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, March 30, 2007

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #76

SETTING— My "Liberry." A male patron opens and walks through the outer door of our building, passing through the open inner door, carrying a pile of books.

MAN— Any reason your book return's locked?

ME— Yes. We lock it during the day.

MAN— (Stares at me for a long moment, perhaps sensing my inner snotty attitude) You lock it during the day?

ME— Yes.

The man shakes his head, drops his books on the circ desk, walks back toward the exit, closes our inner door behind him as he passes through the outer one, doing so quickly so as not to give me time to say, "Actually, sir, that's a door we keep open during the day."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Let's just hope he doesn't see his shadow.

Yes, despite what the calendar may say, spring has officially arrived in Tri-Metro.

How do I know this?

Fatty Manchild, my friends. Fatty Manchild.

Fatty Manchild is a patron who, I'd guess, is in his mid 30's and who, when weather permits and sometimes when not, consistently wears short pants and T-shirts at all times. Now, I'm not decrying short pants and T-shirts, cause I'm wearing both items right now and will likely go out in public wearing them later. However, my casual-wear wardrobe does not consist entirely of loud 80's style Jams and T-shirts, often sleeveless, that are at least a size too small and frequently in need of a good laundering.

I'm not making fun of the man's weight, either; he's not all THAT large as these things go and I'm hardly one to throw stones in that department myself. It's just that the combination of the too tight Ts and the Jams serve to give this guy an aura that causes you to question whether or not his fashion sense is in a state of arrested development. If you were to see him, you would realize how utterly appropriate the name Fatty Manchild truly is.

It's like a 14 year old boy from 1986 was hit by a car, went into a coma for 20 years, woke up and then was released into the world, in the Spring, without first having been given the prerequisite lecture on modern fashion trends. Knowing no better, he drove to the nearest beach, gravitated to the cheapest beach-wear store down near the shore, loaded up on 10 for $10 medium T-shirts and the loudest, most-inappropriate-to-wear-in-a-town-that's,-like,-five-hours-from-the-nearest-beach Jams, slipped on such an outfit, hiked his socks half-way up his calves, drove the five hours back and headed for the "liberry."

And it's not that the man doesn't own anything else. A couple years back, for several months, (summer months even), he consistently wore a shirt, tie and dress slacks when he visited. It was a respectable look befitting a man who might work in a bank or, perhaps, in sales. I think he must have left whatever job that required such a dress code, though, for he eventually returned to his Jams and tight T-shirt look and chucked all effort at maintaining his appearance to the winds.

His first appearance of the year, dressed thusly, has now occurred and spring has, in turn, arrived.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mr. Crab Finally Poops

Mr. Crab, third grumpiest old man in all the world, happened in this week, approached the circ-desk and inquired to Mrs. B as to the whereabouts of our copy of the Wa11 Street J0urnal. Now, it might seem odd that Mr. Crab would ask about the location of our Wa11 Street J0urnal copy when we have a perfectly good and well-identified periodicals section upstairs where one might expect to find such things as, say, periodicals. No, Mr. Crab's reasoning behind his question is two-fold: A) he firmly believes that, two years ago, we spent six full months without a subscription to the Wa11 Street J0urnal and he enjoys broaching that particular subject even though reality reflects that we only spent about a month and a half without it; and B) at our "liberry" the mail does not arrive on a schedule preferable to anyone, except, I assume, our postmaster.

For years, our mail used to arrive faithfully each morning at around 9:30. In the past few months, however, our mailman's route has been fiddled with by the postmaster on a number of occasions, causing it to arrive later and later in the day. (We know this because our mailman doesn't like it either and ratted out his boss to us.) First we started getting our mail around 1p. Then, it arrived closer to 2, then 3. Now it can come anywhere between 3 and 5 o'clock and arrives earlier only when the mailman has several large and heavy packages for us and doesn't want to have to lug them around all day.

Still, when the mail does finally arrive, we're rarely in any hurry to put the Journal in its place on the newspaper rack. The only people I've ever known to actually read it are Mr. B-Natural (first grumpiest old man in all the world), Mr. Smiley (second grumpiest old man in all the world, but who hasn't graced us with his presence for over a year now), Mr. Crab (the aforementioned third) and a long unseen patron who used to refer to the Wa11 Street J0urnal as "the Capitalist Tool," which, in turn, was how I came to refer to him. Often, the Journal just stays on the lower shelf of our downstairs shelving cart awaiting some good soul to haul it upstairs. Often, it remains there until closing time, when we finally do haul it upstairs and lob it atop the pile of its brethren. Also, due to rapid circ-desk duty employee turnover, the person manning the desk doesn't always know whether or not the mail has arrived, so if anyone comes in seeking the Journal, (i.e. Mr. B-Natural or Mr. Crab), we tell them to first check the shelving cart and if it's not there then it's either in the periodicals section upstairs or it hasn't arrived yet. It's a pretty simple formula, but these two horse's asses don't care to remember it and ask us every time.

