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.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Leaving on a Midnight Train to Dumbass

It's been a while since Paranoid Rick James has paid us a visit. And it may yet be a while longer. His absence itself is easily explained in that he checked out a couple of books on tape nearly a year ago and never returned them. In the intervening months, we've had occasion to send him overdue notices about the tapes to which he has chosen to respond by first denying that he still had them, asking us to check our shelves because he knew he had returned them, and then by then denying that he'd ever checked them out in the first place. So we have continued to alert him that the tapes are still not on our shelves and are therefore still checked out on his card, a situation in which we do expect either the tapes be returned to us or properly paid for. To help make this stick, we blocked his account and put notes all over his card. Rick, for his part, has continued to spread his cheeks and vent in our general direction. He won't come in himself, mind you. Instead, he sends his emmisary, his girlfriend Gladys Knight.

Gladys came in this week with a small stack of books on tape and a plastic baggy full of loose cassettes. Mrs. A happened to be working the desk at the time, was familiar with the case and figured Rick had finally found his books and had sent them in. Gladys slid the items across the desk and said she was returning them for a friend. Mrs. A's attention was drawn immediately to the bag of loose cassettes. Evidently, Rick had destroyed or otherwise lost the case the cassettes came in, therefore losing their item barcode in the process. Mrs. A told her that the baggie was not one of our usually acceptable methods for receiving media item returns. Not only did it make checking the item back in problematic, due to the lack of a barcode, but now we'd have to replace the case and barcode before we could circulate the set again. Gladys said she had thought it wouldn't be a problem since we could just keep the tapes in the baggie. Mrs. A said that, no, we wouldn't be and furthermore we would need to charge a case and barcode replacement fee.

Still, finding out the barcode for the set wouldn't really be a huge problem as Mrs. A would just check in the other items on Rick's card and then see what remained and would be able to choose the proper barcode from his record. Only when she went to check in the other two boxed books on tape sets she found that the first one actually belonged to Town D's library and the second one wasn't library property of any kind; it had no barcode, no stamps and no date due slip. It was, however, a copy of a similar book on tape Rick had checked out from Town-D's library, but it was not the original item. Apparently when Rick had told Gladys to take his tapes back, he'd failed to alert her as to which library she was supposed to take them to. He may even have failed to alert her to the fact that he'd replaced a set of tapes that, I'm guessing, he lost with a used set that he probably got off ebay.

Regardless, none of the tapes were ours, which Mrs. A pointed out for Gladys, adding that Rick still owed us for two sets and wouldn't be allowed to check anything else out until he paid for them.

"Oh, I don't think he ever had those," Gladys countered.

Mrs. A said that it seemed pretty unlikely that the tapes would be on his card had he not checked them out personally, particularly considering that we don't check materials out to people who don't first supply us with their library card. (A fact that Rick is well aware of, having clashed with us repeatedly on the issue.) It also seemed pretty unlikely that, had Rick not checked them out himself, we would just randomly check out the very sort of books on tape Rick happens to prefer, by the same author an example of whose other work Gladys Knight had just attempted to return on Rick James's behalf, on Rick's card, completely by mistake. Furthermore, Mrs. A explained, in addition to the money Rick owes us for said mystery books on tape, he will now also owe a case and barcode replacement fee.

Gladys Knight, who isn't exactly a dummy, must have realized at that point that being as how none of the tapes she was attempting to return were even ours, we could hardly charge any fees for them at all. So she reached across the counter, gathered them all up and said she would just be returning them to their proper library on her own. Mrs. A told her it wasn't a problem for us to return them, but Gladys insisted that she wanted to do it herself. Her selections in hand, Gladys left.

Mrs. A's theory is that Gladys thinks Town-D will be a much easier mark to hustle. That being the case, she phoned them in advance to warn them what was on the way and to suggest they charge Gladys and Rick every fine and fee they possibly could. Town-D's librarian, Ms. H, a former "liberry" ass. at my branch, readily agreed. Ms. H also added that she didn't see any reason for her branch to continue checking out their materials to Rick until he pays us for our missing tapes. This will hardly stop Rick, who will just have Gladys check out things on her card for him, but it warms my dark little heart to think of just how much it will piss him off.

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