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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

David Cronenberg films I'd prefer patrons didn't see

The tech boys were in recently to install some new patron computers. In the process of making updates, though, they managed to ditch the passwords from all but one of the remaining old computers, so now patrons can log themselves on willy nilly, and do. (For some reason, the techies don't seem to care if patrons have immediate unregistered access to the computers, but they won't give us the admin passwords to make any changes to the systems we see fit.)

Now the only computer that still has a password is a recycled computer we had lying around. Trouble is, we've used a couple of different logins during its lifetime and damn if any of us can remember it on the first try. This is why former Newbie Greenhorn Ms. M called me away from an important "liberry" quest to assist her when she couldn't get it to log on for a patron.

"I keep trying the usual username and password, but it just freezes like that." She pointed to the screen, where the login box was grayed out as the computer considered whether or not it would accept the password she'd just entered. We watched it, along with the young lady who was waiting for it. After thirty seconds, or so, it refused to accept the password and popped me back to the login box. I tried a new password and the box grayed out for another thirty seconds before refusing once again.

During this time, I noticed that the young lady who was waiting for the computer—a late high school or maybe early college-aged girl, seated nearby—was staring at me and not in a good way. It wasn't exactly the hairy eyeball, but there was something in her expression that clearly wasn't rating me very highly. Sure, I was an employee who evidently didn't know his own password and was therefore making her wait far longer than she might have liked to get to her MySpac3 on, but the look seemed to go beyond even that offense. Did I smell bad? Did I have a booger on my face? What?

The log in box finally ungrayed, I tried another combination, the box grayed out again, and I received yet another baleful look from the patron. Only after the box cleared, another 30 seconds later, did I recall that this particular computer actually took a different login than the one we'd been using. I typed the proper one in and managed to guess the right password for it and the system loaded just fine.

"There ya go," I said to the girl.

I left the computer bank, determined to return to my important "liberry" quest, which was to find a toilet plunger and have a look at the men's restroom toilet. An earlier patron had reported that it wasn't flushing properly and suggested a plunging was in order. I found the plunger, stepped into the restroom, plunged the toilet, but didn't find any real problem with it flushing before or after. While I was there, though, I figured I'd take the bowl for a test-drive and have a wee myself. Only when I went to unzip my fly, I found it preunzipped for my convenience.

Chills of horror ran up my spine as I did the math and realized that the young lady at the computer had likely noticed this and disapproved. Not only that, but her seated perspective had been at about my crotch height. My cows were fortunately still tucked in the barn behind the safety of their boxer-brief barn door, so it wasn't like I'd been flashing her, but still it couldn't have looked good.

What was protocol in this situation? Should I go and apologize? No, I'd technically done nothing wrong, intentional or otherwise and apologizing for it would just draw more attention to it and might bring up questions as to whether or not it had actualy been unintentional.

For a minute I considered just staying in the bathroom until she left. Then, looking in the mirror, I noticed that with my arms at my sides, my untucked t-shirt actually covered most of my crotchal area. Even from her crotch-high POV, the chances of seeing that my fly had been unzipped weren't really that great. She might not have seen it at all. Then again, she had been staring daggers at me.

I left my sanctuary and returned to work, hopeful that the chick had just been annoyed that she was having to deal with a moron who didn't know his own password rather than a moron who didn't know his own password and who was additionally trying to show off his junk.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hope blossoms, but this bloom smells like ass.

We hired a new employee yesterday by the name of Ms. D. (Not to be confused with former weekend warrior Miss D, who is a completely different and unrelated soul. In fact, if I'd known we were going to hire Ms. D when I first wrote about Miss D, I would have given Miss D a different name entirely, like Miss Nightranger, or something. I might still. Miss Nightranger is too good a name not to use. But I digress...)

Ms. D has been a recent addition to our friends of the "liberry" (and I don't mean our actual Friends of the "Liberry," though she would have been welcome there too). Over the past couple of months, she has come in to help us with some reorganization, refinishing and assembly projects that otherwise might have required a man.

For instance, Ms. D was brought in to strip, sand and revarnish four of our wooden patron tables after our former board member, Mrs. Day, attempted to refinish three of them by herself. When Mrs. Day returned the tables to us they were a goopy, blotchy, uneven mess and I'd have expected better results from a septet of stumptail maquaques armed only with their own feces and a hammer. The funny thing is, while Ms. D's refinishing job left the tables looking smooth, even and fantastic, it caused Mrs. A to worry that Mrs. Day would catch sight of them and know we had had all her crappy refinishing refinished. I told Mrs. A not to worry about it. After all, Mrs. Day is so out-of-touch with reality that she would most likely take one look at the refinished tables and then congratulate herself on doing such a good job with them. In fact, she’d probably even audibly note how much better they looked than she remembered. And, of course, that is EXACTLY. WHAT. HAPPENED. Then, after her self-congratulatory speech, Mrs. Day hauled away the remaining "fourth" table to give it an even shittier refinish, on the grounds that it didn't look as good as the other three identically refinished tables. But I digress again...

I'd suspected that Mrs. A, was considering hiring Ms. D because during the short time we'd known her she just seemed to click with the rest of us so well. I'd wager she's a bit older than Mrs. B and a bit younger than Mrs. A, so she gets all the references they drop. She’s artistic, craft-oriented, handy and could probably read Walter the Farting Dog aloud to four-year-olds with the best of them. (Not that Mrs. A will actually let us read Walter during storyhour—but, if she ever does, I have dibs, dammit!) Ms. D also possesses something of an inner-geek, allowing her to be fascinated by all things Fortean and fantasy/science-fiction genrey, so she's not too far off of the path from me. In fact, she gave me a stack of old Bud Plant catalogs just full of great stuff I've never heard of before. She's one of the fold.

