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, April 26, 2007

Who's Got the 10 and a Half (minus the half) 2007?

My fellow "liberry" ass. and former newbie greenhorn, Ms. M, is almost always willing to fill in whenever any of the rest of the staff have pressing outside scheduling conflicts. I had one of those earlier this week and she was kind enough to fill in for me during it. She's actually racked up quite a bit of credit with me in that regard over the past few months, so when I heard she needed Thursday off I figured it was time to pay her back. Granted, I was already scheduled to be at work from 9 to 1 today, which would turn this into a 10 hour shift. I agreed all the same. It's been a while since I've had a 10 hour shift, but in the past they've been great blogging fodder. And at least with Mrs. A, B, C and J present, it wouldn't be a 10 hour solo shift, which is what my previous 10 hour shifts have usually been. The drawback to it being a near full staff shift, though, is that it's difficult to blog it in real time. So I spent the day jotting notes to myself on scrap paper and tucking them into spare pockets to be able to reconstruct the day later.

9:02 a.m.— I arrive at work 2 minutes after 9 due to leaving the house a bit late. However, it was completely necessary for me to make a new thermous full of coffee.

9:05 a.m.— The Coot arrives for what will likely be a 10 hour stay himself. He heads for his favorite seat outside Mrs. A's office where, as in accordance with tradition, he will groan and wail and burp and fart whenever Mrs. A has to use the phone or, indeed, her voice.

9:15 a.m.— I process the huge stack of periodicals that have piled up since I was last here. As I do so, Mrs. C and Mrs. B are inspecting the general fiction walls, pulling shelving slips out of books and noting whether or not they are shelved correctly. Newbie Greenhorn Ms. S, as per usual, has several that are misshelved, a surprise to no one.

9:37 a.m.— The staff discusses the fact that we have to move story hour from our usual activity area to the upstairs nonfiction floor due to the fact that we're having a class of violinists and their instructor in today to play for the story hour kids. We put signs up to that effect on the activity room door and then another on the library's front door in the hope that our traditional late comers, (i.e. little Kayla's family), will note them and be quiet when entering.

9:41 a.m.— Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine arrives for his first computer shift of the day.

9:45 a.m.— A few months back, Ms. S ran out of her usual orange shelving slips. At that point, she cut out and carefully initialled a large supply of pink shelving slips and in the intervening months, she's continued to use both orange and pink. Recently, former newbie greenhorn Ms. M ran out of her yellow shelving slips, so she too cut a bunch out of pink ones and carefully initialled them, apparently so that they wouldn't be confused with Ms. S's pink shelving slips. While sorting the various slips that Mrs. C and Mrs. B pulled earlier, I make a command decision and announce to the rest of the staff at hand that I am throwing away both sets of pink slips on the grounds that it is moronic to have them in the first place.

9:54 a.m.— The Bakers arrive for story hour. They bring 12,000 books to return. Amazingly, all of their books are from our library branch.

9:55 a.m.— Mr. B-Natural arrives for his first computer session. He puts 10:00 as his signup time, no doubt thinking it will give him five extra minutes. I start his timer so it won't.

10:00 a.m.— Story Hour begins. Kayla's family fails to arrive, a surprise to no one. Tuning of stringed instruments can be heard through the very floor above my head. I'm sure the Coot is thrilled.

10:05 a.m.— I start checking the shelves for this week's overdues.

10:10 a.m. — Little Kayla's family still has yet to arrive.

10:27 a.m.— Mr. B-Natural departs, inquiring about the violin noise as he does.

10:46 a.m.— While still checking shelves for overdues, I see that someone's flagged one of the books I shelved as being misshelved. I double check it, but cannot determine how it is misshelved. It's a mystery book shelved in the mysteries section, it's way too old to be in new fiction, and it's author, Davis, is shelved neatly after Davies and before Debin, just as it should be. What gives?

11:00 a.m.— Story hour concludes. I notice Gene disappeared at some point, for he is no longer on his computer, nor the can, nor elsewhere in the building.

11:16 a.m.— No way. It's not even noon and the mail has already arrived. Glory be!

11:28 a.m.— I sneak away to my hidey hole in the supply cabinet and retrieve my emergency toothbrush, with which I head to the sink outside our little public restroom under the stairs to brush my teeth and rid myself of coffee breath. No sooner is the brush in my mouth than the Coot squeezes past me to use the can. No good can come of this. I hurriedly brush my teeth and flee the area before he can release any fumes at me.

11:30 a.m.— I spy the Coot outside, headed for his car. He better have flushed.

11:40 to 11:47 a.m.— Mrs. A, Mrs. B, Mrs. J and I all stand around and tell Ms. S stories, chronicling her latest misadventures in dumbassity.