During Mr. Crab's visit, Mrs. B happened to know that the mail had not arrived. She explained this to him and noted that the mail might not arrive for hours yet. Mr. Crab was, naturally, quite grumpy about this. Mrs. B told me that she had expected he would next probably complain about the lateness of the mail, but instead he complained about something else.

"Do you know what your library director said to me the other day?" Mr. Crab said, leaning closer.

"What?" Mrs. B asked.

"I asked her if the Wa11 Street J0urnal had arrived and she told me to look on this cart and if it wasn't there it might be upstairs." And he said this in a tone that suggested any right-thinking person should be appalled. Then he finally uttered the words we've been waiting to hear for years: "She won't be getting a donation next year."

Why Mrs. A's suggestion set Mr. Crab off when the rest of the staff have told him the exact same thing on multiple occasions, I'm none too sure. Mrs. A is not a fan of Mr. Crab, so perhaps his finely attuned senses detected her dislike. Whatever the case, Mrs. B didn't know how to respond to him. When she told me about it, though, my brain nearly hemorrhaged from the amount of possibilities that flew through it.

"You should have told him, `Oh, thank God it's finally over! At last, we can stop living in fear of you!' "

Mrs. B laughed.

"No, wait! You should have dropped to your knees, burst into tears and wailed, `Ohhhh no! Oh, dear God, no! Pleeease don't take away your donation! Please, please, pleeeeaaaaase! How can we possibly go on without all two hundred of your dollars?! Ohhh, our poor poor budget! We'll have to fire the staff!' "

" `And then who will let you check things out on their cards when you forget yours?' " Mrs. B added.

"`Oh, lordy lordy, what will we do? What WIIIIILLL we dooooooo?!!!' "

Friday, March 23, 2007

"Oh, the Irony!!!" (L is for Lazy Week: Day 5)

In addition to working at the "liberry" part time, our perpetual Newbie Greenhorn, Ms. S, also works in the fast food industry. Often she comes directly from a shift at her fast food job for a shift at the "liberry." You might think this would cause us problems of having to smell that fast-foody smell that tends to sink into your pores and follow you around (believe me, I've worked in enough pizza joints to know), but, both fortunately and oddly, she doesn't smell that way at all.

The rest of our staff have often speculated on the many ways she probably handles her fast food job, imaginging much the same behavior as we witness in her "liberry" job. None of us, however, have been brave enough to venture to her particular restaurant since we learned of her employment there.

Last week, while Mrs. B and I were engaged in some book processing, Ms. S arrived for her shift. She soon announced that she had been very annoyed at her fast food job. Mrs. B inquired as to why.

"There's this new girl there and I had to train her," Ms. S said. "I was showing her how to take orders and I took a few orders and was showing her how and then I told her to try a few on her own. Well, she kept stopping to ask me questions and ask the manager questions. It was just one question after another until I wanted to scream!"

Mrs. B and I became very silent at this point. I kept my eyes locked onto the circ-desk computer screen. I knew that if Mrs. B and I were to make eye contact at that point, we would both completely lose our shit due to having just been subjected to the most ironic statements we're likely to hear all year.

Yes, Ms. S—an employee who after 9 months on the job still has to be told and retold some of the more basic functions of her job—was complaining about a brand new employee not having mastered the finer points of taking a fast food order.

Yes, Ms. S—a person who thinks up the most inane and obvious questions, holding them like a pool of mercury in the hermetically-sealed vault of her little pea-brain, saving them until 5p when we are all headed out the door to leave her on her own, then releasing them upon us in a blinding, drowning, takes ten minutes to answer `em all torrent—had just complained about someone else asking too many questions.

Yes, Ms. S—the author of some of the dumbest questions on record, with the most painfully apparent answers, not to mention the same newbie greenhorn who thinks nothing of phoning up Mrs. C at home, repeatedly, over the course of an entire weekend, to ask said moronic questions, ("Uhhhh, hey, whut do I cover books with when I run out of ten inch book wrap?"; "Uhhhh, hey, whut am I supposed to do with the interlibrary loans that won't fit in our already overstuffed mail pouch?"; "Uhh, hey, one of our patron computers isn't working; should I keep putting patrons on it, anyway?")—was complaining about dumb questions being asked by a newbie greenhorn.

During the midst of my fight to keep from belting out cackles of irony-spawned laughter, Mrs. C entered the room and gave my quivering dam of a face a quizzical look. I tried to convey, "I'll tell you later" using only my left eyebrow, but didn't think the message quite communicated through my barely-contained amusement.

"I'm... going to go... take some books... to the basement," I said.

"Oh, take MS. S with you and show her where we keep the bindery books," Mrs. C said.

O.T.I.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Get out of Blog Free" (L is for Lazy Week: Day 4)

Found out today that I fudged up in my reporting of yesterday's story.

