Friday, June 29, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

S is for Shifting

I was in the general fiction L's when I spied, resting on its side, neatly atop one row of the books there, a lone Dennis LeHane. Poking from beneath the front cover of it was a bright orange shelving slip, indicating that eternal Newbie Greenhorn Ms. S had at some point intended to shelve this particular book. As she hadn't been on shift for over a full day, she had obviously failed in her task. (As had the rest of us in noticing during the subsequent day.)

I picked up the book, to finish her shelving job, but found that the row of LeHanes it belonged in was packed so tightly that it was impossible to wedge in this new one. Shelf rows above and below the LeHanes were similarly packed.

Now, if one were to be charitable, one might assume that Ms. S had attempted to shelve the book, found that the shelves were packed, intended to shift properly in order to fit it, but got sidetracked by a patron and set the book down--merely temporarily, mind you--then forgot to come back and shelve it later. Or, one might look at the history of the employee in question and recall her great animosity toward the very concept of shifting books and decide that she forgot to do it out of convenience.

Whatever the case, one of the reasons the shelves were so tight is because the greenhorns keep shelving new books in them. We recently had a motherload of new books arrive and the new books section became wildly overcrowded. The greenhorns, who've often been guilty of shelving the new books on a good day, asked and were given permission to shelve some of the older new books on the walls rather than stick to our usual 6 months in the New Section rule for new books on the walls to free up room in the new section. Many of the ones I've found, though, were from as recent as last month, so they weren't exactly being picky about which ones they shelved.

Oddly, as much animosity as I've had toward Ms. S, I've recently found that my dislike of her has been growing far less. With the above example, she's clearly not started doing her job to perfection or anything. However, now that she's had a year under her belt, she has gotten better and has stopped exhibitting quite the degree of laziness we're accustomed to seeing. Either that or we've just gotten accustomed to it and are no longer so offended.

Further oddly, when she arrived for her shift the other day, I found myself greeting her with genuine friendliness.

Maybe I'm coming down with something.

No, I really do think she's actually gotten better. She still asks lots of questions, but the questions are no longer so dumb and with such obvious answers as they once were. Furthermore, she seems far less surly than she has been. Maybe its just the sort of job that takes some people about a year to settle in to. It took Ms. M that long to acheive a status in which we did not curse her very name. Now she's a valued employee who has graduated greenhorndom and acheived the rank of "Liberry" Ass. I'm not yet ready to grant that to Ms. S, but I can forsee a day when I might.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dishin' It Up: A Cautionary Tale (LAST EPILOGUE EVER)

It's been over two months since my last bit of dealing with the vile and ass-sucking entity known as DirecTV. It's been blissful. In fact, I continue to have nothing but high praise for Dish Network, despite the fact that I am still without distant networks, except for Fox. If I must be without distant networks, I'd much rather be without them with Dish Network than with the sphincter remora that is DirecTV. But I digress...

Last I heard from them, they still owed me $16.32, the difference between the amount they originally said we owed them for our early disconnection and the amount they eventually wound up crediting us in order to cover the original claim against us.

In the intervening days, we've faithfully received a bill each month displaying that credit of $16.32.

Today, we finally received a check in the mail for the amount of $16.32. I will, of course, be cashing it and hoping against hope that it is the final piece of mail, junk or otherwise, I ever receive from that company.

I'm an optimistic soul, no?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Got them Gravity Hill, Ain't Got No Card, Oh, Wait, I do Have a Card, or DID Have a Card, AND Fines, Blues.

Mrs. J was sweeping the front walk when a large lady came huffing and puffing up the gravity hill. She was about to fall over from the strain. (In her defense, the gravity hill doesn't look like much of a problem to ascend, but, being the gravity hill, it always is.) Mrs. J didn't know the lady, but they talked for a minute or two. I learned later that the lady had asked Mrs. J how she might obtain a library card and Mrs. J had told her we needed her to fill out a form and produce a drivers license. I didn't know that then, though.

