Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Actual Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #79 (a.k.a. "The Founding Fathers Phone Us Up")


ME— Tri-Metro County Library.

GRANDPA SAM— Yes. This is GRANDPA SAM. I have an excerise book out from your library that I’d like to have for a while longer.

ME— Sure thing. Can I have your library card number?

GRANDPA SAM— Oh... I didn’t know I’d need that. Let me go get it.

(Grandpa Sam is gone for around half a minute)

GRANDPA SAM— Sorry about that. I wasn’t prepared.

(Grandpa Sam reads me the number, minus a critical zero, but it was a zero I was able to figure out and I brought up his record and renewed his book.)

ME— Okay, I’ve got that renewed for you.

GRANDPA SAM— Say, listen. I’m really enjoying this book, but I see that it’s been out of print for a while.

ME— Yes?

GRANDPA SAM— Well, I was hoping maybe to find a used copy of it. I hear there’s something called Amazon?

ME— Yes, sir. That might be a good place to look for it.

GRANDPA SAM— Do you have that?

ME— Um... Nooo... Well, sort of. We have computers here with internet access and patrons can use them to shop at But it’s entirely up to the patron to make the purchases through Amazon. We have nothing to do with it ourselves. We just offer internet access.

GRANDPA SAM— (In something of a suspicious tone, as if I'm trying to get away with something) Why is that, now?

ME— Errr. Well, is not some kind of subscription service that the library has. It’s an online retailer. We offer internet access and if patrons wish they can visit and buy stuff from them. We don’t have anything to do with it, otherwise, though. We just offer the access to the internet.

GRANDPA SAM— Okay, but, what I mean is, are they good?

ME— Sure. I buy from them all the time.

GRANDPA SAM— I mean, are they a moral company? I’m a Christian and I only want to buy from moral companies.

ME— Errrr... um. I guess they are. I haven’t heard of any protests against them, or anything.

GRANDPA SAM— Well, the book’s out of print anyway, so they won’t likely have it.

ME— Actually, while Amazon might not have it new, they offer a used book service where people sell their used books online and they probably would have it through there.

GRANDPA SAM— Oh? Well, if I was to come up there, could someone show me how to order from this Amazon?

ME— (I knew exactly how this was about to play out.) I suppose so. Keep in mind, though, is going to require a credit card for all transactions.

GRANDPA SAM— I don’t have a credit card. Maybe someone could show me the used books on there and I could call them up and order it by phone?

ME— Um, actually, Amazon is pretty strictly a credit card service.

GRANDPA SAM— So I couldn't call up one of the people with used books?

ME— (Barely supressing a massive urge to sigh loudly into the receiver) I can't tell you that it wouldn't be possible to do that, but most likely, no.

GRANDPA SAM— Okay then.

After we hang up, I began to think about Sam’s dilemma and decide to check Amazon out to see if I can find a used book seller through them. Sure enough, I find one offering Sam’s book of choice and send them an email explaining the situation and asking if Sam could phone them up and order it with a check or money order. They write back within hours and say "nope."



A.M. Kuchling said...

Some of the vendors on probably support payment by check.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Amazon offers a variety of payment methods.
Not that this would have been helpful in Grandpa Sam's case, necessarily. And it would probably have only opened up a whole 'nother can of worms!

sarah said...

I was just about to post about and someone beat me to it. usually you can just call up the dealer, and often you'll find the books are cheaper when you do it that way as opposed to ordering through the site.

Ponytail said...

That was so nice of you, to go to that trouble. Come and work in my library please !

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.