After hearing repeated suggestions from me that Mondays at the library should always be a tag-team affair, the powers that be have listened and instituted a new double-employee Monday schedule, with me and Mrs. C riding herd over the Monday Madness. Yesterday was the first of these.
The shift went pretty well. It wasn't at all
as chaotic as Mondays usually are, but then again most of our patrons
told us that they'd driven down fully expecting to find us closed for
MLK Day. (Our board of directors doesn't give us MLK off, but does give
us West Virginia Day and President's Day. Racist bastards. (I joke! I joke! I kid, because I love! ))
Things were a little slower than usual. And despite
nearly every patron reminding us what holiday it was, when Mrs. C handed
me two twenties and told me to go down to the bank to get change, I
still went. Like a moron, I bundled up and walked down the street in the
20 degree weather, the very snot freezing in my nose, only to turn the
corner and find the bank closed. Oops.
Other than that, we were attacked by a small hoard of
ten-year-olds doing research papers on animals, all of which were due
the following day. One mom & son team huddled up at one of our
patron computers to work on his, with mom doing all the typing. At first
I thought she was writing the paper for him, but upon closer inspection
found that she was merely taking dictation as read to her from his hand-written
report. (Good going, Mom!) Unfortunately, after they'd printed, they
made the mistake of leaving the report within eyeshot of me and my inner
copy-editor couldn't resist having a gander. I found some its/it's
possessive/contraction issues, which I pointed out to them before
realizing that doing so revealed me for the snoop I am. They didn't seem
to mind, at least not to my face. I don't think they reprinted either,
The other major report-writing-kid incident came when a
different little boy asked to use a computer to find pictures of
orangutans for his report. He was in solo, though, so I had to card him.
"Do you have a parental permission slip on file?" I asked.
Turns out he did not, but those are really only for
internet usage, and I figured there would be plenty of printable
pictures within our encyclopedia program in the computer's Kiddie Mode. I
fired up the Children’s Room computer, loaded the encyclopedia and
found him a snazzy picture of a couple of orangutans that he liked a
“Now before I print this, I need to let you know that we do charge 10 cents per page.”
“That’s okay. I brought money,” kid said. (Good going,
kid!) Then he said something that I completely didn’t know how to deal
with. “I also need to have a detailed diagram of how orangutans
This is where I did one of those patented Scooby Doo "HrruuuuhhHH?!" exclamations of disbelief and confusion.
"You need... A DIAGRAM... of how orangutans... reproduce?" I asked.
"Hmm. Well. Uh. Er," I said. "Let me go check on how
your picture printed and I'll see if MRS. C can help you." I then ran
away like a colossal chicken.
"This kid says he needs a diagram of how orangutans reproduce," I told Mrs. C, once I'd tracked her down.
"He wants what?!"
I repeated it, adding, "I can't imagine being assigned such a task at his age."
We're still not precisely sure what his teacher wanted, but to us "A Diagram of how Orangutans Reproduce" was equivalent to "A Sketch of Two Apes Doing the Nasty / Insert Tab A into Slot B"
sort of thing. Anything similar to that showing up in a 5th grade
classroom would produce such a tumult of laughter that the kid would
either be scarred for life or instantly promoted to class clown. Surely,
oh surely, his teacher had not intended that!
Mrs. C went back and talked to the kid indepth about
what his assignment actually was. She then led him to some of our
printed encyclopedias where she found descriptive material on orangutan
reproduction cycles and behavior plus several more pictures that the kid
seemed to be happy with. She photocopied the pages he needed and only
charged him 10 cents per photocopy instead of our usual 25 cents per.
Better her than me.