The lady and Mrs. J came inside and between wheezes the lady was all, "Oh, lordy mercy, that hill!" and "I should stop smoking," and "Oh my gosh, that hill," and stuff. She barely made it to the circ desk, where she deposited her brick of a pocketbook and began digging in it, I presumed for her library card.

"What I need is a basic math book," the lady explained. I looked one up for her and Mrs. J volunteered to head upstairs to nonfiction to retrieve it, so that the lady's heart wouldn't explode going up our staircase. While we waited, the lady continued digging in her pocketbook for her card, going through several thick, rubber-band wrapped stacks of cards and papers and the like. I went back to processing magazines while she searched.

"Will you take an insurance card?" she asked.

Wow, that hill really had addled her brain.

"No, ma'am. We need the actual card."

"What about a driver's license?"

"I'm sorry, but we need the actual card," I said.

"What card?"

"Your library card."

She gave me a long confused look.

"But I don't have one."

"You weren't just searching your purse for your library card?"

"No. I was looking for my license to get a card."

Oohhhhhh, now I got it. I whipped out an application, which she filled out and handed over. Then, when I started creating the card in the computer an identical record popped up before I'd even arrived at the Unique ID section. Same name, address, phone and drivers license popped up in the previously existing record. It also had $179.80 worth of fines and was blocked.

"Ma'am, it looks like we do have a patron record on file for you already. Looks like it's from TOWN-D."

"TOWN-D? Oh, I haven't been to TOWN-D in years and years and years and years and years. I don't have a card from there."

"Well, I've got you right here with the same name, address, telephone number and drivers license number, from TOWN-D. I'm afraid this says you have $179.80 in fines with them, so I can't check anything out to you until you take care of that."

"How much?" she asked in a cool measured and not entirely surprised tone.

I told her and it still didn't seem to phase her. She didn't ask what the fines were for, didn't bat an eye. For that amount of money, I would have spotted her a tantrum, but she didn't get upset at all.

"I'll just go right over there and pay that," she said. "Then I'll come back here and finish getting this card."

"Actually, your card from Town-D will work here."

"Oh?" she said calmly.


"You have a good day," she said, moving toward the door.

"You too," I said. "The hill's easier going down."

She laughed and left.

After checking out a few more patrons, I looked up the lady's account to see what she had out that cost $179.80. Turned out the fines were for four videos—basic Hollywood movies, most likely purchased at Wally World and donated—checked out in 2004. Town-D assigned a replacement value of around $44.95 each to them. My guess is, they'll never see it nor the videos nor that patron ever again.

Then again, nor will we.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dear Robert Palmer...

The strangest thing happened yesterday.

Mr. B-Natural came in, sans laptop, and signed up to use one of our normal patron computers. His face clean shaven. And his golf cap, seemingly identical to the hole-ridden one he's been sporting, was completely free of holes.

I don't know what this means, but it caused me to question whether or not I'd dreamed up the whole laptop / moustache / lost-a-fight-with-a-leaky-battery-hat thing he's had going for the past week.

Tell me, am I dreaming?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mr. B-Moustache?

Mr. B-Natural, as he threatened, is now wireless laptop equipped. He proudly marches into the "liberry," laptop case slung casually at his side, and gestures at us using the international sign-language for "Gimme a 4 hour session of wireless time, I've got a crossword puzzle callin' my name."

The odd thing is that along with his acquisition of modern personal technology, Mr. B-Natural has also acquired both a moustache and a golf-cap that looks as though it lost a fight with a leaky car battery. The cap is riddled with holes, allowing its padding to show through in places, but he wears it proudly all the same. While the moustache has yet to fully grow in, I have to admit that it kind of suits him. Or, at least, it works far better than the shiny silver toupee he sported, a few years back, before returning it, presumably to the toupee store, scarcely a week later.

Monday, June 18, 2007

She was born where?

On Friday, Birthday Lady phoned for Ruth Graham's birthday, following her unfortunate passing. She was born June 10, 1920 to medical missionary parents in Qingjiang, Kiangsu, China.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Actual Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #82


ME— Tri-Metro County Library.

