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.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Hey, kid, isn't that attitude a little big for you?

I came in last Wednesday to find the library eat up with kids. It wasn’t even a summer reading program day, so I had no explanation. Soon I was told that this was a sort of class-visit from a local summer day-care program. The kids in this day-care program ranged from probably 6 to 12 years of age. It was a pre-planned event, one which allowed us to take contact information in advance with which we made new library cards for all the listed kids who didn’t already have one.

During the visit, Mrs. A noticed two girls trying to log themselves onto an idle patron computer. When she approached them, one of them was typing in “Heather” as the login name, thinking that was going to work.

Mrs. A related the following conversation to me.

MRS. A: Excuse me, girls. How old are you?

HEATHER: Twelve.

MRS. A: I’m sorry, but we don’t allow children under 13 to use the computers without their parents supervision. It’s library policy.

HEATHER: (Puffing herself up with plenty of attitude) No, but my mom signed a permission slip so I could use them.

MRS. A: The permission slips are to let kids 13 and older use the internet. You’re still 12.

HEATHER: (Getting in Mrs. A’s face—always a great idea) My MOM signed a permission slip!

MRS. A: Your mom does not override library policy.

HEATHER: You can call her and get her permission over the phone.

MRS. A: I’m not going to call her because it doesn’t matter if you have her permission; you’re still 12. Now get up and go back in the other room.

Little Miss Heather-pants was most unhappy about this and walked around wielding her newly blossoming 12-year-old-girl attitude like a 60 pound Claymore sword that she could scarcely yet lift. Her cohort in computer crime, a miss Holly Goheavily, was soon to develop into a troublesome pest as well.

When it came time to check out books, Holly Goheavily didn’t have her library card. We hadn't made her one because she already had a patron account with us in the system and her mother was in possession of the actual card. Holly was annoyed that she couldn’t check anything out and tried to argue with Mrs. C that she should be given a brand new card. Mrs. C explained that we wouldn’t be doing that, as she already had an existing card.

“But my brother already has a card and you just gave him a new one!” Holly countered. Sure enough, Holly’s little brother Bratt had just been given a new card, but this was because he DID NOT have one already listed in our database. Holly could not be reasoned with on this point and kept repeating that he already had one because her mom got cards for all of them at the same time.

“Well, he only has one card now and that’s the one we just gave him.”

Holly left angry.

After the class had departed, Mrs. A and C fled the building, leaving me and Mrs. B to run the place. Half an hour or so later, Holly Goheavily and Bratt Goheavily returned, accompanied by Mom Goheavily. Mom marched up to the desk and slapped down two library cards, both of which had Bratt Goheavily’s name on them and slid them toward me.

“How come my son has two cards but my daughter can’t have two?” she said. “This is the one he got today and this one I got months ago.”

I picked up our barcode scanner and zapped the indicated older card. A little window popped up on my screen indicating that this barcode number had no patron record associated with it.

“This one’s not an active card, Ma’am,” I said. “We did double check that your son didn’t have an existing card before we issued the new one and there wasn’t one in the system. Clearly he had one at one time, since we gave you this card, but I can’t say how the account for it disappeared.”

This seemed to satisfy her on that point. I took the dead card from her and threw it away.

After looking around a while, Mom Goheavily returned to the desk with a book from the children’s room's Young Adult section.

“Is there any way to tell what age group these books are for?” she asked.

“Well, sometimes they have a suggested age group printed on the back or on the inside cover,” Mrs. B said. They turned the book at several angles, but there didn’t seem to be an age guide on it.

“It’s just that some of those books in there are filthy,” Mom Goheavily said. “The language and the… the, well, I don’t want my daughter reading them.”

Mrs. B held the book up to show the spine-label on it.

“Ma’am, this is a Young Adult book. If you don’t want your daughter reading young adult material, you might want to tell her to stay away from it.” Mrs. B pointed into the children’s room, where Holly Goheavily was nose deep in the YA section. Mom Goheavily then proceeded to completely freak out on Holly, ordering her to put that book she had down right then and not to take any more from that section. Holly, for her part, tried to bring out her own 60 pound attitude sword, but couldn’t get much lift against such a forceful attitude as her mother’s.

When it came time to check out, Mom Goheavily asked for a parental permission form for her daughter to use the internet. We gave it to her and she filled it out while I checked out more books for Bratt. I was dubious about Holly’s age, though. Mrs. A had not said she was 12 in her earlier story, but I gathered that she likely was. With mom standing right there, though, I figured if I put the question to her she would have to tell the truth.

“And are you 12 or 13?” I asked.

“I’m 13,” Holly said.

“She’s 13,” Mom said at the same time.

“No she’s not,” Bratt said.

“Shhhh!!” Mom said, giving Bratt the look of death. Then, in a low whisper, like I couldn’t hear her clearly from a mere two and a half feet away, she said, “She’s thirteen! She’ll be thirteen in less than a month.”

Yes, that’s the lesson all parents should be teaching their kids: how to lie to get what you want.

We might have let Holly slide on this technicality had she and her mother not perpetrated such deception. Unfortunately for her, the entire staff now knows her true age and her birthday's been circled on her permission form. If she wants to use a computer within the next month, she'll be playing a lot of Mag!c School Bus and Barn3y games, but no internet.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Parka Engulfed

At 6:35 yesterday—that’s 25 minutes to close for those playing at home—Parka rolled in for his daily online skank-chat. He didn’t even bother signing up on our clip-board at the desk. He just followed me on back, like I was really going to let him get away with that.

“Uh, did you sign in?” I asked.

“Oh. I forgot. Sorry,” he said.

He went back to sign in while I logged him on the little computer by the stairs. This might seem an act of malice on my part, as Parka has had a long-standing hatred for the little computer by the stairs. However, since we bought two new Dells to replace the other two patron computers a few weeks back, Parka has preferred the old one by the stairs. This is because when our tech guys set up the new machines they reset all the passwords, failed to tell us the new admin password and then promptly left town without installing Microsoft Office nor several other programs our patrons are used to having access to. In their defense, the tech’s didn’t have any of those programs with them at the time of installation. But there seems to be no timetable as to when they’re going to come back and do the job nor whether or not we can just have the admin password so that we can do so ourselves. (In fact, from what I’m told, the techs have even gone so far as to suggest that they cannot install Office on the new systems because of some security issues and that they will instead be installing Wordperfect—a.k.a. The Devil. That sounds like a load of stall-tactic crap to me, so perhaps the person I heard this from was misinformed.) The new machines, things of speed and beauty that they are, thus have no word processing, nor some sort of Sound/Chat program that Parka likes to use when chatting with his e-skanks. He now almost always requests to be put on the little old computer by the stairs, cause it still has what he wants. I graciously obliged, despite his attempt not to sign in first.

At 6:55, I went back at let Parka know that he only had 5 minutes until we closed. He acknowledged what I’d said by saying, “Okay.”

At 7 p.m. straight up, I went back and told him, “It’s about that time.” Again, he acknowledged what I’d said by saying, “Okay.” However, as I returned to the front room, I heard him return to typing in his e-skank chat window.

In the front room, I noticed the runner carpet was filthy from all the snow/mud traffic we’ve had today. It would have to be vacuumed. I waited for a little, hoping Parka would come on and leave so I could lock up and vacuum in peace, but the sounds of his incredibly loud typing did not ease up as though he were planning to stop any time soon.

At 7:01, I went back to get the vacuum from the Hobbit door beneath the stairs. The Hobbit door is located directly beside Parka’s computer. He didn’t even slow in his chatting as I lugged the vacuum out.

“It really IS that time now,” I said as Parka’s second warning. He didn’t even look up.

I returned to the front room with the vacuum, but I was getting progressively more pissed as the seconds and typing sounds ticked by. Parka wasn’t planning to move. Instead, he was back there thinking: “What grand fortune! Library boy’s gonna be busy vacuuming for at least a minute, giving me extra time to chat with my e-skanks. And I won’t make any move to leave until at least a minute after he stops. Puh-puh-puh-Parkaaaa Powerrrrr!

I gritted my teeth and marched back to the computer hall where Parka was still typing away.

“Uh, no, really, it IS. THAT. TIME. NOW,” I said. I saw him look up at this, but he didn’t say anything. I returned to the front and began vacuuming, determined that if Parka hadn’t moved by the time I finished I was going to shut the computer off in his face and let him know he would never again be allowed to stay all the way until close. Hell, our official computer policy is that computers are to be turned off at 15 til close anyway. I was being more than generous in letting him stay til 7.

About mid-way through my vacuuming job, Parka came out. He said something to me that I couldn’t hear over the vacuum. I turned it off.


“I said, what were you trying to say back there? I didn’t hear you.”

Bull, and might I add, shit. Sure, he’d had his headphones on, but even if he couldn’t hear my exact words there’s NO FREAKIN’ WAY he didn’t know exactly what the message was. Not as many times as this little closing-time scenario’s played out.

I blinked at him for a moment, then said, “I was letting you know, again, that we’re closed.”

“Oh. Okay,” he said. “Sorry. I had the headphones on and was kind of engulfed.”

“Uh huh.”

