Thursday, January 31, 2008

Honest to a Fault

A girl of about 12 or 13 (I never have any idea how old these kids are) approached the desk and asked if she could use a computer. As she was clearly alone, I asked her if she had a parental permission slip on file to use a computer. She said she didn't, but that it was completely cool with her mom if she used one, because she used one at home all the time and there was no problem.

"I'm sorry, we have to have an actual parental permission slip on file for you before we can let you use the computers alone," I said. She looked bummed out, but not angry and went away.

Ten minutes later, she was back. What if she could call her mom's best friend, huh? Her mom's best friend was like a second mom to her and she was over at her house all the time and her mom's best friend would let her use the computer. Could we call her mom's best friend so her mom's best friend could tell us that?

"No," I said. "My boss is very serious about this and we have to have the actual form signed by your actual mom on file, or your actual mom has to be with you, before you can use the computer."

Again, she was bummed, but not bitter.

Ten minutes later, she came back. Could she at least use the kiddie computer?

"Sure thing," I said. "It doesn't have internet access, but you can use it."

She seemed very bummed about this, as I expect she was hoping this was some sort of a back door way to use the `net that we hadn't thought of. I logged her onto it and she puttered away at whatever kiddie games we had on there.

After an hour or so, girl's mom turned up. When it came time to check out the girl didn't have her library card, so I offered to make one for mom instead. While we were filling out the paperwork, I ninja-slid a permission slip across the desk and asked the mom if she wanted to fill one of those out, as her daughter seemed pretty keen to use the `net. Mom said her daughter had mentioned not being able to, so she went ahead and filled out the permission form too.

Now, here's where I screwed up. I let her fill the form out, but I didn't do the math on her age and see that she was still only 12. According to our rules, you have to be between 13 and 18 to use a computer on your own with a permission slip. Fortunately, other members of our staff aren't as lax in their duties as I am. When the girl came back a week later, she asked to use a computer and, like a good employee, former greenhorn Ms. M asked her point blank how old she was. Being an honest child, the girl said "twelve." I didn't hear any of that, though. From my desk in the staff workroom, all I heard was what came next, which was the empassioned pleading from the girl to Ms. M to PLEEEEASE let her use a computer anyway.

I looked out from the workroom and caught the girl's eye, recognized her and decided to go point out to this obviously stupid child that she had a permission slip on file already and was free to stop whining.

"She's not 13 yet," Ms. M explained.

"Ahhhhhhh," I said, realizing my error. "Sorry, can't have one. You're not 13, yet," I then told the girl.

"But I'll be 13 really really soon!" the girl whined.

"When?" I asked, figuring that if it was later in the month or something then, eh, whatever.


"Uh, no."

Super bummed once again, the girl asked if she could at least sign up for the kiddie computer.

Ten minutes later she was back, I thought for another volley at our defenses, but instead she came up holding a DVD.

"I saw that the kids computer says it can play DVDs. Would it be okay if I watched one?"

I'd never realized the kiddie computer was capable of this. And while I should have been more offended that we have thousands of books she could otherwise be reading, I told her to knock herself out. Happily she watched Joe Somebody until mom came to get her.

I am afraid, however, that we've taught her a lesson in honesty getting you nowhere that will surely come back to bite someone in the future. If not us, then her mom.


Anonymous said...

Here's another sad aspect to your story. It's a violation of copyright to watch videos/dvds in the library (unless you have copyright privileges that is).

rose said...

where'd you get that idea? it's only one person looking at the movie, it's not a "public performance"

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.