TELEMARKETER— (Female voice with thick Indian accent) Hello, my name is (name said too quickly to catch) and I am calling on behalf of (company name said too quickly to catch). May I please speak to the owner of the business?

ME— Um, this is a public library.

TELEMARKETER— Yes. May I please speak to the owner of the business?


ME— Well, that's going to be kind of hard. There are quite a few of them.


ME— This is a public library.

TELEMARKETER— Yes. May I please speak to the... May I... Maybe you can help me to understand?


TELEMARKETER— Are you a person who is able to make decisions for the business?

ME— No. I am an employee of a public library. I can't make decisions.

TELEMARKETER— May I speak to someone who is able to make decisions for the business?

ME— No. She's not here at the moment, but she doesn't take sales calls.

TELEMARKETER— But I am not selling you something, yet.

ME— Even so.

TELEMARKETER— I would please like to ask you a few questions about your...

ME— I'm sorry, but I don't think I can answer your questions. I'm the only employee at work right now and I need to go.

TELEMARKETER— When would be a more convenient time to call back?

ME— Again, my boss does not take sales calls or telemarketing calls. We're a public library. We're not really set up for this sort of thing.

(Long pause)

TELEMARKETER— Thank you very much, and have a good evening.

ME— You too.


PATRON STANDING AT DESK— Dude, you were far more patient with them than I would have been.

(The moral of this story is that apparently not only are America's help desk jobs being outsourced overseas, but now our telemarketing jobs are as well.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Memestruck V

I've been memetagged by Sara over at Disheveled. Here are the rules as given...

"Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog."

I, however, am going to ignore the last part of the rules, violating the very nature of the meme, because I'm too cool for that. If you'd like to continue it on your own, consider yourself tagged.

1. When I was in the 5th grade, I embezzled over $80 from the March of Dimes. Our school's administration forced us out into the world to collect donations for the March, (though I didn't think of it in those terms at the time so it's not like my embezzlement was an act of protest, or anything). We were all supposed to take our little donation envelope and go door to door, collecting money which we were to turn in at school on a specific date. When that specific date arrived, I was genuinely home sick. I wanted to turn the money in anyway, and even brought it with me to school the next day, but because our teachers had stressed to us so many times that they couldn't take any money after the deadline had passed, I was afraid to bring up the subject because I thought they would yell at me. I investigated no further and no one ever asked me about it. After a few months of storing the money in my safe place in the bookshelf of our living room, I began spending the money, slowly, so as not to draw attention to myself. Though I have probably not yet paid it all back, I still guiltilly purchase the little March of Dimes paper shoes whenever a grocery store clerk asks if I'd like to contribute as I'm checking out.

2. Out of the 50 or 60 comics I've obtained on Free Comic Book Day, during the past three years, I don't believe I've read more than two of them. Instead, they sit in stacks or in plastic bags in my office, unread and unloved. I have no explanation for this nor, seemingly, the ability to do anything about it.

3. I have an annoying habit of purchasing new albums by artists I love and then not listening to them for years at a stretch or even listening to them enough times to give them a fair shake. Sometimes those same albums, when given a chance later, become my favorite albums by a given artist. Perhaps I'm afraid I'll be disappointed and turned off an artist. Perhaps its my collector mentality, evidenced on Free Comic Book Day, where I'm content to merely own them. Not sure. Currently I have the following albums waiting to be given a test drive: Fiona Apple's "When the Pawn..." which I listened to years ago and loved but have not heard more than a song randomly played by my mp3 player now that I own it; Barenaked Ladies "Are Me" which I've heard a couple of times, but haven't played repeatedly as I have with their others; They Might Be Giants "The Spine"; Michael Penn "Resigned"; Midnight Oil "Breathe" and "Redneck Wonderland"; Dave Matthews Band "Stand Up" which I've only heard a couple of times; Sonia Dada "Barefootsoul" and "Test Pattern" both of which I've listened to once, enjoyed, and never touched again; Subdudes "Two Beasts"; Vinx "I love my job" and "Storyteller"; and pretty much anything by David Wilcox, most of whose albums I've owned for years, have listened to and enjoyed once, and still haven't given another good shake.