So let the word ring out. Officially, when Parka’s in house, I am forever more shutting off the computers at 15 til, just like our rules say we're supposed to. No more coasting past closing time for Mr. Parka A. Hole. And Lord help the man if he says a word about it.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Flat Monday

Here I was, fresh out of the bed this morning, had time to make coffee for me and the wife, rub her shoulders and help her get her stuff together for her long 50 minute trek to Town-R where she's doing her family practice rotation this month. I smooched her goodbye and she went out the back door. I figured I'd have some coffee, do some blogging about how my Sunday shift went yesterday, and then head to work at 12:30 myself.

"I've got a flat!" I heard the wife call from the driveway.

Sure enough, the back left tire of her Ford Escort station wagon was completely flat. I threw on some warm clothes and shoes and went down to help with what I knew would be an incredibly frustrating task.

Unlike, say, my car, the Escort is just a beeyotch when it comes to changing its tires. The lug-nuts fuse with their posts and it takes much cursing and sweat and pain and more cursing in order to get them off. We worked at it for fifteen minutes and not one of them would budge despite my liberal cursing and caveman growls of frustration.

"Do we have WD-40?" she asked. Yes, we did. I fetched it and sprayed hell out of the lug-nuts. Still no dice.

"Why don't we just have it towed?" I said. After all, our deliciously good auto-insurance covers towing. She didn't want to do this, though. Not for a tire.

We worked at it some more, taking turns grunting against the four spoke tire-tool, our hands burning with effort. Nothing.

"Maybe I can jack the car up just a little," the wife said. "Maybe there's too much pressure from the weight of the car itself." She got her jack out and slid it under the car, turning the crank until the car lifted off of the asphalt driveway a couple of inches. I then took the tire-tool and stuck one of its spokes onto the top lug-nut. I turned it and it gave with a jerk.

"Bless your brain!" I told her. I moved the tool to the next nut. It too gave with a jerk. I then went around each of the nuts like this until I got to the final one, which I continued to try and turn after the initial jerking give. The gives continued to jerk. It was only then that I realized that I had been using the wrong size socket on the tire tool the whole time, using one that was big enough to let the nuts slip around within its grasp, giving us the illusion that things were turning when they most certainly were not.

I turned my cursing up a notch at this, invoking an unpleasant image that involved a dog and, perhaps, a condom.

"We have to have this towed!" I said.

Nope. She still didn't want to tow it over a flat tire. Instead, she said we should let it soak in WD-40 for the day, applying new coats as needed, and if we still couldn't get the thing changed by tomorrow morning, then we'd call a tow. Meanwhile, I would need to drive her to work.

No worries there. I don't mind doing that at all.

I suspected, though, that this would only be the FIRST frustrating thing to happen to me today. It was, after all, a MONDAY.

Turned out, though, it wasn't so bad after all.  It was certainly hectic, but nothing two people can't handle. In fact, Mrs. A said that she'd never before seen more people pounding on the door to get in before our Monday opening time of 1p. I saw two more of them myself at 12:55. Can people not see the GIANT white sign pinned to the door that reads "THE LIBRARY OPENS AT 1 P.M."? No, they can't, or just obstinately try the door anyway, just in case.

The only real chaos came when some girls from one of the local homes for wayward youth came in with their guardian. Actually, they weren't even all that chaotic, except that they each wanted a library card, which made the desk kind of busy for a while. They all seemed nice enough, if a bit too made up in some cases. (I mean, come on; what 15 year old really needs half-inch eyelash extensions mascaraed out to darn nigh a full inch? Even Paris Hilton would have been startled by these.)

Three of the girls were looking for How-To books on witchcraft. ("Not the bad kind of witchcraft. The good kind," one of them said.) I knew they were SOL on this front, but did a search for them anyway just for show. We only own one book that comes anywhere close and that's the Dictionary of Witchcraft. It's hardly a How-To guide. We also have to keep it behind the circulation desk because whenever we actually shelve it upstairs it turns up stolen within a very short time and we have to buy another. I used to think it was being horked by would-be witches, but now I'm pretty sure it's more likely that non-Pagan patrons are doing the stealing, which seems somehow even more wrong. After all, the Ten Commandments don't say, Thou Shalt Not Steal, Unless Something Really Sticks in Thy Craw.

One of the girls already had a library card, but she had neglected to bring it with her. I know this because she opened her checkout attempt with, "You'll have to look my name up, because I left my library card in my locker." I looked her up and she did have a patron record, but I told her I couldn't check anything out to her without a card. She then suddenly remembered that she lost her card and how could she get a new one? Sorry, chick, not gonna fly. You already told me you left it in your locker and since I now know you have a card I'm not giving you a new one cause you inconveniently left yours elsewhere.

Other than nearly locking a slow-moving patron in the building trying to get the place closed at 5, work went pretty good.

I got home at 5:15 and sprayed down the lug-nuts with WD-40 again. Probably the fifth coat of the day. Then, with a little English behind it, I was able to genuinely loosen all but one of the lug-nuts. I soaked it good and waited. After picking the wife up at 8:20 and returning home by 9:20, we tried again and it finally gave too. Tomorrow I get to go find a tire place to repair the nail gouge in the
tire while she takes my car in to work.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Near-Miss Returns of Barbara Turdmurkle

I was at the circ-desk on a Wednesday night, a couple weeks back. All of my fellow employees had departed, including Mrs. A who had just walked out the door. After a minute, the phone rang.

ME: Tri-Metro County Library.

MRS. A: (From her car outside) Hey, it's me. I just wanted to warn you, Barbara TURDMURKLE may be on her way in.

ME: Mmm boy.

MRS. A: She's sitting in a car in front of the lib... oh, wait, no. She's getting out now. Just thought I'd warn you.

ME: Thanks.

MRS. A: Good luck!

There passed several tense seconds as I waited for Barbara Turdmurkle to show her face. I don't rightly recall what she looks like, as I have rarely had to deal with her beyond phone calls. Oddly, though, Barbara Turdmurkle never appeared at all. I don't know if she just parked out front and walked somewhere else or what, but she never came inside. Kind of a nice near-miss situation. (We'd had another earlier that day, when Mr. Stanky drove up, failed to find a good parking place for his Stankmobile and then drove away to befoul greener pastures.)

Though I haven't had to personally deal with Barbara Turdmurkle much in the past, I have heard tales from my co-workers that could curdle your blood. From all accounts, she is stark-raving mad but feels a deep-seated compulsion to convince everyone she meets that she's not. And if that involves producing documentation, often in the form of photographs of herself from back when she was "normal-looking,"--her words--she'll do it. (Again, I can't even say that she looks abnormal now, I see her so little.)

When not trying to convince everyone of her sanity, Barbara spends her spare time eavesdropping on the activities of her 20-something neighbor in the apartment next door to hers and phones the police to complain whenever she hears the girl having sex. We know this, because Barbara has made it a point to tell us that she frequently does this.

I say "us" but what I really mean is "Mrs. B," who is kind of Barbara's ambassador to the world.

See, crazy people looooove Mrs. B. This is probably because, unlike the rest of us, Mrs. B actually pays attention to the crazy people, sometimes give them rides places, and almost always returns their phone calls. You do that enough and you develop a reputation among the crazy populace as the go-to gal. Barbara is no exception. Barbara likes telling Mrs. B of her many problems, and about all the people she knows who either think she's crazy or otherwise aren't behaving as they should. It seems to come in cycles, though, for she's not a regular patron. Just every few months she gets it in her bonnet to come talk to Mrs. B and any other employees who happen to be there too. I have, unfortunately for this blog, missed out on most of her appearances. But I do get to talk to her on the phone.

For instance, the day after the above near miss with Barbara Turdmurkle, I had another one. I was running the desk for Mrs. C and Mrs. B while they were engaged with Thursday morning story hour.


ME: Tri-Metro County Library.

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: Um. Yes. Is MRS. B... no, wait... that's not right. Is that right? What's that girl's name? MRS. B? Yes. Is MRS. B available?

ME: I'm sorry, she's not. She's in the middle of story hour right now.

(This, by the way, was the 5th such call I'd fielded for Mrs. B and/or Mrs. C, both of whom were engaged in separate story-hour groups. I'll give Barbara a pass on this, but all the other calls had been from people, often other librarians, who knew bloody well better than to call them during story hour.)

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: When will she be finished?

ME: Uhhh, I'd say 11:30 would be safe.

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: Oh. I see. Well then. This is BARBARA TURDMURKLE and I just wanted to ask her a question. So if you could give her my number and tell her to give me a call when she's finished.

Mrs. B did finish up around 11:30 and noticed the note I'd left her to call B.Turdmurkle. She sighed and picked up the phone.

Would ya like to take a guess as to what Barbara Turdmurkle wanted to ask Mrs. B about? Why, yes, you're right. She wanted to ask Mrs. B to renew the same bloody book I'd already assured her days earlier was NOT on her card in the first place. And the REASON it wasn't there? Turns out it's because when Barbara tried to check it out, she neglected to bring her library card and Mrs. B had checked it out on her own personal card in order to get Barbara to simply leave without a big scene. Now my own policy is that I never check books out to patrons on it unless they're sweet little old ladies who genuinely forgot theirs, and Never. To. Crazy. People. However, I can see the logic in resorting to such a move in order to get rid of someone as troublesome as Barbie T.

It took Mrs. B nearly a minute to explain the situation to Barbara in a way that finally seemed to convince her. After that, Mrs. B asked how things were going in Barbara's life, which lead to the latest installment of Barbara's ongoing battle with her over-sexed neighbor and how the police chief himself had now told Barbara to stop calling him about it and how she couldn't speak to the girl about it again because anything they said to one another these days came from a place of anger and was not constructive.

