Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dammit, this is a library, you're supposed to be yelling!

There are some foolish people in the world who still believe that libraries are supposed to be places of quiet study, where you must never talk above a whisper or you go to hell, or something. One of those people visited us today along with her six-year-old daughter.

I noticed them in the children's section as the mother was reading to the daughter. Though there were other kids and parents in the area making the usual kid and parent noises, Mom-Low-Talker, however, was reading to her daughter in a mouse-whisper. I wanted to stop and tell her it was okay to actually engage her vocal cords, but decided to let her handle her parenting her own way. Maybe she was teaching by example.

Soon enough, they came to the circ desk to check out, but Mom-Low-Talker didn't get any louder. She whispered that she wanted to check out and then whispered that she didn't have her daughter's card because her husband had possession of it. I explained that we did require a card to check out and asked if she herself had a card. She whispered that she did not. Keep in mind, after 7 years of wearing headphones as a radio DJ, my hearing isn't what it once was when I was young and spry and I often have difficulty hearing people if there's other ambient noise around--which, with the innanet crowd banging away at their keyboards twenty feet away, there was plenty. I was pretty much reading her lips and intuiting her answers. So I passed her a form to fill out and she set to it.

Despite the fact that our form requires a driver's license number, she had not listed one. She had also not listed a full first or middle name, putting initials in both places.

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but we need a driver's license, here," I said, pointing to the blank on the form. Before I could mention the initials, she began whispering something to me that I couldn't understand.

"Excuse me?" I said, cupping my hand to my ear.

She whispered something again, not raising her volume at all. Now I was getting annoyed.

"Ma'am, you can actually speak out out in here. I can't hear what you're saying."

She pointed to the form and in a slightly audible voice said, "Do I have to put it on there? Do you keep these secure?"

Well, if you call a tall pile hidden out of reach of the public secure, then, yes.

"I guess I can just take it from your license if you don't want to include it," I said. "But I will
need your full first and middle names. We can't use initials."

She whispered something at me.

"I'm sorry?"

Returning to almost audible, she said, "I didn't want to spell out my name, because it's so long and complicated." She took the form and began writing out her name. I waited for her to finish, breathlessly anticipating the spelling of so complicated and long a first name that one would be hesitant to include it on forms that require it. I imagined it had to be something in the neighborhood of Romanadvoratrelundar.

She passed the form back to me. In the blank for the first name she'd written "Cathleen." Well, no wonder.

Once I began entering her information in the computer, Cathleen Low-Talker turned out to already have a card from 2005. She didn't believe me when I told her this, of course, but there it was with her contact information already plugged in, plus a note saying that she needed to supply us with her drivers license number. In the end, Cathleen Low-Talker realized that if she'd gone this long without supplying a driver's license number (hell, without even knowing she had a card at all), she could probably continue to do so with no real affect on her life. So she announced that she didn't want to pay for a replacement card for herself but instead would pay for one for the daughter. Whatever.

Just after I passed the new card over and explained that they could throw away the old card cause it would no longer work, Cathleen Low Talker leaned over and whispered to her daughter that now she would have two cards they could use.

"Uh, no," I said. "The old card will no longer work. At all. You can throw it away."

I tell you, I'm not going to miss people like her when I soon shuffle on out of here.


Kate said...

ugh, i HATE whisperers! i generally just talk louder and louder at them until they get the hint (which they usually don't). next time, tell them that whispering is the worst really bad for their vocal cords; it should never be mandatory.

Sarah W said...

My favorite are the parents who sush their children and other's kids--I want to say--please continue speaking to me in a voice I can hear!

You are leaving the liberry?

Juice S. Aaron said...




Anonymous said...

Heh. Today I had a customer whispering to me about her account. I finally told her, "You don't have to be quiet in here. Can you talk a little louder so I can hear you?" She then whispered, "I have laryngitis." Oh.

librarianne said...

Hey, I was a DJ in a former life too. Are you going back to that?

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.