Friday, July 20, 2007

Master P's Theatre

One of our frequent and favorite patrons is Master P. No, not the rapper, but the sensei at the local Tai Kwan Do dojo. He comes in, several times a week to use the internet and do lots of faxing. Sometimes he doesn't bring enough cash for his faxing, or brings bills too large for us to break, so we let him by and he always pays us later in the day or the following day. He doesn't speak English very well and often doesn't understand us on first try, but he's a good guy. We like him. We do not, however, like his phone.

Master P's phone—a Razor—has not actually been a problem in the past. He's used it only occasionally, usually to confirm that the faxes he's sending have gone through, speaking in Korean to whomever is receiving his information. In fact, the only problem we've had with his phone was when he accidentally left it at the circ desk today.

Initially, his phone behaved itself. We put a note on it indicating that it belonged to Master P and set it aside, assuming he'd come back for it as soon as he found it was missing. After an hour or so, I decided to phone the dojo to let him know. No one answered at the dojo, but as classes don't usually start until after school, this wasn't too surprising. I decided to try again later and, barring an answer, could even walk it down to him at the dojo.

Mid-way through the afternoon, the Razor came to life and scared the hell out of everyone by blaring an incredibly loud house-music ring-tone at us. It was disorientingly loud, the kind of ring-tone that sets your teeth on edge and yet makes you want to dance a little at the same time. By the second time it went off, I found myself chanting along to the beat, "Oont. Oont. Oont. Oont." And it was still annoying from two rooms away. Who needs a phone THAT loud?

At five, the rest of the staff had left for the day and it was just me and the phone. I'd be minding my own business, going about my job, when when it would suddenly roar to life, startling me and causing me to curse as I flung myself at it to muffle its speaker with my hands. I imagined Master P had discovered it was missing and was phoning it repeatedly, hoping to hear where he had laid it down at the dojo. I tried to find a way to turn it down, or, better yet, turn it off, but the Razor would not give up its secrets to me. Eventually, I did find a way to switch it to vibrate mode, after which it would buzz loudly every couple of minutes or so.

Only after it had rung six or seven times did it occur to me to look at the incoming number. It matched the number for the dojo itself. So I picked up our phone and gave the dojo a call. Master P answered and was happy to hear that we had his phone. He said he'd be up for it right away. True to his word he arrived minutes later.

I tried to explain the whole business of attempting to phone him earlier in the day, figuring he wouldn't be back in until classes in the afternoon, figuring he was trying to call his own phone to locate it and then deciding to give him another call. Throughout my explanaion, Master P looked at me like I was speaking English. When I finished, he said, "Thank you very much," in measured tones, took his devil phone and departed.

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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.