4. I was quite disappointed by the final episode of the Sopranos. (MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW.) Not so much the very end of the episode that people have complained about, which can be interpreted in a number of ways and will likely be talked about for years, but for the fact that Paulie Walnuts did not die in a horrible manner, or indeed AT ALL. Ever since the episode a few seasons back where Paulie kills one of his elderly mother's equally elderly friends because he mistakenly thinks she's got money stashed somewhere, I've been waiting for Paulie's death and have hoped that it would occur in the most horrible manner possible. I was overjoyed when he got prostate cancer last season, as that seemed like it would be a good, long, slow, horrible death for him. But he beat it! And who do they kill off? Bobby, the one character on the show that I liked as a human being and was sorry to see shackled to the likes of Janice. Oh, and they royally messed up Silvio, who, despite being pretty amoral himself, was just so cool that you really didn't mind. Paulie, however, is irredeemably evil and I so wanted to see him switch to Phil's side, get caught at it and then be beaten to death by Tony at 3 o'clock, or something equally fitting to the show's established elements. Now that I think about it, though, if Tony was indeed hit when the show went to black, it would have come from 3 o'clock. Ahhhhhh. David Chase, I think I'm on to you.

5. Vol. 1 has an end. And it will, though you might not notice right away.

6. One of my major regrets in life is trying eggnog. Each Christmas season, throughout my time on earth, I've seen people nearly break their necks running to get a cup of eggnog like it was one of the best things you could possibly drink, and I always wondered what the big deal was. I even recall, at a fairly early age, being denied eggnog by my father (likely for my own good, as it was probably spiked) and deciding thereafter not to drink the stuff on principle. I went for years turning down offered cups of eggnog, resolved to go through life without having tasted it. Then, a couple years back, at my in-laws' house, I decided that was silly and I should just try some and did. The experience was so underwhelming that I cannot for the life of me see what all those people who nearly killed themselves trying to get some were after. It was just so very bleh tasting that I cannot understand what the big deal about it is. It made me angry. I mean, if it had been even as good as drinking a cookies N cream milkshake, I could maybe see the attraction, but it just wasn't good at all. Maybe it's that people who love eggnog don't really like the eggnog so much as whatever alcohol they've spiked it with. In other words, it's a good excuse to drink hard liquor in front of the kids without them knowing about it and the reason all those people from my childhood were so happy drinking it is because they were getting wasted. That's the only thing I can think of to explain the craze. That or peer pressure.

7. On a similar topic, I am in possession of secret knowledge of the true origin behind both a fad and a grandly successful unintentional sociological experiment. See, the cafeteria of the high school I attended, (Starkville High, in Starkpatch, MS), is legendary for its chicken nuggets. The legend and resulting incidents didn't start during my time there, but during my younger sister's time there and have reportedly continued in the years since. What happened is this: in the early 1990s, on our cafeteria's chicken nugget day there were literally stampedes through the hallways escalating into riots in the lunch line due to students attempting to cut in line in order to quench their desire to stuff their gobs with mechanically separated poultry parts that much more quickly. Now, as an alumnus, I consumed many of those same nuggets myself and can report that they were nothing special and were pretty sub par for even a high school cafeteria. When I was in college, I heard of these riots and was mystified by them. I mean, who has that kind of passion about chicken nuggets? The craze over them can be explained, though, not due to their actual taste but instead to the idea of their taste as sold by a charismatic huckster named Shane McRae. Shane is an actor these days, but back then he was something of a Ferris Bueller type, beloved by pretty much any given clique you might find in a high school. He was friends with everyone from theatre nerds to jocks to goths to bandnerds to bowheads, etc. Years later, while talking to Shane and some other friends, the topic of the Chicken Nugget Riots of 1992 arose and Shane laughed and explained that he was behind it all. One day, in a class right before lunch, Shane told one of his friends that he was about to start something big; he would race to the cafeteria as though his life depended on it and tell anyone in his path to get out of said path because no one was getting in his way on chicken nugget day. And this he did. Within weeks, whenever they were posted on the menu, there were whole lines and then whole herds of students racing to wait in line to eat these phenomenally shitty chicken nuggets. And it continued for YEARS after he graduated. For all I know, it continues to this day. Shane may go on to win Academy Awards, but, if for nothing else, he has achieved immortality for the chicken nuggets.

