Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Killing Mickey

Since my grandma has been staying with my aunt and uncle across the street, her house has taken on quite a few new mousy residents. I can't really blame them, as November in Missouri is generally chilly and disagreeable, but at the same time we don't really want to share space with mice.

It wasn't until the morning after we arrived that we discovered the little varmints. The wife had stepped into my grandma's pantry to look for something breakfasty and discovered two of the mice brazenly sitting on the pantry shelves, munching on dry spaghetti. They really didn't seem to care that she was there until she made a move to whack them, at which point they dropped their pasta and scurried down the water-pipes and power cord that connected to the water heater, then disappeared into a hole in the wall.

A similar incident had happened during last year's Thanksgiving holiday and then, as now, I was the guy who had to find Grandma's bag of mouse traps, bait them, lay them out in high mouse-traffic areas, and then haul away the mousey corpses afterward. We had good success baiting them with peanut butter last year, so that's what I used this year. Unlike cheese, which some mice are able to abscond with, the mice have to stick around to lick the peanut butter off the trap release and *SNAP* it's all over. Unfortunately, not every mouse is a fan of peanut butter. (Heathens!) On more than one occasion this year, we spied a mouse walk right up to the trap, take a good whiff of peanut butter then walk around the trap and continue on his mousey way.

Over the course of the weekend we tried various baits to varrying effect. My Uncle Jerry baited several traps with raw bacon, which was a bit more successful than the peanut butter. That is, until we ran through our carnivorous mice supply and were stuck with the vegetarian mice. Must have had a few vegan mice too, cause our cheese-baited traps went untouched as well.

We probably should have stuck with the raw spaghetti. The ones in the pantry seemed to like it well enough. In fact, when the wife returned to the pantry to check the traps she found them empty of dead mice, but could hear the distinctive sound of mice teeth-a-munching coming from the shelves again. I came in to help her and we removed can after can from the shelf, searching for the sneaky mouse. We finally narrowed the sound down a bit and figured he was hiding behind a glass pitcher that was filled with open packages of raw spaghetti. Except when we removed the pitcher from the shelf only mouse droppings remained. Then, the noise continued and we realized it was coming from within the pitcher. Sure enough, down in the bottom of the pitcher, inside the spaghetti packet itself, was the mouse. He didn't seem to mind that his dinner area was being held aloft at all. He just kept right on munching.

I stuffed a towel in the top of the pitcher and carried it out the back door and walked nearly the entire way across the huge field behind Grandma's house. Then, I dumped the contents out onto the ground and shook the mouse out of the spaghetti package. He immediately sprang toward me, then disappeared altogether. I was afraid he might be on me somewhere, but then saw him bouncing toward some taller grass. I flicked the towel in his direction until he began bouncing again, headed away from the direction of Grandma's house.

The other mice weren't too concerned about being seen either. Aunt Crystal reported that one ran across her bed, nearly causing her to flee to a hotel. And the wife and I watched another tiny little mouse for about ten minutes as it openly walked through the living room, sniffing the traps and washing its fur. Sure, if we spoke to it or moved at all it would zip under a couch, but it always returned. Sometimes it would even walk within stomping distance of me as I stood and watched it, but I just couldn't bring myself to squash it--not that I'm fast enough to have succeeded even if I'd tried.

My dad said that what mice really want is to be housepets. They'd like nothing better than to get the same treatment as a dog or cat, with free food and a warm place to sleep. From the ones we saw, I'd say that's probably true.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Hi, I'm Kentucky...

Same. `Cept at least our state is nice and green and clean.

Hi, I'm Missouri...

I don't care if my interstate highway system has gigantic potholes in it. Just drive around `em if you can.

Da Trip Home

We did the trip home all at once. All 11 hours of it.

I would just like to state for the record that while the Western Kentucky Parkway has a McDonald's that sells super-sized drinks at the western-most end of it, it has a criminal lack of public restrooms available between there and the eastern-most end of it.

About half an hour after we left said McDonald's, I realized I was going to have some serious bladder issues and began looking for exits. The first one we came to had two service stations. Both of them were not only closed, but were out of business, abandoned and had locked restrooms. The only other option at that exit was a greasy-spoon restaurant that I didn't relish having to use, so I drove on.

This was a mistake.

After another fifteen minutes without a single exit I was becoming crazed from urine poisoning. And while Kentucky may be nice, clean, and green, they could use some help repairing the gaping, bladder-jarring potholes in their parkway system. Then we saw a sign indicating the next port of call was over 28 miles down the line. Sure, there might be an exit or two between me and there, but I wasn't going to risk a rupture to find out. I'm a charter member of the Manly Bladder Club and all, but even the manliest bladder can only take so much and I'd drank two 20 oz cups of a mild diuretic.

I therefore opted to use my super-sized drink cup in a manner for which it had not been intended. This was tricky to do while driving at 75 mph, to say the least, and involved the use of cruise-control and my wife steering while I concentrated on other matters. It was also only a stop-gap measure, though, due in large part to the laws of fluid dynamics with a kinked hose, not to mention the limited volume of the cup itself, so even after two such sessions I was unable to finish. Sure, the pressure was not as great, but there was plenty more fluid on its way to fill the void.

The fifteen minute period that followed brought me nigh unto madness. Between the potholes and the sounds of sloshing from my 20 oz. Tidy-Bowl and the continued desperate search for an exit with facilities I was nearly certifiable.

"Ohhh it hurrrrts," I said.

The only thing that kept me going was the notion that I might spy a Kentucky highway planning commissioner standing beside the road at whom I could lob my urine grenade. Alas, none appeared.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, we found an exit with a service station where I could divest myself of my piss-filled cup and my remaining piss. I have to say that the guy who stepped out of the one-toilet men's restroom just as I reached it is a far luckier man than he will ever know.

Smacked down by The Man

Just got back and saw the automatic censorship that the public library in my grandma's town inflicted upon the post I made from there. I had no idea such a thing was even possible. Our own blocking software does not make it a point to go in and remove words from blog posts or, presumably, e-mail, as they're being posted. That's bad craziness.

I mean, I can understand the blocking of my blog as I did recently drop a P-bomb here in the process of telling a story. I'm even pretty liberal in my usage of the word "shit." But to edit the word "auction" and all subsequent references to it from a blog post seems more than a little draconian to me.

Maybe I just don't see the big picture, though. Maybe someone out there can explain to me how accessing or even mentioning auction websites is such a detriment to society that library computers have to prevent it. Maybe someone can explain just why auction sites are a bad thing to be able to access from a public library? I mean, that particular library gives you an hour on the computers anyway. So if I want to spend that hour looking for TARDIS Cookie Jars on ebay, what's the big deal?

My guess is that this is just an extension of the logic that library's "librarians" use in keeping sex and cursing out of the library. But again, maybe there's a good reason why my freedom of speech was violated?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

And no drinkin', either!

I'm posting from the public library in the small Missouri bootheal town my grandmother lives in.

The last time I visited this library was two years ago. I was on a quest to find Diana Gabaldon books for my grandmother. Grandma, you see, is a life-long romance novel devourer. She’s not a huge fan of trashy ones, but has been known to leaf through a few. Mostly, she likes a good story with good characters and Gabaldon has that in spades. So I popped by this branch to get some for her. Only, they didn’t have any. When I asked about them, the “librarian” told me that she might think about acquiring them but that their library did not buy or accept books that contained cursing or . I wanted to point out that they had nearly an entire room devoted to romance novels, which as a standard feature usually contain some degree of .

