Wednesday, April 06, 2005

First Day Back

Today was my first day back in the "liberry" saddle following our two-week trip to Guatemala and El Salvador. It was largely uneventful as far as the usual "liberry" madness goes, but eventful in other respects. I popped in at 1p, laden with souvenirs for the library staff. Mrs. C and Mrs. B were the only ones in the front room, and they immediately asked how my trip went.

"Fantastic!" I said.

"I've got big news too," Mrs. C whispered.


She nodded furiously, then whispered, "I'm expecting."

This is huge news for Mrs. C. She and Mr. C have been trying to have a child for the past year and it's not been a fun time. Well, I'm sure it's been a fun time in some respects, but the results have not been what they've wanted. So congrats to Mr. and Mrs. C!

The staff, of course, had plenty of questions concerning my trip. Unfortunately, giving any kind of overview of a two-week mission trip in a short period of time is a very difficult thing to do. We had such an amazing time, saw and heard of such harrowing and heart-warming things and had so many mini-adventures in the process that you can't really Cliff's Notes it effectively. But I gave them a few highlights and lowlights. And once Mrs. A and Mrs. J came downstairs too, I gave everyone their souvenirs.

I bought five colorful pottery sun-faces at an Indian market in Antigua. They're essentially the same little ornamental sculpture, painted in different shades. Unfortunately, three of them were slightly chipped in a horribly true Continental Airlines-related incident at the Houston International Airport on the way home. (The chipping was actually getting off light in this case, as Ashley had part of a much larger pottery piece broken during the same incident.) Still, these were only chipped on the edges of a couple of the sun rays, so they’re still nice to display. I apologized for bringing them broken pottery, but gave them over anyway.

I also brought them each their own bag of fried plantain chips. These are plantains sliced lengthwise, salted and fried like potato chips. They’re just some of the most tasty fried chips you could ever want, though I doubt they are much better for you than potato chips. Sweet and salty all at once, they’re just tasty and good. Everyone broke open their bags and began sampling.

I asked what sort of incidents had occurred at the library in my absence? I fully expected them to relate something that I would fully regret having missed—like Chester and Parka having a shootout in the parking lot or something. Nope. The only notable incident they could recall was Mr. Stanky putting in an appearance yesterday and being particularly stinky even for him.

“You know,” I began, “I smelled a pretty wide array of B.O. when I was in Guatemala, but none of it came anywhere close to touching his.”

The only other possible incident was reported on our circ-desk note-pad. Our weekender, Miss K, noted that one of our long-time patrons, Mr. Crab, (who is also a long-time library donor and not afraid to let you know that should anything not go quite his way) had been in on Saturday and was completely pissed off that he couldn't use his old library card from the old nearly year-gone VTLS system. Mind you, Mr. Crab has a new library card on the new nearly year-old system, but he still carries his old card with him and is insulted that he can't use it. Miss K reported that Mr. Crab said he thought the way we had set up the new system was done in an unintelligent fashion and he insisted that we put his old barcode number from his old card in the new patron record so he could use it instead of his new card. I’m still not entirely sure what this man’s beef truly is, but even on his best days Mr. Crab could give Mr. B-Natural and Mr. Smiley a run for their Grumpiest and Second Grumpiest Old Man in all the World titles. Ms. K reported that she wasn’t sure what to do so she added the man’s old barcode to his patron record in addition to his new one just to shut him up. She indicated which barcode we should delete in case this was wrong. Mrs. A then had a note at the end of the account telling us to delete the old barcode.

I'm somehow sure this won't be the end of it.

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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.