It's become something of a weekly tradition for the staff to share stories about Ms. S on Thursday mornings. This is because we have the highest concentration of staff members at that point and also because Ms. S is never among that concentration. Today's discussion was jumpstarted by the fact that despite both I and Mrs. C having told Ms. S to stop cutting up the spine label sheets because they gum up the typewriter, we found yet another pile of her brutal label leavings. It looked like some kind of gruesome, mishapen paperdoll chain. Mrs. A left it by the typewriter and slapped a note on it reading, "There will be no more spine labels cut this way. It is wasteful and they stick to the typewriter."

My conversation with Mrs. C and Mrs. B progressed a bit more and I asked, "Has MRS. A said anything about why we haven't just gotten rid of MS. S?"

Both shook their heads. We then talked about the prospect somewhat. I wondered if perhaps Mrs. A, knowing how unskilled and newbie greenhornish Ms. S is, was just giving her the necessary time for our on-the-job training to finally kick in. After all, it took former Newbie Greenhorn Ms. M almost a full year to finally stop screwing things up on a near habitual level and become a cherished fellow "Liberry" Ass. Eight months ago we were calling for her head too, but now we love her and think she's doing a respectable job. There is kind of a learning curve to the job and even those of us who've been at it for years still get called up short by some new patron-spawned twist, on occasion. Getting into the rhythm of things can take a long time for skilled people, let alone someone with no discernible customer service skills such as Ms. S. That said, though, all evidence seems to point to Ms. S being a sour mixed drink composed of two parts lazy to one part incompetence, with a generous chaser of stubborn refusal to follow directions no matter how many times they're given.

"Did MRS. A hear the story about MS. S ignoring the patron while she made a greeting card?" I asked. To me, this was the latest prime bit of evidence that Ms. S just doesn't "get" it.

"A greeting card?" Mrs. B asked. "You didn't tell me about her making a greeting card."

I was taken aback. For a moment, I thought I'd slipped into a parallel universe in which Mrs. B hadn't been the person to tell me the greeting card story.

"No. Wait. You told..." I began.

"Ohhh, no. She wasn't making a greeting card," Mrs B said. "She was making a library card."

Thinking about the retelling I'd heard, Mrs. B had not actually said greeting card, but had only said that Ms. S had been making a card. My brain was the one that made the leap to greeting card. A library card at least made more sense. I can kind of see how Ms. S might be so absorbed in making a library card that she would ignore a patron. Not to say that this is at all excusable, it's just that the way her brain seems to work she would feel completely justified in ignoring her customer service responsibilities because she was so engrossed at "doing her job."

So, it looks like I reported the event incorrectly here through my own faulty journalism. I'm tempted to give Ms. S a "Get Out of Blog Free" card to make up for it, though at this point in the entry that's a bit moot.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Get Well Soon!" (L is for Lazy Week: Day 3)

My intrepid reporter, Mrs. B, often gives me the best Ms. S stories, mostly because they have to work together more often.

Mrs. B related to me that one day, while Ms. S was working the circ desk, she became engrossed in creating an online greeting card using the circulation computer. Ms. S spent quite a bit of time at it, getting the details just right, and was so thoroughly absorbed with her task that when a patron stepped up to the desk for help, Ms. S completely ignored him. Mrs. B, watching from afar, kept waiting for Ms. S to pause and ask the gentleman how she could help him, being as how he was standing a foot and a half away from her, clearly waiting to be assisted. She didn't. As for the patron, he didn't interrupt her, cough politely, or even say "Excuse me" or anything. He just stood there, waiting for Ms. S to wrap up what she was doing and ask if he needed help. Again, she didn't. She just kept right on plugging away at her greeting card.

Seeing that Ms. S was entranced, Mrs. B dashed behind the desk herself and asked the patron if she could help him. He explained that he was looking for a particular book and had been unable to find it on the shelf and wanted help to make sure we even owned it. Since this was all said aloud, in direct proximity to Ms. S, Mrs. B waited politely for Ms. S to catch wind of the conversation and realize she was hogging up the circulation computer that Mrs. B needed for this search. She didn't. Mrs. B finally had to tap her on the shoulder and tell her to get out of the way.

Now, I'm no stranger for using the circulation computer to do non-work related projects. However, I do not do them to the exclusion of my job. Neither Mrs. B nor I could think of any reason beyond sheer, pig-headed stupidity that Ms. S would so actively ignore a patron like this. I shudder to think of what goes on during her solo shifts on the weekends.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Label me Pissed" (L is for Lazy Week: Day 2)

It's pretty much been confirmed that the origin of nearly every problem we have with Ms. S can be traced back to her extreme laziness. She will actually do phenomenal amounts of work to get out of doing only a little work.