Barbara's latest mission is to find someone gullible enough to come hang curtains for her. She's told this to Mrs. B several times, but Mrs. B has wisely not taken the bait.

I might do it just to have material to blog about if I didn't know that such an act would get my name put on the Crazy People Go-To list for life. The less Barbara Turdmurkle knows my name the better.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

And on that Rogue related note...

...I nearly saw Chester get run over yesterday.

He was inside his Fugly at the time, but if he'd been two seconds quicker he would have gotten schmacked in the driver's side door.

I was on my way to the comic shop when I had to stop at our most hectic intersection to wait to cross the street. While there, a north bound car tried to make a last second left turn through the yellow light they had. They had assumed that the approaching south bound car (i.e. Chester in his Fugly) was going to stop and let them do this. Chester, however, didn't even look at them and decided to make a last second right turn on the yellow light before it could change to red, at which point he would have been legally bound to pay attention to the "DO NOT TURN RIGHT ON RED AT THIS INTERSECTION" signs hanging everywhere. He had nearly made his turn when he glanced up and noticed that the north bound car was about to crunk him a good one and he slammed on his brakes. He looked quite put out about it.

I'm actually glad he didn't get hit, though. As a witness to the incident, I would have been obligated to stick around and tell the police what I'd seen and I wasn't entirely sure if Chester was at fault. I would really have hated to lend his dumb ass any support. It might have lead to yet another sad attempt on his part to get me to shake his paw.

Rogue Rumors & Confirmations

Been a lot of news on the Rogue Rumor front this week.

According to Mr. Rob, the librarian over at the local community college, The Patron Who Must Not Be Named, a.k.a. Chester the (Potential) Molester/Community College Janitor, has been ordered by his superiors that he is not to set foot on the grounds of the community college unless he's actually scheduled to work that day and actually working.  Another way to put this is that all of Chester's off-hours are to be spent ogling women elsewhere rather than on community college grounds. I suppose by inference this means that he's free to ogle-away provided he's on the clock, but they don't want to see his face otherwise.

That's actually the rumor portion of the message, as Mr. Rob is uncertain as to whether the janitor in question is one in the same as our Chester. We know it has to be, as we have other sources who've confirmed that Chester's employed there. If the janitor Mr. Rob has mentioned isn't Chester, then they seem to have something of a pervert-hiring policy.

The other pervert sighting came Monday, when Parka stopped by (clad, of course, in his namesake big puffy white parka) to look at as much porn as our internet filters will allow him to. It's apparently more than we'd usually care for and has caused me to wonder whether the filters are working properly on the new patron computers we recently purchased.

Parka was in there for a couple of hours that afternoon. During this time, a 20-something woman who looked very familiar to me came in and used a computer too. After about 15 minutes, she came up to the circ-desk, smiled and in a low voice said, "The, uh, `gentleman' on the middle computer back there..."

"Uh huuuuh?" I said, adopting my best I know what's coming next tone.

"He's, um, well... I don't know what your policy is about this, or if you have one, but he's back there looking at... well, pornography."

"Uh huh."

"I know he's doing that because he's been asked to leave the ORNATHOLOGICAL COFFEE SHOP (Not Its Real Name) for doing that on our computers. I know. I work there."

"Uh huhhhh," I said, both at the revelation of Parka getting kicked out of one of our local coffee shops and from the revelation that that's where I knew this girl from. I told her, "Well, we don't really have any policy against it, but we are well aware of what he does back there."

She smiled knowingly, nodded and then departed.

It somehow warms my heart to know that we're not the only folks in town that are annoyed by Parka.

I think Parka's still out of work. Maybe I should tell him the community college is hiring.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Phone call from Dad

When you live nearly 700 miles away from your parents, it's always a bit disconcerting to receive a call from one of them at work. You immediately think the worst has happened and start preparing your heart for a bad fall. That's what I did with my heart, at least, when my dad phoned me at work today. Nothing at all was wrong, though. Dad merely wanted to know what name I went by back when I was DJing on the radio in Charlotte, NC.

Dad said he'd been doing his morning check of Statcounter for his website when he noticed someone from the The Charlotte Observer had come by for a look at some of his favorite sub-pages. Dad was quite curious as to what a major newspaper would be doing at his site. So much so that he gave them a call to find out. Nothing major was up on that front either. It turns out the visit came from a couple of guys down in the mail-room who were goofing around on the net and stumbled on the page by mistake. However, during the conversation(s) Dad had in order to gain that tidbit of information, he managed to mention that he had a son who used to work in radio in Charlotte a few years back. At that point, the person at the paper asked what my on-air name was, in case they knew me. Dad wasn't sure, but promised to call them back once he'd found out.

"It was Erik Winston," I told him. "Just like it was when I worked in Tupelo. I doubt they know anything about me, though, cause I only DJed on the weekends."

Dad seemed happy with this and we soon hung up. Less than a minute later, he phoned again to ask what station I'd worked at.

"107.9 The Link," I said. He hung up again and was off on his next adventure.

At that point, I looked up at Mrs. C and said, "How come my dad in Mississippi can manage to find the phone number here without a phone book, yet nobody in town can manage to find it with one?"

"That's a good question," Mrs. C said.

I say "nobody" can find our number in the phone book, but from the number of calls we receive each day obviously some people are able to find it. However, we do get quite a few calls from people who've had to phone other libraries in order to get our number because "It ain't nowhere in the phone book." They're always real loud about letting us know this, too. That's when we politely ask them to take their phone book out and turn to the business section and look up TRI-METRO County Public Library, `bout mid way down the second column on the page. They get a lot quieter then, but often still insist that they looked there before and we weren't listed then.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #20

ME: Can I help you?

MALE PATRON: Yeah. I was looking to see if you had the armed services entrance exam book.

ME: (I reach over to our deposit book shelf and grab up our copy.Sure do.

PATRON: I just need to borrow it for a couple of days.

ME: Very well. Do you have your library card?

PATRON: Uh, no. I'm from OTHER county.

ME: Okay. Well do you have your OTHER county library card.

PATRON: No. I don't have one.

ME: (Passes patron a library card application form) That's all right. If you wouldn't mind filling out this form...

PATRON: No. I don't want a card. I just want to borrow the book for a couple of days.

ME: I understand that, but you'll need to have a library card.

PATRON: You mean I can't borrow books without a library card?

(Long pause.)

ME: No.  No, you can't.

PATRON: You mean I gotta wait to get the library card before I can come and borrow the book?

ME: (Realizing that this guy thinks it's going to take weeks for his library card to be processed and mailed to him before he can use it, or something) Yes. But if you'll just fill out that application, it will only take me a couple of minutes to make one for you.

PATRON: Oh.  Um... Okay.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Weird Wednesday

Yesterday was Weird Wednesday.

Not every Wednesday is a Weird Wednesday, but when we have more than our usual share of mentally unbalanced or otherwise questionable patrons who weird us out, they are. It's not always on a Wednesday either. Sometimes we have Terrible Tuesdays, In Need of Therapy Thursdays and Freaky Fridays. Oh, and of course, Manic Mondays.

Yesterday didn't even have all THAT much weirdness, but still more than qualifies because of the appearance of two people, one of which was Ron the Ripper.

We've not seen Ron in several months now and the past few times he's been in he has been startlingly well-behaved and failed to rip anything, let alone a magazine. The only really notable thing about Ron's appearance today is that accompanying him was a woman who had to have been his mother (Ma Ripper) because she looked exactly like Ron except 20 years older; which is to say, a stout fellow around 5'7" with salt & pepper hair, well-shaven (for once) and not quite as manic a gleam in the eye as he once had.

The two of them went upstairs where I imagined they would both snatch up a couple of our good magazines before sitting together at one of our tables where they would both proceed to page-flip the magazines to death. I wondered if maybe Ma Ripper would emit caveman growls like her son when confronted about their destruction.

Alas, nothing so colorful happened. From what I'm told by my fellow staff members who observed them, Ron and Ma Ripper sat upstairs in the chairs by our magazine rack where Ma Ripper flipped very slowly and carefully through a magazine while Ron sat obediently in his own chair with no magazine whatsoever and seemed happy for the opportunity.

That guy has really mellowed out.

The other Weird Wednesday qualifier came just half an hour into my shift, when we were visited by yet another in our long string of computer illiterate technophobes.

Two Mondays ago (Manic Monday!) a gentleman phoned the library toward the end of one of the many bursts of Monday chaos to ask if we had internet access.

"Yes, we do," I told him.

He then politely explained that he was not at all familiar with how to use the internet and asked if we would show him how to use it should he come by. He said he needed some tax information from the IRS website. I explained that that particular day, again, a Monday, we would be unable to assist him in that regard being as how we was really just me and I was stranded at the circ-desk dealing with the Monday and wouldn't be able to slip away, even to take myself a whiz. However, if he wouldn't mind coming in on nearly any other weekday, we'd be happy to help him out.

This may seem strange behavior for me, as I've done my share of complaining bitterly in the past about computer illiterates and the techniques they employ toward their ultimate goal of driving me insane. (See: Ms. I.N. Phyte and Mr. Little Stupid.) However, this man was at least not delusional about having any computer skills and was willing to admit it, politely, and ask for my help. He hadn't just buzzed on by that Monday afternoon to insist upon it nor did he pretend he knew what he was doing and just plop down and stare at the screen for 20 minutes until someone noticed he was a moron. No, this gentleman had phoned, in advance, to inquire if we would be willing to help him! Now that's refreshing!!!