8. My highschool cafeteria did, however, make the best Ranch dressing I've ever had and I crave it to this day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I can hear it in their VERY VOICES!

Mrs. A and I were at the circ desk when the phone rang and I answered it. A lady on the line explained that we had been holding a book for her and she wanted to make sure we still were, because she knew her hold time was up soon. We still had her book and I told her she still had a day to pick it up.

"I'll be right over to get it," she said.

As I hung up the phone, I turned to Mrs. A and announced, "She will not have her library card when she arrives. I can hear it in her voice."

Mrs. A laughed and continued processing inter"liberry" loan requests.

Ten minutes later, the patron from the phone arrived and mentioned that she was the person who'd just called. While she browsed our new fiction, I fetched her held book and set it upon the counter, awaiting the inevitable. Sure enough, she came over and said, "Am I ready to go?"

"Actually, I need to check it out to you first. Can I scan your library card?"

"You mean you... oh," she said. "I need the card?"

"Yes, ma'am," I said sweetly.

"You can't just look me up by..."

"No, ma'am," I said even more sweetly, this time with a smile.

She seemed to debate something internally for a couple of seconds, then gestured to the door and gave the international sign language for I'll be right back, I have to go get my pocketbook out of the car. When she was out the door, I turned to Mrs. A.

"What did I say?" I asked. "I tell you, I can hear it in their VERY VOICES!"

Mrs. A was suitably impressed.

I was even more correct than I had originally thought, though. Back our patron came, pocketbook in hand. She dug through it for nearly a minute searching for her card. Occasionally she would mutter, "I bet she still has it," and "Ohhhhh, she didn't give it back." Finally, she gave me a pitiful look and explained that she was pretty sure she'd loaned her card to her daughter, but the kid hadn't returned it. She then blinked hopefully and her eyes darted to my computer, using the international eye-sign-language for You could just look my name up in your computer, couldn't you?

"I can hold it for you here," I said, my own voice straining at the known boundaries of sweetness.

The patron left, sans book.

Twenty minutes later, she returned. Turns out she'd only left her card at work.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Combat Pay (PART II)

After a bit, a new computer patron happened in and I was forced to go back and log them onto a computer within Barbara Turdmurkle's field of vision.

"Oh, oh, excuuuuuse me. I need some help heeeere," Barbie T said in her slow, breathy, singsong voice, upon catching sight of me. I stepped over to her system. Barbara explained that she was trying to look at her credit report on her credit protection agency's website, but couldn't seem to get into it.

"Did you try your username and password?" I asked her.


"Your username and password," I said. "In order to access your account with them, you have to log into the site using a username and password."

Barbie thought for a moment. "I don't have one."

"Yes, you do," I said. I told her that the last time I'd seen her in the library, she'd been trying to check her credit report and had phoned up her protection agency and spoken to someone who had given her a username and password, which she'd written down and used to access her account. In order to do that again, she would have to use that username and password.

Barbara said she didn't remember any of that. She remembered I had helped her then, but she didn't know what her password might be. I suggested it might help if she phoned up her credit protection agency and asked them what it might be.

At that moment, a patron carried some books on tape past me headed seemingly toward the front room.

"I'm sorry, but I have to go back up front. I'm the only staff member in the building," I said.

"Oh, no, I'm going to be a while," the tape carrying patron said. I nearly spat on her.

