Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jumpin' Gene (PART I)

I decided that I've had something of a bad attitude about my job as of late.


Yes, yes. I know it is difficult to accept, but it is indeed true. I have had a bad attitude at times, particularly when it comes to dealing with Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine.

Okay, sure, Geneal0gy People are among the most irritating of all the patron archetypes—what, with their frequent whining about your library's lack of vital research documents, such as a complete archive of all county and state obituaries, passenger manifests for every ship that crossed any given body of water from the years 1476 through 1957, and, of course, a complete and accurately-researched geneal0gy record for their entire family, and all. But it's also very easy to get annoyed with those who don't whine, especially when they spend as many hours per day hard at their own research as Gene does, not to mention constantly tormenting the staff with tales of their boring-ass ancestry. Still, even all of that should not be cause enough for staff members to be rude to the Geneal0gy People, even if said Geneal0gy People have decided to take their irritation a notch further.

Case in point, Gene recently purchased a jump drive because somebody told him he should. It's actually not a bad idea, because instead of printing out a ream of paper per week, as Gene does, he could simply save all those important online documents he finds to his drive and explore them later. Gene doesn't quite see the logic in this, though. No, mostly what he wants to save are pictures of his long, lost, dead relatives that have been scanned and emailed to him by other long-lost yet recently-found, not-yet-dead relatives. Unfortunately, and despite my best efforts to kill the rumor, I've developed a reputation around the "liberry" as the go to guy for tech questions, so Gene always comes to me for help.

So, one day I showed Gene how to save things to his jump drive.

The next day, I had to show Gene how to save things to his jump drive again.

The next day, I showed Gene a third time.

And so the pattern went, with me becoming increasingly irritated about it the more times I had to show him.

Part of my irritation was that each time I showed Gene how to save images, he kept trying to make the process far more complicated than it actually is. He would open all such tutorial sessions by complaining about his inability to see his picture in advance of saving it. I repeatedly tried showing him how to choose OPEN from the selection provided by the download menu, but, depending on which computer station he was seated at, nothing tended to happen when he did this. This further cemented the complaint in his mind and the irritation in mine. And the more irritated I became, the more it showed in my voice and manner, which surrounding patrons could no doubt detect too. (Granted, they were all probably very sympathetic to me, having been on the receiving end of Gene's lengthy lectures about the intricacies of his family tree, not to mention how interesting the life of his great aunt Loofie had been, many times themselves. But still.)

The other major annoyance was that only one of the images he asked me to help him save was actually of a relative of his. The rest were just odd internet flotsam; like a picture of three dogs against a field of blended colors, or a texture tile jpeg. Gene couldn't figure out why the long-lost relative he'd been corresponding with had chosen to send these to him, and he was angry that she was wasting his time. He was also angry that each and every one of her emails to him had at least two such images attached.

During our third tutorial session, after I'd showed him how to save an image that turned out to be animated smiley faces, I finally realized that the lady wasn't intentionally attaching any images at all, but had set her email account to include them as part of her signature file or as backgrounds for the email itself. I nearly laughed out loud at this, and it fortunately served to diffuse my anger at having to deal with Gene, for I had been about to strangle him.

I then explained the concept of Signature File Crap to Gene and told him to ignore those images unless a third image was attached titled with the name of one of his relatives. He seemed satisfied by this. In fact, Gene seemed downright apologetic over the next couple of days. Whenever he came in, he'd be sure to tell me how he'd attempted to save a few things again and he thought he might have even gotten it right. "I'm still learning," he'd say.

That's when I started to feel bad about my own behavior and decided to adopt a better attitude toward Gene. There was no reason to be pissy with him. No matter how many hours he might spend hogging up our computers per day, he's still pretty green to computers. I really should be able to help him do whatever he needs to do without ire, if for no other reason than it's my damned job.



Anonymous said...

Why did you become a librarian in the first place? It sounds like you have to put up with a lot of awful people and that you don't enjoy your career very much. I do enjoy reading your blog though. You're very humorous.

Anonymous said...

Personally speaking (I'm not the blog author), I put up with it for the benefits and the knowledge that I could be working at a worse job for less money. I too have had periods of bad attitude-ness at my library. What seems to help me is trying not to take everything to seriously and Prozac.

Anonymous said...

Juice -- thank you for reminding me to be nice. I am pretty nice, but it can be difficult dealing with repeat customers who are really annoying.

librarianne said...

Just today I discovered your blog. ThankYouThankYouThankYou for writing! Dealing with similar situations, I'd nearly reached the end of my rope. Your spot-on observations and humor have made things look a little brighter at my library.

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.