11:50 a.m. — While pulling some shelving slips Mrs. C and Mrs. B missed, I find another pink shelving slip, this one with Ms. S’s initials on one side and Ms. M’s initials on the other. Damn, they’re conspiring together now!!

12:03 p.m. — I walk down the street to the local market to pick up one of their impressively generous and patron-awe-inspiring salads for lunch.

12:10 p.m. — I return to the "liberry" and begin eating my impressive and tasty salad.

12:18 p.m. — Mr. Little Stupid arrives for a computer.

12:28 p.m. — I finish my salad and go brush my teeth again. Eww, salad breath.

12:34 p.m. — I receive a phone call from one of the New Devil Twins Auxiliary League of Neighborhood Kids. I think it's Delbert. He inquires as to whether or not he will be allowed to use a computer should he turn up at the library. It's our policy, you see, that school-aged children of appropriate computer-usage age, even equipped with a permission slip on file, are not allowed to use a computer during school hours, unless they are home school students doing genuine research. According to Delbert, though, he is being schooled in an alternative school, which means he's gotten in trouble at regular school and has been sent there for reform. The alternative school doesn't meet until after 4, so he thinks this is a loophole. I bring it up to Mrs. A and C and they say he can only use a computer during normal school hours if he has a signed letter from his alternative school teacher saying he can, and then can only use it for genuine research. He can't come in and surf MySpace. I gleefully inform him of this.

12:40 p.m. — Jimmy the Anonymous Snitch arrives for computer time. He brings his mommy with him, who I believe he still lives with and is likely his only means of transportation. What a colossal loser.

12: 42 p.m. — The rest of the staff leave for lunch. It is Mrs. J's birthday and they're taking her to Crapplebees. Wow, and I thought we liked Mrs. J.

12:57 p.m. — Jimmy and mommy leave.

1:00 p.m. — I get a few minutes of peace and begin typing this up in hopes of putting some of it up on the blog early.

1:04 p.m. — Sudden rush on computers, including a usually clueless wireless guy who will no doubt have trouble logging on and then have to get me to help him.

1:10 p.m. — Our first "What are your hours?" call of the day.

1:13 p.m.— Mr. Little stupid approaches the desk and asks me how to spell the word "talk." I tell him.

1:15 p.m.— Lennie arrives for his Thursday shift. He complains that "it's so hot you can't stand it." He notices me typing and becomes very interested. I stop.

1:30 p.m.— An old man with a long silver beard arrives saying he has 25 boxes of book donations for us, where do we want them? Since we aren't busy at all, I tell him to drive around to our storage area (i.e. the basement) and I'll come out and help him haul them in.

1:31 p.m. — There's a sudden rush on the desk, with checkouts and reference questions. The phone also starts ringing with people calling for Mrs. C. I'm the only one on staff, except for Lennie and now can't leave the desk to go help this old man haul boxes. Instead, I send Lennie out and tell him to go unlock the basement and help haul boxes. He leaves.

1:38 p.m.— The patron tide stemmed, I dash out to the basement door. The old man has two other slightly younger men helping him haul boxes out of a truck and into the basement. Lennie is standing there idly, saying that he'll lock the door back when they finish. I tell him that he's supposed to be helping them, but he doesn't move. One of the old men tells me that they have quite a few more boxes of books they wish to donate. I tell him he'd better give us a few days to get things sorted and cleared out to the BIGGER storage area, before bringing in any more. Mrs. B, our resident donation sorter and reboxer, is going to faint when she sees all these boxes. She only just yesterday got the basement and current crop of book donations sorted and sent off to our larger storage area, off property.

1:40 p.m.— I dash back inside where a patron is waiting.

1:56 p.m. — Lennie won't quit snooping whenever I try to continue typing this up. I don't know how much he's capable of reading, but I learned long ago not to underestimate him. He seems to sense that I'm doing something of interest, though, and keeps asking me questions, like "Who are you writing a letter to?" "Myself," I tell him. I switch from the screen to a scrap of paper, but he's even now trying to get a gander of this very note.

2:00 p.m. — The rest of the staff returns from lunch.

2:07 p.m.— I ask Mrs. C and Mrs. B why my book in the mysteries was flagged as misshelved. They say they weren't the ones who flagged it, though. Must be a dumbass newbie greenhorn who did it as some sort of half-assed revenge for my flagging all their misshelved books over the past few months. They can't even get that right.

2:12 p.m.— I leave for an extended break. Mrs. C tells me I can take more than an hour, as I'm the poor soul on til closing.