[NOTE: The bolded text above was censored by that library's blocking software. It removed the word "sex" from the end of the next to last sentence and from the end of the last sentence --juice 11/30/04]

I asked my grandmother what was up with that attitude and she informed me that the ladies who ran this particular library were librarians in name only, having no MLS degrees and having inherited their positions there after the previous degreed librarian died. Now, as a guy who works in a library who does not have an MLS degree of my own, I’m not knocking librarians without such degrees. (Hell, I’d say only about a third of the librarians in my state have degrees.) However, the rigors of MLS education do tend to instill some pretty strong ideas on the evils of censorship that I think these ladies might benefit from.

Another funny thing about this place is that I can't actually access my blog from their public access computers. It's blocked. I can access the dashboard and even edit and post entries, but I can't read them afterward. This place gives patrons a full hour on the computers, but has rules against or computer . It also has ebay and just about any site with " " in the title blocked, except for Amazon , which I can access. Funny funny stuff.

[NOTE: The bolded text above was censored by that library's blocking software. It removed the words "chatting" and "games" from the first sentence and removed the words "auction" and "auctions" from the second. Again, funny funny stuff --juice 11/29/04]

Thanksgiving went very well. We had it on Friday because not everyone could be here on Thursday. That's pretty usual for my family, though. I'm happy to report there were no major religious arguments, no major fights, but plenty of great food and fellowship with my people. And my cousin Cameron and his wife Jennifer brought their 7- month-old son Connor, who is the cutest sweetest baby I've ever seen. It even surpasses Mrs. Asner's kid, who until now was the Cutest Baby in All The World. He's just bright and smiley and good-natured and perfect. Hasn't cried a whit yet, though he did have a great deal of difficulty going to sleep with all the activity going on. I kept telling the wife, "We need to have one just like this! Can't we just ask the doctor for a good baby like him?" And my parents, upon spying me holding the tyke, came up and told me that a baby looked good on me. Subtle, they are.

The bad news is that I seem to have developed an annual trend for grandmothers whose health suddenly goes south around Thanksgiving. My grandma here broke some ribs a few months back and has been living with my aunt and uncle across the street. We're not sure if she's had some mini-strokes or if something else is going on, but her memory is going wonky on her and she's slowly losing the ability to talk. She's had some issues with that for the past few years, actually, but having a conversation with her now is kind of difficult as she seems to be forgetting common words that she wants to use. It's very frustrating for her. She also can't get around well without a walker. We're not entirely certain, but most of us think that the chances she can go back and live on her own in her house across the street are sort of slim. Maybe we're wrong, though. I hope so.

So we said goodbye to a couple of aunts and uncles and my parents and sister this morning. We'll be here until tomorrow when we begin our long trek back home.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Turkey Calling

I’m taking a few days off from work so that the wife and I can head out for Turkey Day festivities. This year we’re not doing the huge multi-state Thanksgiving Tour that we did last year. We’re still going through multiple states but only as we trek our way to Missouri and back, which is mostly just Kentucky.

We’re going to do the journey in legs this year, as it’s around an 11 hour trip and a miserable one at that. Every time we do it in one leg we swear that next time we’ll do it in two and we always forget and always regret it. This time I remembered and suggested we stop off mid-way. That way, we won’t be rushed, we can catch dinner and a movie and have some nice vacation down time before the chaos of Thanksgiving ensues.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m looking forward to it, as I’ve not seen any of my Missouri relatives since this time last year. There are new babies to see and new stories to hear and tell. (Not to mention lots of tasty carb-laden food to chow on.) I’ve also not seen my parents since last January and they’re coming up Thursday with my sister in tow.

While I’m there, I’m going to try and pop in the local library and maybe drop off an update or two. The last time I visited that particular branch it proved just as crazy as my own. That time, however, the crazy was happening on the staff side of the desk.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Mr. Not So Stanky

When I pulled into the parking lot Friday afternoon, I spied something I wished I hadn't: Mr. Stanky's Stankmobile.

Mother pussbucket!! That meant he was inside, stinking up the joint, about to ruin my lunch! And I'd brought a slice of my wife's ham & cheese quiche!!

However, as I walked in the door, I wasn't immediately pummelled to the floor and gobbed in the face by the stench. In fact, I couldn't smell it at all. Had I been wrong?


As I reached the computer hall in preparation on going upstairs to clock in, I saw Mr. Stanky himself, seated at the little computer by the stairs wearing his usual filthy cut-off denim shorts and a multi-stained brownish T-shirt. Still I didn't smell him, and I was mere inches away from him.

That's when I noticed that his hair—which usually resembles a half-dead, 17-year-old, salt & pepper colored Schitsu that's badly in need of a grooming—was trimmed neat and short. Could it be? Could our dreams and prayers have been realized? Had someone finally forced him to bathe and get a haircut? Glory be!!

"Is it just me or does Mr. Stanky not stank so much?" I whispered to Mrs. A once I was safely in her office.

"No, he smells much better today," she said. "We noticed that too. And his hair is shorter."

After Mr. Stanky left, Mrs. A came down and carpet bombed the area with Febreeze Air Essentials, just to be safe. I wish she hadn't done that. I know I've sung the praises of Air Essentials here before, but I can no longer sing that tune. Oh, it's still a great product, but I'm afraid Mr. Stanky has utterly ruined it for me by searing into my sense memory the unholy coupling of his stench and the Air Essentials "Fresh" scent. Any amount of it sprayed just brings that memory flooding back and I am instantly sickened. That will no doubt be his ultimate legacy.

The story continues, though.

Today I'm in for a rare Sunday shift. At around 1:30, the door opened and a tall girthful man wearing a suit and tie walked through it. By the time he reached the desk to ask if he could use a computer I was able to do the visual math and realize that this well-dressed person was none other than Mr. Stanky himself. He's still not nearly as stinky as he has been at his worst, but he's well on his way back toward that goal. Unfortunately, I didn't have a computer readily available, as Sunday Bob—a fairly new regular patron who only comes in on Sunday mornings and who often, though not today, has a violently stinky poo beforehand which he refuses to dilute with air-freshener—still had two minutes. So I had time to examine him as he clopped around the front room like Frankenstein after a year-long rancid custard bender.

The well-dressedness was only a surface impression due to his wearing a suit and tie. The charcoal gray suit coat itself was frayed and wrinkled. The black pants were equally unironed. However, his blue shirt and blue and red angle-striped tie seemed fairly stain-free.

I sure hope that suit isn't yet soaked through with his usual air, because the only computer we had for him was one of the ones with a cloth-covered chair.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Good Omens `04

No worries about material for the coming year.

Outside the door to our tiny little non-sound-proofed under the stairs cubbyhole public restroom is a tall white “privacy” screen extending from the edge of the stairwell wall out to around three feet from it. We keep it there to provide the illusion that the restroom door/sink/water-fountain area is actually separate from the rest of the computer hall/reference room area. This is, of course, not really the case, but we do it anyway because it amuses us.

When I came in yesterday, the screen had been pulled over in front of the restroom door itself, blocking it off. A note on the screen read, “This Restroom Has Been Closed For Cleaning.”

Aw, hell, I thought. This was bad news.

I went back up front, where Mrs. B, was womaning the circulation desk

“Uh… what’s up with the bathroom?” I asked.

“I’m not sure. I think it got messed up by some of the UNOBSTRUCTED DOORS clients and MRS. A closed it off.”

