Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An Interlude (a.k.a. "Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #126")

SETTING: My "liberry" on a particularly hectic Monday, during Tax Week, shortly after we open for business. I'm still trying to empty the book return when chaos suddenly descends upon the circ-desk and we are nearly overwhelmed with people seeking tax forms, tax books, advice on how to fill out their tax forms, second requests for tax forms and tax books from idiots who can't seem to find them where we've just directed them to look, not to mention other idiots who've just printed out an entire 40 page 1040 tax instruction book when we had them available for free in the first place. Stepping into this chaos comes Mr. Dent, fourth grumpiest old man in all the world. He stands there like a big, dented, myopic eagle clutching three books in his talons.

ME-- (Thinking he's just returning books, I point to the numerous other stacks of returns on the desk) Hello. You can put returns there.

MR. DENT-- What?

ME-- You can put your returns there. (Points again.)

MR. DENT-- What?

ME-- Are you returning those books?

MR. DENT-- Yes. But I want to take one out again.

ME-- (Trying very hard not to sigh. It's way too early in the day for such a surly attitude on my part.) Okay. (I go behind the circ desk and switch the computer to renew, take his book, renew it, stamp it with the renewed due date and pass it back to him.) There you go.

MR. DENT-- Also, I need help finding a book. Do you have any books by...


MR. DENT-- Robert...


MR. DENT-- Do you have him?

ME-- Uh, Robert who?

MR. DENT-- (In a tone that suggests he's already said the name clearly four times) Ludlum. L-U-D-L-A-M.

ME-- Oh, sure. (Pointing to Adult Fiction Stacks) His books will be over there in those tall shelves, under Ludlum.

MR. DENT-- No, I looked last week and he wasn't there. Would you show me?

ME-- (Glancing at the very apparent chaos around me, which has continued unabated during our exchange, with Ms. M barely able to handle it.) Certainly.

(At a near trot, I rush around the desk and toward the Adult Fiction Stacks. I arrive at the I-O aisle a good 30 seconds before Mr. Dent. When he arrives, I point up to an entire shelf level that is filled to capacity with hardback Robert Ludlum novels, not to mention a couple of Fake Shemp Ludlum novels by Eric Van Lustbader.)

ME-- There you go. This entire shelf is Ludlum.

MR. DENT-- (Peering up at it with a foul expression that suggests he fully believes this section indeed wasn't there last week and this is all somehow a joke at his expense.) Why on earth would you have him classified here and not -- (gestures back across the main floor presumably toward the Nonfiction stacks)

ME-- (Trying desperately not to sound snotty when I explain...) Because this is our Adult Fiction section. Ludlum was a fiction writer.

MR. DENT-- (In a most chastising tone) Sir Robert Ludlum.

(I give this a seething pause, then turn and walk away.)


Apple Honest said...

Your posts kill me and bring a glimmer of hope to my dim life.
Thank you.

Nike said...

FYI, there doesn't seem to be a SIR Robert Ludlum who was an author.
At least not in my library's db.

Anonymous said...

oh man i say it every year,
is there a patron saint for library workers during the last few days of tax season? st jude perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Saint Matthew the Apostle is the patron saint of both bookkeepers and tax collectors... it probably translates.

Anonymous said...

Can an American BE a "Sir?" Robert L., author was born in NY--The Blessed Robert Ludlam, martyr--could have been, but I don't think he was knighted.


Juice S. Aaron said...

I suspect that either Mr. Dent is confused as to who Robert Ludlum actually is, or the cheese has fallen off of his cracker, so to speak.

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.