Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jumpin' Gene (PART II)

Having made my decision to have a good attitude in my dealings with Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine, I greeted him warmly when next he darkened our door. And Gene, for his part, seemed to notice my good mood. In fact, he seized upon the opportunity to mention that he was looking to take one of the genuine long lost relative pictures he'd been emailed him and resend it to his daughter. He wondered if, perhaps, I might show him how to attach it to an email later.

"Whenever you're ready to send it, come get me and I'll show you how to do attach it," I said cheerfully.

That was pretty early in the day. Throughout much of the remaining six hours Gene was with us, I kept waiting for him to call me over to do the attachment. I was actually looking forward to putting my best face on it and being a helpful and service-oriented "liberry" ass. instead of the spiteful, passive-aggressive one I'd been lately.

Around 6 p.m., when only I and Ms. D were still on shift, Gene finally called me over to his computer. I should have been alarmed when I saw that his screen wasn't immediately open to his email account, but no warning alarms sounded within my head. Even when he uttered his familiar and usually terrifying phrase, "Let me show you something interesting," I still somehow was not afeared. Only when he clicked to a new window and I saw the branches of a family-tree pop up on the screen did I finally scent danger.

"Look here..." he began, and immediately trailed off into his latest geneal0gical discoveries.

Oh %#$&ing heck, I thought. I've just allowed myself to be willingly lured into one of Gene's patented geneal0gy lecture traps!!

And indeed as I thought it, it sprung shut around my foot.

For months now, I and the rest of the staff have kept a very Shields-Up policy when dealing with Gene. We try not to make eye contact. We try not to linger in proximity to him. We try not to speak to him in anything but the most clinical and utilitarian of language. For we know if we allow him even the smallest of openings, we'll be trapped in geneal0gy lecture purgatory until one of the other staff members can emergency dial Zelda Rubenstein and she can come and pull us from Gene's deadlights. (Just to mix my Poltergeist metaphors with my Stephen King's IT metaphors.)

Even before my forced good mood, however, I suspect we've gotten a bit lazy about our Shields Up policy. Now that we have more than three computers at our disposal, there have been zero occasions when Gene has had to wait around until a computer came free and he's therefore had no cause to inflict such lectures on the staff in order to motivate us to get him a computer faster. Recently, though, Mrs. J and Mrs. B have become mired in Gene-land by being too friendly too close to him and now it was my turn to suffer.

I braced myself for this earthly equivalent of Vogon Poetry and hoped I could find an excuse to dash away or, more likely, to claw my way across the carpet, prone and nearly lifeless. Alas, there was no readily apparent excuse to do so. Sure, there were people at the circ desk, but newbie Ms. D had them neatly in hand—damn her ungreenhorn-like efficiency and natural ability!

Then something Gene said caused my ears to actually turn on and listen. It took them awhile to overcome their natural aversion to boring-ass-lectures, but if I was hearing correctly, I could have sworn Gene had just proven a lineage trace to someone who had actually been interesting.

"You're related to... Elv!s?" I asked, just to be clear. Gene gave me an odd look, for he'd clearly just told me that, albeit in long-and-rambling-begat form.

"Yeah," he said, and pointed back to the screen where there was a detailed family tree showing how Elv!s's people had come originally from North Carolina and then a branch of them had gone to Mississippi where the king himself was eventually born. This seemed interesting enough for the moment, so I listened as he did more begats. Minutes crawled by.



The.Effing.Librarian said...

I envy your observational skills. My bio-cache is about 8k and flushes itself hourly, so I rarely remember reference transactions. (Does that mean I'm in heaven?)

Jane said...

Is it okay if I limit my genealogy talk with the Official Genealogy Lady at my library (really. my branch has the local history and gen. area.)?

Juice S. Aaron said...


My memory is pretty awful when it comes to remembering useful information, like people's names. But I'm pretty good with useless information and dialogue.

I've learned to take lots of notes, because I've lost too many good blog entries by assuming I'd remember details later on. As soon as an event occurs, I make a note of it, often in a coded shorthand that would be strange and innocuous to anyone who might accidentally see it. If dialogue is important, I jot that down too, often covering several tiny sheets of scratch paper in the process. Or, if I'm alone at the desk, I'll sometimes go ahead and write the notes up in more detailed form and email it to myself.

If I don't do this, the details begin to fade very quickly and any usefulness as an entry here goes with it. I've sometimes found old note scraps in my office and can't recall the event in question at all.

Juice S. Aaron said...


I say talk to whoever you want, but be aware that any talk of geneal0gy research tends to be mind-numbingly boring to anyone but fellow geneal0gy people. And, presumably, Geneal0gy Ladies in libraries.

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.