Still, while I was pretty sure Mrs. A wanted to hire Ms. D, I didn't think she could justify it with Ms. S still hanging on by a claw. This very thought occurred to me when Mrs. A announced to us that the hiring of Ms. D was a done deal.

"She'll start as soon as Ms. S leaves,” Mrs. A finished.

I nearly fell over.

"Whoa! Ms. S is leaving?"

"Yeah,” Mrs. A said. “You didn't know that?"

"No!"

"Oh," Mrs. B said. "I forgot to tell you."

They then gleefully explained the details of the meeting between Mrs. A and Ms. S after the latter had secured her new job. (I’d only heard rumors of the details from Ms. S herself, at that point, when I'd asked her how her new job was going after noticing she looked particularly surly one afternoon. She'd explained much of the following, but left out the bit about having to leave.) Ms. S had approached Mrs. A and asked if we could work around her schedule at her new job, which normally let her off at 2:30 or so, but sometimes would require her to stay as late as 4:30, thus making any evening shift with us a mere two hours. Mrs. A, sensing a golden opportunity to get rid of Ms. S without actually firing her, explained that while we could accommodate some degree of flexibility, any other job she had would really need to be able to work with our schedule. We could put up with her new schedule, but only until the end of the month.

“Wow,” I said. “I thought that just meant she would hang on doing weekends only.”

Mrs. A seemed to consider this for a moment then shook her head. “No. I might do that, but this is too good an opportunity to pass up.”

Indeed.

That was yesterday.

Today was Ms. S's last day. She came in around 4p for her 4:30 to 7 closing shift. As much as I've railed against her, I found myself kind of sad over it. Even worse, I found myself more than a bit aprehensive about spending part of that final shift with her. Everyone else got to flee the building at 5, but I didn't leave until 6, giving me a good solid hour alone with her. This being the case, I left myself a huge stack of easy-readers to shelve, knowing she wouldn't want to do them. She didn't, so that whiled away a whole 10 minutes. The rest of the hour was spent chatting amiably enough in between helping patrons, shelving or otherwise doing our jobs. We didn't really talk about it being her last day, though she did ask if I was going to have to start working more weekends now. (I guess I might at that.) She also mentioned that she probably wouldn't come by as often, since the only reason she would have to come into the Tri-Metro area was to head to her other job at the fast food place.

Aw, hell, I thought. Now that she couldn't stay on here and at the school, she was going to have to keep the fast food gig as her second job. She hated that job.

None of this was my decision and still I felt awful about it. I had to keep reminding myself that with her finally gone, we'd at last be rid of an employee who recently locked herself out of the building while trying to empty the book return on a Saturday and had to rely on a patron with a cell phone to call Mrs. C and ask if she could come unlock the door and let her back in.

No, better still... we'd finally be shed of a co-worker who had gone onto the internet, learned the ending of the final Harry Potter book from a spoilers page and then willfully spoiled it for the first little girl who was lucky enough to find said book on our shelf on the VERY. DAY. IT. WAS. RELEASED. I know you don't believe that, but I tell you it happened! And granted, it's kind of a complicated ending to spoil, so she probably just told her whether or not Harry dies, or something. However, when the girl's father told me about it, some weeks later, I had no doubt he was telling the truth because Ms. S had tried to spoil the ending for me and a couple of patrons the night before the book was to be released and we only escaped hearing it from her then after I threatened and then rethreatened to stab her with a letter opener if she did. I digress, yet again...

And yet, even with those examples of dumbassity and evil in mind, I still felt awful.

At 6, I clocked out. I'd been dreading that moment because I didn't know exactly what I should say to Ms. S before leaving. It wasn't really a "We'll miss you!" or "I wish you didn't have to go," sort of moment, certainly. However, it was also not a "Have a nice life," or even a "Leave your keys on the desk... Oh, wait, sorry, you did that a couple weekends ago already," moment either.

Instead, it went like this:

ME— Well, I guess I'm headed out.

MS. S— Okay.

(Pause)

ME— (Smiles) You have fun teaching.

MS. S— Oh, I will. I will.

(Pause)

ME— (Considers giving her a goodbye hug, then decides against it) Thanks for putting up with me.

MS. S— No. Thank you for putting up with me. It took me a long time to learn all this.

(Super long pause)

ME— Okay.

At that point, some patrons thankfully entered the building and her attention was drawn away from the enormous awkward silence that was about to erupt and I was able to slip away like the coward I am.

I wish her well and hope she finds her niche in life. Goodbye, Ms. S.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Mr. B-Natural Slakes his Thirst for Righteous Vengeance with the "Liberry's" Blood

It's been a long time since we've had any trouble from Mr. B-Natural. Mostly he's been an ideal patron. He even came in recently and asked me if I would teach him how to save files to a CD ROM using his new laptop. I showed him how and he seemed quite friendly about it and far from his usual Grumpiest-Old-Man-in-All-the-World self.

Last week he got far grumpier.

Long-time readers may recall the saga of Mr. B-Natural and his beloved dog, Bubba. They might also recall the night to day transformation Mr. B-Natural underwent after he first acquired Bubba and began bringing him into the "liberry" as his emissary to the world. They might also recall how, three years back, Bubba brought a plague of fleas into the "liberry" and was subsequently banned from setting foot in the building.

