, he can't distinguish between them with any degree of reliability and thus hates them all. For all I knew, he could have been talking about an e-mail he had them send for him.

"Um. Well, like I said, sir, there doesn't seem to be any FAXes here for JAMES FENIMORE COOPER."

"It has to be there somewhere!" Mr. Kreskin said, anger rising in his voice. "They were supposed to send it this morning."

I quickly leafed through the considerable stack of papers on the circulation desk. Off to one side was a set of papers that looked like they might have been sent as a FAX. However, they were addressed to our librarian Mrs. A and not JAMES FENIMORE COOPER. One of the FAX cover-sheet pages did mention GROVER CLEVELAND, again, but not COOPER. I put Mr. Kreskin on hold while I searched through these for him, but still came up dry on any COOPER related material. Mrs. B also knew nothing about it, and she had been there all morning.

I was getting more frustrated by the whole matter. I knew Mr. Kreskin was going to be pissed, not at me but at Mrs. A and Mrs. C who he would somehow blame not only for not being there when he was calling for them in the first place but also for not keeping their staff appraised on his every potential whim so that we'd be prepared to answer all of his questions.

This is hardly the first time we've been through a situation like this with Mr. Kreskin. He once made Mrs. B call a conference center, where Mrs. A and Mrs. C were attending a "liberry" association meeting, so she could ask them what our tax ID number was. From what I understand, Mr. Kreskin has no real business having it in the first place and it was precisely the sort of information that could have and should have waited til the librarians returned home, but that's not how Mr. Kreskin's mind works. Once he gets it in his bonnet that he HAS to know something, whether he actually does HAVE to know it or not, he will not rest until he KNOWS it and he becomes progressively angrier the longer he doesn't. Once he finds out what he wants to know, he usually apologizes to everyone whose fingers he stepped on in the process of getting it, but that's of no consequence while your fingers are being stepped on.

"I'm sorry, sir," I said coming back to the phone. "But I STILL don't have any FAXes here for JAMES FENIMORE COOPER."

"Listen," Mr. Kreskin said, as though talking to a child. "You go over to the FAX machine and pull out the drawer. There's got to be a copy in there."

"The drawer?"

"Sure. There's a drawer... It has to keep copies of what it sends, right?"

"Uh... No, sir. It doesn't."


"No," I said. "That's not how our FAX machine works, sir. There's no drawer."

"Well. With the state of modern technology these days, I'm very disappointed. It should be able to do that."

Mr. Kreskin hemmed and hawed a bit more and told me to try and call Mrs. A and Mrs. C on the "liberry" cell phone, which I readily agreed to do. I assured him that I would continue to look for his FAX and he said he would call back in half an hour to see what I'd found.

I called the library cell phone and left a message for Mrs. A pleading for help. Then went to the filing cabinet and began rifling through it. I'd never had to do this before, but I'd heard a rumor that Mrs. A kept a file of all of Mr. Kreskin's letters for just this sort of situation. Sure enough, with only a little digging, I came up with an enormous file labeled KRESKIN CORRESPONDENCE. It was full of what looked like old letters, FAXes and e-mails. (Mr. Kreskin get's royally pissed if you don't keep a hard copy of any e-mails, even though he never sends any himself. He can't stand the idea of storing anything electronically.) There at the top of the file, bright and fresh with today's date on it was a stapled series of FAXes. Turns out, it was the VERY same FAX addressed to Mrs. A that I'd had on the desk, only these had additional cover sheets attached with a note in from Mr. Kreskin, in Mrs. C's handwriting, to the recipients, including GROVER CLEVELAND and JAMES FENIMORE COOPER. Eureka!

From the note itself, I couldn't see why Mr. Kreskin was so desperate to know what it said. It was the standard, "Hey, look these over, I'm available if you have any questions," kind of note. And now that I had a chance to look at the FAX itself, it too was pretty damned low-priority. It wasn't like this was a ransom note that had to be paid today. It was something that didn't matter a hill of beans if it got dealt with now or in a week.

I called Mr. Kreskin back, but got his answering machine.  So I left the contents of the cover-sheet on Mr. Kreskin's answering machine, knowing this would be futile because he never EVER checks messages. He didn't. At around 5:30, he gave me a call and we sorted out the FAX matter over the phone.  Get this, though... Mr. Kreskin didn't even really want what to know what his note on the cover sheet said in the first place. He only wanted to confirm that BOTH pages of the FAX itself had been sent. AND he already had a copy of the document there at his house just to confirm the wording on both pages to make sure they'd both been sent. Once again, checking behind us in triplicate.

To Mr. Kreskin's credit, he did apologize for stepping on my fingers in all this and said I was a good man for locating what he needed. He knew it probably wasn't easy. He also decided that I'd probably better give him GROVER CLEVELAND's phone number from the note after all.

Mrs. A and Mrs. C arrived from their meeting shortly after this. They were astonished and angry at what Mr. Kreskin had done, particularly since they had already twice gone over with him all of the specifics that he was calling to confirm, not to mention had told him that they would be out at a meeting all afternoon. Mrs. A also confirmed that the FAX was nothing earth-shattering that such a stink needed to be raised over. They were very happy with how I'd handled it, though.

My guess is, the board of directors will soon be approving funds to buy us a new FAX machine. One with a drawer that keeps hard copies.

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An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.