For instance, a few weeks back Mrs. C and Mrs. B went through our entire biography section to check which books had been inconsistently spine-labled with "BIO" instead of Dewey "92" by previous catalogers. They then printed new spine labels to replace the faulty ones. As Ms. S is ostensibly responsible for order in the nonfiction shelves (BWAH HA ha aha ahaaaah!), the task of affixing those new labels was given to her. It took her DAYS to accomplish this, because she insisted on cutting out each individual spine label from the two and a half larger computer generated sheets of printed spine labels. She left the wax-paper backing on each label so they could remain loose and not stick to anything, then arranged them pleasantly across the surface of one of our tables before even attempting to look for books on which to affix them. These extra steps, you see, allowed her the maximum amount of time for her ass to remain planted in a chair rather than pacing the bio wall, simply cutting the labels off the larger pages and affixing them to the spines with a bit of book tape, as needed. I was sent up to help her, at one point, and blew through an uncut page of labels in under an hour.

Even after Ms. S finished those label pages, we discovered that not all the incorrectly labeled books had been present and accounted for when Mrs.es C and B did their original survey. It became Ms. S's task to type up more labels for the missing books, which she was told to do using our typewriter and some of the narrow sheets of labels we normally use to do spine labels. Of course, after she'd typed some of them, she found it gave her more chair time to cut all of those labels out too, wax-backing and all. This gave her neat little loose labels, but left holes in the overall label sheets, rendering the blank labels left there unusable because they were then incapable of being fed back into the typewriter without gumming up the whole works. She tried anyway, of course, and then left a note to explain that the reason she hadn't finished all of her labels, nor affixed any of them to actual books, was because the typewriter was utterly jammed up and she couldn't get the labels sheet out no matter what she tried.

The following morning, Mrs. C was fuming about this. It was just one more log of poop on the fragrant pile of excuses Ms. S has used to get out of doing her job. Mrs. C marched right over to the typewriter and, with barely a tug, retrieved the allegedly utterly jammed sheet of labels with almost no effort. She then gathered them up, along with all the biographies to be relabeled, and left the whole towering pile of them for Ms. S to do. (We'd like to think Ms. S is quickly learning that the jobs she is assigned do not go away just because she manages not to do them immediately, but we too have long since learned from history.)

When Ms. S returned, a day later, she eventually noticed her pile of books and the instructions taped to them. "How'd they get the labels out of the typewriter?" she asked me.

"I'm not sure," I said. Then I spied Mrs. C coming into the room. "How did you get the labels out of the typewriter, again?" I asked her.

"Just pulled them out," she said. "Yep, they came right out. Riiiight. On. Out. Just gave `em a tug, really, and they came out. No problem. Easy. Right out."

Ms. S mumbled something about them being utterly stuck when she'd tried it, but she decided to drop the subject. After all, she had a dozen freshly typed labels to cut out of the paper. We told her to stop doing that because it gums up the typewriter. We also had to explain to her YET AFRIGGINGAIN that the spine labels are actually supposed to be placed on the SPINES of the book, rather than on the front cover of the book where no one can see them without pulling the book off the shelf, further tempting patrons to reshelve it incorrectly.

"Oh, but I was just--"

"No, no. They go on the spine."

Monday, March 19, 2007

"Deposit One Brain" (L is for Lazy Week: Day 1)

One day, a couple weeks back, my boss Mrs. A was scheduled to be in meetings in her office for most of the day. Likewise, Mrs. C had pressing business to take care of via phone and Mrs. B needed to process the backlog of book donations for our booksale. When Ms. S arrived, she was told she would need to work the desk to free everyone else up for their tasks. Almost immediately upon clocking in, though, she fled the desk for the nonfiction shelves to "read" the sections she's responsible for keeping in order. (And I shudder at the thought tht I may one day be sent to check her work.)

Mrs. C sent Mrs. B to drag Ms. S back to the desk and repeated to her that she was to stay there. Everyone then went to their tasks, some close by, some far off, and left Ms. S to it.

Shortly after this, the wife of one of the warring parties in our ongoing battle for the c0ntract0r's manuals came in to inquire about their status. The wife mentioned to Ms. S that she'd phoned about them earlier in the day. Ms. S, who lives in fear of our deposit books, because they are a hassle and require attention to detail, immediately denied all knowledge of anything this lady might or might not have been told about the books and tried desperately to weasel out of having to deal with the situation by pleading ignorance to Mrs. C. Mrs. C, who was by then very much on the phone in the midst of her business, indicated, using her eyebrows alone, that she would, in fact, slaughter Ms. S if she didn't go deal with the situation and answer the wife's question, which was merely to see if we had any of the deposit books on hand that she wanted. As it turned out, we didn't have all of them, but it took a long time for Ms. S to determine this because she kept nervously and unsuccessfully trying to check the computer for them rather than simply walking to the shelf and having a gander. Mrs. C had to put her call on hold for a moment to alert Ms. S to this shortcut, at which point Ms. S finally went and retrieved the books we did have on hand.

