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.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Revenge of the Seefiles!

Around 5 yesterday, a girl came in the library who I didn't think I would likely ever see again.  Her name is Caroline and she's the daughter of one of our formerly regular patrons, whose first name I can never remember but we sang in the local chorale together so we're friendly if not entirely acquainted. 
 
The reason I thought I'd never see Caroline again, nor her mom for that matter, is that a few months back I'd heard from Mrs. C that they'd both moved to Maine.  Seemed an unfortunate thing to do, considering they still had two of our books checked out.  We'd even gone so far as to add them to the short list of 2004 Seefiles for their treachery.  Not only were they in the Seefile, but they had also made it onto my Blocked Patron List of Death, which we keep by the desk to remind us of certain patrons who are NOT to be granted new cards. 
 
I pulled their Seefile records to see what they had out.  Turned out to be a couple of young adult books, but one of them was a $20 hardback of the Amber Spyglass, the third book in Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.  We don't own another copy and haven't replaced that one.
 
Hmm, Mom's name is Margaret, I thought while examining the records further.  Margaret Robe.  Go figure.  Also on the Seefile slip itself was the notation that they'd moved to Maine.  Glad to know I'd remembered that correctly.
 
Caroline's mom was no where in sight, so I figured the girl was waiting to be picked up.  Mostly she stayed in the children's room, occasionally coming up to the desk to ask if I'd read the Andre Norton book she'd picked out.  She also asked me what the first book in the His Dark Materials series was. 
 
Ah ha!  Looking to take them ALL are you?
 
I pondered to myself what I should do.  I've always liked their family, even if I don't think enough about them to learn all their first names, and I wasn't itching to smack down the gavel of "liberry" justice on them.  For all I knew the books were still in Maine.  I decided to get my ducks in a row before saying anything about the books.  I rechecked the computer to make sure they were still checked out.  Not only were they out, but they weren't even listed as being owned.  This meant Mrs. C had removed them during the great purge. 
 
At nearly 15 til close, Caroline came to the desk and asked me to hold a book for her.  I said I would then asked, "You're Caroline, right?"  I wanted to make completely sure I had the right girl here.  She said she was, so I went ahead and asked about the overdues.  She didn't recognize either of them as books she'd checked out, which I thought was odd as she'd just asked me about another Pullman book earlier.  She said her friend Amy had checked that one out.  Obviously, she'd checked it out on Caroline's card. 
 
"Well, how bout ask your friend to have a look around for it.  We just got a new library card system and we can't give you a new card until we clear this up."
 
Caroline went outside to wait for her mom.  Mom turned up shortly and Caroline must have showed her the Seefile photocopy, cause they both came inside.  Mom--or Margaret, I should say--said she had never heard of the book on her card.  She wasn't mad, but definitely didn't remember it.  I told her that there was always the possibility we'd made a mistake somehow and that she might need to take it up with Mrs. A. 
 
"Well, we need to get it done soon, I guess, or we can't have cards," Margaret said.  "Can I borrow your phone?"
 
I let her use the phone to call Caroline's friend Amy.  Margaret left a message on the answering machine about it, saying that they needed to get the book back as soon as possible or they wouldn't be able to get library cards.  The funny thing was, Margaret left her name with the message, but she said it was Stephanie. 
 
Er.  Very odd, I thought.  The inconsistency was explained shortly, though, when "Stephanie" asked if she could go ahead and get cards for herself and her husband and that the could take care of the rest later.  She said this, gesturing toward the photocopy. 
 
Oh, so Margaret is probably another daughter.  I see.  I get it.
 
"Hey, why does this thing say `Moved to Maine'?" Stephanie asked.
 
I blinked at her in confusion for a few seconds.  "You didn't move to Maine?"
 
"No."
 
"You didn't move anywhere?"
 
"No.  We still live here."
 
"Huh," I said.  Now I was really confused, because Mrs. C DID say they'd moved to Maine and she's almost always on the money with area rumors.  Hell, we were the library!  If any place beyond the hair salons and barbershops is gossip central, it's the library.  "That's really weird.  I could have sworn I heard you'd moved to Maine."
 
They laughed and Stephanie started filling out her application while I waited and tried to think of something to say that would make me look like less of a dumbass. 
 
"Yeah...  I was all prepped to ask you how Maine was, but I guess that's out now."
 
"Well, I hear it's great this time of year," Stephanie said. 

Caroline suddenly grabbed at the photocopy.
 
"Wait a second!  This isn't me!" she said, pointing at her own name.  "This says Caroline and Margaret Robe."
 
"Yeah," I said.
 
Stephanie gave me a perplexed grin.  "But we're Caroline and Stephanie Turner."
 
A long time seemed to pass as I processed this.  Slowly, it dawned on me: I'm a damned moron.  Their name IS Turner!  They're not the Robes at all.  I knew that--or, I should have known that.  I used to know that.  Whatever!  The Turner's didn't have any of our books after all.  It was all just a series of coincidences and errors compounded further by my being a dumbass.
 
"Oh....  Oh, wow," I said.  "I feel really really stupid."
 
No one even politely attempted to disagree with me. 
 
I made cards for the whole Turner family while Stephanie borrowed the phone again to call Amy and her parents and tell them it was all a false alarm. I made no fewer than 5 mistakes typing all their information in, including spelling their last name wrong.  I apologized for the hassle and the false accusations and they said it was okay, but I know secretly they were thinking, "What a tard!"  And rightfully so.
 
As embarrassing as that is, I figured I'd share it here anyway.  After all, I spend most of my blogging time ridiculing patrons, so it's only fitting that they get some revenge now and then.

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