3:30 p.m.— I return. Mrs. C says that drama has occurred in my absence. She says an older lady phoned and asked Mrs. B if there was a man here delivering books to be donated. When told that there had been some men delivering books earlier, who were now gone, the lady said she wanted to leave a message for the man that he needed to phone home. Then the lady burst into tears and hung up. No idea what that was all about. The other news, though, is that the old guys who donated the books took all the empty boxes we'd been saving to sort donated books into. Mrs. B had been begging for some for a week and now they were gone. Lennie told Mrs. C that the men asked him if they could take the boxes but he didn't answer them, so they took them anyway. We'll get them back, most likely in a few days when they bring more books.

3:45 p.m.— I see that Delbert, the aforementioned Neighborhood Auxiliary League Member, is now using a computer. It's after school hours are over, so there's no rule against it. However, he's been on for over half an hour now and I have to bust him off for another patron. Mr. Little Stupid is still around too, but had, apparently been busted off before because he's now on a different computer than when I left. When I go to reboot Delbert's station, Mr. Little Stupid asks me how to spell "work."

3:59 p.m.— Fatty Manchild arrives for a computer. He's not wearing jams, per se, but he is wearing shorts. They look to be of the no-print, off-white, board-short variety.

4:06 p.m.— Mr. Little Stupid finally leaves.

4:18 p.m.— A woman and three children, each of whom is whining for books, approaches the desk. I hear her tell them that they can't have any books from our library because they have their own library at school to borrow from. They persist. She tells them that kids aren't allowed to have library cards at our library. Nevermind the fact that they just exited the CHILDREN'S room, this is what she says. I suspect she's lying to them to get them to quit whining. They continue. She spies me and says, "Kids can't get library cards here, can they?" Her "can they?" seems loaded with intent. "Um... I guess that all depends on what answer you're looking for," I tell her. "The truth," she says. "Okay. Sure, kids can get library cards here." This is not what the woman (their baby-sitter, I think) wants to hear, because she immediately tells the kids that she didn't trust them to check books out on her card since they'd lost so many from school. "But I only lost one, this year," one of the kids says. I gamely try to back her up a bit by telling them that we're really serious about getting our books back and will send our enforcer, Mrs. J, to come get them. They leave with only the sitter's books.

4:30 p.m.— Yay! I get to make a trip to the post office. People hate us at the post office. Not the postal workers themselves, who seem incapable of caring how many packages we have to mail each week; it's the other customers who hate us for clogging up the lines for 10 minutes at a stretch. I feel their pain. Fortunately, we only have one box and an envelope to mail and I get them sent off without incident.

4:47 p.m.— I return to find that someone has had a blowout in the public restroom while I was gone and the whole reference hall is super butt-fume stinky.

5:05 p.m.— Everyone else on staff leaves for the day.

6:00 p.m.— Been pretty slow going. I've called all my holds and had time to type a bit.

6:01 p.m.— A patron brings in a book for return. He looks ever so slightly miffed that he actually had to come in the building to do this, as the book return stays locked during hours we're open.

6:05 p.m.— Wow, an honest to God reference question! A lady wanted organizational information about the W0rld Hea1th Organizati0n and the Pan Amer!can Hea1th Organizati0n. We have no books specifically on them but EBSC0 had loads of articles, two of which seemed to suit her criteria. I print them for her. She writes us a check for a whole dollar.

6:18 p.m.— A little kid—who's here with his mom and is maybe 7 years of age, if that—comes up to the desk to tell me about how much he likes Shrek and Shrek II and Shrek the Third, even though he's not seen it. He has matching fake tribal tatoos extending from beneath his short sleeved shirt down his arms nearly to his wrists. At least, I hope they're fake; his mom is sporting a few real tatoos.

6:24 p.m.— Some child is screaming outside. It's that sort of high-pitched, make a dog's ears bleed and your spine seize up sort of squeal that should be reserved only for occasions when murder is about to be committed, but whatever kid it is seems to be flinging it around the neighborhood pretty liberally. It's not a cry of distress. Most likely it's more a scream meaning: "It's raining and I'm getting wet!"

6:45 p.m.— Closing duties begin in earnest.

6:47 p.m. — the Purple Nun's brother arrives, but leaves within a few minutes.

6:55 p.m.— And I am alone and nearly finished for the day.

6:56 p.m.— Some goofa pulls up outside, no doubt with 400 books to return.

6:56 p.m.— False alarm. They were just parking here to walk downtown.

7:00 p.m. — We are officially closed.

2 comments:

Hevnev said...

Crapple Bee's that is so funny and true no matter where you live. We have a patron that comes in daily who we have deemed "Barbershop Berry" his name is Berry and his favorite past time is to search for barbershop jobs using Mapquest. Yes, that's right mapquest. He also hounds us all day about emailing all the people who send him junkmail in his email account to stop. Like this is somehow a library problem. Sigh! We flip a coin to see who has to deal with him.

daisy said...

I'm so pointedly not making a joke about Ms. S and pink slips.