Aw, hell, I thought again. My fears were now fully realized. The mentally handicapped clients of the local Unobstructed Doors group are infamous for voiding the warranties of restrooms throughout the Tri-Metro area. We don’t generally have many problems of this sort ourselves, though we’re absolutely certain that the legendary Serial Shitter is among their number. We have, however, heard horror stories about incidents at Town-C’s library branch, where the former librarian there, Mrs. V, once had to threaten one of the UD aides with a call to their supervisors to get the aide to go back in and clean up the fecal festival one of the clients had had in the restroom there.

Like I said, not a lot of that kind of thing at our branch, but on occasion it does happen. Typically, when it does, the UD aides wait until it is nearly time for them to leave anyway, then send their clients into the restroom for one last "johnny" session before they hit the road. On occasion, the clients use this opportunity to befoul our restroom in most unholy ways. Then the aides gather up their clients and flee the building before the mess can be discovered and anyone can tell them to go clean it up. And on these occasions, I'm almost always the guy to discover it, hours later, after everyone else has left, and am then the guy who has to clean it up. In fact, I'd say that if that restroom gets cleaned at all, it's usually me that does it. And this was precisely my fear yesterday, as I stood quaking at the circulation desk.

If Mrs. A had baracaded the restroom door it was obviously because it had not yet been cleaned. That she was saving it for later at all did not bode well for me. Still, I kept quiet about it and made no offers. I really didn't want to know what was in there.

Eventually, Mrs. A came downstairs. She saw the look on my face and said, "Don't worry. You don't have to do it."


Just to help make me feel even better about it, Mrs. A described the carnage that awaited her in great detail. Evidently, the UD aides had not checked out the restroom beforehand and did not note that both the lid and the toilet seat had been left up. The first UD client to go in didn't lower them before having a squat and wound up defecating all over the porcelain rim as he slid around the bowl. The aide failed to check the room after the first client and sent the next one on in to add to the problem. It was a poo party chain-reaction from there.

Mrs. A said she now appreciated the tales I've spun about the horrors I've seen in there. She could scarcely imagine anyone, UD client or no, doing what was done in there by accident.

"Oh, I've seen things in that room that could not have been done without forethought," I assured her. I would certainly not count out the Artiste Factor in any of this.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Year One in the Can

Today is the first anniversary of the beginning of this blog.

Looking back at my very first entry, I note that I said I'd give it a month and see how it goes. Well, it went. And how! Doesn't even seem like it's been a whole year since I wrote those words.

Turns out those early fears about not having enough material to sustain a blog were quite unfounded. I probably could have done at least half a year's worth of posts on the Rogues Gallery alone. (Actually, I'm guessing I already have.) However, the day-to-day crazy that goes on around here has been a blessed fount of inspiration that doesn't seem to be going dry yet. Which is a good thing, cause I was a bit concerned there for a while.

Library blogs (blogs in general, I'm sure) seem to have a limited shelf-life. Granted, the genre isn't very old as such things go, but three of the big ones from my perspective--Liberry Blooze, Male Librarian Centerfold and Aaron is Not Amused--closed up shop, went into archive mode or otherwise changed their mission statement within the past year. Made me wonder if there was some sort of inherent half-life to the prospect of library blogging. Sure, I know I won't be doing this forever and may one day get sick of it and shake the exit stick myself, but I somehow don't think it will be because I've exhausted my material. After all, crazy is forever. More likely, when that day comes and I do unlock the after hours drop box for the final time, I'll have moved on to something else entirely and will likely begin chronicling it.

Writing this blog has been a very rewarding experience both personally and creatively. I've said it before and I'll say it again, my only regret with it is that I didn't start it sooner. I should have started it from day one on the job, or better still, in August of 2001, the month before I got the job, shortly after we moved to the Tri-Metro area. Hell, nearly every job I've had in the past ten years has been blog-worthy as far as sheer drama goes. (I really really should have been blogging when I worked in Charlotte, NC, at a music store called Repo Records. I even considered it and was going to call it the Repo-Man Diaries. That would have been an amazing blog, cause the customers that store attracted were easily as astounding or more than the ones here. Plus, there was that whole bit of drama after the store was held up at gunpoint twice in one month, prompting me to seek employment elsewhere as my life is worth more to me than $6 per hour.)

The best surprise of all, though--something I had not even considered when I started this thing--is that I’m not alone. There are loads of other folks plowing the “liberry” field and doing it quite well. As an addict of serial storytelling, I subscribe to many of them. And it’s great to see the experiences of people who frankly have it a lot worse off than me as far as stress and hassles go. I've corresponded with quite a number of such colleagues whose work I admire. (Okay, so some of them turned out to be men posing as women, but whatever. Still good stuff.) My wife has even grudgingly begun to see this blog as not quite the huge waste of time she once thought it was. She still doesn’t read it, but she likes the bits I read to her on occasion.

I guess my only other regret is that according to the stats I've written over 200,000 words since November 18 of 2003. That's a lot of output and I'm proud of most of it. However, if I’d put the kind of time and effort into my fiction as I do in my non-fiction, I’d be quite a bit more prollific. As it stands, my lengthiest work of fiction is just over 200,000 words, is yet unfinished and has taken me 12 years to achieve. Almost makes me want to cry. Or get off my ass.

I have to say, I still like my job. The way things seem to be working out, it looks like I’ll be around this place for a while yet. So I guess I’ll give this whole blogging thing another year and see how it goes. And maybe by next year, I'll have finally gotten around to revealing the secret identity of Ron the Ripper.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Running tally

Much "liberry" craziness did ensue today during my 10 hour shift.

The short version: Today we were seiged by two computer neophytes at the same time, both of whom were determined to write highly detailed last minute research papers and/or work-related reports with precise spacing requirements, and neither of them had brought a clue as to how to operate a word processor. In an act of service-oriented chivalry, I helped them both, showed them how to accomplish their goals and made them happy, all the while manning the circ-desk and answering the ever-ringing phone solo. I didn't even resent them once. I rule!

We were also paid typical though unexceptional visits by both Wal-Mart Jesus and Chester the (Potential) Molester. Wal-Mart Jesus wanted copies made. Chester ostensibly came in for more FAFSA forms, but then asked if we had any computers free. I told him they were all full, which was true. Chester failed to ask, however, if any of the computer users were out of time so he was SOL on that front and left.

And with both Mrs. A and Mrs. C out of the building we were, of course, phoned by Mr. Kreskin.

Then, just when I thought I would go completely mad from hunger and sore legs, my sweet wife dropped by unexpectedly with take-out and we were able to dine together. I was so calm and at ease that I even let Brice use the computer. (Hey, he paid for his copies; that's all I really ask.)

All in all, though, it was an okay day and frankly could have been a lot worse. But I got it all done, pretty much by myself.

However, if I hear another phone ring it's getting lobbed in the road.

Here I am again on my own...

...going down the only road I've ever.... uh, well... you know.

Yup, that's me. The guy who's starring in the sequel to 10 Hours on a Wednesday at the Library. This time, I'm wearing my K-Swiss walking shoes, which are mighty comfy to stand in for that length of time.

No, the library conference was NOT so exciting that they decided to stretch it into a second week. Instead, I'm here due to a library fund-raising event--yet another in our series of fund-raising events in which we con-scribe our patrons to make things for us to sell on our behalf. In this case, salads and desserts in a luncheon format.

We basically put out tables at a local church with a huge kitchen and start a never-ending salad and dessert buffet. Usually I'm summoned to work the event myself and wind up washing and drying an awful lot of dishes when I'm not running stuff out to the tables. This year, though, they moved it to Wednesday instead of its traditional Thursday date. This means Mrs. B can't woman the library while the rest of us are at the luncheon, cause she's at her other job on Wednesdays, which has less flexible hours. So I'm here running the show while everyone else slings salads.

