Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Packing it up (Moving Days 2)

On the morning of our move, the wife took off for work, leaving Sadie and I behind to deal with the movers and everything that might entail. Around 9a, a big truck pulled up in front of the house and three skinny guys got out. They looked a lot like the hillbillies roofers the landlord had work on our house a while back.

"What's goin' on?" one of them asked.

"Oh, nothing much," I said. "Just a house full of stuff... to pack up... and move..." I added. And though this might seem terribly obvious information to convey to a trio of movers, I'd said it because in the back of my mind I still harbored the fear that they would somehow be expecting everything to already be packed and ready for loading. After all, why else would the moving company send only three guys to pack up an entire house? And looking at them, I couldn't help but think There's no way in hell you three are packing up my entire house in two days let alone the one day I was told it would take. Impossible.

Yet, when I ushered them into the house they seemed nonplussed by all the stuff yet unpacked. So far so good, I guessed.

Before they could even begin the job, another truck arrived with three more movers, including Bud. I was relieved. With only a couple of greeting exchanges, Bud and his crew started in on it and began packing up our shit. And so as to stay the hell out of their way, Sadie and I retreated to my office where I proceeded to pack up a few last minute odds and ends and get some blogging done.

Other than occasional questions from Bud and the crew, that was pretty much my involvement in the whole process. I poked my head out once in a while to let the dog potty and see what progress had been made. Each time I did, another room was all but gone. I was especially impressed by the gentleman packing up our kitchen, who was clearly taking a great deal of care with each of our dishes so that they were not broken. (What we wouldn't learn for a few days is that in taking such care, he also carefully packed up our butter dish, that had been sitting out on the counter, with butter still inside.)

Still, part of me felt like I wasn't doing enough. I didn't know if it was standard protocol for the homeowner to supply snacks and beverages, so I decided to err on the side of not having a box of my stuff dropped "accidentally," and Sadie and I went to the store for soft-drinks and Rice Crispie treats. While I was out, I swung by the "liberry" to let Sadie visit with her other family a bit more before we left town.

Back at the house, however, Sadie was of no help at all. She wanted to be out and underfoot, so I kept having to haul her back into the office until I finally had to put her in her crate for a long nap.

The guys worked solidly from 9:30a to around 3:30p by which time almost every single one of our possessions had been packed away and stacked within their vans. I had to give them credit for it, because I didn't think it could be accomplished in a day, let alone six plus hours. The only things they left behind were couch cushions and bedding on which the wife would sleep (as she still had to go to work the following morning and had opted to stay around and clean), some cleaning supplies and room after room of dust. It was an embarrassing amount of dust, really, and spoke to our distaste for doing anything about it. So as not to cause the wife to have a heart attack upon seeing it, I went ahead and vacuumed the floors (giving Sadie something to do, as she enjoys nothing better than chasing the vacuum nozzle and barking ferociously).

After finishing that, I loaded as many of our houseplants into the car as I could fit, took a few last minute pictures and then Sadie and I hit the road for Borderland.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Moving Days: The Last Great Epic Tale from the "Liberry"

Pay attention, cause this is going to get tricky.

I've lived in a lot of places over the past 20 years. My first apartment, as such, was a rental house I shared with three and then four roommates in college that we nicknamed "Da Crib." (Yeah, I know: how utterly white of us.) And while that experience ended badly, it certainly taught us all plenty of lessons along the way and I have few regrets about it. Next up was the Festering Hellhole, a rented set of rooms in a big house near in Tupelo, which I shared with about 250 roaches who were always late with their portion of the rent and who were eternally trying to mooch my food. It was also where I met my future wife, so I can't have all that many regrets about it. After turning it over to the roaches in order to move to North Carolina and be nearer to my future bride, I lived in a Avian camper trailer in back of my future in-laws house. The future wife and I soon married and moved to Charlotte, where we lived in a couple of different apartments; one a standard crappy apartment in a not great part of town and the other a quantum leap in quality to an amazing, super-swank, bachelor pad, garage-apartment owned by my then boss Jimmy. We were only there for around six months before moving state to West Virginia where we moved into a small two story townhouse apartment with a great view of a scenic hillside cow pasture. We were there for a year and a half before moving into our first rental house that had an even better (and considerably less "mooey") view of a river valley.