I told the man to come on down Tuesday through Friday, preferably in the afternoon when we have the most available staff. And, at this, he thanked me for my time and help.

Yesterday was his chosen day. Once again, he phoned ahead and spoke with Mrs. A, asking her if we could help put him on the internet should he come down. I know this because as soon as he'd asked it, Mrs. A looked to me--the guy who would be doing the actual helping--and asked if I was willing. "Sure thing," I said.

Fifteen minutes later, the man arrived. He had evidently been working out or jogging or was preparing to go workout or jog, for he was wearing nylon exercise pants beneath a pair of shorts. I've seen this look before and I've never understood it. What are people who do this trying to say? Is it: "Hey, check out these cool shorts I'd really like to be wearing except that it's too EFFing cold to just wear shorts, so I put `em on over my fancy nylon workout britches! "? Sorry. I just don't understand the look.

Anyway, we signed Mr. Shorts in at the clip board and I took him on back where I thought I would have to hand hold him through the process. Once in the computer hall, the man explained that he owned a computer but it wasn't hooked up to the internet at all. You might think this would make him a candidate for at least SOME computer skills, but, alas, no. Evidently Mr. Shorts's computer was not only not hooked up to the internet but it wasn't hooked up to a mouse either, cause he had quite a bit of trouble using ours. I explained the whole left click & drag the scroll bar thing in order to let him scroll down our home page to the IRS links I've helpfully placed there. It took him a few tries and I still don't think he was left-clicking properly. Eventually, he decided instead of dragging the scroll bar, he'd just click in the space beneath it so it would jump down to meet the mouse. He still wasn't left clicking properly, though, so it didn't work the first time either. Finally we got to the bottom of the page and he successfully clicked (double) on the IRS link.

Mr. Shorts explained he was looking for a publication that would help him with charitable deductions. I showed him where the forms & publications page was and how to search for things with the IRS search engine. I suggested some search terms and was prepared to stand there and further assist, but dude indicated that I'd helped enough and he thought he could handle it from there, so I told him to let me know if I could help further and returned to the circ desk.

For the most part, he was right. It took him ten minutes or so, but he did mange to find the publication he was searching for. However, he was mystified about how to get to the publication from the search page. He didn't realize that the linked publication title could be clicked to take him there. My fault for assuming he knew how.

Now, it might seem that I'm making fun of the man at this point, but I'm really not. I understand that there are people who don't know anything about the internet, even people as young as this guy (who was in his 40's, I'd say). I also understand that there are people who think it's fine and dandy to wear shorts on top of their pants regardless of how retarded it might look. Whatever. I'm still not making fun of him; just observing. The part where I actually make fun of him is coming up.

After he finished copying down the information he needed from the online publication, Mr. Shorts came back up front and once again thanked me for my time and for helping him out. Again, mighty nice of him. He then began browsing through some of our new non-fiction. This is when warning bells began to go off in my head and I became preoccupied in typing up spine-labels for some incoming new books in order to keep as far away from the circulation desk as possible. Mrs. A and C were both in proximity to the desk, so I was hoping they would be the ones who had to deal with what I knew was coming next.

After a few minutes, Mr. Shorts began to look as though he was ready to check out. That's when I took my avoidance of the circ-desk a step further by hauling ass out of the room with an armload of non-fiction to take to the book cart upstairs.

See I knew there was no way in hell this guy actually had a library card with us, except maybe on the old defunct system and not the new freshness. And as techno-phobic as he'd seemed before, I also knew there was no way he was going to want to jump through the hoops we require to get a library card without some kind of paranoid tantrum. Upon returning from upstairs, I discovered that I was very very right on this count.

Mrs. A was at the desk, peering down as Mr. Shorts filled out his application for a library card. He had only made it as far as the drivers' license number.

"That's a drivers license number. That's personal information," he was saying. "That's just as dangerous as giving out your Social Security number! There's no way you can guarantee me that that this system is secure!"

Mrs. A didn't even attempt to guarantee him that our system is secure. After all, it's not our job to have a secure system; that's the job of the tech-boys back at the head office. They say it is, we have to take their word on it. What Mrs. A did do was politely explain to dude the reasons why we insist upon having a drivers license number in the first place. I knew it was futile to do so. It always is.

Dude didn't hear a bit of it. He was too busy waiting to say what he said next, which was, "All a thief needs is your social security number and your drivers license number and he can steal your identity. I don't even put that information in my own computer."

That's right.

He said he didn't put that information in his own computer.

Y'know, the one that's not even hooked up to the internet in the first place.

Mrs. A continued to skillfully ignore his rants. She'd given her explanation to him and he hadn't torn up his application. In fact, he'd gone ahead and written down his license number for her, which she confirmed from his license, so he wasn't so bent out of shape that he didn't want the card anyway.

My master plan of not being the guy on the desk when Mr. Shorts did what I knew Mr. Shorts was gonna do worked like a charm. Mrs. A is far better suited to not going off on people than I am in such situations. Her philosophy of answering the questions she can and politely ignoring the rants in between seems to work for her pretty well.

Monday, February 21, 2005

B's Fleas

Mr. B-Natural was in Thursday. He's been back intermittently over the past couple weeks, but it seems like he's probably going to be a regular again.

On his way out, he couldn't resist stopping by the circulation desk to take a quick verbal jab at Mrs. A for banning his dog Bubba for spreading fleas in the library. He told her that Bubba misses us and that when he last drove up to park at the library with his dog in the car, Bubba became excited that he was about to go in again until Mr. B told him, "Nope. Ya gotta stay. MRS. A has fleas."

Mrs. A laughed heartily at this, then told Mr. B-Natural, "We'd love to see Bubba too. He can come up to the front step and we'll all come out and pet him. But he still can't come in."

"That dog didn't have fleas," Mr. B-Natural said.

"Well, think of it like this," Mrs. A said. "Not bringing him in here kept him from getting them, because we certainly had them in here."

Mr. B-Natural grumbled a bit, then said, "People can carry fleas too."

After he said that, there was a long pause among the employees of the library. I'm almost certain that if there were a comic book version of that moment, there would have been a large collective thought balloon drawn above all our heads with a picture of Mr. Stanky in the center of it.

Actual Semi-Paraphrased Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #18


MRS. C: Hi. This is MRS. C at the TRI-METRO County Public Library. We've had a several patrons come in who said you told them we had free tax preparation help. I just wanted to let you know that we don't offer that here. Only TOWN-C's branch does that and we're TOWN-A.

RECEPTIONIST: (Most defensively and pissily) We already know that! No one here has said anything like that. We haven't told anybody that.

MRS. C: Well, our patrons seem to think otherwise.

RECEPTIONIST: No one here would have said that!

MRS. C: Okay, then. Just wanted to make sure you knew.

RECEPTIONIST: We do. We know that.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tweet tweet tweet... the bird.

Allow me to send out a rousing middle finger to Verizon DSL.

We used to have Verizon DSL back when we lived across town. It was okay, as far as DSL goes, but its frequent freezeups and refusal to work with any program other than Netscape 4.0 made me long for the days of my old cable modem in Charlotte.

Shortly after we moved into our current house, in April of `03, Verizon let us know that we could no longer have DSL because our new place was too far from the local whatchamadoochie that makes DSL possible. Whatever. I didn't like it, but I understood it. For months after that, I kept checking Verizon's site to see if our number qualified for DSL, but it never did. Then, nearly a year ago, Verizon sent me a card in the mail saying "HEY, YOU CAN HAVE DSL!" Whoo hoo! Unfortunately, this coincided with a period of time when we had very little extra money for such luxuries, so I declined to give them a call to set it up. Instead, I ordered Callwave so that I could get calls that I might have missed while online.

In the time since then, I've come to really hate Callwave. Oh, it's useful and all, but now it shows me exactly who's calling to interrupt my internet connection, allowing me the ability to know who I should be pissed at. This atop of the anger that flares up EVERY time the damn phone rings at work is just too much phone anger for one human being to have and remain healthy; I decided DSL was affordable after all.

I went to Verizon's DSL site, rechecked my phone number and was assured by their system that I could in fact have DSL. I ordered it. I even started trolling ebay for wireless modems so that I could do up a home network and let the wife use her laptop with DSL too.

Two weeks ago, my DSL modem finally arrived, though I received both an e-mail and a telephone message telling me that we still couldn't use it until its switch-on date of Feb 8.

Then, one evening we received a message on our answering machine saying, "SORRY, PEPE, YOU CAN'T HAVE IT!" I'm paraphrasing, sure, but that was the gist. The message said they had tested the line and it turned out not to be compatible with DSL after all, so they were real sorry they'd gotten me all worked up about it and had sent me the modem, and all, but we still couldn't have it. Oh, and could I please send back their modem? Jankiee bastards!

A few days later, a Verizon return mailing label came in the mail, allowing me to send it back for free. I let the modem sit right where it was on the kitchen table for several more days before deciding to actually return it to them.

And what do you suppose arrived in my mailbox two days ago? Why, yes, it was yet another of Verizon's "HEY, YOU CAN HAVE DSL" cards.

I think I'll sign up for it again and then let em spend lots of postage mailing and return mailing their modem back and forth.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Good News Is...

