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.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Who's got the 10 and a half?

Yup. That's right. It's time for another 10 hour shift for the Juice man. Mrs. A and Mrs. C are out for the day at a meeting of the minds over in Town-D's branch.

Running tally for the day proceeds here...

8:50 a.m.-- I arrive at the library. There's a large SUV parked out front that I don't recognize. I figure it's a patron waiting for us to open, but no one is in it and no one is banging on the door to get in. I go to unlock the back door and find it's already unlocked and slightly ajar. Uh oh. Now I'm thinking the patron is inside, taking advantage of a door left unlocked by one of the librarians as they departed this morning. This kind of thing has happened before. As I cautiously round the corner of the computer hall, I get a line of sight on the circ desk and see Mrs. A there. Whew! Turns out it was Mr. A's SUV.

8:52-- I turn on the light switch for upstairs and blow the breaker.

9:00-- Mrs. C turns on the downstairs light switch and also blows the breaker. Mrs. A is irritated at this and swears we will not be paying to rewire the building since we're within a two year spitting distance of a brand new building altogether.  As a result of the breaker blows, though, a third of the lightbulbs in the front room have gone.  At 5'9", I'm still the tallest employee so it's always my job to change them. No doubt half the bulbs upstairs have also blown.

9:20-- Both patrons who've come in so far have given me cheerful yet marble-mouthed greetings that I don't understand. They are not together.

9:33-- First phone call for Mrs. A.

9:41-- Mr. & Mrs. Smiley arrive.


10:00-- I start changing bulbs.

10:19-- Boring assed task for the day: Stuffing fund drive envelopes. Mmm, boy howdy! At least I have Shawn Colvin's Whole New You album playing on the circ computer to keep me company. Great album.

10:35-- First computer patron of the day.

10:50-- A library staff member from Town-R's branch phones. Mind you, she doesn't identify herself whatsoever so I didn't know she wasn't a patron at first. The conversation followed:

CALLER: Is MRS. A there?

ME: No, I'm sorry, she's out of town for a meeting today. Can I take a message?

CALLER: Well... When I turned on my computer it said I have an error.

ME: (Realizing this is probably another library and not some derranged patron) Uhhh. What sort of error?

CALLER: (Dimly) It said "an error."

ME: Okayyy. Did you try turning it off and back on?

CALLER: Yes. It still says I have an error. I just want to know how to get it to stop telling me I have an error.

ME: (Since our branch is the regional hub for all computer issue requests, I realize I'll need to note this.) Well, if you'll give me your name I'll tell MRS. C when she gets back this afternoon.

CALLER: (Ignoring my question) I can still use the computer. I just want to know how to get it to stop telling me "error."

ME: (Trying not to get angry) I realize that. If I can have your name, please, I'll let MRS. C know about it.

CALLER: (Adopting a tone that says I should know full well exactly who I'm talking to) This is TOWN-R library.

Actually, I really should have known. If I were to make a list of the most computer illiterately staffed libraries in the area, Town-R would top it.


11:19-- Out of coffee and in need of a change in music. I'm going to my car for some Neil Finn.

11:40-- The wife calls to say she's going to join me for lunch.

12:15 p.m.-- The wife joins me for lunch. She brings us tasty non-Atkins approved goodies such as pizza and a pecan encrusted stickybun, both baked by one of our fine downtown bakeries.

12:44--Holy shit! Stoner Lad just came in! I cannot believe my luck. Just when I thought today was going to be way more boring than I'd hoped, a long lost Rogue makes an appearance. We've not seen Stoner Lad in here for well over two years. He walks up to the desk and says, "Hey, uh, long time." Then he mumbles his way through a request to use a computer, saying he has something he really needs to print out. (Dare I hope more angsty half-literate teenage screw-letters?)

"Sure thing," I say.

After I log him on he says, "Uh, how clear are the lines today?"

"Pretty clear. We got DSL since you were here last."

"Sweet!"

Stoner Lad still dresses like he used to, which is to say small town gangsta wannabe, but with an auto-racing themed ball cap. His facial hair has gotten better too, as evidenced by his pointy goatee. He also dosen't seem to be actively "on" anything and has no trouble making eye contact when he speaking. Perhaps he's been away in rehab?

12:46-- A lady comes in and asks to use the bathroom. I don't figure this out until later when they leave together, but this turns out to be Stoner Lad's mom. Stoner lad prints out a few pages, pays for them and then leaves with mom, saying, "Bye." On their way out, she says something about having an old wallet of his with his library card still in it. Yeah, his OLD library card. Looks like maybe he's back in the area for a while.

12:55-- An assistant librarian in a neighboring county, who's head librarian is currently at the same meeting that Mrs. A is at, phones to ask to speak to Mrs. A. "Oh, wait... she's at that meeting," he says. Riiiiiiight.

1:02-- Oh, great! It's old rogue day! Jimmy the Anonymous Snitch just came in.

