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.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Poop List Regains a Lost Member

Yes indeedy, annoying patron Ms. Green is back on the poop list. I don't understand how a human being who is so reliant on computers to do just about everything she comes to the library to do can be so inept at operating them.

I should have known it was going to be a bad day of it with her when her kid asked to borrow the phone, called home and told his mother that he'd found a book he wanted and would be needing "the library card," and could she bring it with her when she came to pick him up? Understand, Ms. Green and her two kids have had MULTIPLE LIBRARY CARDS each throughout the years we've had our current circulation system, but now they've apparently lost all but one of them. Nice.

At around a half hour to our Monday five o'clock closing time, Ms. Green herself arrived, signed up for a computer and began typing something in Word. The other computers were packed solid with patrons, so much so that at twenty minutes from closing I had to boot Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine off for yet another new arrival patron. I then announced to the entire innanet crowd that we were indeed closing at five and so they would have only ten more minutes of innanet time before I needed to shut down their computers. And I noted at that moment that each of these people instantly became very concentrated on not wrapping up their shit.

At pretty much ten `til close, Ms. Green waved me over to help her. She wanted to print the document she'd composed once, then make some changes to it and print it again. However, despite all the school reports she's written and printed for her kid over the past few months, she claimed she didn't know how to print the current one. So I showed her again how to do so and then showed her how to click on the OK button in the print dialog box.

Nothing happened.

I stepped over to the printer, expecting it to be out of paper, but it was full and seemed to be at the ready. I asked Ms. Green if she'd truly hit OK and she said she had. She then tried to print a couple more times just to show me.

"Listen. Don't hit print any more. I don't know what's wrong with the printer, but it will just print multiple copies of your page when it finally starts printing if you keep doing that and we will have to charge you for them." To prevent this, I opened up the print queue on her machine and canceled out the jobs. I then personally hit print again and waited.

Nothing happened.

Then Ms. Green tried to hit print again and I had to stop her, though not by the method that immediately came to my mind. Meanwhile, it was now five minutes until closing time, which was five minutes after I had told everyone they needed to be off. Not a soul had moved. After all, I was helping another patron with a computer problem and if she got to stay on the computer, so could they. I reiterated to them that we were nearly closed. Only then did one of them begin to wrap up their shit.

"I don't know why this isn't printing," I told Ms. Green.

"So, can I save it?"

Knowing full well the answer to what I was about to say: "Only if you have a disc or a jump drive. If you save it to the machine, it will be erased when we shut it down."

"Well, can I email it to you?"

Also knowing where this was headed. "You should probably just email it to yourself."

"I know, but I tried to access my Verizon account here and I can't get into it unless I'm at home."

"Then I don't know what to tell you," I said. "If you can't access your email from our computers, then it's hard to email it to anyone."

Granted, I could have logged onto my own email and emailed it to myself, or to her, or to Al Gore, but I really wasn't feeling like being very helpful to helpless people who've been through this very situation multiple times in the past and have clearly not learned anything from the journey. I've suggested she get a Gmail account several times before, but she's not heeded, so this was the consequence.

After noting for Ms. Green that she should not try printing any more, I marched back to the printer and hit the GO button, just for shits and grins. Instantly it said it had a job in the hopper, but indicated it required legal-size paper in order to proceed. Now, I knew that Ms. Green had not chosen legal-size paper on purpose because that was far, far, FAR beyond her capabilities. What I suspected was that our printer had lost a good bit of its mind and was in need of a reboot, for it had insisted on trying to print on legal paper for another patron earlier in the day. I overrode the insistence and it spat out Ms. Green's document on regular paper. The printer then indicated it had another job that it wanted to print on legal paper. I overrode that too and out came another copy of Ms. Green's document.

I went and gave them to Ms. Green. And while I was at the computers, I began shutting down the few empty terminals we had and pointed out to the remaining innanet crowders that we were, in fact, officially closed now. Mr. W. Perfect looked up from his conversation with another `crowder and then went right back to talking. That `crowder's wife, also on a machine, then called me over and asked me how to center the phone numbers she'd lined up on a flyer she was working on. My match-strikin' hand began to itch.

"Okay, I'm printing again," Ms. Green said. I returned to the printer, hit GO again and another copy of Ms. Green's first document came out. Another followed before her second document finally printed. Soon there were five copies of it in total. (Lady, what part of "STOP. HITTING. EFFING. PRINT." don't you understand????!!!!) I passed the pile of them over to her. She looked them over, perhaps noted the wild look in my eyes and decided not to complain about paying for multiple copies of the same document.

"I'll just need to step out to the car to get the money," she said.

Again, if you've come to the library at the crack of closing time and intend on printing ANYTHING, you must have known in advance that you would have to pay for what you were going to print. On what planet, therefore, does it make any sense to leave all your money in the car?

Meanwhile, it was now five minutes past closing time, a fact I then indicated to Mr. W. Perfect and the two remaining innanet crowders when I went to shut the rest of the computers down. They looked up at me as though this was the first they'd heard of it, but they at least began paying lip service to wrapping up their shit.