That done, Ms. S still seemed at a complete loss as to how to tell which books among those required for the c0ntract0r's exam were currently checked out and not in the stack she'd brought to the desk. Mrs. C finally had to put her call on hold again, drag Ms. S over to the c0ntract0r's manuals MANUAL (hanging exactly where it always is, right where Ms. S has been told it can be found at least twice before), then show her how to turn to the big obvious bookmarked page to find the list of required books for the c0ntract0r's exam, and show her how to read the spines of the stack of books there on the desk, comparing them against those listed in the manual to see which one's weren't present. Ms. S still screwed it up, declaring to the patron that we didn't have the very book that was sitting RIGHT THERE on the top of the stack--a book, I might add, that Mrs. C had JUST used as an example to show Ms. S how to do the job.

Mrs. B walked back into the room then, prompting Ms. S to gratefully explain to her patron that Mrs. B had been the employee to whom she'd spoken on the phone ealier. Then Ms. S tried to make a break for the nonfiction room in order to ditch the whole matter in Mrs. B's lap.

Mrs. C again had to put her call on hold and explain to Ms. S that she would not be escaping her duty and that she would be the person who to finish the transaction.

Upon hearing this tale recounted, I suggested that we need to get Ms. S her own Unobstructed Doors aid on the grounds that she's clearly retarded.

L is for Lazy Week

We've had a lot more fun from our perpetual newbie greenhorn, Ms. S, over the past few weeks (and by "fun" I mean "shit"). In fact, I have something of a backlog of Ms. S stories. I've been hesitant to share them, though, because every time I post a Ms. S story, people leave comments asking why we haven't fired her yet. I'm afraid that's possibly a mystery for the ages to be speculated upon by future historians with better minds than mine. Granted, I'd really prefer it if she was fired, cause it would make my job easier and my desire to strangle people somewhat less strong. However, there's also something to be said for the entertainment value of keeping her around, which may yet prove to be the ultimate reason for not firing her in the mind of my boss.

So how `bout let's all just take it for granted that Ms. S is here to stay, she'll not be fired and will never leave of her own accord. This way, we can just sit back, relax and enjoy the show...

Friday, March 16, 2007

I'll take "Recently Deceased Actresses—the Older, Better Ones, Mind You; Not These They Got Today" for $100, Alex.

On Friday, shortly after I arrived for work, the entire staff fled the building once again for lunch. This is usually when the floodgates of people phoning to speak to either of our librarians occurs, but no such calls came through. Instead, Birthday Lady phoned to ask the date of birth of recently deceased actress Betty Hutton.

I must confess, before today I'd never even heard of Betty Hutton. But I Googled her up and found a Wikipedia entry for her. She was born February 26, 1921 and passed on March 11, 2007. I gave this information to Birthday Lady. She dutifully repeated the information back to me to make sure she had it spelled right in her scrapbook of obituaries for famous celebrities known only to people born before 1972.

"I phoned earlier, but I suppose the girl I spoke to didn't get a chance to call me back," Birthday Lady said. Then she added, "I keep up with the older actresses—not these they got today."

"Ah," I said.

"I think the older actresses were better, really."

"Probably so," I said.

After I hung up the phone, I noticed that someone had already written Betty Hutton's pertinent dates on a piece of scrap paper, along with Birthday Lady's real name and phone number. Once the staff returned from lunch, I learned that they actually had attempted to return her call several times, but it always just rang and rang and rang.

"She was probably on the phone, trying to get the information from a competing library," I suggested.

It's good to know Birthday Lady's contact information, though. Puts me in a mind to phone her up and ask if I could see her scrapbook.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

If you put the forms out, they will come.

Yeah, I figured that would do it. Writing that we haven't had any problems with tax form people is the easiest way to summon precisely that sort of problem. Sure enough, today, just after everyone else on staff had left the building to go to lunch, a big ol' wingnut of a form-seeker ambled up to the desk.

"I need state tax forms."

"We have those," I said, warming up to direct him to the large display of forms he'd just walked past.

"I need s-corporation state forms for 2003, 2004 and 2006. And personal forms for 2003, 2004 and 2006."

Already I was at a disadvantage, for I've never heard of an s-corporation before, but I figured I could find it on the state's tax form page.

"Well, the personal forms we already have. At least, for 2006," I explained. "The rest I'll try to find for you from their site."

"Yeah, they said you'd probably have to look `em up," he said. Ah, yes. The mysterious THEY. "You say you got personal forms here?" he added.

"Yes," I said, pointing at the top of the floor shelf behind him. "They're on the other side of that shelf, in the bins."

The man walked around to the other side where he began staring at the piles of federal tax forms stacked directly next to the three bins containing state booklets. "Oh, in the bins," he said with the tone of a statement. He still wasn't seeing them.

"No, in the bins," I said. "In the plastic bins," I added. "In the yellow, white and black plastic bins," I continued. He looked in every conceivable place EXCEPT at the bins.