I spell all of that out because with each and every one of those moves, I and then I and my wife had to do all the packing and moving, with all the backbreaking labor that entails. And with each of those moves (particularly the ones where we had to deal with my extra-heavy, ugly green, gravity couch) we swore that not only would we never buy another stick of furniture, but that the next time the sticks we already had were to be moved someone else would have to come and do it all for us, cause damn if we were moving it all again. And, of course, two weeks later we were off to buy more furniture and the next move down the line was again accomplished by us.

Now we're set to move into our very first home that we will own in our new city of Borderland and for the first time in our existence our dream of having other people come and move all our crap has become a reality. (Ironic, really, since we finally got rid of the gravity couch last year.)

Being unaccustomed to having our moves done for us by others, though, this quickly became a situation that made us both giddy and apprehensive. Never having gone through the process, we didn't really know how it was supposed to work. I mean, on paper it seems pretty simple--Guys come over, pack up our crap, move it to the new house, unload our crap, go home--but there can be a lot of play with each level of that equation.

The moving company we chose was local to Borderland. They sent a man named Bud over all the way to Tri-Metro to have a look at our crap in order to estimate how much he'd charge to move it all. His company had done a lot of moving for the hospital the wife will be working for and they knew the whole drill. Bud the mover guy assured me that they had been in the business for 50 years and knew how to pack up fragile and valuable things (of which we have very few) and rarely had any problems with breakage. But the sheer amount of crap that we have made us feel guilty at having anyone else deal with it.

So despite the unnecessary nature of it, for days before the move, the wife and I had been sneaking around in our own house, packing up various bits of our possessions so that the movers wouldn't have to bother with it. I think our secret fear was that they would show up, look around and announce that they'd only been hired to move boxes, why hadn't we packed more? This was silly, of course, but that's how we thought. In reality, the only things the movers had suggested we pack ourselves were our prescription medicines, jewelry and firearms.

Bud's timetable was to arrive on Thursday, pack up the whole house and haul it away to Borderland. Then on Friday, they'd unload it at the new place. Seemed a pretty fast timetable for the amount of stuff we had.

The night before the move, the wife and I had been up until nearly midnight still prepping and packing away and trying to keep Sadie from "helping." And no matter how many boxes we already had packed, when we looked around at the rest of the place, it seemed as though we'd done nothing at all.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Final Thursday (Final Day)

I arrived at 1p. Except for Ms. M, everyone else had gone to lunch and she was scheduled to leave when I arrived.

"So I guess I won't see you again?" she said sadly.

"Aw. I'll be back," I said. "I've got some web work still to do, so I'll probably be in next week."

Plus, there's the matter of the going away party that Mrs. A said she wants to throw but which will have to wait a couple weeks, cause she's out of town and I'm moving next week. The wife will still be in the area through the end of the month, though, so it won't be any big deal for me to pop over.

Soon Ms. D returned from lunch. She brought me a bag of coffee beans from a local coffee house.

"I asked the guy if he knew you and what kind of coffee you liked," Ms. D said. "He said he knew you, but had no idea on the coffee, so I got you house blend."

It's perfect.

The rest of my final day on the job went fairly smoothly with cameos by some classic "characters" from the blog.

The Bakers put in an early appearance and I told them it was my final day. They were happy for the wife's opportunity in Borderland, but sad to see me go. I'll miss them too. The kids have all practically grown up in the near 7 years I've been at the library. Oldest daughter, Katherine, is off to college. Middle child Brianna has changed from being a whiny, indecisive middle schooler and has blossomed into quite a stunning young lad. And next time I see little Olive, she'll probably be driving.