At the time of the banning, Mr. B-Natural protested that Bubba didn't have fleas and staged a walkout over the matter, refusing to set foot in our building himself. After a few months of this, though, he realized that this was hardly punishing us so he came back. Occasionally, if Mrs. A was about, he would drop comments about how Bubba sure does miss the library and how he still doesn't have fleas. Mrs. A would only smile and tell him that we too missed Bubba and that we would love to come out to Mr. B-Natural's car and visit the dog sometime.

Over the past year, though, other dogs have begun to visit us. One of our patrons, Carrie, a frequent and very, very generous donor, began bringing her dog into the library. Granted, she was only there with the dog to briefly visit us or drop off a check and never to hang around, but there were several near-misses with Mr. B-Natural almost seeing the pooch. With Carrie being a massive donor (who actually made a huge donation in her dog's name; an event which prompted us to joke that when Bubba came up with anything approaching that amount he could come back too) we were a little hesitant to forbid her to bring her dog in.

Next up, a member of our board of directors, Mrs. Em, recently bought a puppy which she has insisted on bringing into the building despite the fact that she knows full well that animals are not allowed and that Mr. B-Natural will rain shit down on our heads were he to ever see it. I like her dog even less because it bit me, but, again, what are you going to do?

Then Mr. B-Natural did see Mrs. Em's dog.

Saw it several times, even.

In fact, for about a week running, Mr. B-Natural seemed to have developed the mutant ability to arrive at the "liberry" only when Mrs. Em was in-house with her dog. And, as before, he began dropping comments to Mrs. A about how the puppy would make a wonderful playmate for dear Bubba. Mr. B-Natural never got mad or raised a big stink, but he was understandably unhappy about it, as he has been for years now. Mrs. A tried to explain things to him by saying that the other dog was only passing through on business and was not hanging around for hours at a time like Bubba used to. Mr. B-Natural's reaction to this was to turn and walk out.

Mrs. A thought about this situation and decided that if she couldn't ban the dogs of donors and board-members, she couldn't very well ban Bubba. It was time to stop playing favorites. She announced to Mrs. C that we would need to change our policy to allow visits from dogs, provided they remained on the tiled area just inside the front doors. They would break the good news to Mr. B-Natural when next he visited

When I came in for work this past Friday, I saw a sign taped to the glass of our front door that read "Service Animals Only." I wondered what the story behind it was and soon the alphabet squad of Mrs.es A, B and C told me.

Mrs. A explained her decision to rescind Bubba's ban. However, before she could alert Mr. B-Natural to it, he'd phoned Mr. Hooter, the president of our board of directors, to raise hell about the veritable zoo we were letting run free in the "liberry." He insisted that if Bubba was banned all other animals should be banned as well, save for service animals. Furthermore, Mr. B-Natural wanted a signs put up to this effect and wanted the policy enforced for all parties. Mr. Hooter was in agreement.

"I can't blame him," I told Mrs. A upon the conclusion of the tale. "I would have done exactly the same thing in his position." Granted, there's the irony that if he'd kept his trap shut for another day or so he would have finally gotten his way and been able to bring Bubba back, but I completely see his perspective of the issue. It isn't fair to let other people bring dogs in and not him. And since he'd already complained to Mrs. A on any number of occasions, he felt he had no other course. Mrs. A said she saw his point too, but would have handled things differently had she been in his shoes.

"So, I guess we won't be seeing him for a few more months?" I said.

"Oh, no. He's been in three or four times since Wednesday," Mrs. B said.

"He keeps checking to make sure we have the sign up," Mrs. C added.

And, an hour or two later, Mr. B-Natural did arrive for some computing time. I made it a point to smile at him when he came in, hopefully communicating that I bear him no ill-will and am, for once, on his side.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Trout Fishing In America

Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine arrived for one of his daily research sessions. As I was logging him onto his computer he said, "I see you're back."

"Yep," I said, wondering where I'd been hiding that he hadn't seen me recently. No, I'd really like to know, cause I want to go back there and stay.

"I see you're back," he repeated.

"YEP," I repeated at a louder tone. Then I noticed Gene wasn't talking to me at all. He was talking to Mrs. Trout, who was seated on the opposite row of our computer station.

Before the advent of Gene, Mrs. Trout (and to a lesser extent, Mabel) had been our resident amateur geneal0gist. These days we see less and less of her, which is unfortunate because we prefer Mrs. Trout to Gene at a 29 to 1 ratio. In addition to being a sweet and grandmotherly lady, we primarily love Mrs. Trout because she keeps the mind-numbingly boring details of her geneal0gy work to herself and doesn't try to lecture about them to anyone who strays within five feet of her. Unfortunately for her, Gene seems to have figured out that they share a hobby.

From the circ desk, I could hear their entire conversation as Gene began expounding upon his latest research breakthroughs to Mrs. Trout. At one point, Mrs. Trout mentioned that she hadn't had much luck recently, at which point Gene inquired as to what online geneal0gy services she was using. She told him and he gave off a polite yet derisive snicker. His sources, I inferred, were far superior.

"What's your last name?" he asked.

Ah ha, I thought, now he was going to look her up and do her entire family history just to demonstrate how superior his online sources truly were.

"Well, it's my mother's people I'm researching," Mrs. Trout said.

"But what's your last name?" Gene said.

"My last name is my husband's last name," Mrs. Trout said gently. "It's my mother's people I'm looking for."