"The bins?" he said.

"Yes, the plastic bins... The bins.... No, the BINS... The PLASTIC bins," I said.

I don't know why I expected more from a man who, apparently, had failed to pay his taxes for the past four years for either himself or his business (except, apparently, for 2005). After a few more tries, he finally spotted them. As he dug around, I brought up the state's tax form site and began looking for s-corp forms. There were none to be found on just a cursory glance so I started a search for them. I did note, though, that the site only offered forms for years since 2004.

Another man came up to the desk while I searched, so I paused to ask if I could help him.

"Yeah, you're holding some c0ntract0rs books for me," he said. Aw great. As if searching for obscure forms wasn't keeping me busy enough during my solo desk time, I had to deal with deposit books and all the headaches they entail.

I hate the c0ntract0rs manuals and I'm usually none too fond of the people who seek them. I had nothing against this particular guy, except that he and another would-be-c0ntract0r have been competing for the same set of books for the past three weeks. They've been driving us crazy by phoning to place holds on them, then not picking them up by the prescribed pickup time, then getting pissy about it when the books aren't there for them when they roll in two days late, then the guy who did get the books gets pissy that he has to bring them back after his week's loan time has passed cause the other guy now has them on hold again too, then getting pissy again when told he will lose his deposit if he doesn't, etc., etc., etc. The checkout process on the books is also an enormous hassle, cause we have to calculate the deposit amount (over $500 if they want the whole set), make them sign two identical deposit book policy forms (one for us, one for them), then we have to make them go back and actually READ the frickin' forms they just blindly signed, not to mention TAKE their copy of the form, so they have no excuse to give us enormous amounts of shit a week later, etc., etc., etc. This guy was very patient, though, even after I told him it was going to be a minute due to my tax form search.

I came up goose eggs on the s-corps search. Then Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine came in and signed up for a computer. He looked impatient to begin searching for members of his fambly. I ignored him.

"Um, do you happen to know a form number for these?" I asked the tax form guy.

"No. I don't even know if there is a form," the man said so very helpfully three minutes after he should have. He offered to go home, call someone who knew and return better prepared. Of course, I had to look up the number for someone who knew, but I'd already assumed that much.

I found the number, printed some forms for him and sent him on his way. I then dealt with c0ntract0r wannabe, calculated all his crap for him, having to do it twice cause our tiny calculator has even tinier buttons, spouted a few euphamistic curses, then found out that the dude already knew how much all the books would be because he was just going to reuse the same check he'd given us two weeks ago. Yes, helpful our patrons be.

I started to apologize to Gene for the wait, but he insisted on telling me about some long lost female relative he was trying to pin down all the way back to the computers. Instead of apologizing, I demonstrated the politeness of not kneeing him in the gut.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Taxing My Patience 2007, Suspiciously Not

I realize we're still a month away from the deadline for taxes, providing plenty of time for things to go awry, but so far we've had surprisingly few problems with the tax form crowd this year.

In fact, yesterday was the first time all year that someone asked me where the state tax forms were located, prompting me to direct them to the glaringly obvious state tax booklets in the plastic bins directly beneath their nose. And, in their defense, they were looking for individual forms not booklets and were somehow unaware that our state preinserts the forms into the instruction booklets and issues them no other way, unless you print them from their website.

No one has yet come in asking us for W-2s.

No one has even futilly asked for a 1099 form.

And Amateur Accountaint Tax Form Lady Who Plagues Us Every Year has only been in a couple of times so far and was apologetic at asking us to print out of state or otherwise obscure forms for her.

One might even say it's been suspiciously quiet on the tax form front. Almost as if the tax form people are lying in wait to leap out at us later. I'm thinking April 13.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I was supposed to write a post today...

...but that optometrist dialated my eyes adn now i'm darn nera blind.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #75

SETTING: My "liberry." A late middle-aged lady with long salt & pepper hair tied up in a bun, wearing glasses with the largest and thickest frames I've ever seen, comes up to the circ/ref desk. I'm not real sure what crawled up this woman's butt, but it was making her extremely cranky.

ME: Can I help you?

CHAPTER PRESIDENT OF THE MOST IRATE HOLOCAUST RESEARCHERS OF THE WORLD, UNION 756: I need help finding a book.

ME: Okay.

CPMIHRWU756: The author's name is Gold. Alison Leslie Gold. Leslie Gold... Leslie Gold.

ME: (Confused as to what the author's name actually is since the lady repeated and seemed to emphasize the last two names twice. So I do an author search for both "Gold, Leslie" and "Gold, Alison Leslie." Nothing comes up.) I'm sorry, we don't seem to have any books by Leslie Gold.

CPMIHRWU756: (Practically screaming) I said `ALISON Gold'! It's ALISON Leslie Gold!

ME: (Pause) Her either.

CPMIHRWU756: (Huffs snootilly) Do you keep all of your books together?

ME: Um... huh?