Am I crying? No. I'd actually much rather be here than over there being tortured by all the sugar-laden goodies that I can't have due to my EXTREME!!! low-carb lifestyle. (And on that note, have you noticed how many of the low-carb food products on the market have words like EXTREME and/or EDGE in their titles? Evidently, we're supposed to take from this that not eating quite as much sugar or empty carbohydrates is the dietary equivalent to bungee jumping, or something. Okay, so I once did get a nasty carpet burn trying to fish a soy chip from beneath the couch, but I don't think it's the same thing.)

So here I be until the luncheon is over. I imagine they'll bring me a doggie bag of salady goodness, but maybe they'll refrain for fear of offending my dietary sensibilities.

Dunno how much "liberry" craziness will go on today, but check back. I might have another running tally.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Menthols or Regular?

Yesterday, someone asked me a question that I have never been asked before in my three years as a "liberry" ass.

One of our computer patrons on Sunday was a guy who resembled a young Ving Rhames in both look and attitude, though with none of Rhames's inherent coolness. And if this guy truly had been a young Ving Rhames, he would have been a young Ving Rhames trying to play the role of an urban gangster wannabe transplanted to small town WV. Badly. This kid had the whole big giant Raw Blue jacket and the tennis-style headband and a cell phone on which he was almost constantly talking. And it was one of those really annoying cell phones with the ear-piece, so I couldn't really tell at first glance whether or not he was talking to, say, me.

After he'd done his computing, he came toward the circ desk, chatting away to someone. I'd heard him chatting while he netted, so I figured he had a cell, but this time he was looking directly at me as he talked so I had to question my assumption.

His conversation went: "Yeah... Yeah... Whatchu mean?... No... Uh huh? Here you go. See you tomorrow." He said this last part after returning the pen he'd borrowed from me earlier and nodded to me as he turned toward the door.

"You taught it a trick, huh?" he said. "What kind of trick did you teach it?"

I deduced from this that he was talking to someone who had a pet dog.

"It smokes? A cigarette?"

Okay, so someone had taught their dog to smoke. I've often accused my cat of bumming loose change to buy smokes too. What of it?

"You're lying! It really smokes?" Ving Rhames said. He had reached the door by then, but turned around and came a few paces back toward me. This was when he hit me with what could be the most unique reference question I will ever be asked...

"Why's this girl telling me she can make her pussy smoke a cigarette?"

I stuck out my lower lip in concentration for a moment, then jovially said, "I don't know."

"Have you ever seen anything like that before? A pussy smoking a cigarette?"

"No," I said. "No, I have not."

Ving Rhames shook his head and left the building, still chatting away.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Holy Flurking Schnit!

I'm stunned.

I'm simply stunned.

On the one hand, congratulations should ring out for Natalie Biz for winning Net Guide's Best Personal Blog this year for her blog Bizgirl. It has been one of my favorite library blogs out there.

On the other hand... uh, well... READ ON.

Mr. Asshole, the Good Patron

Conference Week: Day 4 

8:53 a.m.-- Upon my arrival at work this morning, I spied a fresh copy of the contractor's manual on our hold shelf. I've since confirmed in the deposits folder and his patron record that Mr. Asshole did indeed return his copy of it last night and has gotten his deposit for it back. Now I just have to get the story on it from Mrs. B, cause ya just KNOW that guy didn't turn loose of it without bitching and moaning.

11:58 a.m.-- The other patron who had our other copy of the contractor's manual checked out came back to renew it. I warned him someone, i.e. Mr. Asshole, might already have it on hold in which case I would have to have it. Unfortunately for Mr. Asshole, he failed to ask for a hold to be placed on it when he returned our first copy yesterday, so it renewed perfectly for the other patron. Mr. Asshole is SOL at his own fault.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Conference Week: Day 3

Day 3 of the conference is underway. There is no day 2.

I'm only working an 8 hour shift today. As my wife would say, "God forbid you have to put in a full day. Oh, the torture." In fact, as a fourth year medical student who has regularly had to pull 12 and 14 hour shifts, she had very little sympathy for my poor tired feet on Wednesday. And rightly so.

Today, I'm wearing better shoes. It will be just me and Mrs. J til 1, when Mrs. B comes in to join us for Freaky Friday.

It's raining... It's cold... The chronicle continues...

8:50 a.m.-- I arrive for work. The circuit breaker for the lights upstairs immediately blows, so I have to go into the hobbit door under the stairs and turn it back on. I do notice that Mrs. A's husband, Mr. A, has been in to replace the bolts in the rolling ladder.

8:56-- Folks already banging on the door to get in. Nobody told them to get out of their cars and come stand in the rain. We open at 9, people. I believe there's a sign on the door to that effect.

9:00-- I open the doors. One of the two patrons waiting says, "Well, it's about time." He's actually joking with us, though it takes me a moment to figure that out and I can feel the fires within me rise.

9:04-- Because we were closed yesterday, the after-hours book return box is packed to the tits. We have to empty it in the rain, which is made even more problematic by Mrs. J's insistence on leaving the drop box's interior book bin pulled out IN THE RAIN ITSELF. Making matters even worse, we both keep dropping piles of books and tapes and sundry items onto the wet and puddle-soaked ground, forcing us to wipe them off with an old shirt from the Dead T-Shirt bin. It's the last shirt in there. Someone really needs to do the wash.

9:10-- Already the foot wiping has begun. I want to scream, "Hey, that's not a door mat, it's a runner carpet. They are not the same thing. If you want to wipe your feet, might I suggest you use the actual door mat that we've provided just OUTSIDE the door!"

9:15-- I finally get around to running the stats for Wednesday. We had 215 checkouts and 145 checkins. This is not a record or anything, but it is a damn sight more than we usually have.

9:33-- Marlene Doodah (not her real name) phones to ask us to renew a book on tape for her. She explains that she loaned it to a friend who subsequently loaned it to another friend, so she needs more time. I look her up and renew it.

10:09-- The REAL Marlene Doodah (still not her real name) phones to ask us to renew the same book on tape for her. I tell her that someone claiming to be Marlene Doodah already phoned to renew it this morning. She explains that this was a clever ruse by a friend of hers to whom she had loaned the book on tape.

10:41-- Another foot wiper.

11:06-- More foot wipers.

11:31-- An asshole phones. He was in last Friday and checked out a couple of the books he needed for the contractor's license test. He gave me a tremendous amount of shit back then over the fact that we charge the full price of the book as a deposit. (Note: He had the full amount for the two books in cash on his person at the time, to the tune of $112, and did leave it as a deposit for them.) I told him we have to do that because if we just charged a $10 deposit like we used to then we never see these pricey books again. He also gave me shit over the fact that we only loan the books out on a first-come-first-served basis and cannot reserve them for specific days, and that we also only loan these books for one week at a time.  (We do allow a renewal of another week.)

Last Friday, I stressed to him the importance of calling to renew them if he needed them longer, because according to the book deposit policy, that he both read and signed, the deposit is forfeit if they're late. We tell this to everyone who checks them out, because 9 times out of 10 they never call. I should also say that most of us here hate this policy. We would frankly rather have our books back instead of having to take people's money, particularly when they usually have brought them back, albeit a few days late.

So today Mr. Asshole calls to renew his books. I can tell from his tone he already has an attitude about it. I look his record up and try to renew them but one of them will not renew because someone else has it on hold. He was instantly furious.

"But you told me that you can't put them books on hold!"