Barbara Turdmurkle pointed to her screen. "Since I couldn't get my credit report, I wanted to look at something else." She explained then that she was trying to find a list of local car dealerships who were friendly with her insurance agency, the PROMINENT TEXAS-BASED INSURANCE COMPANY.

"Have you been to their website?" I asked, noting that the auto insurance search engine on her screen was not it.

She said she had and had tried to find it but nothing had worked and it had taken her twenty minutes to find the screen she was now on which wasn't giving her what she wanted either. To demonstrate, she clicked the search button beside of which was a completely blank search field. Nothing happened. I could feel my head start to ache.

"Ma'am, that isn't PTBIC's website. If you want to find PTBIC-friendly dealers, I suggest you start back at PTBIC's website."

"But it took me twenty minutes to get here," she said.

"Ma'am, I really REALLY recommend that you go back to PTBIC's site and start again."

Barbie T blinked at her screen and made no move to do so. She seemed reluctant to leave the incorrect screen on the grounds that it had taken her so long to incorrectly get there. So I explained to her again that the site she was on was not PTBIC's site and if she wanted to find information about them the best place to start was WITH THEIR SITE.

"Or maybe you know which dealerships would work with them?" she asked hopefully. The only explanation I have for this is that apparently the memory that I too am a customer of PTBIC filtered through her noggin.

"No. I do not have that information," I said. I then, for a third time, suggested she return to the PTBIC website, hoping to leave her to it.

"I don't know how to do that," she said.

Blood vessels in my brain strained at the force exerted upon them

So, I stepped over and showed her how to click in the address bar and told her what to type. She misspelled both the address and the ".com" following it. We corrected and moved on.

At the PTBIC's site, there was no indication of what she wanted. We searched high and low and didn't find it in any readily apparent place.

"Ma'am, what I would suggest you do is to phone PTBIC and ask them to tell you the names of the dealerships they work with."

"I've already been on the phone with them for two hours, today," she said. Oh, those poor poor people. "They gave me this password," she said, pointing to a piece of paper she had brought. Ah, now she knows about passwords. Unfortunately for her, there was no accompanying login for her "password" nor any place on the site where it made sense to type it. I tried to explain that in probably 99.999 percent of the cases where a password is required, there will also be a username or login name as well. She would not only need that, but would also need a better idea of where to type them. Barbie T then slowly and breathily told me that she needed to find the information not in order to purchase a new car from a PTBIC friendly dealer, but because she had ALREADY purchased a car from a non-PTBIC-friendly dealer and had gotten herself into some sort of financial trouble doing so. Deeper and deeper grew the dungpit of dealing with Barbie T.

Thankfully, having now spent 10 minutes away from the circ-desk, a patron popped her head into the hall to see if I might come check her out, so I was able to leave Barbie T to her own devices. She was not finished with me, though. After a few minutes she hobbled on up to the circ-desk and proceeded to interrogate me further on the subject of PTBIC friendly dealerships. I even returned to the PTBIC's site and tried to find something—ANYTHING—that might prove or, better still, disprove that there was any help to be had for her. Throughout the process, we were interrupted by patrons checking out, each of whom Barbie T—in a desperate, attention-starved ploy—dropped hints to about how her life was a sob story in an effort to get them to engage her in conversation about it. Wisely, they avoided taking the bait. I was eventually able to convince her that her best course of action was to leave and go call PTBIC and let some other poor bastard deal with her.

Barbie T thanked me for my patience and my help, lingered at the desk a bit longer, as if considering possibly asking me for help on other topics, then finally hobbled her way out the door.

Immediately, I wrote a note to my boss that in the future she should really consider giving the staff a Barbara Turdmurkle Combat Pay bonus whenever we have to deal her, cause it's just not worth it for what we make now.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Combat Pay (PART I)

Five O'Clock was nearly upon us, on my first day back at work, which meant the rest of the staff would soon flee the building, leaving me by my lonesome. That being the case, I went up to the staff bathroom to have myself a whiz before returning to the circ desk for my remaining two hour stretch. Upon entering the main room, I was greeted with the horrifying sight of Barbara Turdmurkle, bees of insanity buzzing frantically about her head, signing up for a computer.