Mr. B-Natural came in a couple of times. The computers were glutted on his first visit, but he was able to negotiate with Gene Gene the Geneal0gy Machine for use of Gene's computer "for five minutes" just to check something, so Gene wouldn't have to get off. Of course, Gene's intense desire for innanet suckling only lasted about three minutes before he decided he would just leave because Mr. B-Natural was taking too long. Later Gene.

Not long after, two members of my other all-time-favorite family, The Asners, came in to pay for a fine and renew a book. It didn't occur to me in the moment, but I really should have told them that they were my favorite family. I've actually told them as much in the past, mentioning that they were a pleasure to deal with every time I saw them, but it would have been a nice parting to mention it again.

Mid-afternoon, after using the excuse of setting up the downstairs multi-purpose room for an upcoming seminar to head downstairs for a bit, Mrs. C, Mrs. B and Ms. D returned with a giant cheese cake variety pack.

"You didn't think you were getting out of here without some sort of celebration, did you?" Mrs. C asked.

"This is awesome!" I said. "Thanks."

And it was quite awesome cheesecake. We all feasted heartily.

The afternoon saw further cameos by the usual innanet crowd, including Mr. W. Perfect, Cleveland, the Hacker Family, Old Man Printer, and Germophobe Gary, who didn't even ask for a Clorox Wipe. I was really hoping for an appearance by Cap'n Crossdresser or maybe even the ghost of the Purple Nun, but at least Parka didn't show up.

And, toward the end of the day, another long lost "liberry" family member turned up in the form of Rif, the formerly high school-aged home school kid who used to hang out in the library with his sister Magenta. Rif's now a junior in college studying sports-management. His sister Magenta graduated college this year.

My duties today included checking the shelves for overdues, one last time; folding up and preparing the overdues for mailing, one last time; stuffing fund-drive envelopes, one last time; processing new magazines, one last time; and rearranging those magazines in our magazine shelf which is, as always, plagued on a daily basis by people who have no concept of putting periodicals back where they found them instead of cramming them in at random.

My final check out of the day was The Calder Game, by Blue Balliett, checked out to my writer friend Linda.

Before I clocked out, I took all of my remaining red shelving slips and pinned them to the staff bulletin board with a note that read "This color is now retired." I then gathered up my satchel ("It's not a manpurse, dammit!"), and my toiletries (toothbrush, tooth paste, bottle of Cetaphil, hair gunk, mouthwash, defunk, etc.) from my locker. I then affixed to my bag my locker's mini-post-it label of JUICE TWO-BELTS. I grabbed the remainder of my cheesecake and headed out the staff workroom door toward my car.

On my way out, I noticed that I'd left my pot of hens & chicks by the back door. I thought of stopping to get them, but I can catch `em next time. I'm not done with this place yet.

I'm also not done with this blog. There are still a few tales left to tell, not to mention a move (or two) to commence.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Final Wednesday

One of our faithful weekly patrons is a guy named Jeff. I don't know much about Jeff other than he's some sort of skilled laborer (carpenter, I'm imagining), he's the owner and wearer of a ZZ Top beard and train engineer-style hat, he visits us every Wednesday at around 5p like clockwork, and he has pretty good taste in reading material. I know this last bit because I helped shape a minor corner of his taste in books by introducing him to the works of Neil Gaiman.

The way this began is that, years back, Jeff asked me for a recommendation on a book. As is usually the case when people ask me this, I shoved Good Omens at him. He liked it quite a lot, so the next week it was Neverwhere. Then American Gods. Then an ILL for Stardust (which we now own) and then Smoke & Mirrors and then Coraline and then The Wolves in the Walls and, eventually, Anansi Boys. M is for Magic is the latest Neil collection we have, though we also recently picked up the ever-so-excellent unabridged audio adaptation of Neverwhere as read by Neil himself and I must confess the man is now right up there with Jim Dale as far as audio readers go, in my book.

Oddly, I don't think I've mentioned The Sandman to him, which is criminal, really. However, we only have the first couple of trades of that series, so it's always seemed needlessly cruel to get him addicted just to say, "Oh, sorry, we don't have any more for you. But the rest of it is really very good."

