This is a tale from a few weeks back—a tale in which my co-worker Mrs. B and I were assaulted by a perfect storm of extremely high-maintenance, needy, Old White Women.
The afternoon had been going well enough until that point. We'd wrestled with the heating system, weathered a brief downpour of innanet patrons and survived the sinful temptations of a king-sized Snickers bar left in our possession by Mr. Rob, the librarian at the community college. Then, the doors opened and the first assault of Old White Women marched in.
There were two OWWs in this first wave, accompanied by a small battalion of high school-aged boys, who I initially took to be grandchildren. The OWW's didn't make trouble right away. Instead, they fell back, allowing their footsoldiers to approach the circ desk.
One of the boys, a stout lad who was dressed as though he aspired to be "Metal" but was not quite pulling it off, asked me if we had the book ICP: Behind the Paint.
"Insane Clown Posse?" I asked, shocked that the ICP were even still alive, let alone making albums or warranting books written about them. Even more shocking was that I knew what the acronym stood for without having to ask.
"Yeah," the kid said.
"No, we don't have that," I said, without even moving a finger toward the OPAC. I knew there was no way in hell Mrs. A had ever ordered that book. I then glanced at one of the kid's two fellow foot soldiers, a boy of no more than 16 who was somehow clad in a t-shirt advertising Tool's album Undertow. I began to wonder if maybe this whole group had slipped through a hole in the space/time continuum from, say, 1997.
They lurked away and the Old White Women followed them.
We thought the attack was over, but that had only been the first wave.
After fifteen minutes or so, one of the two Old White Woman returned with books on tape. Now, I'm not sure what she actually said when she approached because it was noisy around the desk, but the phrases "I don't have my card" and "look me up" were clearly heard among the other words I couldn't make out. I explained politely that we did require an actual library card to check out items. She seemed a little confused at this, though, so I began to inwardly question what she had actually said before. It might have been something like "I don't have my card so you're going to have to look me up" or could have been more of a, "I'm not sure if I'm still in your system, I don’t have my card, could you look me up and see if I need to get a new one?”
“Um… Do you have a card with us?” I asked.
“I… I did have a card. I don’t know,” the woman said.
“Well, I can look you up to see if you’re in the system, but I can’t check anything out to you without a card. Or a replacement card,” I added. I looked her up. Oddly, she didn’t have a card at all, meaning if she did at one time she was now one of the remaining holdovers from the old pre-2004 system. I "liberry"-ninja-flipped her an application and a pen. Meanwhile the boys returned to the desk each with selections. Tool T-Shirt really really wanted some book he'd found and was trying to demonstrate his excitement about it to the OWW. He'd read the first page and everything and loved it! The first OWW told him he could get his own card after she'd received hers.
I started in making her card, that is until I reached the blank line where a driver's license number should go. She might be an Old White Woman, but she didn't look old enough to have never had one nor to have had hers taken away yet. I asked her about it.
"Oh, do you really need that?" she asked. "My credit-protection service warned me never to give it out."
I'd been waiting for this moment. I'd seen it coming. And here was where I would make my stand.
(TO BE CONTINUED...)