Monday, April 09, 2007

Bad Friday

There’s been a nettin’ war brewing between Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine and two members of the New Devil Twins Auxiliary League of Neighborhood Kids. Actually, it’s really between Gene and anyone who gets in the way of his geneal0gy research. On Friday things began heating up.

Gene must have had the day off for Good Friday, because he settled in fairly early in the morning hoping for a full day of computer time. See, Gene’s learned that despite its DSL speed, our innanet connection slows way down in the afternoon about the time the West Coast crowd kicks into gear. So instead of haunting our computer hall in the afternoon, he’s been trying to come in earlier in the day. Unfortunately, Tony and Delbert, the aforementioned NDTALONK members, also had the day off and nothing better to do than surf the net, so in they came too.

After all three had been on for over half an hour, another patron happened in wanting a computer and Gene had to be busted off since he’d been on the longest. He immediately signed up for another session, causing Tony to be busted for Gene. Tony then signed up for another session, causing Delbert to be busted for Tony. Then Delbert signed up for another session and the cycle began anew. My coworker, Mrs. C, was running the circ desk solo, at that point, for Mrs. B was out for the day, and she rapidly grew tired of having to run back to the computer hall every ten minutes or so to bust someone off in favor of someone who’d already been busted off several times already. She decided she’d had enough and resolved to reinact an obscure bit of library computer policy that hasn’t been enforced in years. Our policy has already been that patrons who sign up for computers are given one half hour’s worth of time, on a first come first served basis, and are not asked to get off unless we have someone else waiting to use the next available computer. The reactivated bit of policy would add that patrons who have already been given a full half hour’s worth of time may sign up for another session, but will only be granted a computer when one becomes available, rather than us busting anyone else off to give them one.

Mrs. C thought this would not only cut down on the number of trips amount we’d be making to the computer hall but it would deter abusers from abusing the system in the first place. I knew this was very very wrong. What it would do is give Gene more than enough excuse to sit around the circ desk, yammering on about his damned relatives to anyone who would stand still long enough while he waited for the next computer to open up. This is far more torturous than having to run back and bust people off every few minutes, but with the new policy addition effectively ties the staff’s hands in getting rid of him. (And on that note, I’ve been lobbying for the purchase of a Geneal0gy Taser, to be used on any geneal0gy researchers who attempt to tell us about their research--which would be all of them.)

By the time I arrived at work, Gene and the boys had been told of our revised policy. Mrs. C and Mrs. A then told me about the policy and about how Gene and the boys had been told as well. Then they make a fast break for lunch, leaving me solo. Sure enough, within minutes someone else came in for a computer and I had to go bust Gene off for them. Gene knew that the boys were both past their half hour limit too, so he ran to sign up for another session, no doubt in the hopes I hadn’t been told about the policy.

“That boy on the first computer is out of time,” Gene said, helpfully as he signed up anew.

I ignored him and went back to typing spine labels. I kept my back to Gene and made no eye contact, lest it give him an opening to talk about his relatives. The more I typed, though, the more something about the policy bugged me. I can understand not busting new computer patrons (Tier 1) off in favor of ones who’ve already had their half hour (Tier 2), but what about patrons who’ve already had more than their share of time, such as Delbert and Tony? My brain rationalized that it seemed unfair to allow them to remain on the computers while other Tier 2 patrons such as Gene had to wait. To me, it seemed fair that once a patron became a Tier 2, they could effectively compete with other Tier 2 patrons for computer time, but not with Tier 1s. I didn’t much want any of them in the building, but it seemed far less dangerous to have Tony & Delbert busted off than to have a bored and conversation-starved Gene lurking around the desk.

After a few more minutes, I went back and told Tony someone was waiting for a computer. Tony logged off, then came to the desk and complained that Delbert was actually next in line to be busted off.

“Fine,” I said, and went back and told Delbert he had to get off too. Tony & Delbert were confused as to what this meant and what they were to do next, so they both wound up leaving instead of Tony taking one of the two free computers. I gave one of them to Gene, who then managed to stay on it for at least the next four hours.

I still don't think this policy adjustment is going to work. Meanwhile, I'm comparison pricing tasers.


Anonymous said...

I think you need a sign at the desk saying, "Please do not chat with the clerk." Then you could just point to it, smile, and say, Sorry, but I've got work to do.


sarah said...

Maybe it'd be a good idea to have an hour or so a day and that's it policy?


Anonymous said...

Your library is open on Good Friday??

Anonymous said...

Software that schedules time on innanet, and shuts down automatically when time's up - we're looking into it, too - it sounds heavenly . . .

Anonymous said...

Oh, it is heavenly. At our library you get three 55-minute sessions a day, and that includes all 9 of our branches. Once that's done, you're done too.

With computers and internet as cheap as it is, I fail to see why some of those hardcare internet fucks just don't get their own.

dj said...

Lordy--I had someone ask me today about the geneology databases we subscribe to, and he started telling me about his grandfather coming over from Scotland. I thought of Gene and almost burst out laughing--I had to bite the inside of my mouth not to. Hee!!!

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.