CPMIHRWU756: I was in the children's room and couldn't find anything by her.

(Ahhh, now I get it. Despite the fact that I just told her we don't have any books by Alison Leslie Gold, this lady thinks I was lying about it and that we're hiding all of them somewhere other than the children's room. Ms. Gold was evidently a children's author.)

ME: Uh, ma'am, like I just said, we don't have any books by that author in the entire library. If you'd like, we can probably get an interlibrary loan for one.

CPMIHRWU756: You're telling me you don't have ANY books by Alison Leslie Gold?

ME: Yes ma'am. I did an author search for Leslie Gold and Alison Leslie Gold. (I turn the monitor toward her and demonstrate author searchs for both GOLD, LESLIE and GOLD, ALISON LESLIE.) See, the only "A. Gold" author we own is Arthur Gold.

CPMIHRWU756: (Huffs snootily again) Well. Do you have any other books about Anne Frank?

(Ahhh, now I truly understand. Alison Leslie Gold must have written a juvenille non-fiction book about Anne Frank, which this lady somehow thought she was going to find it in our children's fiction room and was now unhappy that we don't own it at all.)

ME: Oh, certainly. (Types in a subject search on FRANK, ANNE.) Looks like we have five books about her.

CPMIHRWU756: What's the first one?

ME: "Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl"

CPMIHRWU756: (Again, practically screaming at me) No! I already HAVE that one!

(How I'm supposed to know what she does and doesn't have, particularly to the point that it would justify screaming at me about it, I'm none too sure. I'm on the brink of just showing her either the door or the OPAC, so she can do her own search if she's going to be all irritable about it, when I notice that the other four books on Anne Frank are actually pretty much different versions of the same book, Diary of a Young Girl. Instead of breaking this news to her myself, I just write down the call number for the general Anne Frank section in nonfiction and invite the lady to go have a look herself. She goes, but never returns to the circ-desk, so I can only assume her hope of finding our secret hidden room where we have the complete Alison Leslie Gold catalog on display with Alison Leslie Gold herself autographing books and passing out espressos, failed to happen.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Yeah, I've got your 14" book wrap, right here!

At work, Mrs. C told me I should go look at the book lying in the back of the circ-desk area. It was a copy of the Theodore Geisel Award winning book N0t a B0x, by Antoinette Portis.

Attached to this book was a note that read: "Did not know if this needed a cover or not? Ms. S"

Those of you in libraries who've added this to your collection and have handled this book will know that this book, though a hardback, does not come with a book jacket. It's meant to look like the outside of a cardboard box. So what Ms. S appeared to be concerned about was how exactly she was supposed add book jacket book wrap to this particular volume during processing when it had no book jacket.

Below Ms. S's note, Mrs. C had angrilly scrawled "IF there is no jacket to cover then there is NOTHING to cover. Just tape."

"I had to write that note on there," Mrs. C added, "because if I have to tell her in person I might have to hurl the book at her head."

As with all lessons, this is not the first time we've had to impart this one to Ms. S. It wasn't even the first time in that book processing session. She'd actually had the same question about an oversided paperback book. Granted, it was the kind of paperback with covers that are folded over inside to form kind of a faux book jacket look, but again there's nothing there to cover with book wrap in the first place. Ms. S later explained that she'd asked about N0t a B0x thinking that someone had somehow run off with the jacket, so she didn't know what to do about it. (Nevermind that the person who'd typed the spine labels—someone always other than Ms. S, who is not to be trusted with a typewriter—had already affixed it TO THE FRICKIN' BOOK, adding a further clue as to its natural uncovered state.)

How, I cannot say, but Mrs. C was able to prevent herself from hurling any books at any heads.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Stork Alert!

No, not for me. Calm down, Dad.

Instead, this morning round 12a, my pals Joe and Lorna Abbigail were the ones to grump out a critter. Unfortunately, the two epidurals the stork administered didn't quite take, so the "arrival" was quite a bit more dramatic than originally hoped.

The new one's name is Jonah David.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Nonactual Conversations Not Actually Heard in any Libraries #74

THE DUFUS— Hey, guys, look... it’s a beautiful sunny day!

GENE GENE THE GENEAL0GY MACHINE— Sure is. In fact, it’s the first day in over two months that it’s not snowing, raining, windy or otherwise cold as ass. I even saw Fatty Manchild wearing a pair of 80's style jam shorts.

MR. B-NATURAL— That's all that piece of crap ever wears.

GENE— Oh, yeah.

DUFUS— Anyway, since it's such a nice day, what say we go for a picnic?

(long silence)

DUFUS— Just kidding. Let's head down to the “liberry” for several hours of innanet time, instead.

BRENT & BRICE: THE NEW DEVIL TWINS— Yayyyy!

GENE— I don’t know, guys. I saw an awful lot of cars out front. I think it’s probably pretty busy in there. It is Friday.

