After years of being one of the most lenient libraries on the planet as far as enforcement of fine collection and printing fees goes, Mrs. A recently announced that it was time to change our ways and we would soon be cracking down. Our previous unofficial policy was that if the patrons didn't bring up the fact that their books were a few days late we didn't hound them for fine money, or even bring it up. It still got put into the fines tab of their patron record, but unless the amount there crossed the $5 threshold, we didn't pay it much mind. Similarly, if patrons were printing from the internet and Hotmail printed one last sheet of paper with only a couple lines of links or a damned banner ad, we didn't force them to pay for that particular useless page and just carved it up for scrap paper.
Our You Print It, You Pay For It policy is now to be enforced to the most extreme extent of the definition and we've been giving our patrons notice that, come September, they'd better have cash on hand when they bring in late books or, God help them, an ass-whuppin' we will go.
Enter Mr. Griffith, a regular but previously-unchronicled patron. He visits, often with his sweet family in tow, and has been very pleasant to me in most regards, other than his habit of trying to rope me in to some kind of glorified pyramid scheme he himself had been roped into. One night, Mr. Griffith came in after 6p to do some net-surfin' and eventually printing. Only, the particular computer he was using was one that recently decided to default to a non-existent printer instead of the usual laser the others are set to go to, so none of his prints were actually printing. I explained the matter to him, telling him to try printing again, but to be sure and select the laser printer from the list of three printers the print-dialogue box would offer him. A few seconds later, the printer spat out five sheets of paper.
When he came to inspect his prints, Mr. Griffith was very annoyed that there were five sheets as he'd only intended to print one. This wasn't because all his previous printing attempts went through, either. It had been a five page document, but he'd only wanted the first page. I asked if he had used the print dialogue box to tell the computer to only print the one he wanted, but he said it hadn't given him the chance. What he'd done, it seems, is double click on the laser printer icon instead of merely clicking once, as is necessary. (Some people think you have to double click EVERYTHING when it comes to using a mouse.) The computer had taken this command not as "Please use the laser printer to print these pages" but as "Please use the laser printer to print these pages NOW." Sure, it was an honest mistake, but it had been his honest mistake. I figured he would just pay for them all and count it as a lesson learned.
After half an hour of making more-controlled prints, Mr. Griffith came to pay for them. He said he didn't think he should have to pay for the other four pages from the first set. I explained that our policy, as is clearly stated on numerous signs around the computers, is one of You Print It, You Pay For It. Mr. Griffith didn't like this.
"Can't you cut me a break?" he asked.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I'd like to be able to, but I have to do what my boss tells me and she's says we're enforcing the rule."
Mr. Griffith began to grumble again, but I cut him off.
"I have to do my job, here," I said. "You're welcome to contest it and try to get a refund, but you'll have to talk to MRS. A about it and she won't be in until next week."
Mr. Griffith said he thought he just might and left. I hated to see him angry, but in the end it's only 40 cents and it was his fault. I wrote the incident up on our notepad for Mrs. A to see on her return.
Jump ahead to the following week. Mr. Griffith came in, signed up for a computer and was very friendly. He didn't even mention the incident from before. Shortly, Mrs. A returned from lunch and decided to finally check the note pad for important messages from the previous week. She read my note about Mr. Griffith and, as she would explain later, confused him for someone completely different. Not realizing he was seated a few yards away, she loudly announced, "No, we're not issuing MR. GRIFFITH a refund. If he didn't want it he shouldn't have printed it. Can you imagine the kind of chaos we'd have if we..."
"he's sitting right... over... there," I whispered, nodding in Mr. Griffith's direction without looking at him.
"I don't care where he is!" Mrs. A blasted. Then she paused and looked over to the computers where she didn't see the fellow she'd mistaken him for.
"Which one is he?"
"Oh," she said. "He's not the MR. GRIFFITH I thought he was."