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.

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...)

1 comment:

Kerry said...

Oh, exciting! Dare we hope for some kind of performance evaluation?