DUFUS— So we’re supposed to just sit by while other people use the innanet? That shit is ours by right!

GENE— You have a point. Okay, I'm in. But only if we all sign up at once.

DUFUS— Of course we’re all going to sign up at once.

MR. B-NATURAL— And I’m not going unless I can get all cranky about having to wait 15 whole minutes. Then I'll demand the Wall$treet Journal, leaf through it at the circulation desk, in the way of God and everybody, until I find the cr0ssw0rd puzzle, which I'll then demand the staff photocopy for me. Then I'm going to stand at the circ desk and grunt and growl and do my puzzle until the staff are crazed and on the verge of kicking me in the junk. And every time any of the staff go back to log on one of the two people waiting ahead of me, I'll assume they're doing it for me and follow them back, then growl some more when it's not for me after all.

DUFUS— Sure thing.

GENE— I'll sign up last so I can have plenty of time to sit around the main room and torment the staff, too. I'll tell them long-winded stories about each and every one of my ancestors that I've been able to find geneal0gy records for. Like my Great Uncle Stan, who once worked for a guy who sold tools to a man who worked as a mechanic for a crop dusting pilot until he got an infected hangnail and had to go on unemployment—that’s my uncle, mind you, not the crop duster. Except they didn’t have unemployment back then, so he just died, leaving a wife and nineteen kids, each of whom was a fascinating character on their own. Like his daughter Loofie, who…

MR. B-NATURAL— God, shut him up before I sic my dog on him!!!

DUFUS— Um, Gene, how `bout saving it for the library, huh? I mean, I'm all about the name-dropping myself, but damn.

BRICE— What about me? I’m still banned from using a computer until I pay for that book I lost.

BRENT— Hah! I paid my fines off, so I can use a computer again! You know, after waiting 20 or 30 minutes for my turn, and all. I'm gonna MySpace like there's no tomorrow! In your face!

DEVIL TWIN AUXILLIARY MEMBER TONY— I’m going to sign up for a computer too! They still let me use them even though I stole $20 from the cashbox that one time. In your face twice, Brice!

MR. B-NATURAL— What, are you kids green or something? No, Brice, listen. Just sign up for a computer anyway. The staff can never tell you and Brent apart, even though one of you is clearly a head taller than the other. And even if they catch on, they’ll just be pissed off you had the sac to try and sign up again after all the times they've told you were banned because of fines. It's win-win!

BRICE— I know, I’ll sign up with my middle name. Then they might think we have a third brother.

MR. B-NATURAL— That's the idea! You're catching on, now.

TONY— Yeah, and if they do call you on it, I’ll help run interference by signing up for computers repeatedly throughout the afternoon, often returning to the desk to sign up again before my time has even run out. You’ll always have a shoulder to look over.

MR. B-NATURAL— Oh, that’ll squeeze a Cleveland Steamer in their Wheaties real good! The only thing that could make it better is if you tried to sneak some coffee back, too.

GENE— And because the staff will quickly learn to avoid me, as though I were coated in dog feces, I'll lie in wait for them in other rooms, jumping out to tell them about all the lists of my relatives I wasn't able to get the computers to print properly last time and to show them the many lists I was able to print. Like this one that has my uncle Stan's daughter Loofie's name on it. I remember that my grandmother once told me about this time when Loofie stumped her toe on the edge of the tub and...

DUFUS— Gene!!! You know I love ya, guy, but I swear to God I'm going to hit you throat with a rolled up New Y0rker if you don't shut the hell up! In fact, when we get to the library, I'm going to wait for my computer far away from you. I'll go upstairs, where I can flip through Newsweek's entertainment section and catch up on all the people I used to be close personal friends of back when I was a demi-god in California. I'll flip from page to page and sigh longingly. And, every now and then, I'll look up to watch that exceptionally slow staff member as she takes the better part of three hours to put new spine labels on only a couple of dozen books.

RANDOM MALE PATRON— I’m just going to come in repeatedly over the course of the entire afternoon and act all impatient and give the staff dirty looks that there aren’t any computers free. I won’t actually sign up for one and wait my turn, of course, but will instead leave for half an hour and come back to do it all again.

MR. B-NATURAL— Also a very good tactic.

THE COOT— I don't care about no compooter gigitygatchets. I'm going to set up shop outside the noisy lady's office, slouched waaay down in the chair until my legs block the entire walkway. And I'm going to grunt and sing and fart all the live long day.

DUFUS— Knock yourself out.

THE COOT— *FAAAART*

(Twenty minutes to an hour later)

DUFUS— Hey, this keyboard has flaky white stuff in the keys. What gives?

CRUSTY THE PATRON— Oh, sorry. That was me. I was in for several hours before you arrived and got booted from computer to computer, so they're all pretty much contaminated with my buttery, flaky, beard crust.

EVERYONE— Ewwwwwwww!

(While the above dialogue is fiction, the events described pretty much went down exactly like that.)