The printer light was flashing again when I returned to the circ desk. I overrode the legal size again and it was another of Ms. Green's pages. The document that followed was as well, so I canceled the next one after that and the printer gave up. Now, I don't know which of the two documents I canceled actually belonged to the OTHER innanet crowder who was printing flyers, but no more documents came out so evidently I'd canceled it, too. When they came to pick up their prints, I had to then explain to them that they were basically SOL, as nothing was printing.

"Do you still have them up on your screen?" I asked.

Nope, she's shut the machine down and logged off, cause I'd told them we were closing. Ah, so now it's doubly my fault. Fortunately, they weren't mad that all the work they'd just done had vanished and said they'd come back another day.

I never saw Ms. Green return to pay us. She'd taken her initial set of prints with her, as well. My theory is that she'd gone to the car for money, discovered there wasn't any there to begin with and had done a runner, resolving to "get us next time. " Yep, back on the poop list she goes.

After we finally got rid of Mr. Perfect, who'd hung around to watch all the chaos, and then stood around making small talk with Ms. D, it was nearly fifteen minutes after closing.

On my way to check the men's room, I passed by our local history room and noted that there was still a patron sitting at the desk within it. He wore a hearing aid, which evidently wasn't in good working order, cause he'd not heard any of my many announcements about being closed. So I tapped him on the shoulder and informed him we'd closed quite some time back and apologized that this was the first time I'd noticed him. He graciously wrapped up his research, but then wanted us to look up a few more books for him before he left. I was all for being very rude to the man and kicking him out, but Ms. D stepped in and agreed to do his searches. After five minutes of this research, though, I began to wonder if I was going to have to finally give my long-chambered AFTER-CLOSING, GET-THE-EFF-OUT speech and scream, "Excuse me, but we have been closed for TWENTY MINUTES, now! You are abusing our good will!!!! I now have no alternative but to return this abuse in full!!!! Instead, I kept my back to him and busied myself counting the cash box. Mid- way through his next search request, he paused and then said he wouldn't take any more of our time and left. Wise man.

After I'd counted the cash box, we discovered a lone dollar tucked beneath one of the barcode scanners. I don't know for sure if Ms. Green left it there when I wasn't paying attention, but I'll assume she did. It was more than enough to pay for her prints, including the ones that printed after she went to get money.

The following day, I told Mrs. A we need an emergency power cutoff switch at the circ desk for not only each individual computer but the whole lot of them as well. As it stands, we'd either have to crawl under the computer desks to turn off the power strips, or go down to the basement to unplug the data cables. I want remote control Kill Switch access and I want it now.

7 comments:

Spottydotty1 said...

Oh, how I feel your pain. I work the closing shift every night. And I had the exact same thing with the printing issue yesterday. "Don't click print again, wait until I can get to the computer!!!" Along with the guy that printed a 29 page doc from the innanet TWICE and then began to print a 256 page doc from the innanet. Oh, but he didn't mean to do it, he only wanted the first page. "I can't pay for that. I don't have that kind of money. come on, give me a break I don't know what I'm doing" ahem. That would be why there is a sign on EVERY computer screen that states you must pay for every page printed. if you don't know how many pages will print, ask BEFORE you print. He left without paying for anything. The only saving grace with closing time, is that I have campus police that come in, otherwise, the innanet crowd would continue to play chess and look for girlfriends well into the night.

grayjaydeb said...

The school library I worked at had a power switch that shut down all the computers at once. When they were taking a long time to shut down, I would do a backwards count from 30 - with warning... Then shut everything off. It is very satisfying when you can do that.

Anonymous said...

I once just lent over and switched off someone's computer. He was in a chat room, it was 10.50pm and he'd been told three times (we closed at 10.45). I'd have had to walk home, for 45 minutes, if I'd missed my bus.

But it helped having university security guards round the corner !

Karen said...

Staying open 20 minutes after closing? You guys are way too nice. I can see staying an extra 5 minutes or so, but not much more than that.

tracyb said...

Hi I'm Tracy. I found your blog from Knitandfallbackinit, and as a former library employee (we moved and I miss my job so much) I have to say I love your stories! How many times have we all said "Quit hitting print!"? I'll definitely be visiting here again!

Vicki said...

One thing that might help your customers who don't have web access to their e-mail is the site Web2Mail (www.web2mail.com). It allows you to check any e-mail from anywhere. If it doesn't work on the first try, try the advanced login - but for this, you will need to know the server name or IP address.

Also, this will make you jealous, but our public computers all automatically do a restart a couple of minutes after closing. Our IT department set it up. We can actually tell people that if they don't finish by closing, they may lose their document.

Anonymous said...

Our public PC's do something similar - our IT guy installed a warning box pop-up that shows up five minutes before closing that reads "shutdown sequence has begun - if you haven't saved or printed your document, you will lose it in 30 seconds" - it's pretty effective. Plus we have a master switch to hit if there's an emergency of some kind and/or people just won't budge.