So Jeff occasionally asks me what sort of thing Neil has coming out next. I recently reported to him of Neil's new children's book Odd and the Frost Giants as well as The Graveyard Book, coming out later in the year. Meanwhile, he's branched out quite a bit to read all sorts of good things, including Gene Wolfe (a favorite author of Neil's) and, naturally, Douglas Adams (who is the author that lead me to first read Neil in the first place via Neil's Hitchhiker's biography, Don't Panic. Funny story, that--when Neil first began writing comics in this country, one of his earliest efforts for DC in the late 1980s was the Black Orchid mini-series. I'd always liked the Black Orchid character, having read of her in Suicide Squad and the Who's Who directory of the DC Universe and really really wanted to read this prestige format mini-series. Unfortunately, we didn't yet have a comic shop in the town I grew up in, so I had to wait for the eventual trade. However, when I read the press about Black Orchid, I knew I recognized the name Neil Gaiman from something that I owned, I just couldn't place where I'd seen it. So I spent a good hour going through my entire comic collection looking for his name on every cover, trying to figure out why it was so damned familiar. Sitting there on the floor of my high school bedroom, I finished the last box of my then two or three long-box collection, and had not found anything by him. I felt defeated, and allowed my head to fall back on my shoulders, which aimed my gaze up at my bookshelf where I saw the name Neil Gaiman staring down at me from Don't Panic. Within a couple years, I had the Black Orchid trade and began noticing Neil writing smaller stories in places such as Secret Origins, including a fantastic origin for Poison Ivy that I highly recommend and believe is collected in a Neil miscellaneous stories trade put out a few years ago. When I heard he was doing a book called The Sandman, I wondered if this was a new version of either the Golden Age Wesley Dodds Sandman (whom I'd read of in a story called Whatever Happened to The Sandman, which I think was a backup tale in a 1985 issue of All Star Squadron, and which I dearly loved) or the Jack Kirby 1973 Sandman in the red and yellow costume (which I owned a couple of issues of, having special ordered them thinking they were about the Golden Age Sandman, and still liking them well enough). When my friend Gordon began buying the new Sandman book, I asked him which version it was about. He wasn't familiar with either previous character, but said it didn't sound like them. He made me read a couple of issues of The Doll's House, and very quickly I found that the Kirby Sandman did play a role. I was already hooked by then, though, on the story of Morpheus and, more importantly, the supporting cast of the Doll's House story. (And to me Neil's Sandman is always more about the various supporting casts than it is about the Sandman himself.) I was a devout Neil follower from that moment on and have spread this affection/infection to most of my friends.)

But I digress with lots of parentheses...

When Jeff turned up today, I broke the news that I was leaving and would not likely see him next week or, perhaps, for a long time. He congratulated me on the move, but then seemed concerned.

"Where am I going to get my news about the next Neil books?" he asked.

"Oh, I've got `em pretty well trained around here. If they see Neil's name on something, they'll order it."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Final Tuesday

My final Tuesday was largely uneventful, save for one curious incident.

Mid-afternoon, a fairly stunning college-aged girl approached the desk. She grinned broadly at me and said "Hi, how's it going?" in a very familiar tone. She looked familiar, too, but I couldn't place her.

The girl turned in a book, I checked it in and noted that her last name was familiar, though the first listed was actually her mother. That's when I realized that this girl was the daughter of a patron I also know from church. Ah, so that's where I knew her from, I thought. I probably recognized her from church, back when she was in high school. Now she was off to college and home for the summer. It was only later, after she came to check out that I realized the full nature of her identity. She passed me a book, then a library card. When I scanned the card, it brought up her mother's record again. The girl then mentioned that her own card was linked to her mother's if I wanted to use it instead. I switched over to the linked patrons tab and saw her first name. Then it hit me: this was no mere girl I knew from church, this was Miss K, our former newbie greenhorn, formerly high school-aged weekend warrior who had originally been hired to replace the thieving, dishonest and job-abandoning Miss E. Wow did she grow up!