"No. I told you you couldn't reserve them for a specific day. You can still place them on hold, though." Trying to still be diplomatic with him, I offered to go and make sure we didn't have an extra copy on the shelf, which I could then give to the holding patron. We did not.

"So what does that mean for me?" he said, the attitude thick.

"Well... basically, it means you need to bring the book back today."

Barely under his breath, he says "Aw, that's bullshit."

"Sir, my hands are tied on this. The computer will not allow me to renew the book for you if someone already has it on hold. There is nothing I can do to help you."

"Yeah, well that's bullshit," he says. "Maybe I'll try to bring it back today."

At this point my attitude is, Do what you like, dude. If you don't want your $70 back, that's just peachy with me.

11:49-- Kanji the Kid puts in an appearance. He's a guy in his early 20s who I believe has Asperger's syndrome. He is called Kanji the Kid because, according to him, he has memorized every character in the Japanese Kanji alphabet--or at least all the ones he can get his hands on through interlibrary loans. From what little research I've done on the subject myself, there are several thousand such characters in Japanese alone. Kanji used to be a fairly regular patron, but all he would get were interlibrary loans for books of Kanji. He would often keep these for months past their due date and refused to return them until we had harangued him with calls for weeks to the point of infuriating him. Only then he would bring them back.

Today he returned our video of Webber's musical Cats as well as the trade paperback of Bone Vol.2: The Great Cow Race. I told him we had Vol 3 and 4 on the shelf if he wanted those.

"What about Volume 1?!" he asked loudly. "You have Volume 2, Volume 3 and Volume 4, so it would only make sense that you should have Volume 1 too!" Speaking of volume, Kanji always speaks at his loudest and has no inside voice.

"We own it," I said. "It's just been checked out for quite a while." That seemed to satisfy him.

1:00 p.m.-- Mrs. B arrives. I warn her of Mr. Asshole, who may be on the way. I will likely have to curtail my blogging now that a computer saavy person is here.

1:10 -- Parka arrives.

1:20-- I eat lunch. Patron floodgates open, but at least we have the staff for it.

1:35-- I go on break.

2:30-- I return. Mr. Asshole has not come in while I'm gone.

2:40-- My wife arrives to eat a Dairy Queen Pumpkin Pie Blizzard in front of me. She's been craving one for weeks and figured since today marks the first day of a two week vacation for her she'd chow down on one. She offers me some, but I decline.

3:04-- Harry the Killer Midget comes downstairs and leaves. Harry's not actually violent and would be hard-pressed to actually kill someone. But he IS a midget. He's with the Unobstructed Doors group.

3:10-- Mr. Smiley comes in, takes his latest ILL and leaves. Afterward, the wife and I and Mrs. B stand around the circ desk telling stories about his tantrums of the past. Like how he used to like to come in and read, but would always take the batteries out of or unplug any clock near him because the tiny clicking of its second hand made too much noise for him.

4:21-- Brent and Brice: The New Devil Twins and around four of their neighborhood colleagues arrive for some computer using. I have to break it to them that they can't use the computer cause they're still twelve. Meanwhile, we've managed to misplace the prints they illegally made  again so I have no actual proof that they haven't already paid for them and taken them home. Two of their friends are indeed fourteen, so they are sent back to print stuff out on B&B's behalf. Fine by me as long as they get paid for. After a few minutes, Mrs. B finds the errant prints from before. I take them back and show them to Brent. He claims he had to make new prints of the same material because we'd lost the first batch before and he paid for the second round. This makes sense, except that I don't know who let him on the computer to do it. I let him go.

5 p.m.-- Time to head home. Not for the whole weekend, though. Yep, I've got to be back at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning for a Saturday shift fill-in gig and I'll have a Sunday one after that. That's okay. I don't mind, cause Mrs. A gave me all the days off I wanted for Thanksgiving. Plus it just increases my chances that Mr. Asshole will come back in while I'm around.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Conference Week: Day 1

(Reconstruction of Eaten Blog Entry, with a big thanks to Phil and Sam for sending me the original pre-chewed feed which I've now reincorporated)

Today is the first day of our state's "liberry" association conference, taking place in a resort hotel up in the northern part of the state somewhere.

Am I going? No.

Do I want to go? No.

Are me and Mrs. J the only staff members in house today? Yes.

Am I wearing shoes appropriate to a 10 hour shift? No. (These Skechers tend to start biting after about four hours. My feet are screwed, but it's my own fault.)

Am I anticipating "liberry" goodness/badness to shortly ensue? Hey, it's 10 hours in the crazy house here. Of course there's going to be standard issue "liberry" activity, both good and bad.

8:54 a.m.-- a full six minutes before we open, I get a phone call asking to speak to Mrs. C. I have a feeling that the phrase "I'm sorry, she's out of town at a conference for the rest of the week" will leave my mouth several thousand times today.

9:24-- Yet another call, this time for Mrs. A.

9:44-- And we have our first Rogue sighting of the day as Mr. Smiley comes in. He brings Mrs. Smiley with him. Mmm, that's some grumpy old people goodness for your ass.

9:58-- More people phoning for Mrs. A.

10:06-- We get our first computer patrons of the day. Two at once. Unrelated.

10:10-- Mrs. J informs me that some mischief-minded turd-blossom has removed the bolts that hold the back guard-rail portion of our rolling step-ladder in place. As a result, she nearly tumbled ass over teakettle off the top of it while trying to shelve a book. That's right, Mrs. J might have been killed because some asshat kid thought it would be funny to use his dad's leatherman to unscrew the bolts. The culprit seems to have stolen the bolts as well. Now I have to go put a sign on it telling patrons to stay the hell off of it before someone else tries to take a header.

10:11-- Someone comes in looking for Mrs. A.

10:15-- One of our board of directors, Mrs. Day, calls to say she's going to come in to sign checks and is on her way. This doesn't actually mean she's on her way. This means at some point during business hours today she'll roll in, probably at an inopportune moment, and will likely give me shit about having to come in and sign the paychecks two full days early, like I'm twisting her arm and forcing her to come in. SHE CALLED ME!

10:22-- A patron asks if we're closed tomorrow because of Toyota. I say, "No, it's Veteran's Day. What about Toyota?" He explains that Toyota will be filming a car commercial along mainstreet in Town-A, just down the hill from the library. They're apparently going to close off the entire area for traffic throughout the day. Good thing we won't be open.

11:34--Mrs. Day comes in to sign checks, several hours earlier than I expected. She doesn't even give me any crap, though she does have an ILL request for a book that does not exist in the entire state system.

12:40 p.m.-- I see a crabby looking lady trying unsuccessfully to put her books into our locked after hours book drop box out front. She must know that books that actually make it into the box are considered fine free, because when she finally brings them in I see that they are 89 days overdue.

12:51-- We're having surprisingly low traffic today. We did 169 checkouts yesterday, which is a busy day for us. I was expecting a patron flood since I'm the only guy manning the building. We've actually been able to search the shelves for overdues and mail the notices out, though. Ooh, that reminds me to remove Mrs. 89 Days overdue notice from the pile before we waste 37 cents on her.

12:55-- Parka makes his first appearance of the day. Oddly, he's not clad in his namesake parka despite how cold it actually is outside.

