Monday, April 28, 2008

Back to the Paper Age

We had a scheduled power outage recently that threw our usual day into chaos, at least as far as the innanet crowd was concerned; for us, it may still have been chaos, but at least it was entertaining chaos.

Word came down, on the day in question, that at 11:30a all power for the whole area would be cut off for a couple of hours due to some sort of maintenance issues upstream. Dutifully, Mrs. C went around to all the morning's innanet crowders and warned them that the power would be going off at 11:30 and that they needed to be sure to save whatever they were working on before then. A few of them left the building at the first warning. Others, such as Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine, hung on anyway. Soon, other innanet crowders arrived to fill the empty stations. Mrs. C warned all the newcomers, but at 11:30 all ten computers were still very much in use.

When the power finally went off, around 12:30, Mrs. C was at the desk and reported the behavior she witnessed. The lights went out, the computers turned off and all the innanet crowders sat there for several seconds staring at their blank screens. Mrs. C said that they then turned their heads in unison and glared at her as though they had not been duly warned and as though their sudden loss of net-teat-sustenance were somehow her fault.

"I told you it was going to go off," she said to them.

They all then looked at one another for a moment, seemed very sad and then left the building in a mass exodus. Well, all except for Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine, who still had to gather up all of his geneal0gy crap. Despite having been warned numerous times, he was very annoyed at this turn of events and said so. Before leaving the building, he gave Mrs. B his cell phone number and instructed her to phone him immediately when the power returned. In the meantime, he said was going to go get some lunch.

I turned up around 1p to find the building's interior in peaceful shadow. It was SO quiet with the absence of the constant hum of machinery. And our phones, all of which require an exterior power source, were blissfully silent as well. Occasionally, patrons arrived to turn in their books, which we piled on the back counter to check in later. We continued to circulate by writing down barcode numbers of library cards and the books themselves. It took a bit longer and we knew it would be a pain to type them all in later, but there was also something comforting about the process. We kind of adopted a "This is how they did things back in the dark times before the age of computas" attitude, despite the fact that no one EVER wrote down barcode numbers before the age of computas.

After a bit, we realized that without power we were also without heat. It wasn't even uncomfortably cold in the building, but we could definitely feel it.

"Watch this," I said, marching over to one of our gas-powered fireplaces, visions of firing them up and sitting toasty and warm in the comfy chairs in front of them, dancing in my head. Only when I arrived there, I realized that the controls of the gas-powered fireplaces were electric, so we were SOL on toasty heat.

What warmed me instead, though, was the sight of several regular innanet crowders, (who'd had to drive through streets deviod of traffic-signals in order to get to the "liberry" in the first place, enter our building, notice all the lights were off, notice the computers were similarly off and then turn to us to ask, "So, there's no innanet?"

"No. There's no innanet," we said.

Around 2p, the power came back on and the phones began to ring with call after call from people saying, "Uhhhh, hey, is yer pa'er back ownnn?" and others complaining that they'd been calling for the past hour to ask us if our power was on and that we would not answer the phone. Another of the earliest callers was Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine, who'd phoned to report that the power was back on in Town B, so if any of us wanted to get some lunch there would be restaurants with ovens there. He returned to the "liberry" soon enough and reported that he had been unable to find any lunch himself because all the restaurants had closed anticipating the impending power outage.

Gene has still received no response from the governor regarding his complaint about our innanet being so slow. He has informed me that he has now drafted a new letter explaining to the governor that if the man doesn't have time to respond to the complaints of his citizens, then he, Gene, has no time to vote for him any more.

That'll show him.


Anonymous said...

Wow...we wouldn't be able to stay open like that during a power outage. We would have mass looting and patrons groping the staff members.

Sarah said...

Ditto on the closing for a power outage--the fire department would shut us down. But we have had the innanets down, which pretty much cripples us but does leave everything all nice and calm.

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.