"But what's your last name?" Gene insisted.

Mrs. Trout finally told him and Gene launched into his search. Mrs. Trout then wrapped up her computer time, paid for her prints and departed swiftly thereafter.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Get out your tinfoil hat, folks

Mrs. A alerted me to the presence of a wingnut, yesterday. I actually witnessed the first and last bits of the story.

An unfamiliar-looking gentleman entered the "liberry," approached the circ desk, spied Mrs. A there and then, in hushed tones, asked her to help him find "the book on the Clintons."

"Which one?" Mrs. A asked. "We have several biographies of both Bill and Hillary."

The man seemed a little nervous, but said, "the... the Monica Lewinsky book."

Mrs. A lead him down to our biographies shelf and showed him where the various books on the subject were, including Monica's. After a short time, she came back to the circ desk and said something that I found pretty atypical for a long-time degreed librarian: "Would you get on Google and look up a list of the kings of Babylon?"

"The kings of Babylon?" I asked.

"It's for the gentleman over there," she said, pointing in the man's direction. She explained that he needed to find a list of the kings of Babylon so he could see how it relates to Bill and Hillary and, no doubt, their upcoming attempt to reestablish the empire stateside. Normally, we would look this information up in an encyclopedia or other credible reference source, but Mrs. A's patented raisin-cake-sense had gone off while talking to the man and she was pretty sure he'd be satisfied with a print out from the "innanet" and knew I could find one quicker than she could.

"Um, I've got the one off Wikipedia," I said. "It's possibly accurate."

"Just print it and give it to him."

I printed it and Mrs. A took it over and gave it to him free of charge.

After a while longer, the man returned to the circ desk with his Monica book. I already knew the answer to my first question.

"Can I scan your library card?"

"I don't have one."

Right.

I passed him an application for one, safe in the knowledge that he would fill it out only as far as it took for him to notice the Drivers License requirement, at which point I imagined the man would scream "HOMELAND SECURITY!" and make a break for the door. (It's happened before and he would hardly be the first to complain about the requirement.) However, the man filled out the form, wrote his drivers license number on it and allowed me to set him up with a patron record with no worries. He seemed very nice, well-mannered and content, a credit to the wingnut population.

Then again, what if he's right? I'm sure there are any number of conspiracy sites out there making Babylonian/Clintonian connections. In fact, as I've noted in the past, quite a few of the larger conspiracy sites I've seen before have featured advertising for Hillary's presidential campaign.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #88

SETTING: My "liberry." Fellow "liberry" ass., Ms. M, approaches the desk leading a five-year-old boy and his grandmother. Ms. M passes me our copy of Walter the Farting Dog.

MS. M— This young man would like to know if this would be a good book for him to read.

(I look down at the little boy, who beams back up.)

ME— You have somebody who can read this to you?

BOY— Uh huh.

(I look back to the grandmother to make sure she's seen the title and is still willing to read it. She smiles and nods)

ME— Then it's perfect.

(Go with God, my child.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hope Springs (a.k.a. "Those poor children. Those poor, poor children.")

Eternal Newbie Greenhorn Ms. S made an enormous announcement last week: She's found a new job!

My heart leapt at the news! Could it be? Could it truly be? Were we about to have our dreams realized? I nearly danced with joy. Finally, finally, we were getting rid of the last remaining greenhorn!

Then Ms. S dashed my hopes by clarifying that her new employment would allow her to finally leave her much-hated fast-food job and concentrate entirely on her new gig and the "liberry" gig.

And what, I hear you askin', has some poor, unfortunate bastard, employer agreed to pay her money to do for them?


Teach.

No, you heard me right. They've hired her as a teacher of first-graders at an area private-school.


As she told me that news, I came to within a quarter inch of blurting out "Holy shit!" right in her face. Instead, I just grinned and congratulated her and inwardly prayed that the poor tykes survived.

Her plan now is to work her teaching job from 8 to 3, then roll on over here and finish out the day with us. I sure hope things don't work out like that, though. If Ms. S thinks fast food is hard, wait `til she gets 10 six-year-olds hopped up on sugar running around her for hours at a stretch. She'll be so tired afterward that her previous levels of "liberry" laziness will seem pale by comparison to what she pulls when she rolls on over to do an afternoon shift.


Though I've not spoken with her about it, I suspect our boss Mrs. A knows this as well. I also suspect she sees the golden opportunity to finally get rid of Ms. S without resorting to a firin'. Word on the street is that she's told Ms. S that any other job she takes will need to find a way to work around our schedule, or things just won't work out on this end.


That may sound like good news, but I somehow don't see this being enough to dislodge her. Instead, she'll probably hang on as a weekend warrior with an occasional weekday afternoon shift.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sometimes I really feel for our patrons

Just when I thought she was really starting to get the hang of the job, eternal Newbie Greenhorn Ms. S takes it down a notch. This time I witnessed the behavior myself from the perspective of a patron.

The wife was out of reading material so she and I zipped over to the "liberry" this afternoon to grab some new stuff. After the wife made her choices, we headed for the circ-desk where there were two other patrons already waiting while Ms. S stood in front of the FAX machine, her back to us. The FAX machine was busy chewing through a single page. As it neared the end of that page, Ms. S picked up another page from a small stack in front of her and fed it into the FAX machine's input chute. She waited for the previous page to be spit out of the exit chute before settling in to watch as the next page was slowly—ever-so-slowly—scanned to be sent out over the phone line.

