An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Friday, 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

H&R BLOCK RECEPTIONIST: H&R Block.

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.

ARGH!!

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.

*PHONE RINGS*

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.

FROM: whale-mail.com
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

E-Filed

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...

ACTUAL TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS HEARD IN ACTUAL LIBRARIES # 14.5

*RING*


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?

(I LOOK AROUND FOR THE W-2 BUT IT'S NOT WHERE THE W-2'S USUALLY ARE)

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

*RING*

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?

BARBARA TURDMURKLE: Yeah.

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

Untrapped

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.)


Trapped

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.

SO WHERE IS IT?!

PLEASE PLEASE DELIVER IT!

I NEED TO TAKE A SHOWER! 

 
AND I REALLY NEED TO GO TO THE POST OFFICE!

PLEEEEEEEEEEASE!

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?"

"No."

"Indian?"

"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?"

"No."

"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?"

D'oh!

"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.