Aw shit, I nearly said aloud. Mrs. B gave me a very sympathetic look as she walked past me to go log on a system for Barbie T.

This was not good. Not good at all.

Granted, a visit from Barbara Turdmurkle is never good, but it's especially bad when computers are involved. In addition to being BUGF**K CRAZY, Barbara Turdmurkle is also computer illiterate to an astounding degree. Yet she keeps purchasing services which require computer access to use.

After ten minutes trapped in the computer hall, putting her well past five o'clock, Mrs. B returned to the front room.

"Did you get her taken care of?" Mrs. C asked.

"I don't think so, but I'm going home," Mrs. B said. Then she added in my direction, "Sorry."


She quickly left, along with the rest of the gleeful traitors.

For the next twenty minutes I studiously avoided any library duty that might cause me to come in proximity to the computer hall. This was difficult, because people kept coming in to sign up for computers, causing me to have to actually enter the comuter hall to log them onto systems. Fortunately, the first one was at a system not in Barbie T's direct line of sight, so I was able to stealthily creep up, log it on and then creep away, much liken unto a ninja. I did notice what she was doing with her computer, though: she was trying to log in to her credit protection agency's site. No, no, no, no, no, no, not good. I instantly knew how this little drama was going to play out.

A few minutes later, one of the other computer users signed out and said, "That woman back there is having a lot of trouble on the computer. She kept asking me for help, but I didn't know how to help her."

I thanked the patron for the information, watched her leave and then stayed put at the desk.

Was this a demonstration of a library employee being actively and perhaps stubbornly non-service-oriented? Hells yes, and I make no apologies for it. I want NOTHING. TO. DO. with Barbara Turdmurkle if I can at all help it. Beyond being an exasperating and quite insane human being, Barbie T has a long history of claiming to have been groped, verbally abused or otherwise assaulted by men who have innocently assisted her in the past, regardless of witness testimony that such incidents did not occur.

An example: My boss Mrs. A told me that a few years back a neighboring library allowed a local man to conduct a computer class in their facility on a Saturday afternoon after closing time. One such Saturday, Barbie T came up and began banging on the door, clearly after the posted hours, and continued to bang on the door until the guy had to stop class to see what she wanted. Barbie T insisted that she HAD to make photocopies, that it was a dire photocopy emergency and she simply HAD to make them there despite his protestations that they were closed and he wasn't authorized to let nonclassmembers in the building. The man finally relented and let her in anyway. Being completely helpless with all forms of technology, Barbie T also required assistance in making her photocopies which, according to the legend, were numerous and complicated. The man had to stop his class to assist her, eventually got her to leave and then she went out into the community and told everyone she met that he'd felt her up and cursed at her when she declined his advances. Nevermind that the entire incident was witnessed by the members of his class who all said no such thing occurred. Unfortunately for many people, that was not the only time such allegations have been spread against innocents by Barbara Turdmurkle. I wish very much to avoid being her next victim.

Another example: Barbie T has a longstanding animosity with the neighbor in the apartment next to hers. I know this, as do a surprising number of people in our county, because Barbie T will tell anyone who strays near her about about how evil her neighbor is, how her neighbor has sex with her boyfriend against the adjoining wall just to annoy Barbie T, and how Barbie is convinced that the evil neighbor is trying to steal her identity. (And after seeing a glimpse of the kind of financial chaos that apparently exists in Barbie's life, I have to ask: Who would want it?) Rumor now has it that the reason we haven't seen Barbara Turdmurkle in just under a year is that she's had to spend some time away for psychiatric evaluation after leaving death threats on her neighbor's answering machine.