Meanwhile, there was a man in front of me with a single book to be checked out, his library card resting atop it, and a lady who I assumed was the one waiting for the FAX to go through. The FAX was chewing so slowly that Ms. S had plenty of time to turn and help either of the people at the desk, or us, but instead she just kept waiting for the page to go through so she could insert the next one.

Mind you, while our FAX machine is indeed older than dirt and takes a phenomenal amount of time to do anything, it is usually capable of handling multiple pages per session, feeding them through page by page just fine. Ms. S was determined to be vigilant about it, though, and make absolutely certain that it did. She stood and waited until the second page went almost all the way through then stuck the next one in.

"Is she retarded or is she doing this on purpose?" the wife whispered to me.

"A little of both, I think."

A third patron arrived at the desk to stand beside the man in front of us. They both intently watched Ms. S.

As soon as the third page began its glacier crawl through the guts of our FAX machine, Ms. S walked away from it, toward the couple at the desk, then did a 90 degree turn at the last second and went into the staff workroom where she stooped over to drag the cardboard box filled with Summer Reading t-shirts back behind the circ-desk. I deduced that the second lady, standing to my right, was probably waiting for her kid's t-shirt and end of the year goody bag. She would have to wait a while longer, though, because Ms. S didn't even open the box. Instead, she stood up and resumed her station at the FAX machine, which had reached the half-way mark on the page it was chewing through.

"She's doing this on purpose," the wife said.

"No, she just has no customer-service skills whatsoever," I said.

In total, at least three minutes passed during the FAXing process. Then, when the fourth and final page of the document was almost finished, the FAX machine gave of one of its patented tinny wails, at which point Ms. S cried, "NO! NO! NO!" She turned to the man and woman in front of us.

"They all went through this time, until the last page," she said. Apparently this was at least her second attempt at sending this document, the previous attempts having been failures due to the FAX machine's refusal to send the pages without a line error.

"Well, that's okay. You can go on and help these people," the lady at the desk said.

Ms. S slowly turned her head and appeared to notice us for the first time. She turned to the younger woman who'd been standing there longer and asked the names of her children. She then fished their shirts and goodie bags from the cardboard box and gave them to the woman. Then she turned to us and began checking out our books. (And, yes, I did have my library card and used it.)

"Um, is there something wrong with the FAX machine that you can't just send all the pages at once?" I asked.

"Her paper is too thick," Ms. S said. "It keeps pulling through four at a time so I have to stand there and watch it."

I just shook my head, gathered up our books and left.

As irritating as this situation was, there may yet be some "good" news to report on this front...

(TO BE CONTINUED...)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Stupid Little Letters

Mr. Little Stupid has been a far more frequent visitor as of late. I'd noticed that his visits had been increasing, but now he's discovered something new to do with the "innanet" and it's captured his facination, so he's in for at least one long visit every day.

I really miss the old days when he barely knew how to use the computer, had to be taught and retaught how to do the most basic of functions and, when he did get it to work, only wanted to print off poetry written by victims of the Columbine shootings. These days, he's mostly self-sufficient in the use of the "innanet" and spends his time cruising MySpac3, printing out the profiles of young ladies and, apparently, corresponding with them. And by "young ladies," I mean college seniors at best, probably no less than highschool seniors at worst. This might be okay if he were, say, 19 years old, but he's pushing 40 if he's a day. Kiiiiiinda creepy.

Now, ideally, I shouldn't know ANYTHING about what Mr. Little Stupid is doing on the internet; I try my best NOT know what people are up to over there. Mr. Little Stupid, however, doesn't seem to have any embarassment issues with the staff seeing his prints or the seemingly underage girls featured on them, so I've been given enough evidence to piece together what he's doing. In fact, when one of our computers turned out to have defaulted to a printer choice other than the actual networked printer, he called me over to look at his screen to figure out what was wrong. I walked over and there she was, a beautiful smiling girl who will probably be carded while attempting to buy beer for at least another three years and maybe beyond. And it's not as if Mr. Little Stupid is intentionally flaunting this material to us for some kind of thrill; he really doesn't have THAT much on the ball. I think he just genuinely and innocently doesn't realize that what he's doing might be viewed by others as at least slightly inappropriate.

Once Mr. Little Stupid has printed out his profile of choice, he takes it over to one of our tables and composes a letter to the owner of the profile in longhand. Being just this side of literate, he often needs help with spelling. One memorable day, he came to the circ desk on three separate occasions to ask me how to spell the words "relocate," "willing," and "anywhere" in that order. I told him. Later he asked for confirmation that the word "care" was spelled "car," which I had to correct him on.

When he gets all his i's crossed and his t's dotted, he returns to sign up for a computer to type all that into an email and, presumably, fires it off.

What's annoying me the most, however, is MySpac3 itself. Half the time our filtering software blocks it entirely, forcing us to dig out the filter's username and password and jump through the hoops necessary to override it. When it isn't blocked, though, sometimes MySpac3 will print a given screen's worth of material and cut off the right side of the text due to the sidebar on the left taking up too much room. I kept telling Mr. Little Stupid that needed to find a PRINTABLE VERSION function, but he couldn't, forcing me to come over and see what he had on his screen in order to find it myself. I couldn't find it either. All the while, though, Mr. Little Stupid kept insisting that if we would just put him on his favorite computer at the end of the row it would print just fine.