Last month, I let you guys n' gals in on a few of the huge news items taking place in my real life. One of those had to do with the decision we'd made as to where we wanted to spend the next three years of our lives (and possibly beyond) for my wife's medical school residency and internship. Our ideal choices were either here in Tri-Metro or in Clarksburg, WV. I also mentioned that we had made our decision between these two only to change it at the last possible moment.  Once our decision was made for good we only had to wait to see which if any of the above choices chose us in the residency match.

Long story short, we chose Tri-Metro. And as of this past Monday, we learned that Tri-Metro also chose us. This means that we will be remaining in the area for the next three years and conceivably longer. (It also means I don't have to change the title of this blog from Tales from the "Liberry" to Tales from the Unemployed Liberry Ass.)

We're very happy that things came down this way, but the various decisions we made concerning it were extremely difficult and came very close to going differently.

Originally we had chosen Clarksburg. Actually, it's more acurate to say that we chose it, then changed our minds, then chose it again, and then changed our minds for keepsies at the very last second. It's not that we ever wanted to leave Tri-Metro, it's just that we felt that the residency program in Clarksburg was the better choice of the two. She had heard great things about them and decided to spend three months rotating there so she could get a better feel of the program and so the folks there could get to know her. Their family practice residency program is, after all, more established and well oiled than Tri-Metro's to this point.  And after getting to know her, they basically told her that if she wanted a position there it was hers.

My feeling was that if Clarksburg was the better program then we should go there. After all, getting the best medical education possible is our whole purpose for being here in the first place. It's the goal she's been working toward for nearly a decade now. She owes it to her future patients to go where she thinks she’ll be best trained. So at that point, months and months ago, we’d pretty much decided that Clarksburg was the way to go. Granted, I hated the thought of having to do all the work required to move all our stuff, but I was willing to do it.

Of course, it can never be that simple.

After four months of being moved and shuffled around on rotations away from home, the wife began to see the benefits of staying put in one place and putting down roots. She told me about her new doubts about moving. Did we really want to leave Tri-Metro? No. Did we want roots in Clarksburg.  Not necessarily.  We had talked about returning to Tri-Metro after her residency, anyway. That woudl be yet another move.

Add to this that about the same time that Clarksburg told her they wanted her for their program, Tri-Metro’s hospital told her exactly the same thing. People I know there even began pestering me to help recruit her.  I passed on their words, but at the same time told them that we were pretty well decided.

We began talking to friends about our doubts.  And we started making pros and cons lists about the two programs and cities. The pay was about the same when you factored in signing bonuses. We already have equity in the community, from my work and friends, to the theatre scene I'm involved with, and our church.  And then there were the really important factors, like that Tri-Metro has a good comic shop while Clarksburg doesn't.

When we finished making our lists, the pros for staying outweighed the cons. Not by much, but they were outweighed. And, after more weeks of deliberation, hemming and/or hawing, we decided to stay. (Decisive bunch, we are.)

And thankfully, the hospital here felt the same.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

As in accordance with tradition

The past few Mondays have been fairly tame as far as Mondays go. The traffic has seemed lighter than usual, but then even the heavy traffic and phones have not been as bad since both Mrs. C and I have been working the desk. I can still tell when things would be unbearable were I there solo, but it's been far easier with another person there.

Yesterday, however, Mrs. C and Mrs. A were both out of town at meetings, so I really was running solo. Well, I say solo, but Lennie had come in for his Monday shift, so he was there to help load the book cart. Otherwise, it was just me staring in the face of one of the most irritating Mondays in recent memory.

Starting at about 1:10, the patrons began pouring in. And not just regular patrons, but needy patrons.
Our first two patrons through the door needed a beginner's guide to Buddhism. No big deal, except they didn't want the closest thing we had to one and stood there trying to make suggestions to me for other searches. One of them also seemed to think that we had a book on hold for her, though she admitted that we had not actually called her about it. She just assumed it would be there. It wasn't, but I still had to look around for a minute to make sure. The other lady needed a library card, even though she wasn't going to check out the Buddhism book we have after all. Again, no problem, but she couldn't decide whether she wanted a key card or a wallet card and kept saying things like, "Well, I'll take the key card for now" as though we're real keen on people switching down the road. Her friend kept trying to explain that she needed to choose the kind she really wanted NOW. Meanwhile, four other equally needy patrons had piled up behind them as their time at the desk stretched on into the five minute range.

After they left, and I was at last able to start dealing with the other patrons in line, the phone began ringing.

The first call was from Town-M's librarian, Mr. T, who phoned to tell us that he wanted to send us a few ILL books that some pitiful foolish patrons of ours had requested, but somehow our library's patron record had vanished from the database. I looked. It was indeed missing. He noted that several of his patrons' records had vanished over the weekend too, so perhaps we'd done so as well. I tried to explain to Mr. T that I couldn't do a whole lot about this as both librarians are out of town and I have no way to contact them nor any idea who to call about this sort of thing. The most I could do is make a new card for the library so he could check things out to it.

I located books for the next two patrons in line, but both of them needed library cards and more patrons were filing in behind them and the phone rang.


This call was, of course, from Mr. Kreskin, who'd called to talk to Mrs. A who is rarely at the library on most Mondays, let alone on this Monday when she’d announced to one and all she and Mrs. C would be out of town.  Hence his call.  Fortunately, he didn't get upset that both she and Mrs. C were gone. He just said he'd call back tomorrow.

A lady patron in line came up and said, "I was just down at H&R Block and they said you'd do my taxes."

"No, ma'am," I said, rather emphatically. "We do NOT do that here."

She looked shocked and offended at this. But I told her that I'd heard, though could not swear to be true, that Town-C's library has someone that helps with taxes by appointment. She seemed distraught over this, but mostly because she didn't know where Town-C's library was. I told her and sent her on her way.


It was from Mrs. H over at Town-D's library. She had a patron who was looking for books on New Jersey and she wanted to send them over to check out the two we owned but she had no way of knowing for sure that those books were actually on the shelf despite the fact that the catalog claimed they were both available. Could I go check?

"I might be able to check in a while," I said, "but right now it's Monday." Mrs. H said she understood and they were pretty swamped too.

Then Mrs. C phoned. She needed me to fire up her new computer and activate the remote access program so one of the tech guys could load programs on it. I groaned at this, staring at a sea of impatient looking patrons. "I'll try to get over there and do it in the next few minutes. I'm eat up here at the moment." Once I was able to get to it, I had to keep going back and doing it over again because her screensaver kept kicking them out.

After about an hour things began to calm down and then turned into intermittent bursts of chaos throughout the afternoon and on past closing. It took me more than an hour to get the book return cleaned out and all the books from it shelved. Every time I would try to check any in or put any on the shelf, the phone would ring and I'd have to stop.

Finally, it was nearly closing time.  And that's when the real rush began.

After damn near a decade and a half of closing at 5p on Mondays, many of our patrons have finally realized that this is when we close.  However, this doesn't keep them from coming to the library at the crack of 5p by any means. No. Patrons now view the 5 p.m. deadline as the time by which they need to be through the library's door. And once they've rushed across town and passed through it, they become quite leisurely in their book searching activity.  Such as the mom and her three kids, who came in and began slowly browsing the children's room at 4:55.  At 2 minutes til close, I let them know that, while I wasn't trying to rush them (liar!), we were closing in a couple of minutes. Didn't phase `em one bit. They leafed and looked until well past 5 p.m. and finally came to check out at nearly 5 minutes after 5.

"The name's Holland," the mom said. This told me that mom didn't have a new library card and had not been in since before the summer and was assuming we could still look up her record by her name. I asked her name and confirmed that we didn't have a card for her. I offered to make her a new card and she even began filling out an application before deciding she really didn't want the hassle.

"Well, the kids are probably in there," she said with a dismissive wave toward the computer. "The name's Holland."

"Did you bring your cards?" I asked the kids. Nope, they hadn't.

"So you're trying to say we can't have any books today?" mom said, adopting just a little more attitude than I appreciated.

"No, ma'am. You can still have books, but it will need to be on your new card."

Mom sighed and finished filling it out. By the time I'd finished checking them out it was nearly 13 minutes after closing.

So, yes, it was another traditional infuriating Monday. I did not allow it to infuriate me, however, for I was still living off the glow of the great news my wife and I received regarding where we're going to be spending the next three years of our lives.

(To be continued...)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Disturbing Behavior

Mrs. C told me the other day that she was her local health club a week or so back when she once again saw Chester the (Potential) Molester doing his usual half-assed job at working out, his little knit cap perched on his head all the while.

Later, in another part of the health club well out of Chester's earshot, Mrs. C and her husband were discussing whether or not Chester EVER takes off that stupid hat.

"No, he doesn't," one of the health-club employees reportedly said.

The three of them then entered into a discussion about Chester and just how unbelievably creepy he is. During this, the health club employee mentioned that he knows for a fact that Chester has memberships at EVERY health club in town and goes to them specifically so he can girl-watch, only attempting a cursory workout for himself so he'll at least have an excuse to hang around. (Granted, there are only, like, three other health-clubs in town, but memberships to those places tend toward the expensive.)

And so the list of people who cannot stand the sight of that man continues to grow.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Lovely Spam, Wonderful Spam

This is the funniest spam I've received in a long while.
It reads like chopstick instructions, yet retains a level of white-trashosity that can only be aspired to.

SUBJECT: Hey, me again
Wanted to interest you in keeping me some company. My Sack of shit husband works night shifts, which makes me very lonely at night.

