It's an odd sensation when a person you have known for years, who you have maybe even been friendly toward, suddenly turns on you and gives you a good solid bite. This has happened to me on a few occasions and I don't typically deal with it very well. Fortunately the viper bite the "liberry" collectively received recently wasn't directed at me specifically.
A long time regular patron of ours is a fellow I shall call William Shatner, for no good reason at all. William Shatner has never before distinguished himself enough to merit inclusion in the blog as either a good patron or a rogue patron. Mostly I know William Shatner as a patron who is almost always in our hold system. Like many others among hold-patron brethren, William Shatner is usually on hold for whatever the latest new hot book is in release. William Shatner has always been very friendly toward me, and rightly so as I'm usually the guy who phones to tell him the hot new book he's been wanting to read is ready for him to pick up and he usually rolls by late on Friday or early on Saturday to do so.
In January, William Shatner put on hold the latest book by a certain southern lawyer type whose books came to wile popularity in the early 1990s and continue to be best sellers today. He did so on the day the book was scheduled to be released. Unfortunately for William Shatner--and, as it turns out, the rest of us--two other people had already put themselves on hold for this book in advance of him. Also quite unfortunate, the first person on hold kept the book a week or two past its due date, prolonging the wait for the next person. The second person on the hold list, once the book was in their hands, wound up keeping it for the better part of two months. I only know this because I did the research into it after what happened next.
William Shatner, understandably unhappy about waiting so long, occasionally would ask whoever was working the desk on the weekends (usually Ms. M) about the book and his place on the list. Each time he would be told that it was still out and he was still third on the waiting list. Now, I don't know if the weekend warriors he was talking to ever phoned the person with the book to tell them to bring it back. If not, they really should have. I and the rest of the weekday staff, however, had no way to know about it because our system doesn't generate overdue notices until a given book is three months overdue.
After two months of waiting, William Shatner was, again understandably, pissed. Anyone would be justifiably pissed at having to wait two months, but as it turns out that was not the primary reason that William Shatner was pissed. He marched in one Saturday, asked for his book, was told by Ms. M that it was still out and, upon hearing that, William Shatner informed Ms. M that he was sick of waiting and, more importantly, he knew good and well that our director, Mrs. A, had been moving his position on the hold list in order to keep him from getting the book at all. Ms. M, in her retelling, stressed that he mentioned this theory on several occasions during their conversation.
Mrs. A was astounded at the accusation. She'd never moved anyone on a hold list and had no reason to move William Shatner. She had no beef with William Shatner. She hadn't even set eyes on the man in over a year. Beyond all of that, though, was the small matter of her having no idea how to even bring up the section of our circulation software dedicated to showing exactly who is holding for a particular book, let alone know how to shuffle that list in any manner, in the first place. (In point of fact, the two people on our staff who would know how to do that are Mrs. C and myself, and I only knew about it because I recently moved a lady to the front of a completely different book list. Normally, I don't care where people are on a given list, but she had been the one to request a given book that we didn't yet own and couldn't ILL due to its extreme newness. In fact, she requested it on more than one occasion, prompting me to recommend its purchase. She was pretty much the whole reason we eventually ordered said book for our collection only to have four people jump on the list ahead of her because by then Oprah had endorsed the book. Was moving her fair? Ehhh, debatable. But I did it anyway and everyone knows you can't fight the power of Oprah.)
Mrs. A polled the staff and none of us could come up with any reason William Shatner might be so upset or make such accusations, other than his book was late. It seemed to all of us who were familiar with him to be somewhat out of character, because most patrons who entertain paranoid fantasies tend to drag them out for display earlier than this. No, though we didn't realize it then, there was an X-Factor at play that we could not yet see. As we were to learn, however, this particular X-Factor had a name and a history with our "liberry."
(TO BE CONTINUED...)