"No, it won't," I kept telling him. "It's not a problem with the computer, it's a problem with MySpac3." Then I'd grit my teeth some more and try to find the damnable PRINT VERSION link until Mr. Little Stupid's next attempt to tell me that his favorite computer never gives him problems. This cycle occurred three times before I finally said, "All right. If you'd like to use the other computer, I'll put you on the other computer. But it's going to cut off the side of your text unless you print ONLY the text."

I stomped over to his favorite computer and logged it on for him, then stomped away to the circ desk to await my victory at the printer chute. Of course, the filtering software on his new computer kicked in and it took the efforts of Ms. M and then eventually me to override it for him. Then, when he printed, everything did indeed print fine, just as he'd predicted.

I continue to hate it when the patrons are right.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Actual Telephone Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #87

*RING*

ME— Tri-Metro County Library?

BIRTHDAY LADY— Do you know when that baseball player with the Yankees who just died was born?

ME— (Reigning state champion of sports cluelessness) I'm not sure who that is.

BIRTHDAY LADY— The name is spelled R-I-Z-Z-U-T-O.

(I Google up a selection of pages referring to him. The first I see is a NY Times article that lists the year of his birth as 1917.)

ME— Looks like 1917.

BIRTHDAY LADY— Yes, but when was he born?

ME— (Slowly) Nineteen seventeen.

BIRTHDAY LADY— Yes, but what was his birthday?

(I suddenly think, "Oh, yeah. That's why she always calls, hence her name. Duh." So I look to the Wikipedia article on Rizzuto, which lists his birthday as September 25, 1916.)

ME— Um, well, this says September 25, 1916.

BIRTHDAY LADY— The paper said 1917.

ME— Yeah. That's what the NYTimes page said too. I think I'd go with what the paper said.

BIRTHDAY LADY— Then that's what I'll put.

(Wikipedia has since been revised to say 1917.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

(Greasy) Butts

I returned from shelving in the fiction stacks to find our circ-desk had a line of five patrons standing at it. My fellow "liberry" ass., Mrs. B was helping them, so I knew they would be through quick enough, but upon seeing the situation I decided to help out.

The first four people in the line consisted of a mom and her three kids checking out their limit in books. The fifth patron in line was Mr. Butts, appearing very annoyed at having to wait in line.

I knew it would take even the efficient Mrs. B a good while to process thirty plus books, and despite how Mr. Butts treated me last time he was in, I walked behind the desk, moved over to the less busy side of it and caught his eye, giving him the international library sign language for "I can help you over here."

Mr. Butts scowled and walked around the family to my side of the desk then tossed a thick book onto the countertop with such force that it slid across it almost all the way to my edge of it. He then flashed me a deeply pissed expression, turned and left the building.

Apparently, Mr. Butts hadn't been waiting to check out a book at all, but had been waiting to return one. He was probably irritated that he actually had to come inside and wait in line to do this, as we keep our book drop out front locked during normal library hours. And the book in question was one of his much-sought-after Michener's, which probably put him in an even more pissy mood when remembering our last encounter on the subject. I hoped he was happy to learn that we've now returned our entire collection of Micheners on the shelves and no longer have any in remote storage, but I suspect he wasn't.

As I picked up the book to check it in, I felt something slick on the back cover. The plastic book jacket was coated in some sort of grease, as though the book had been resting recently on a packet of stale old french fries. Further evidence of this could be seen in the greasy track the book had left on its trip across the circ-desk. Ewww!

I quickly ran for our Windex and cleaned it all up, taking care to check whether any grease had had found its way onto the pages of the book itself. Unfortunately, it hadn't, and the book jacket was easilly cleaned, otherwise I would have had an excuse to phone Mr. Butts to alert him to his grease-damage and the amount he would have then owed us for a new hardback Michener of the same title. I'm sure he would have been thrilled.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

One Thousand in the Can

This is the 1000th post of...



Volume I

Actually, that milestone was probably passed some time back, due to the number of posts I've either deleted, drafted but decided not to post, posted then returned to draft form or have drafted but have yet to post. However, it's as good an estimate as any, I suppose, and is in the ballpark of accurate, so I'm calling this the 1000th.

Volume 2 begins shortly.

That is all.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mother Hover

When the lady who I quickly came to know as Mother Hover entered the "liberry," I didn't recognize her. She could have been any nameless, faceless, middle-aged lady out for a book. I paid her little mind as she began moving around the room, leisurely browsing. Meanwhile, I shelved books, checked shelving-slips and attended to “liberry” duties that didn’t necessarily require me to be at the circulation desk.

After about 20 minutes, a few selections in hand, Mother Hover attained the look about her of a lady who was ready to check out. (You know the look; kind of contented, body aimed generally in the direction of the circulation desk, feet starting to move, etc.) I stopped what I was doing and headed for the circ desk to assist her toward this goal.

As Mother Hover approached, I picked up my barcode scanner in preparation, but at the last second she veered off, having spotted something interesting across the room. I thought this would be a momentary pause in the checkout process, so I waited. And waited. After nearly a minute, it seemed clear that she was firmly engaged exploring a new section she'd not noticed before, so I put down my scanner and started to return to what I had been doing, away from the desk. Of course, as soon as I stepped from behind the confines of the circ desk, Mother Hover turned and resumed her previous course, causing me to nearly break my neck trying to turn around to help her once again.

I returned to my station by the barcode scanner, only to find that as soon as Mother Hover got within a four foot proximity of the desk she spotted some new item of interest on the other side of our main room and hovered away to read more copy from the inside of another dust jacket.

I was irritated. I became even more irritated when this sequence played itself out yet again a minute later.