To contact me please go here: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

P.S. it's me
Chelsea x


Our former employee turned rogue, Miss E, has made a few appearances as of late.

A few weeks back, Mrs. C and her husband, Mr. C, spied Miss E at Wal-Mart. Mr. C was the one who did the actual spotting, having come around an aisle only to find himself sharing it with Miss E. As soon as she saw him, she dashed away, so that Mrs. C never actually saw her. I'd been wondering when one of us would have such an encounter, as this is a pretty small town and running into folks at Wal-Mart is a regular occurrence.

Mrs. C has also had some dealings with Miss E's mother, Mrs. E, as they both belong to a local group that meets in our "liberry's" activities room. Mrs. E has only slightly more contact with her daughter than we do these days. She did, however, try to offer some words of explanation as to Miss E's sudden and as yet unexplained exodus from her job here. While she didn't offer up any real reasons behind it, Mrs. E says that Miss E feels terrible about abandoning her job like that and wishes she had done things differently. Mrs. C told Mrs. E that we're still willing to be friends with her and that while mistakes were made this was not a deal-breaker as far as our relationship with Miss E goes. We would, however, like to have the library books that Miss E checked out from us back, not to mention the interlibrary loan from another library that she still has and that we've been billed for.

That all happened a month or two back. We've still seen no books.

Last Thursday afternoon, Mrs. C told me that she had spoken on the phone to Miss E's mother earlier in the day on unrelated matters. At the end of their conversation, she brought up the fact that we still haven't gotten our books back nor the ILL from Miss E. Mrs. E said she'd packed up all of Miss E's books and sent them over to her other daughter's house, where Miss E now stays. That's all I heard about Miss E from Mrs. C

Then, last Thursday night, I had my own encounter with Miss E...



ME: Tri-Metro Public Library.

MISS E: Hey, JUICE, it's MISS E.

ME: Oh. Hi.

MISS E: I talked to MRS. C earlier and she said she was leaving my W-2 form there. She had to reprint it cause the social security number was wrong on it. I don't think I'm going to get there before you close. Could you leave it in the mailbox?


ME: Uh, well I don't see it here.

MISS E: Well, MRS. C said she'd leave it there for me.

ME: Let me look some more. (I search the entire desk area and all the usual place stuff hides, but it's not to be found at all. I then search Mrs. C's desk area, but still no dice.) Sorry, it doesn't seem to be here. Maybe give MRS. C a call in the morning.

Miss E didn't sound as though she believed me. Perhaps she suspected that we were trying to delay getting her W-2 to her in order to punish her for running out on us. I even considered this as a possibility for a bit. After all, Mrs. C had not told me that she'd spoken with Miss E, only that she'd talked to her mother. Perhaps she was giving me plausible deniability when I couldn't find the W-2. As I learned this week, though, this was not the case. It turns out that Mrs. C had NOT talked to Miss E at all, but only to her mother. (Therefore Miss E was lying when she said she'd talked to Mrs. C.) And the reason Miss E's W-2 was not present was that Mrs. C had given it to Mrs. A to look over and Mrs. A didn't realize she needed to bring it back downstairs afterward.

While I imagine that Miss E truly is sorry for the way she departed, she doesn't appear to be sorry enough to quit being aggressively deceptive toward us. We have come to suspect in the intervening months that the money that went missing in May of last year, just three months before Miss E abandoned her post, may have been taken by her in the first place. We've certainly had no massive amounts of cash missing since she left.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Actual Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #17


ME: Tri-Metro County Public Library.

BARBARA TURDMURKLE (NOT HER REAL NAME): Yeah, this is Barbara Turdmurkle. I have a book out that I need to renew.

ME: (Looks up Barbara Turdmurkle in the computer. There are NO books checked out to her account) You said "Barbara Turdmurkle," right?


ME: It doesn't look like there are any books checked out to that...

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: (Interrupting) It might be under B. Turdmurkle.

ME: (Misunderstanding) Dee? D-E-E?

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: No, "B"... B. Turdmurkle.

ME: B, as in Boy?

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: Yes. B... B. Turdmurkle.

ME: Ma'am, we don't allow initials to be used in our patron records.

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: Then it's Barbara Turdmurkle.

ME: (For further confirmation) And can I have your mailing address?

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: P.O. Box 882, Tri-Metro. It's Barbara Turdmurkle.

ME: Yes, ma'am. I understood that. I was just trying to explain earlier that there are no books checked out under Barbara Turdmurkle.

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: Well, I have it right here. It says it's due today, but I want to extend it.

ME: Is this an interlibrary loan, ma'am?

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: (Not listening whatsoever) I checked it out on January 20.

ME: I understand that, ma'am. I'm just asking if this was an interlibrary loan.

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: Well, no I don't think so.

ME: So this was a book that we own here. You got it from our collection?

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: Yes. I got it there on the 20th.

ME: Okay. Well, like I said, there are no books checked out to your patron record. So either we didn't manage to check your book out to you here or it's an interlibrary loan.

(Long pause)

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: But I have it right here.

ME: I understand that, ma'am. We still don't have it checked out to you on your card. You're sure you didn't get this on interlibrary loan?

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: No! I got it there! At the library! I just wanted to renew it for a few days because I'm not finished with it yet.

ME: Okay. Well, like I said, it's not checked out to you on your card. This means we won't be able to charge you any fines if it's late, so just bring it back when you're finished.

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: So I can have it renewed?

ME: (Sighing over the impossibility of ever cracking the walls of understanding with this woman) Yes. It's renewed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Ahh. It arrived. Of course, it arrived just AFTER the post office closed, but at least it was here today. I've now installed my new power supply and it is enjoyably less loud than my previous one. (Actually, the previous one was pretty quiet, once it finally died, but I digress.)


It's my day off, but I'm trapped in my house. The reason I can't leave is because I'm waiting for the UPS man to arrive with the new power supply for my computer.

My old one has been slowly going crap for a year or two, but finally gave up the ghost last week, its fan konking out forever. Since then I've ordered a new one and have been using my wife's laptop for my internet access. But the new one is scheduled for delivery today and, according to UPS's site, is on the truck and on its way.






Sunday, February 06, 2005

One Day in Tibet

Saturday my wife and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.

Being as how it’s our 5th Anniversary, I’ve wanted to do something special for it for a while now, but hadn’t been real proactive toward actually planning anything until last week. Oh, sure, I’d been pestering the wife for weeks as to what she wanted to do for it, but she seemed very non-committal, which told me that the ball was firmly in my court and it was my turn to plan something good.

A couple of years back, I’d hatched a plan to spend our 5th anniversary in the cabin we rented in Gatlinburg for our honeymoon. However, I’ve somehow failed to become spectacularly wealthy in the intervening time since then, so that was out for this year. I knew we would at least go out to dinner and I would at least get her a dozen roses and a card, but it seemed like there needed to be something extra on there too. Something special. Something unique. After all, I was celebrating having spent five of the best years of my life with a woman who has come up with some very nice and well thought-out anniversary presents for me in the past. 

While lamenting about this topic at the library last week, I happened to say, "Well, I guess we could just drive to BIGGER CITY and eat Indian food, if nothing else."

"Oh, if you're coming to BIGGER CITY, you should come see the Tibetan Monks too," Mrs. B said.

"Do what?"

Mrs. B explained that a group of Tibetan Monks were going to be appearing at her daughter’s college in BIGGER CITY. In fact, her daughter had been in charge of booking the monks' appearance and was terrified that no one was going to come see them. Mrs. B and her family were going to go over to help fill seats. This struck me as something that the wife might really want to see. After all, if you’ve got Tibetan Monks on site, there’s gonna be some tri-tonal throat-singing going on too and that stuff is just amazing.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, tri-tonal throat singing is a process many Tibetan Monks have mastered whereby they are able to sing in a very low vocal range and have such control over their vocal muscles that they can actually sing in three separate tones at once. (Janice Joplin only managed two!) They can thereby sing in musical chords all by themselves. You get a bunch of monks chanting in tri-tones in unison and it can be mighty impressive.

Now, I know that Going to See Tibetan Monks probably doesn’t sound like anything cool or romantic to you guys, and perhaps it’s not. But I knew it would certainly be memorable, unique and pretty much on theme for us. I also knew the wife would enjoy it. That decided, I alerted her to the fact that I had something in the works for Saturday evening, though I would not be telling her ANYTHING about it so she wouldn’t have any chance of guessing it ahead of time and spoiling the surprise, as in accordance with tradition. Of course, she pestered me until I told her that my plan involved a drive to BIGGER CITY, which was just enough to get her imagination really going.

The wife had asked off for half a day from her Saturday family practice rotation in Town-R, so it looked like we'd be right on schedule to leave. My master plan was to leave the house at 2 p.m., pick her up some roses and a card at the local flower shop, hide those in the trunk, meet her at Wal-Mart by 3 p.m., hit the road for the 2 hour drive to BIGGER CITY, eat massive amounts of Indian food at our favorite Indian food restaurant where I would also surprise her with the roses and the card, then pop on over to the university for some Tibetan Monk throat-singing action.

So confident was I in my plan that I spent most of the morning messing around with this stupid blog, and not out buying flowers, and thus I was completely caught unawares when she phoned me at 12:30 to say she was on her way home early.