I later suggested to Mrs. C that if they needed a quick replacement for me, at least for the summer, they could do far worse than to hire Miss K again. She's already partially trained, or at least far moreso than most newbie greenhorns off the street would be.

Now if only Miss E, Ms. S, Miss Temp, Miss F, Mrs. H and Miss Nightranger would come by for a visit, it'd be like old home week at the "liberry."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Final Monday

While at lunch with the wife, today, I mentioned that it was the final Monday I would work at the "liberry." She asked if I was saddened by this fact. I had to admit: not even a little. Cause, as has been well-chronicled here, I hate me some Monday.

What's there to miss?

  • The incessant banging on and repeatedly trying of the handles of the doors to see if we're open yet despite the obvious sign clearly stating otherwise? Gone from my life.
  • The annoyed expressions when we at last do unlock the doors? Gone from my life.
  • The mad rushes by innanet crowders to get to the computers before they all fill up? Gone from my life.
  • The endless procession of extraordinarily needy patrons, many of whom have questions that can only be answered by a person of authority, on a day when the people in authority are NEVER present? Gone from my life.
  • Long time innanet crowders who have used the computers nearly every single day for the past couple of years yet still cannot get it through their head that we close at 5 on Mondays and act all shocked and amazed every week when we tell them they don't actually have another four hours at their disposal, but have to get off in ten minutes; or patrons who walk in the building at ten til 5 with the same expectations and literally smack themselves in the head because once again their poor, swiss-cheesed memory has failed them? Gone. From. My. Life.

As Mondays go, today was actually not terribly problematic. Sure, we had the usual Monday Madness, but not infuriatingly so. I tried to just go with the flow and live in the moment and enjoy it as much as I could. The major incident of the day came around 4p, when one of our computer patrons tripped and fell while trying to walk across a level section of floor. In this man's defense, he did suffer a stroke a while back and walks with a pronounced limp. I had just asked him to relinquish his computer for a new patron and he had been in the process of walking toward the circ desk when he fell. I was looking right at him as he dropped like a sack of dead, wet, marmosets, but I was powerless to do anything about it beyond giving off a sympathetic yelp. He fell hard, right on his arm and I was sure it would probably be broken, or dislocated or otherwise in need of an ambulance.

I rushed around the desk and over to where he'd fallen. Mr. B-Natural, who'd been seated at the computer directly beside the place where he fell also rushed over. The man was writhing on the floor, clutching at his arm. Quite intelligently, I asked, "Are you all right?"

The man looked up at me and then at Mr. B-Natural and, through a very painful-looking expression, said he was indeed all right. Mr. B-Natural began trying to help him sit up, but the man waived him off, saying, "I'm all right. I'm all right."

"Well, here's your glasses," Mr. B-Natural said, gathering them up and handing them over.

"I'll get them. I'm all right!" the man said.

"Well here's your hat," Mr. B-Natural added.

"I'll get them! I'm all right!" the man said, now practically screaming. "Please! I'm all right. I'll get them!"

"Can I help you up?" I asked.

"No! I'm all right!"

The more we tried to help, the angrier he got. But it felt very odd not trying to help him, particularly with everyone across the main floor was staring at us. I think, though, that the attention being directed at him was the problem. The man was embarrassed at having fallen and didn't want any more attention than he'd already caused himself. Slowly, Mr. B-Natural and I backed away, but not too far. This was good, because as soon as the man had clambered to his feet, he tipped over again and Mr. B-Natural was near enough to catch him.

"I'm all right!" the man hissed as Mr. B set up upright again. "I'll be fine, as soon as I can sit down for a minute," he said. Then, as though he needed further explanation for being annoyed with us, he added, "The physical therapists say it helps to do everything for myself."

"Do you need a chair?" I offered, looking for the nearest one.

"No! I'm all right! I'll get it! I'll be fine!"