Sensing a behavior pattern, I began limiting my productivity to desk-related issues, such as phoning patrons for books on hold. Of course, whenever I'd pick up the phone and start to dial, here she'd come again. I'd hang up the phone, reach for the barcode scanner only to find Mother Hoever had suddenly been distracted, magpie-like, by some glimmering bit of book wrap across the room and had hovered off in that direction. Dammit!

After quite a while, Mother Hover stopped hovering and physically set her books upon the desk. She then hauled out a massive red wallet, in which she began to dig for her card. And let me tell you, this was a wallet that would have impressed the Peruvian Incas with its tiered use of space. It had at least 16 different pockets where cards and other sundry bits of paper could be stuffed and each of those pockets was packed full. Unfortunately, none of its many pockets seemed to contain a library card, a fact that was only discovered after a full three minutes of excavation in which she dug everything out of each pocket, then put everything back, then redug everything out of each of them again. All the while, Mother Hover kept saying things like, "Well, I might not have a card... I know I had a card... I cleaned out my wallet a little while back..." and, the ever-popular, "You can just look me up by name, right?"

"No."

"Well, I might have to get a new card." DIG DIG DIG. "What does it look like again? It's red, right?"

I showed her an example of one of our decidedly non-red cards.

"Oh, no. I never had one of those," she said.

And, it turns out, she had not. Even now, nigh on two and a half years since we got our new circulation software and ditched all the old patron records, she'd still not visited us and aquired a new card. So I gave her an application and set her up with one. I'm not exactly sure how she was able to wedge the new card into her wallet, as it was clearly over-capacity, but hopefully she filed it somewhere she'll notice it when next she hovers in for a visit.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Dear Job-Seeking Patron...

...when you were in last week, using our computer to compose your resume, you seemed to comprehend what I was saying when I explained to you that you could temporarily save that resume to the desktop of our computer in order to print it and be able to then email it to yourself as an attachment afterward. You also seemed to understand when I then assured you that your resume file would indeed vanish forever and ever, into the ether, never to be seen again, when we next logged off that computer. And after you declined to buy a diskette from us, you also clearly seemed to understand me when I stressed to you the importance of emailing that resume to yourself as an attachment should you wish to save it for future use. You even indicated that you knew how to do so.

Why, therefore, do you now expect it to still be there and why have you asked me to my face if I "had been kidding" when I told you that it wouldn't last week?

Allow me to suggest that you refrain from mentioning this little incident during any job interviews your resume effort might net you.

Allow me to also suggest how fortunate you are to have come through your most recent visit to the "liberry" with your ass unkicked.

Your super best friend forever,

--da juicemeister

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dear Caffiene Addict Patron...

...I know from past experience with you that you are well-aware that you cannot drink your cup of locally-brewed coffee while using our patron computers. Why then did you purchase it, bring it into the library and sign up for a computer anyway, knowing that we would make you leave it at the desk? This maneuver on your part has assured that your coffee will be very cold by the time you've finished checking your email for half an hour. Is it really THAT much trouble to drink your coffee first and then come in to compute? After all, it's a gorgeous day. The sun is shining. Little squirrels are scampering. We have a picnic table.

Yours most sincerely and without malice,

--juice

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dear Fatty Manchild... (or "AHHHH!!! MY EYES!! MY BEAUTIFUL, PRECIOUS EYES!!! WHY, DEAR GOD, WHY?!!! WHY, WHY, WHY?!!!: 2007")

... our patron who we believe went into a coma as a small boy in the mid 1980s only to emerge with a wicked case of arrested fashion sense more recently.

While I've seen you make some remarkably dumb clothing choices in the past, yesterday your outfit bordered on the states of both inappropriate and irresponsible.

Let me paint you a picture of what I saw you wearing. You came in, of your own free will, clad in a sleeveless muscle shirt, the kind with the big, open, split sides that were all "da bomb" in the `80s, slit nearly to the lower edge of the shirt fabric itself. I presume this was to allow your no doubt glistening "muscles" to be viewed by one and all as well as provide much-needed ventillation for them. Oh, but you didn't stop there. Paired with this top, Mr. F. Manchild, you had somehow squeezed yourself into a pair of black lycra bicycle shorts, the spandex of which looked to be straining at the very limits of tensile stress. I must confess that I averted my eyes at this point, lest the form-fitting nature of your bicycle shorts reveal any forms that might have caused my eyes to seek out the brisk and loving embrace of oven-cleaner.

Now, sir, in case you're offended at my remarks and believe I am somehow ridiculing you for being a tad obese, if you will but tear your gaze away from your computer screen and have a gander at me, I believe you will note that I am something of a fat guy myself (or am at least pleasantly chubby). And please take further note that while it is blisteringly hot out of doors, I am clad in trousers and a shirt that does not expose an unnecessary amount of my torso. And while I will admit to having worn worse clothing than yours whilst lounging around my home, (where it is indeed hotter than an ass-brownie fresh from the oven), I think it should also be noted that I always keep such attire within the confines of my home and don't venture out to inflict it on the public at large.

Please have the courtesy to do the same during future visits with us.

Your swell pal,

--juice

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dear Patrick McGoohan...

... star, head-writer and executive producer of The Prisoner.

That was your ending?

Must have been some really good weed, dude.

For years I've read how great your program was and I knew how much fanboy attention had been focused on it. What I couldn't understand was how the secret of the show's ending hadn't been spoiled for me. It seemed like any secret that big would have long since become part of the nerd collective unconscious and would have filtered down to me at some point. However, it had not. I even read the unofficial The Prisoner comic book sequel by Dead Motter, before watching even one episode, and still had no idea how the original series ended.