Town-R is 40 minutes away from our house in Town-C. Assuming she was calling from Town-R and not at the bottom of the hill in Town-C, that meant I now only had maybe half an hour, forty minutes at the most, to go get flowers and a card and get back to the house before she did. The local flower shop in Town-A was too far away to risk it, so I would have to get them closer to home. I slapped on some clothes and hauled ass for Town-B's Kroger.

The deep red roses in Kroger's floral department left much to be desired in terms of everything but price. You could choose to buy them at either $3.99 a piece or 12 for $19.99. Unfortunately, they were kinda ratty-looking roses whose petals had started to blacken, so I really didn't want them even at that price. They did, however, have some bright pink roses that looked and smelled nice so I went with those. Miracle upon miracles, I was also able to find a great card that said exactly what I felt in under 5 minutes. That only left braving the checkout lines, which at that time on a Saturday, were packed. The express lane was especially lengthy, so I tried one of the others before realizing I was just about to break in line in front of a lady with a brimming cart and hot-pink hair that nearly matched my roses.

"Whoever she is, she'll love them," the pink-haired lady said.

"I hope so," I said, stepping into another line.

Kroger took a lot longer than I'd planned, but I managed to get back home a full eight minutes before the wife did. I had just enough time to get the roses in a vase, prepare the card and place it all for maximum presentation when she walked through the door. And, indeed, she loved them.

We hit the road shortly after 2 and made the drive to BIGGER CITY. It's a gorgeous drive to make on any day, but with the sun shining for the first time in weeks, and it being my anniversary and all, it was especially lovely.

Of course, the whole way to BIGGER CITY I was under constant interrogation from the wife as to what our plans were for the evening. She sussed out the Indian food right away, but she pretty much knew that was in the cards. Since leaving all our favorite Indian restaurants behind when we left Charlotte nearly 4 years ago, we've sought out any and all such establishments in the region and always make it a point to stop by our favorite in downtown BIGGER CITY whenever we're in the area. Beyond that, I did give her a few hints. I wanted her to know up front that it was NOT something that the average Joe on the street would consider particularly romantic or worthy of a 5th Anniversary celebration, but that it would be a similar unique foreign cultural horizon-widening musical experience as she gave me two years back when she got us tickets to Ladysmith Black Mambazo and refused to tell me who we were going to go see. 

"Is it African?"



"Not directly, but there is a link there."

"Nora Jones?"

"No. That would be cool, but it's not Nora Jones."

"Is it dancing?"

"I don't know. Dancing might be involved."

"Is it colorful?"

"Yes. Yes it will be colorful. Kind of a yellowish orange color."

"Is it a tiger?"


"What country is involved."

"I can't tell you that. It would give it away immediately."

"You left to go get flowers just after I called, didn't you?"


"Well, yeah," I said. "What am I supposed to do when you call and throw my master plan higgledy piggledy?"

This sort of questioning went on for quite a while, punctuated by attempts on my part to change the subject. She kept pestering me for more and better hints. She eventually began a laundry list of foreign countries in an attempt to lure me into confirming or denying each.

"I'm not gonna do that," I said. "However, I will say that it is another country in Asia."

And this is what tipped it.

"Hmm. Asian country... Yellowish orange... Not a tiger..." she mused. "Ah! I got it. Tibet!  We're going to see Tibtan monks?"

"Yep," I said. I wasn't even angry about it. Ever since our birthday present guessing game last October, I've decided that if it gives my wife greater joy to guess what her present is when I'm trying to keep it a secret--and it always does--then that's okay by me.

"Are they going to throat sing?" she asked.

"That's the plan," I said.

She seemed suitably pleased at this.

Having left far earlier than I'd planned, we arrived in BIGGER CITY far earlier than I'd planned and had to figure out stuff to do for a while until it was time for dinner. We contented ourselves with finding the theatre building on the campus where we would be seeing the monks later, then drove around town looking for Honda dealerships where we might test-drive a Honda Element, her current choice for new car when we get to a place that we might think about buying a new car. We were unsuccessful in finding any Honda dealerships, but we did find one ratty assed comic book store that gave us both the screaming willies and soon after passed by a different one that looked much better. I figured she had probably had enough of comics for one day, though, so we didn't stop.

Around 5, we headed for INDIAN RESTAURANT in downtown BIGGER CITY, our current favorite Indian restaurant. Our meal there was fantastic and everything we could have hoped for. We each got a full order of samosas for an appetizer, (I, frankly, would have been content with just ordering a fat plate of about 10 of those bad boys and calling it an evening, I love them so much), and then ordered our meal. I had the Chicken Korma, which was spectacular and full of crunchy little almondy bits, while the wife had a different chicken dish that I can't recall the name of but which was a good deal hotter than she would have preferred. (It's her own fault, as she's the one who told `em to make it hot.) We shared our dishes with each other, as well as a heaping basket of assorted nan, another favorite of mine.

After dinner, we walked around downtown BIGGER CITY for a half hour or so, seeing the sights. It's is a really nice area full of trendy little restaurants, all of which look wonderful except we're never going to eat at any of them because we'll never not go to the Indian place right there. But we stopped for a bit and watched a sushi chef prepare sushi in the window of one of these little trendy eateries. The wife tried to attract his attention to tell her what a particular odd looking fishy/crustaceany bit was, but he was steadfastly ignoring her. The evening was cool, though not cold, so we had a nice walk before heading over to the college theatre.

I'm glad we got to the college early, cause if we'd arrived at 7:45 like I'd originally planned we might not have gotten a seat. Mrs. B's daughter had been terrified that no one would come to see the Tibetan Monks, but the place was packed. I'd say the crowd was filled with 1/4 students from the college, whose religion professors had probably forced them to attend, 1/4 interested outside parties such as us, and about 2/4's hippies. Not dirty hippies, mind you, as they all seemed pretty clean and well-dressed, but there were certainly a wide variety of granola types present and accounted for. We eavesdropped on the conversations of several, who complained bitterly about how much the local area magazines were charging them for advertising for their New Age crap shops.

At 8, the show got underway.

The monks were represented by a spokesman who came up to a podium to explain to us the various parts of Tibetan monk culture which we would be seeing throughout the evening.

The first demonstration the monks did was to play traditional Tibetan instruments and sing. It was kinda neat and all, but not really what I was there for. Then, for the second demonstration, they brought all the monks out again for some throat singing and things got really good.

While I believe most of the monks throat sang during the demonstration, there was one guy who was obviously the standout throat-singer of the bunch. He had a deep resonant tri-tone that just reached out and grabbed you by the spine and held you pinned in your chair. It didn't sound so much like a voice as it did some sort of big honkin' deep woodwind.

My other favorite bit of the evening was when two monks came out in a two-person snow-leopard costume and gallivanted around the stage like a big clumsy dog. That was crazy funny. There's just something about a big old white and green snow-leopard shaking his head and pretending to sleep and winking at the audience and wiggling his ears that just hits my funny bone.

I won't go into a play by play of the rest of the Tibetan demonstrations, but they were definitely interesting.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening. My only real regret is that we didn't find a hotel room for the night instead of driving all the way back. We were both pretty tuckered by the end of it.

Five years of marriage has passed by pretty quickly. We've had our ups and downs, of course, but mostly it's been ups. I can't really express how amazing I think she is. Sure, she's mean as a snake when she wants to be, and has occasional flashes of a dark sense of humor, which is part of the reason I was attracted to her in the first place, but she's still one of the best human beings I've ever known. I'm eternally grateful that we met seven years ago and that I had the good sense to see how amazing she was even then, and that I got off my ass to tell her how I felt.

That's a nice story for another time, though.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Actual Semi-Paraphrased Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries LAST Week #15

SETTING:  My "liberry," this week.
 PATRON 1: Do you have tax forms?

ME: We have state forms. We do not have any federal forms. We ordered federal forms late and when we called to find out why they hadn't arrived when they were supposed to we were told by the IRS that the order had not been processed AT ALL. We're now expecting them sometime in early February.

PATRON 1: Do you know where I can get federal forms?

ME: I've heard the post office has them.

PATRON 2: Do you have 1099 forms?

ME: No, we don't have 1099 forms. Nor can we print them from the internet.

PATRON 2: Why not?

ME: Because it's a carbon copy form and when we bring them up from the website the form itself has "Info Copy Only" written across it.

PATRON 2: Do you know where I could get one?

ME: I've heard you can get them from LOCALLY OWNED OFFICE EQUIPMENT STORE, but I don't know that for sure. In fact, last year a man from LOCALLY OWNED OFFICE EQUIPMENT STORE came in here looking for 1099's himself, so maybe they don't. H&R Block used to carry them too, but I've now heard they aren't either.

PATRON 2: Well poop.

PATRON 3: Do you have W-2 forms?

ME: No, we do not have W-2 forms. You're supposed to receive W-2 forms from your employer, not from the library.

PATRON 3: But THEY told me you would have W-2 forms.

ME: I'm sorry, but we don't. We don't even have federal forms at the moment.

PATRON 4: Do you have tax forms?

ME: We have state forms. We do not have any federal forms.

PATRON 4: Do you know where I can get federal forms?

ME: I've heard the post office has them.

PATRON 4: I just came from the post office. They only have the booklets.

ME: Then, I believe Town-C's library has some. They're closed already, though, so you might try them tomorrow.

PATRON 5: Do you have 1099 forms?

ME: No, we don't have 1099 forms. Nor can we print them from the internet.

PATRON 5: Do you know where I could get one?

ME: I've heard you can get them from LOCALLY OWNED OFFICE EQUIPMENT STORE.