She is, as the medical establishment terms it, a Fruit Loop.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Got them Lower 48 Can't Sleep Blues

So we've gone "outside" as the Alaskans say and have returned to West Virginia, jetlagged, sore and covered in cat fur. The trip home was largely uneventful, which is how I like my 15 hour trips to be. Delta even went so far as to feed us, which I thought was mighty nice of them and a rare event in airlines these days. (I got no more than a couple bags of mini-pretzels and some tomato juice out of U.S. Air on the way up.) The food was good, even.

Our only major trouble out of the trip happened after we'd landed in Charlotte and discovered that we had no idea where Ashley's car was parked. Three weeks ago, when she first flew out, Ash left the little card telling her where she parked in her car on the premise that she wouldn't be able to find it anyway after three weeks. She would just remember where she parked. Long term parking lots, however, look very different in broad daylight than they do at 3 a.m. and we soon found that we were the last ones on the airport shuttle bus.

"If you can tell me where your car is parked, I'll take you there," the annoyed driver said.

"If I knew where my car was parked, I would have just gotten off there," Ashley responded.

After another loop around the lot and more running commentary about the wisdom of remembering where you parked from the driver, (Does this look like where you parked it? What about this? Does this look familiar? What about THIS anonymous ocean of cars?) Ashley told her, "There. There it is. I see my car. It's here. Stop here." Then, once we and our bags were deposited in the lot and the shuttle had driven away, Ashley said, "I have no idea where my car is. I just couldn't deal with any more from her." Fortunately, it wasn't far away and she soon located it and was gracious enough to come back and pick me up despite my poor attitude on the subject of losing one's car.

Right now, it's 1 a.m., but my jetlagged brain tells me that it's only 9 p.m., so here I sit a typin' away when I should have long since been in bed.

I've now had a chance to restructure the post card entries, revising them to reflect the dates on which they were taken and adding some text and a number of new pictures to boot. Have a look.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Postcards from Alaska 36

On the tarmack

One of my last views of Alaska, taken around 9:55 p.m. My wife told me early on that her goal was for me to love Alaksa by the time we left. Looking out at those pointy, purple mountains, I realized that I truly did. It's the most beautiful place I've ever seen and I'm already looking forward to my next trip up.

Until then I will miss this place. I also fear that all other states have been ruined for me by its beauty. I only thought we had mountains in West Virginia.


Postcards from Alaska #35

Spotted one!
Ah, we finally spotted a moose up close. Unfortunately, he was probably filled with sawdust. This guy was in an Alaska museum down town. Moose are huge and it just amazes me that all that bulk can stay balanced atop those awkward, skinny legs.

Mountian Whale
The carcas of the rarely seen, crafty and ever-elusive species, the Mountain Whale.

Postcards from Alaska #34

Sue's Play

My major regret of our journey was a double slam. Midway through her medical conference, Ashley sent me a link for Cyrano's Playhouse in Anchorage. At first I didn't know why until I looked at their coming attractions page and saw my friend Suehyla El Attar's play The Perfect Prayer was being produced there. What was more, Suehyla would be attending several shows and giving talkbacks afterward from May 24 through May 28.

I've known Sue since high school and have acted with her many times. The Perfect Prayer was a play she had written an early version of in college and had produced at Mississippi State. I wasn't in the production, but she and I were both in the production of Triumph of the West that was paired with it. I thought it would be the greatest thing ever to show up for those talkbacks unannounced and ask her some dumb question just to see her lose her shit when she figured out it was me. Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that we were not going to be in Anchorage at any point during the time she was there. We were already going to be in the Fairbanks area and couldn't exactly jaunt back for a night in the RV. I phoned her up to see if she would be coming in any earlier, so we could maybe extend our time in the south before heading up, but it was not to be. She said she would have loved to have lost her shit at seeing a long lost costar such as myself planted in the audience. "I thought you people were all dead!" she would have said.

My other regret is that we didn't get to see her play at all. By the time we did return to Anchorage, on May 31, we had something of a crisis involving luggage and rapidly thawing fish, which took until well past 9 at night to resolve. I had to make do with seeing the theatre it was produced at and reading a glowing review of it posted in their window.

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.