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.

Monday, December 04, 2006

And her head she'd be scratchin' while her thoughts were busy hatchin' if she only had a... well, you know.

We think we've solved the problem of Newbie Greenhorn Ms. S, or at least have deduced why she's such a problem. Ms. S, we've determined, rarely if ever engages her brain in the course of doing her job. We have quite a bit of evidence.

For instance, despite the fact that we've repeatedly explained to her how to process new books, thereby also having explained to her the various color coded dots we place on the spines of our smaller paperbacks to differentiate them by subject, not to mention where to FIND said dots, Ms. S went ahead and put a few romance novels out sans dots. When confronted about it, she claimed she couldn't find the dots and didn't know what else to do. (For the record, the dots were in plain view atop the open basket of office supply crap beneath the front edge of the circ-desk.)

No, wait, I got a better one. Despite the fact that we've repeatedly explained to her how to put patrons on hold for books within our computer system, and that if a patron doesn't pick up their hold before their time runs out that she, Ms. S, is to cancel out that patron's hold, pass the hold to the next patron on the list and then be sure to put the original holding patron back on hold at the end of the list, Ms. S still can't quite manage to do it. Patrons keep coming in and telling us they missed their first turn on hold and want to know where they fall on the list now, only for us to discover they're not on it anymore. We know she's at fault because she's the one who initials the old hold slips, which we save in our rubberband bound Ass Covering Hold Slips Pile, which she somehow found beneath the circ desk.

No, wait, I got a better one. Despite the fact that we've repeatedly explained to her how to process interlibrary loans when they arrive, and despite the fact that she's been doing THAT VERY JOB for the past FEW MONTHS, she utterly failed to process an incoming loan that had been hand-delivered by a local branch. She even left a note saying that she didn't know what to do with it, so she was just going to leave it on the desk.

No, wait, I got a better one. Despite the fact that we've repeatedly told her that we do not renew books that patrons interlibrary loan from other libraries—simply because they're not OUR books to renew and getting the other libraries to cooperate on renewing them is a pain in the ass—she tried it anyway for a fellow who showed up with his ILLed book in person. I imagine that she first tried to renew it with our circulation software several times, scanning its barcode only to find the computer unwilling to cooperate due precisely to the above reason. So, instead, she just stamped a new due date on the date due slip and let him go. Then, the very next day, she found that same guy on her list of patrons with overdue ILLs, didn't make the connection that he was the guy she'd dealt with the day before, and she called and left a message for him that his book was overdue and he needed to bring it back. When he came in to complain about it to me—quite irritated about it, as you can imagine—I tried to explain the whole "We don't renew ILLs" bit and that his claim that Ms. S somehow had was not possible. The patron then became even more irate with me and said, "Well, whether it's possible or not, she did it! Look right here!" and showed me the stamp in his book—which, these days, means nothing, unless the computer also has that date, which it did not and, more to the point, could not.

No, wait, I got two better ones. Despite the fact that Ms. S has received all of the above training and BEYOND from us on MULTIPLE occasions, she cannot help but ask questions that have already been covered by said training or that have painfully, PAINFULLY obvious answers. And since she works her weekend shifts alone, Mrs. C is often the target of such querries via the telephone. A few weeks back, Mrs. C received a call from Ms. S, who said: "We're running low on 10 inch book wrap. What do I do when I run out?" Mrs. C told her that when she ran out of 10 inch book wrap, she could stop wrapping the 10 inch books. (My suggested answer: "Oh, that's easy! See, Mrs. A keeps the Philosopher's Stone up in her office bathroom. You can use it to transmute some 14 inch book wrap into 10 inch book wrap, no prob. Oh , and by the way, the Philosopher's Stone has taken the form of a big pair of scissors. And it demands you write a note on the pad that we need to order more 10 inch book wrap. Just thought I'd let ya know.")

And then there was last weekend, when Ms. S phoned Mrs. C at home to alert her that our canvas mail bag was completely stuffed with outgoing ILL packages, so she wanted to know what to do with the rest of the ILL's she'd packed up, which could no longer fit in the bag. She'd better be glad she didn't phone me with such a great setup line, for I would have been unable to resist telling her exactly where I thought she should cram the other packages.

No, wait, I got one last better one. Ms. S recently complained that she was running low on her orange shelving slips. Rather than go all the way over to the activity room and retrieve some orange paper to cut into new slips, she chose to use a more conveniently located stack of pink paper she found in our supply cabinet, which she cut into dozens and dozens of new slips. Then, so no one would get confused that she was now using both orange and pink slips, she carefully wrote her initials on each and every one of them. I remarked to Mrs. B that for someone who so frequently tries to get out of doing any work, this seemed like an awful lot of effort. Mrs. B countered that Ms. S was able to do that work while sitting down, which was the real objective of the operation. I'm starting to hope those aren't the only pink slips Ms. S sees.

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