ME: No one will leave me alone about these frickin' 1099 forms!

MRS. A: That's the one we can't print from the internet, right?

ME: Yeah. I hear the Locally Owned Office place has them, but I don't know for sure. Maybe I ought to call them.


ME: Hi, this is JUICE from TRI-METRO library. We've had loads and loads of patrons in here looking for 1099 forms and I've heard that you guys have them. I just wanted to call and find out if that's actually true or if we're just irritating you by sending these folks your way.

LOOES RECEPTIONIST: We used to carry them individually, but we wound up getting stuck with so many of them after tax season that we don't any more. But we can order 1099 forms in 24-form packages for $7 and have them by the next day.

ME: Ah. So we're not irritating you.

LOOES RECEPTIONIST: Oh, no. We have had a lot of calls about 1099s today, though.

ME: Thanks. Bye.


MRS. A: So?

ME: They don't have them on hand but can get a pack of 24 for $7.


ME: Want to make some money for the library?

MRS. A: You mean buy a box and sell em for $1 each.

ME: Exactly.

MRS. A: Go for it. Call `em back.

PATRON 6: Do you have W-2 forms?

ME: (Trying to remain calm) No, we do NOT have W-2 forms. You're supposed to get those from your employer.

PATRON 6: No. I am an employer. I need blank W-2 forms for my employees.

(Gives patron an eyes at half-mast-long-slow-burn look designed to convey exactly how magnificent they are as an employer that they not only have no clue where to get W-2 forms but are actively trying to get free ones from us)

ME:  I'm sorry, but we don't have any.


ME: Tri-Metro Public Library.


ME: Nope. Looks like early February.

AATFLWPUEY: Well do you even have your tax form photocopy binder?

ME: No. We don't have the forms and we don't have the binder.

AATFLWPUEY: Poop. I need lots of copies of really obscure forms.

ME: Well, I could probably find them and print them from the IRS website for you. We do charge ten cents per page.

AATFLWPUEY: You mean, I could give you a list of them and you could print them and I could come pick them up?

ME: And pay for them, yes.

AATFLWPUEY: You'd do that for me?

ME: Sure. It's really slow in here.

AATFLWPUEY: Oh, you're so sweet. I'll need forms 1045, 1045-A, 1174, 1174 SCHEDULE S, 1174-K SCHEDULE HR24, 1040, 1040-A, 1040 H SCHEDULE-SOL, 1048-KNIGHT 2000, 8057, 8057-FU, 8057-YA MOMMA and 2099-DEEZ-NUTZ.



PATRON 7: You got federal forms?

ME: No. February.

PATRON 7: What about the deduction book?

ME: The what?

PATRON 7: The deduction book. The book that lists all the deductions?

ME: You mean the form instruction book?

PATRON 7: No. I want the book that lists all the deductions you're allowed to take.

ME: Ma'am, while I'm sure such a book might exist somewhere, I don't think we've ever had one here. It doesn't sound familiar at all and this is the fourth year I've had to go through all this.

PATRON 7: No, see, it's the deduction book. It lists all the things you can deduct from your taxes.

ME: I understand what you're talking about, ma'am. I'm saying, I don't believe we've ever had one. That sounds like the sort of book accountants and tax preparation agencies would have access to and the library is in NO. WAY. SHAPE. OR. FORM. a tax preparation agency.

(After patron leaves, I rush up to ask Mrs. A about the deduction book, just to find out whether or not I was talking out of my ass. She assures me that I was correct and while such books do exist we do not carry them because doing so tends to reinforce the public's mistaken perception that we are, in fact, some kind of tax preparation and financial advice giving agency.  Whew!)

Friday, January 28, 2005

New Threads

We were paid a visit by none other than Wal-Mart Jesus today. I almost didn't recognize him, though, because he wasn't wearing his usual white and blue striped table-cloth-esque robes. Instead, Wal-Mart Jesus was sporting the same basic flowing robe & turban but this time cut from a beautiful thick black cloth that looked nice and warm.  It's a good look for him. In fact, I dare say he looked really cool.

It did, however, raise paranoid concerns within my head. Such as, what if someone who knows Wal-Mart Jesus found this blog and read my critique of his previous outfit and told him about it. They might have said something like, "Dude says you look like a picnic table. He spread the word to international winds. Maybe it's time for some new threads, eh?"

If this was the case, Wal-Mart Jesus didn't let on, though.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Update on the Update

Long story short, the wife had her MRI this afternoon at 2 pm and, spoiler alert, does not have a pituitary tumor nor any other kind of tumor in her head. It's an enormous relief to us, as not having to go through brain surgery is always welcome news. I don't think it yet explains her visual field defect, nor cures it, but her Opthalmologist may have more ideas after she gives him the good news.

Here's how it went down:

I met the wife at the hospital at 1:30p so we could get paperwork filled out and any insurance hassles out of the way. (Our insurance, though MEGA Life And Health, is one such hassle and it sucks above and beyond the call of duty considering the amount of money we pay into it. However, it's pretty standard issue med-student insurance. This being the case, our insurance company is going to pay for as little of this test and the angiogram from a few days ago as they can get away with, which is to say quite a little.)

After paperwork, we sat around in the waiting room for a while until one of our friends from church, Sandra, arrived to keep us company. She'd heard last night about the wife's test getting moved up and wanted to come and lend us some comfort. She's spent quite a bit of time in hospital waiting rooms over the past year and a half as her grandson had leukemia, (though now he is thankfully in remission). We talked to her until they called our name and I went back to the MRI lab with my wife.

Of course, the wife had to take off all metal objects so I got to play keeper of the wedding set, while they ushered her in, had her lay on the sliding platform and told her to be completely still.

I can say for certain that sitting around an MRI waiting room while that giant GE magnet makes horrible loud farting noises as it tries to change your wife's polarity in the next room is not the least nerve-wracking experience I've gone through. After about ten minutes of nervousness, prayer, and reading and rereading the big warning signs that say "STOP! NO METAL TANKS" and a big warning carpet that read "MAGNET IS ALWAYS ON," I calmed down a bit and started flipping through a Time magazine. I decided that worrying about something I have no control over and which might not turn out to be bad news at all is pointless. I've decided that about 20 times in the past few days. It only helps until my brain kicks back in.

After a while, I calmed enough to start reading the Cerebus phone book I'd brought. Still, bad thoughts kept bubbling up. When we'd filled out the paperwork earlier, I had kept thinking, "Will this be the moment I'll remember as That Time We Were Filling Out Paperwork Just Before We Found Out My Wife had a Brain Tumor?" And as I read my comic, I kept wondering if I would forever associate Cerebus as That Comic I Was Reading When We Found Out My Wife had a Brain Tumor. Even prayer seemed weird to me, as I didn't know what to pray for. I mean, healing is always a good prayer and I've been witness to that working in the past with my grandmother, but I didn't really think aiming for a miracle was what I needed to do. So I just prayed that she would be calm and that the technicians would do their jobs as skillfully as they could and that the machine would be in good working order.

I knew that as much as I was nervous and worried, the wife was having no great time within the machine itself. She told me later that she was absolutely certain she was going to completely wig out in there due to the enclosed-in-a-big-tight-noisy-tube nature of it all. Those horrible farting noises I could hear through the wall were ten times worse in the room itself and she had to wear earplugs. However, she did calm down too after she decided she would just close her eyes and pretend that she was just lying on a padded table in an open noisy room, singing a song within her own head while trying not to move her eyes around.

Afterward the MRI was over, one of the technicians told us we were free to go and that they would likely have results for us in the morning. This was what I had feared--having to wait more. I really wanted someone to have a look at the results immediately so that I would be among the first to know what was going on and wouldn't have to sit around waiting for a dreaded phone call the next day.

Instead of leaving, though, the wife asked if she could take a peek at the MRI films. She's no radiologist, but has been trained to look at X-Rays. That's when the tech said that Dr. Mack, one of the actual radiologists, would probably be willing to go over them with her right then. Hallelujah!

The tech lead us through the maze of hospital corridors until we at last found Dr. Mack's office and Dr. Mack within it. Dr. Mack seemed cool with going over the MRI charts with us. As he did, he asked her what symptoms she had and why she was having the MRI done in the first place. He said her pituitary looked quite normal and actually had some extra space around it, (I presume, should she ever wish to develop a tumor there later). He said her eye sockets (he didn't actually say eye sockets--I think he said ocular orbits, or some such--but that's what he meant) and surrounding area seemed free of anything that might be causing pressure on her veins too. The only thing he did suggest was that she have her thyroid checked out--a conclusion he seemed to reach almost by intuition rather than anything on the charts themselves. Even this was more of a "just to be sure" kind of thing than a "I see thyroid problems" kind of thing. The wife is pretty sure she doesn't have any Hyper Thyroid problems, as folks with that condition tend to be a lot skinnier than she is.

On our way back out, we stopped back in the waiting room up front to make sure Sandra had left and wasn't still waiting around for us. She had only said she would stick around long enough to see if the MRI people were going to kick me out or not, so we figured she was gone. In her place, though, was her husband Gerry, who was snoozing sitting up. We woke him up to learn that Sandra had had to leave, but he wanted to come and wait and see how things had gone. I'm sure glad we stopped back in, cause we could have walked right past the door and he would have sat there sleeping for who knows how long. What great friends, though.

Thank you to all of you who've left comments or otherwise written to me to wish us well in this.