I thought, Could it be that the international sonofabitch community is, for once, actually being cool and not attempting to spoil the ending for everyone? Or does everyone simply assume that the ending was spoiled nearly 40 years ago, so why bother?

Then I watched the final episode and realized that the real reason no one bothered to spoil it is that people have to be able to understand it first before they can explain it enough to spoil.

Okay, sure, there was some lovely subtext... I think. But what the hell, man? I understand the need to keep things a little vague and mysterious, but give me something I can at least work with. Throw me a crumb! Not monkey-masks, beard-shaving, rockets to nowhere, allegiance-shifting midgets and a song and dance number on the back of a moving flatbed. I guess I can at least respect the left-field approach to wrapping up a series with so many secrets, but dammit, David Lynch only wishes he was as weird as all that.

Bewildered, semi-unsatisfied and more than a little annoyed,

--juice

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dear BBC America...

... you kipper-eating, Beckhamless, Thames-floating links of doody.

Thank you ever-so-kindly for rerunning the episodes of The Prisoner a few months back, allowing me the opportunity to have my DVR record them all so I could watch them at my leisure over the course of several weeks. It's a show that, for decades, I've heard described as one of the all-time greatest science-fiction programs in the history of television and is one I have never had the chance to watch until you began rerunning it. For that, I genuinely thank you.

However, allow me to complain that in your haste to rebroadcast The Prisoner, you seem to have gotten a bit mixed up as to the actual broadcast order of those episodes in two unfortunate ways.

Firstly, you began with Episode 1 (good start), then jumped to Episodes 10 - 17 (not so great) before going back to broadcast Episodes 2 - 9. Again, a complete set in the end, but not exactly broadcast in order forcing me to have my DVR to record them all first, then watch each episode only after checking the episode numbers in each episode's description so that I could watch them in sequence.

Secondly and most tragically, the final two episodes of the series were mistakenly labeled as Episodes 8 and 9 rather than Episodes 16 and 17, as they should have been. Imagine my dismay at reaching what should have been the half-way point of the series only to find the series had ended right before my eyes (if you call THAT an ending).

To put it another way, I was robbed.

By you.

And you now owe me.

To make it up, I must insist that you broadcast the entirety of Torchwood (in its proper broadcast order), as well as The Sarah Jane Adventures, (also in its proper broadcast order). You might also throw in repeat broadcasts of classic Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes and any Rik Mayall comedies you might have on hand.

And if you really want to get back in my good graces, you may refrain from showing any more episodes of Are You Being Served? from now until the end of time.

And if you really REALLY want to get back in my good graces, you might also use the Tardis to go back in time and convince the actors who played Jeff in Coupling and the ones who played Archie and Duncan in Monarch of the Glen that it was a very bad idea to leave those series at the height of their popularity and that the shows just wouldn't be the same (or, in some cases, MAKE ANY F%$#!NG SENSE) without them and that they should really stay on to wrap things up. Give `em more money if they ask for it. They deserved it.

Oh, and more Red Dwarf, please.

That, I believe, should do nicely.

Yours forever and ever,

--juice

Friday, August 03, 2007

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #86

SETTING: My "Liberry." A patron approaches the circ-desk from the direction of our upstairs nonfiction room. He wordlessly drops a heavy paperback book about French history onto the circulation desk and slides it toward me. He then slides a well-folded overdue notice after it. He raises an eyebrow.

ME— You found it on the shelf, didn’t you?

MAN— Right up on the shelf. I knew I brought it back.

ME— Guess I’d better check it in for you, then.

MAN— I guess you should.

ME— Sorry about that.

MAN— No problem.

(I hate it when the patrons are right.)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Poop in Hand is Worth Two in the House?

As I've reported, a couple times before, in the past I've had problems during spring and summer months with birds flying into my home through my open back door. Today I had a visit by an animal of a different sort.

Earlier this morning, I left my office and was walking toward the kitchen when I spied a small link of poop on the floor near the laundry room. It was a cat-sized link, so I deduced that it had been stuck on the cat's butt when she exited the litter box in the nearby bathroom. It probably hung there, dangling from a single strand of human hair that she'd eaten, and had been scraped off onto the floor once she'd discovered it. I got some tissue, gathered the link, dumped it in the toilet and went about my day.

Later in the morning, I decided to step out and enjoy the sun on the deck when I noticed several more turds on the floor near the open back door. It's not likely that that many turds had stuck to the cat's ass, so we must have had a visitor. My guess is that the additional poops were deposited by the friendly dog across the road who has been known to climb the deck steps for visits.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

E = M.F. ^2

Some amazing colossal asshat turned in our copy of Einstein's Dreams riddled with pencil marks and mathematical equations.

On almost every single one of its 179 pages there are marks, usually in the form of underlined words, phrases set off in brackets, page numbers ticked to remind this bookmark-deprived MENSA-candidate which pages had already been read, occasional pen marks, and at the end of several of its chapters, or in any amount of blank page space otherwise available, there are scribbled equations to be found.

Genius that I am, I checked the book out to myself so I could take it home and better study these scribblings for reporting here. Unfortunately, I didn't first use our circulation system's capability to look up the last patron to have checked out the book before I checked it out to myself. Now I'm the last person to have checked it out, so we may never know the name of the jerk who defaced our book.

Some of us are just too smart for our own good.