1:10-- Jimmy leaves after paying for his prints. I am irritated that he is coming here again, particularly since from everything we knew a few months back he was supposed to be going to jail for embezzling money from his employer. The last we'd heard he was supposed to have received his sentence in June, but we never learned what it was. He's been in a few times since then and was in yesterday. Evidently he's under house arrest or town arrest or maybe just was let off altogether. Who knows. Maybe he turned state's evidence against Bladderboy and was given a light slap on the wrist. Never did hear if the cops caught Bladders after their high-speed chase a while back.

1:22-- Harry the Killer Midget and Buddy come in. I've not written about Buddy before. He's a mentally handicapped man who comes in with an Unobstructed Doors aid. I call him Buddy because he once asked me if I would be his buddy, therefore I assume he is mine as well. Buddy is a really nice guy. His only major distinguishing characteristics, beyond the whole being my buddy thing, are that he's very tall and he always wants to know if Mary is working today. Nearly every time he comes in he asks one of the staff if Mary is working today. We always tell him, "No, Mary's not here today," at which point he responds, "Mary must be at home." None of us know who Mary is, nor has anyone named Mary ever worked here in the past thirty years, so we're not sure who he means. He didn't ask about Mary today.

2:48-- I've been running kind of silent. Mrs. C is supposed to come in to relieve me so I can go on break, but I don't know exactly when. Gotta keep my nose clean til then.

3:00-- Still no Mrs. C. One of our board members, Mrs. Aitch, comes in to do some fund-drive letter related paperwork. I'm jamming out to Neil Finn's One Nil when she arrives. Not sure if she approves.

3:50-- Mrs. C arrives to relieve me. I head to the post office to ship out ebay auction items, pop by the shoe store where I fail to find any decent shoes.

4:30-- I swing by the comic shop for the latest Bloodhound, Marvel Knights Spider-Man, the Supreme Power spin-off Doctor Spectrum book and something else I can't recall off hand. I'm terribly happy that the comic shop guy is now stocking Neil Gaiman's Sandman collections, after months and months of me bugging him about it. Now I'm going to have to do a Sandman symposium to get folks to buy it--uncultured peons!

4:45-- I pop by Ornathological Coffee, (not its real name), the local gallery/coffeeshop down the street for a cup of Sumatran coffee that is just slightly not hot enough, but is nevertheless tasty. While I'm there, I hear a familiar voice say, "So, how many books do I have now?" I turn to see Mrs. West, one of our regular patrons. Mrs. West almost always has books on hold with us. This is because she goes down the list of all the latest bestsellers that are out and has us put her on hold for them. Then she asks us to put her on hold for just about every other new fiction arrival as well. We're happy to do this. Trouble is, she NEVER answers the phone when we call. We have it on good authority that she's usually at home when we call, she just won't answer for whatever reason. This would be okay too, but she also refuses to purchase an answering machine saying they're annoying. Yes, they are annoying, especially when they don't pick up the phone and allow us to tell you your books are in. So our hold shelf is often CHOKED with holds for Mrs. West, which after 5 days have to be passed to the next patron on the list. I told her she had three waiting for her. She said that sounded like enough to justify a visit up the hill.

4:50-- I'm back on the job.

4:55-- A different board member, Mrs. Emm, comes in from the meeting they were having next door and asks if its true we have music CD's. It is. We got the same allotment of Remainder Closet material all libraries got after the big music industry settlement. I tell her that I don't promise it's all good, but there are some gems here and there. I guarantee her that the Shawn Colvin and Ben Folds Five are quality. She goes over and finds lots of things she likes (including the Colvin & Folds), then begins suggesting music to me, including Kas3y Chamb3rs and Gr3g Br0wn. "Br0wn's kind of folky," Mrs. Emm says, adding, "I like all sorts of music, though. Folk, rock, country, rap... I love Eminem!" I sort of just stared at her blankly for a few seconds on that one. Nothing against Em, but I just had trouble reconciling whether Mrs. Emm was really into his stuff or if she was just searching for some kind of street cred with me and Mrs. C.

5:00-- Mrs. C leaves via the back door before any of the other board members she see's lurking out front can find her and assign her something she doesn't want to have to stay extra to do. Good for her!

5:10-- Oooh. I'm asked by a computer patron to override our internet blocking software. It's the same guy who always asks us for overrides. In fact, I think he's the only guy who's ever asked us for an override. He's always trying to look at some album cover involving J essica Ra bbit. For some reason in the past I've never been able to get the override to work properly, but today it does. (And no, I didn't get a peek at it before I turned the station back over to him.)

5:27-- We are paid a brief and pleasant visit by the brother of the Purple Nun.

5:39-- Mrs. West, true to her word, comes in for her books.

6:03-- I begin attempting to eat my supper; a nice hunk of pork roast that I first cooked two nights back, plus some cheese and a spinach/artichoke dip I made. Mmm tasty, I love it.

6:22-- Still haven't been able to finish my food. We're plenty busy.

6:32-- A patron asks if he's smelling good food from one of the nearby restaurants or if that's coming from my food. I say, "Yup, that's probably my pork roast." It's not even heated and it smells good.

7:00-- The last patron departs, making sure to print out four pages just after I finish the daily cash box count. Thanks! I lock the doors and try to finish up my closing duties.

7:03-- Still closing up when someone starts pounding on the door to get in. Sorry, we's closed.

7:05-- Going home. It's a day.

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