12:56-- I go to sign Parka on a computer. I have to wait for it to reboot from the ground up, cause the last user shut it down rather than just logging off. While I wait, two clients from the Unobstructed Doors Mental Health Assistance Organization come in and their aid heads them right for the restroom. One of them cuts a fart that is impossible to ignore. (*I will not let Parka see me laughing at the handicapped... I will not let Parka see me laughing at the handicapped* )

1:45-- After nearly half an hour of circulation silence, I attempt to eat my lunch. Staff lunches are an odd phenomenon here. No matter what time we decide to eat, as soon as food is unwrapped and begun to be consumed, the patron floodgates open up and we're suddenly swamped. Food presence also tends to act as a magnet for one or more of our board members to come in—usually the one who thinks it's just horrible that the staff eats at the circulation desk in front of God and everybody. Hey, once we get the new library built and actually have a break room we can move the party somewhere else. Right now it's either the picnic table outside in the cold or Mrs. A's tiny office or the restroom. Of course, the moment I unburped the lid of my salad container today, the front door started swingin'.

1:50-- Parka comes up to complain that the internet is slow. He's enlisted the testimony of a fellow internet crowd member to back up his claim. Naturally, he assumes I have the power to do something about it. I don't, but I go reboot his computer for him anyway. He's lucky I don't go into a diatribe about how slow things USED to be a year and a half ago, back when we had dialup speed instead of cushy DSL.

2:18-- The Toyota crew evidently thinks our nearly post-Autumn town isn't foliated enough for them. Patrons have come in and mentioned that the crew is downtown in a cherry picker attaching leaves to the bare trees in front of city hall. From our side window, I can see them doing this.

2:43-- A female patron returns eight John Grisham and Patty Cornhole books on tape all of which are in horrible condition, are 61 days late and some of which are missing tapes. The cardboard cases look as though she sat on them repeatedly. She fesses up to one of the tapes being missing, but I detect others. Her husband—who looks exactly like you'd imagine Hagrid's younger brother might—unleashes two very loud open-mouthed sneezes with barely an "excuse me."

2:55-- Parka returns for his second appearance. He's evidently waiting for a specific e-mail.

3:00-- Like a big ol' coward who is only scheduled to work til 3p, Mrs. J flees the building leaving me by myself for the rest of the day.

3:25-- Blogger EATS this entry and I have to reconstruct it from the ground up. Thanks guys.

3:27-- Shortly after discovering this, the circ desk becomes awash in patrons. A lady is irritated that she can't seem to log on from home into the practice test service we offer on our website. The community college library has told her she needs to come to us for the password. I explain that we don't have a password for it. The old testing system used to use the patron's library card number for it, but I don't think that's how it works anymore. She claims she's tried that, but can't actually demonstrate for me how poorly this works for her because she has—all together now—forgotten her library card. She's fed up with the site and with me. Her attitude and the fact that blog entry was just eaten, is pissing me off. I tell her that Mrs. A and Mrs. C, the two people with definitive answers for her, are out until Monday.

"So, what, I'm out of luck until next week?" she says.

"Not if I can figure it out for you now," I say.

She starts ranting at me again. While she's busy with that, I load the practice test site on the circ computer and see that it clearly does NOT require a library card to access, but simply and clearly asks the patron to choose a username and password of their own. Once I've told her this, she suddenly remembers what her username and password are, logs into the system and is now in love with me that I've solved her problem.

3:37-- Someone phones for Mrs. A. Turns out the caller was already fully aware that Mrs. A is out of town at the library conference, she just thought she'd call anyway. In fact, the phones will NOT. STOP. RINGING. I can't even hang it up from the two calls I've just taken back to back without another coming in.

4:15-- Dadgum, I wish I had a big stool to sit on. Stupid Skechers!

4:34-- Our first call of the day asking what time we close. Whoo hooo, take a drink!

5:05-- And the world comes to the library. For 20 minutes straight, we're slammed. And when does the circ computer decide that it's going to take a break and completely freeze up? Oh, only when there's suddenly a line four patrons deep, two of whom want new library cards. I beat the computer into submission.

5:30-- Man my legs are hurting. Okay. Fine. I'll sit down.

5:48-- I call a patron about a book she has on hold. Unfortunately, she had just been in half an hour earlier so I should have given it to her then. I hate it when I do that.

6:03-- By pure chance, I spy Chester the (Potential) Molester parking in our half-hour parking and then lurking into the darkness toward the community college. From what we're told by the college's librarian, Mr. Rob, Chester's been racking up quite the reputation around there too. The only good thing about that is that at least the girls there are of consenting age.

6:32-- Half an hour to go. We've had very little traffic at all for the past thirty minutes. I think I'll vacuum.

6:51-- Already finished my end of the day duties. One last patron (who I like) is left to go. My 10 hour shift is nearly over. I plan to go home, eat whatever delicious meal my wife has prepared, and completely skip church choir practice. (The choir director is just gonna make me stand up.)

Shite! I hear a car!

Ahhh... False alarm.

6:59-- That's a wrap. Wow... a whole day with both Mrs. A and Mrs. C gone and no call from Mr. Kreskin. I would have had money riding on that one if there was anyone around to bet with.

7:00 p.m.-- I don my coat and exit stage right. (After craftily deleting my saved reconstruction file and browser history, of course.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Late Millennium Fever

Just when I thought the ire of most crabby patrons had settled regarding our now SIX MONTH OLD library cataloging software and the SIX MONTH OLD policy of requiring patrons to have their library cards, this happens...

A semi-regular male patron came in, late in the day, and went upstairs to look for books. He came back down, around 10 minutes shy of closing, put his selection of books on the counter and began digging in his wallet for his card. After a lengthy search, during which I have to stand there and wait for him and not attend to any of my closing duties, he belched up the inevitable question: "Do I really have to have my card?"

"Yes, you do," I replied, not at all as snottily as I wanted to. His demeanor did a quick shift all the same and the whole transaction instantly became a hideous inconvenience to him.

"Well, I guess I'm going to have to go out to my car and look for it," he said, in much the same tone he might have used to say, "Well, I guess I'm going to have to punch myself in the taint."

Off he went. He was gone so long that I was nearly able to finish all of my closing duties before he came back, empty handed. He didn't even bother coming up to the desk and just stood in the doorway, shouting at me as though the 15 feet of dirty blue runner carpet were a great chasm dividing us.

"I'll just have to put those back," he said, gesturing to his pile of books on the circ-desk. "I can't find it anywhere!"

"Okay," I said. I knew that when he said, "I'll have to put those back," he really meant, "You'll have to put those back because I've no intention of coming any farther into the building." Whatever.

He wasn't done with me yet, though.

"This is just the stupidest thing I've ever heard of! Just the stupidest!"

"Okay," I said.

"I'm going to write a letter to the... Uh... what is this, some sort of state library association policy?" He didn't wait for a response. "Well, I'm going to write a letter to them saying how stupid I think this is."

"Okay," I said again, my collar starting to heat up now. "You do realize, of course, that this policy is for your protection, though?"


I then explained at length and with justifiable irritation the whole concept of our "liberry" being just one of a collection of 33 "liberries" in 20 counties who all shared the same patron database. I pointed out that if we did not require a card then anyone in the surrounding 20 counties who happened to share his name or even just CLAIMED to share his name could check out books using his account—books which HE would then be held responsible for since they were on HIS account. I told him that even back when our database included only our library, we had lots of trouble with that sort of thing and so it was agreed that the new collective would adopt this policy in order to head off the enormous headaches we would have had without it. I explained that "liberries" requiring cards was a—no doubt—centuries-old tradition which we are carrying on into the 21st century. I then told him he was free to write to whomever he wanted to about it and that Mrs. A would gladly provide him with the proper address, but at the end of the day we were doing this for his benefit.

"Oh," he said when I was finished. He then remained quiet for several seconds, allowing me time to realize that I'd just mildy gone off on a patron. Sure, it's nothing Mrs. A herself wouldn't have done, but I still think it's not a good idea for me to do.

