Monday, September 17, 2007

"Yeah, let's hire her."

An unfamiliar-looking mother and her eight-year-oldish daughter approached the circ-desk and announced they needed library cards.

I started with the daughter's card, reading the information from the form I'd had the mom fill out. As soon as I typed in the daughter's full name, our circulation system's backup warning functions kicked in and popped up a window warning me that there was a pre-existing patron record with the same name and contact information.

"Looks like we already have her in the system," I said. "She has a card listed with TOWN-C."

"Oh, yeah. We had cards there, but we've moved and we can't find them anywhere," the mom said.

I explained to her that I could make her replacement cards, but we would charge a dollar for each of them. She said that was fine and produced two bucks.

While changing the barcode of the daughter's card, I noted that there were fines in her record equalling $70. I clicked the fines window to see that Town-C had levied $35 fines for each of two videos the daughter had checked out in 2005. I pointed this out to the mom and let her know that while I could go ahead and replace her cards, we couldn't circulate anything on her daughter's card until those fines were taken care of with Town-C. Mom said she understood.

I then pulled up the mom's record to replace her barcode number and found the mom had been fined over $200 by Town-C for six books she'd not returned from 2005. I informed her of this and went ahead and printed off lists of both sets of listed unreturned items.

After studying her own list for all of two seconds, mom said, "No, no, no, we brought those back. Yes, we got the letter in the mail and we brought those..."

I held up a hand. "It's neither here or there to me. I have no control over those fines. That's between you and TOWN-C. And, like I said, we cannot check anything out to you until those fines are taken care of with TOWN-C."

The mom nodded, then immediately started back on her "we brought those back" theme, but stopped short of a full retelling, possibly because of my I've said my piece and set my foot and am now tuning you out expression.

My boss, Mrs. A, happened to walk behind the circ desk during this and saw generally what was going on with the mom and daughter. Then, perhaps sensing that the chief "liberrian" was present, the mom popped up with, "Hey, can I get a job up here? I need me a job in a place like this."

Mrs. A turned and smiled and told her we had no positions open at the moment.

The mom seemed to take no offense, but picked up the new cards I'd made for them (and which, moments after they left, I would load up with notes and warning flags indicating to anyone else in the consortium that they were to do no business with these people until their fines were paid) and departed.

"Yeah, let's hire her," Mrs. A said in a low voice as soon as they were through the door.

This probably marks the second major deadbeat patron that I've heard of to express interest in a job at the "liberry"; the first being Ma Fagin.

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.