Thursday, March 13, 2008

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #120

SETTING: My "Liberry" where, upon my arrival, I find Mr. Dent, fourth grumpiest old man in all the world and fanatical researcher of the alleged 14 surnames found in the Devonshire area of England, once again stationed at the circ-desk. This time he only appears to be checking out a book, so I'm not expecting trouble from him. He steps away from the desk briefly, during which time my fellow "liberry" vanish, stranding me at the desk where Mr. Dent finds me upon his near instantaneous return. He now has a second book and, after some fishing in his wallet, produces his library card.

ME— (After checking book out to him and sliding it across the desk to him) Here you go, sir.

MR. DENT— Find out anything more about Devon?

(Before I can stop my lips from speaking...)

ME— Only that there were 4,000 surnames there in 1853. I'm pretty sure that book you read was wrong.

I immediately feel bad for putting this so bluntly, but I am annoyed that this issue has still not been put to rest in his mind. From the way he shakes his dented noggin at me before walking away, though, I get the impression he thinks I just pulled that number out of my ass to get him to leave me alone.

Actually, if that's his assumption, he's at least half-right. Upon second consultation, I find that the actual historical figure was really 400 surnames published in 1890.

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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.