"I, uh, I didn't mean to imply that you were stupid, or anything," the man finally said.

"Oh, no. Sure," I said, taking a very genial tone.

"I still think it's stupid that we have to have our cards."

I just stared at him. After a few more seconds under my glare, he left, sans books.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Tales of the Good Patrons

I expend a lot of effort in chronicling the really annoying patrons we get. Let me tell you about some of my good patrons. In fact, I think I like this family of patrons nearly as much as my previous favorites, the Asners. Lets call them, the Hatchers, after the family from Judy Blume’s Fudge series. It’s an apt moniker because the parallels I see between the fictional Hatchers and their real life counterparts are just amazing.

So far I’ve only met Mom Hatcher and her two sons—tah dahhhh!—Peter and Fudge. They come in almost every Wednesday, around 6 p.m. to turn in their old books and look for new ones. Mom Hatcher doesn’t really resemble the illustrations of the Hatcher mom from Blume’s books, but her kids are dead ringers.

Peter is the older of the two boys, but he hasn’t quite made 4th grade yet. I’d say he’s probably a first or second grader. He still likes the Easy Reader books, though he's begun looking into chapter books a bit more. (And as soon as I can manage it, I’m going to press a copy of Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing into his mitts and tell him to keep any turtles he might own under heavy guard.) Mostly Peter wants any book that's about really big trucks or tractors or fire engines and he often likes to check out books about them that he's had before. In this, he usually needs my help.

Peter comes up to the desk, steps up on our step-stool and waits politely for me to finish whatever it is that I'm doing and ask him if he needs help. Only then will he tell me what he's after. He never knows exactly where the books are found on the shelf, nor their title, but usually knows which floor they're on, what they look like, what they were about and about what size of a book they are. This might not seem much to go on, but I can usually track them down pretty quick from this. (According to his mom, Peter's quite impressed at my ability to do this.)

My one beef with Peter, and it's not a big one, is that every time he leaves I can go into the children's room and find at least one entire row of books pushed all the way back on their shelf. Like most libraries, we like to keep our books flush with the front of the shelf they're on. I've found that many children cannot abide this and will push as many books back as they can reach, making work for us to readjust them later. Peter isn't real bad about it, though. Unlike some kids, he doesn't do the whole room. He just pushes back a given row of books on a given shelf, a different row and shelf each time. I've talked to co-workers about this and it's our feeling that he thinks he's doing us a favor, so we can't exactly get mad at him.

Peter's little brother Fudge is a four year old and is quite the bundle of energy. He doesn't run around screaming like a sugar-gorged Baboon like some kids we've had in, but like most four year olds he's very interested in his surroundings and likes coming to the library to "buy" books. A few weeks back, Fudge became entranced by the kid-sized umbrella in our children's room. This year's Summer Reading program had a water theme, so we set up a kiddie pool (sans water) and a tiny little double beach chair in the children's room that had its own tiny beach umbrella. Fudge loved the umbrella. He came up to the desk right away and stepped up on the kiddie steps to ask me about it.

"Esscuse me, but can Iyyyye take the li'l kids umbrellllla an' put it on my heaaad?"

"You want to put the umbrella on your head?" I said.


"It’s okay with me, kid. Go crazy."

I never did see Fudge put the umbrella on his head, but I could just imagine him trying to balance the handle atop his skull, pretending he was Inspector Gadget or something. (And I, of course, never did that as a child, myself.)

On their way out, though, I thought Fudge was going to go into a crying tantrum when he learned that he couldn't check out the umbrella. He kept pleading with his mom that he wanted to "take the li'l kids umbrelllllla hoooome." I tried to explain to him that it didn't have a barcode on it so I couldn't check it out to him, but this hardly mattered to Fudge. Finally, Mrs. Hatcher diffused the situation by telling Fudge that she would buy him his own little kids umbrella next time they went to Wal-Mart. That seemed to satisfy him, though he immediately began asking if they could go to Wal-Mart "right noooow."

When the three of them reached the front door, Peter opened it to go out.

"AHHHHHHHH! I WANTED TO OPEN IT!!!" Fudge screamed, his little arms flapping in frustration.

"Well, okay. You can open it, then," Mom said.

I think Mom's terribly embarrassed at Fudge's behavior, but he's far far far from being a problem in my book.

The following week, Mrs. Hatcher and Peter came in alone. As they were leaving, Mrs. Hatcher said, "Fudge's with his grandmother tonight, so we're much less trouble." I assured her they were never trouble.

"Did Fudge get his umbrella?" I asked.

"Oh, yes! He got a Bob the Builder umbrella. He loves it. He opens it and closes it and opens it and closes it and opens it. Usually in the house."

I hope when the wife and I get around to grumping out a couple of critters ourselves, we have nice ones like Peter and Fudge, or better yet like The Asners. In fact, I was just telling the wife the other day, "When we have kids, we should try to have some nice quiet ones."

"Oh, no. Your babies are going to be LOUD," she said.

"But, couldn't we just tell the doctor that we don't want loud children and he's only to deliver quiet ones?"


"How bout this. Why don't we just go take a couple of the Asners's kids? We could leave them a note saying that we wanted nice quiet kids and since they have so many we didn't think they would mind? Huh? And we could include a note that said `In exchange, we're leaving you this cranky old cat that hates everybody. Enjoy.' Think that would work?"


Friday, November 05, 2004

Juice Vs. The Stench Volcano Part II: It's been Stankronized!

I sure hope this isn't a trend. Mr. Stanky was back today, and how! His girthful, crazy salt and pepper-haired, days unshaven, dispenser of foulness self had at least changed clothes, though not into clean ones.

Why? WHY? WHYYYY?!!! Why must he inflict himself upon us?!!!

Just like last time, I stuck him at the little wooden-chaired computer station by the stairs where he proceeded to spread his WMD-grade funk in radiating waves. Unfortunately, aspects of my job caused me to have to walk past him on several occasions, but I was able to hold my breath for the most part. I did manage to steal a glimpse at his screen on one such pass. He was surfing Amazon.com, though I didn't see what he was looking for. Mrs. A walked past him and caught a whiff, causing her face to contort in disgust and horror as she approached my position at the circ desk, where I was still trying to Febreeze away Mr. Stanky's funk wake.

"How can he stand himself?" she asked.

"No idea," I said. Spray, spray, spray.

Soon afterwards, Parka came in for a computer and Mrs. A bravely went back to log him on.

"Did you put him by Mr. Stanky?" I asked with evil glee upon her return. I was sure she would have, because Mrs. A has no love for Parka.

"No. I couldn't do that to even him," she said. I suppose it would have been rather cruel, but I would have done it. Regardless, Parka didn't stay long.

At one point, I snuck past Mr. Stanky and stole the small Glade automatic air-freshener from the restroom, turned it up to 11 and discretely hid it by the potted plant on the window-sill beside him. I don't think it actually helped, but I had fun doing it.

After nearly an hour, Mr. Stanky left the building and waddled away, presumably toward his stank mobile. Once again I was left with the task of fumigating the computer hall. Had just as much success as last week, which is to say very little. His funk had possessed the wooden chair in exactly the same way we had feared it would ruin our cloth chairs. Even the keyboard seemed somehow stinkier than before. The whole area had been Stankronized (tm).

And no matter how much Febreeze was dissipated into the air, I could still detect the ghost of Mr. Stanky hours later. I think we're going to have to give the whole place a tomato juice bath.  Or call an exorcist.

