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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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."
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.
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
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.