SETTING: My "liberry" as a female patron approaches the circ desk.
PATRON— Can you help me? I just did an email on one of your computers, but when I tried to go to it I can't.
(I pause to try and interpret what she has said, but find my inner-Patronese translator doesn't seem to be functioning.)
ME— Um. What was that again?
PATRON— I just did an email on your computer, and I need to see if they got it, but it won't let me.
(Nope still no translation. The closest I get is that this is yet another patron who has activated our non-functioning MS Outlook and has sent a non-email into the ether.)
ME— I'm sorry. I think you need to show me what you're talking about, because what you're saying doesn't match up with what I know about email.
(Goes to computer where patron brings up the login screen of Yahoo Mail and points to the login username and password blanks.)
PATRON— I just set up this email and it won't let me look.
ME— Ohhhh. You set up an email account.
ME— I see. Okay. Well, do you have your username and password?
PATRON— Uh huh. But when I type it in, it takes me to this page...
(Points to screen again which I now notice is Yahoo's "This ID is not taken yet" page, indicating a misspelled or otherwise incorrect username has been tried.)
PATRON— I typed in Hamdinger_Heaven291@yahoo.com (not her real address) but it won't take it.
ME— Just try Hamdinger_Heaven291 by itself. That's your username. You don't need the rest. Then do your password below that and it should work.
PATRON— Ohhhhhh. Okay. (Starts a typin'.)
ME— Um, be sure to do the underscore.
PATRON— The what? Oh... Oh, yeah.
(I leave. Minutes later, she's back.)
PATRON— This thing is still not letting me do this!
(I return to her machine.)
PATRON— It's saying there's no Hamdinger_Heaven291@yahoo.con. It's saying .con, not .com, but I typed .com!
ME— Looks like a typo.
PATRON— Yeah, it did to me too, but I typed .com!
(I started to return to my earlier theme of how she needed to type neither Yahoo.com nor .con in order to access her email account when I happened to notice that the address that was actually written on her piece of paper was Hamdinger_Heaven291@hotmail.com.)
ME— Wait. Do you have a Yahoo email account or a Hotmail account?
PATRON— Well, I was trying to get into Yahoo.com but it won't...
ME— (Holds up hand, then starts to pull out own hair with it. Voice strains to remain calm...) All... I need... to know... is if you signed up for... a Hotmail account... or a Yahoo account.
PATRON— I… I… (Pause) Can you tell?
(She hands me another piece of paper, a copy of an email she'd evidently sent earlier from a Hamdinger_Heaven291@hotmail.com.)
ME— Looks like Hotmail. But you're on Yahoo's page.
PATRON— I know. I tried to go to Hotmail and it took me here.
(Ah, another victim of the seemingly random tendency for our computers to ignore all possible avenues leading to Hotmail except typing "msn.com." She probably did type in Hotmail.com and it took her to a Yahoo search engine by default. I ask her to type MSN.com into the address bar and then choose Hotmail from there. Once she types in her correct username and password she was in.)
PATRON— I'm so sorry.
ME— That's okay. Don't feel bad. It's not like MSN goes out of its way to make things easy.