Maybe we can also start researching obscure city ordinances concerning intolerable levels of airborne offensiveness.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Return of The New Devil Twins

Brent and Brice: The New Devil Twins are at it again. They're the infamous twin 13 year olds who like to come in and print lots of stuff from the internet then take their pages and leave without paying for them.

We thought we'd cured them of this by busting them some months back, not only for not paying for their prints but for not having a permission slip on file saying they could even use the computers unsupervised. They've since had permission slips filed on them and have been far more diligent about paying for their prints. However, one of them was in recently and fell back into old bad habits and tried to print and run again. The really stupid thing about this is that he tried it while Mrs. A happened to be on duty.

After Brent (or Brice, we're never sure which) attempted to leave with his $1.60 worth of pages, Mrs. A stopped him and said he couldn't take those pages until he forked over money for them.

"But I didn't bring any money," Brent said.

"Then what business did you have printing anything?" Mrs. A countered.

It might be one thing if he was printing material for school; I've let kids slide on that sort of thing before. However, Brent was actually printing cheat codes for the latest episode of Grand Theft Auto, so he gets no break. Mrs. A told him he couldn't even use a computer again until he forked over the money. In his defense, he did come back on Tuesday and attempt to pay for them, but Mrs. B couldn't find his pages right away so she had to tell him to come back another day. He has yet to return.

Now, stealing prints is all fine and good for library types to get unhinged about on its own, but there's more...

After she checked to make sure Brent & Brice had a permission slip on file, Mrs. C noted that their birthday was in December of 1991, which makes them both 12 instead of 13 and thus ineligible for solo internet privileges for another month. So now when whichever one of them does return to pay for his prints, we'll be able to tell them that they have to wait until they're "big boys" before they can use the computers unsupervised.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Juice Vs. The Stench Volcano

I wasn't scheduled to come to work last Friday. However, due to a bit of a scheduling conflict involving a press conference, a doctor's appointment and a vacation day for Mrs. A, the library was going to be devoid of all employees except for Mrs. J for an hour. This is not a good thing. For the record, while Mrs. J is a very sweet lady and a capable library worker, she's not precisely a whiz with computers and can only execute the most rudimentary functions of the new circulation software. She also has a tendency to answer the phone by saying, "Yeah?!" so we try to keep her as far away from both the computer and the phones as possible. At Mrs. C's request I came in.

I'd only been in for around half an hour when the loathsome Mr. Stanky wafted through the door. He's been visiting us far more regularly than we care for as of late and is responsible for putting us way over-budget in the Canned Air-Freshener department. Naturally, he wanted to use a computer.

All three computers were free, but I put him on the little computer by the stairs. It's the only one that has a wooden chair instead of a padded cloth chair. It's therefore less comfortable, hopefully prompting early departure, and less likely to hang on to offensive odors.

If anything, Mr. Stanky has become stankier and his clothing filthier since the first time I encountered him. I don't know the full story on this guy, but he's got some definite mental and cleanliness issues. From what I'm told--and this may be a local urban legend--a house that he had once occupied had to be condemned by the city and torn down after he moved out because he had rendered it impossible to de-stankify. And if the massive black stain on the back of his shorts Friday was any example, I can see how this might be true.

I would love to know what Mr. Stanky surfs for on the web, but frankly I couldn't get near enough to snoop even if I was of a mind to. He has a force field of stench that is overpowering. In an arm-wrestling match between Mr. Stanky's funk and that of the Sweatiest/Uriniest Woman in All The Land, Mr. Stanky's would SO go "Over the Top" and plow Sweaty's odor through the table several times over. In fact, she would be a refreshing pallet-cleanser by comparison.

Mr. Stanky stayed his half hour and then left. After he was safely gone, I took our new can of Febreeze Air Essentials, waded into the DMZ and started firing.

Normally Febreeze Air Essentials is a good product. I highly recommend it, due to its patented "clean & pleasant" smell. It does a good job of fighting and destroying odors instead of just covering them up. Until Friday, I had never known the odor that could withstand it.

I emptied half the can into the computer hallway, at Stanky ground zero. The stench ate every last particle of Febreeze, digested it and shat out something almost exactly as foul as before. I then retreated to our cubby-hole restroom under the stairs, where the air wasn't quite as eye-hemorrhagingly foul, and snatched up our big ol' can of Air Wick. I practically emptied it into the computer hall. Now the place smelled like rot and flowers. Great.

In the end, I gave up and fled the building, Amityville-style. Mrs. C and Mrs. B had just returned from their respective diversions, so my services were no longer needed.

I asked Mrs. C if she would clock me out cause I "forgot" and wasn't about to brave the stairwell to do so.

"You smell like Febreeze," she said.

At least that's all I smelled like.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #9

ME: Can I help you?

LADY PATRON: I had ordered a book on interlibrary loan a while back, but I haven't heard anything about it yet. I know you guys said it takes 7 to 10 days, but it's nearly been ten and I haven't heard. Is it in yet? My name is LADY PATRON.

ME: (Reaching for the ILL'S WAITING TO RECEIVE [BY AUTHOR] accordion folder) Let me check. What's the title?

PATRON: I don't know.

ME: You don't know?

PATRON: No. Sorry, I don't.

ME: (Fighting to keep from sighing loudly in her face) Uh, well, that's gonna make finding whether it's in a little problematic. See, we have our interlibrary loans sorted by author. I can look up the author in the computer, but I have to have a title first.

PATRON: I'm sorry. I didn't write it down.

ME: (Thinking that maybe it was a generic subject request, in which case it would likely be listed under the subject even in our Author's sorted folder) Well, what was it about?

PATRON: Egypt.

ME: (Checks incoming holds shelf for books about Egypt. It is free of them. Starts to check ILL folder under E)

PATRON: It's just that it should have been here by now and no one called me. I mean, it's been ten days.

ME: Well, we do say that it usually takes 7 to 10 days, but it can always be longer.


ME: Well, if the book is checked out to someone at the library we're borrowing it from, they have to wait for it to come back before they can send it to us.

PATRON: (Stares at me blankly as though she doesn't understand what I've just said.)

ME: (Admittedly getting snotty) See, we're borrowing the book from another library. If the book is checked out, that library can't rightly send it to us until it's returned.

PATRON: Yes, I realize that, but... (Gives me an odd look suggesting she's not sure she wants to open the can she's about to) I mean, I've ordered books like this before and no one ever called me. You guys... you guys don't really have time to call everybody, do you? (This last was said as a skeptical statement, not a question.)

ME: No... Yes. Yes, we have time and we do call everyone. (Which reminded me, I still hadn't called any of my holds yet) We do call all the patrons waiting for books and we don't give up until we're able to leave a message or talk to the patron themselves. I don't know why you weren't called before.

(At this point, she gives me another skeptical look and I realize that to her untrained eye it looks as though I'm trying to cover my butt in the face of accusation. I am, but justifiably so. This being the case, I decide to go above and beyond what should be expected of me to help her out. It's an act of good faith toward our future ILL-patron/library relationship. I open our WAITING TO RECEIVE folder and pull out all the A through B ILL slips. I will now search through the ENTIRE folder with over 100 ILLs just to find her frickin' ILL slip so I can tell her the title of the book SHE requested and if we're still waiting for it.)

ME: (Looking down at the VERY FIRST slip in the folder) Wait a sec, you said your name was LADY PATRON right?


ME: Ah ha! Here it is, then. Ancient Egypt.

PATRON: (Smiling) Yes. That sounds right. Is it in?

ME: No. We're still waiting for it. But we'll call you when it comes in.

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.