So I walked away and the man hobbled over to the circ desk and leaned there for a moment. He left his hat and glasses there, then hobbled back over to Mr. B-Natural to apologize for being so gruff. I thought, if only you knew you were apologizing to the grumpiest old man in all the world, dude. Then the man hobbled off to the bathroom, where he stayed, in a seated position (if you get my drift) for quite a while.

"That guy really needs a cane," I told Mrs. B.

She agreed.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Final Friday

My final week on the job has officially begun. My last day will be next Thursday, so today is my final Friday as a "liberry" ass.

Fridays are usually very busy at the "liberry" even nigh unto as busy as a Monday. However, we usually have enough staff on Friday to carry the load, at least until 5p when everyone abandons the official Friday closer and flees to their weekends two hours earlier than I get to. Fridays also are especially busy because it's our weekly amnesty day and is when all the basket cases bring in their kids' long-overdue books to turn in for free, glutting the book cart even beyond the usual busy Friday turn in. Now, as an experienced Friday closer, I know that it's imperative to getting that book cart cleared out before 5p because after 5 shelving becomes problematic with no one else to run the desk. Imagine my horror, therefore, at arriving today to find every single shelf of the book cart not only completely packed, but packed with other books laying on top of the packed books and then stacks of books laying on the nearby circ-desk itself. I very nearly said, "Uh, sorry, but, no, I'm done."

Mrs. B explained that because our new nonfiction section has recently overgrown to the point that it has begun encroaching upon the territory of mystery fiction, Mrs. A had told Mrs. J to go through every book there and remove the ones with any 2007 date as the first due date. Mrs. A said that she and Mrs. C would then go through those books and decide what they wanted to put back in new NF and what they wanted to shelve in the stacks. Trouble was, it had been a while and neither of our bosses was coming to sort through any of it. Meanwhile, the usual Friday crowd was still turning in all their books, which were the ones piling up on the desk. And meanwhile meanwhile, Mrs. C was in her office furiously cataloging stacks of new books to process and put out as well. And as the guy who would likely wind up processing them, too, this disturbed me. I wanted to say, "No! Stop making more work for me! I've got plenty up there as it stands. Please, come and look through some of it so I can start making a dent in the pile I already have, cause it ain't like the Friday crowd incoming books are slowing down."

Instead, I said a more respectful version of the above and eventually, Mrs. C came and went through the nonfiction on the cart, allowing me and Mrs. J to finally start shelving.

The remainder of my final Friday passed with little incident.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #140

A female patron, late 30's early 40's, enters the “liberry” around 6p, clearly holding three library books. She browses for a while then approaches the desk with her three books and a stack of several other books.

OLD WHITE WOMAN PATRON IN TRAINING— I’m returning these (places three books she brought in on counter) and I want to check these out. But I don’t have my card, so I was hoping you could just check those in and bring up my account.

ME— I’m sorry, but we do need the actual card to access your record.

OWWPIT— What? But they’ve let me do this here before.

(No, we haven't, unless by "before" she actually meant, "three years ago when we used to.")

ME— I’m sorry, but our policy is that we have to have the card.

OWWPIT— (Looks around for a person of authority) Well, is anyone else here?

(Ah, I see. She can't get through me so she's going to try and go over my head. Too bad you showed up after 5p, lady, not that it would have worked.)

ME— No, it’s just us. (I indicate newbie Ms. D in staff workroom behind me.)

OWWPIT— (Most irritated) Well, what if I’d lost my card? What would you do then?

ME— (Polite as can be) We can issue a replacement card, but we do charge a dollar.

OWWPIT— (With dripping irritation) I’ll do that, then.

ME— (Sensing that she believes buying a replacement card will allow her to have TWO library cards, I add…) And if you find your old card, you should throw it away because it will no longer work.


OWWPIT— (Icily defeated tone) Fine.

ME— (Still bitingly polite) Very well. I just need to see a driver’s license.

OWWPIT— (Huffs in irritation) It’s in the car…

(Marches out the door to go fetch pocketbook. She returns a minute later and slaps her license on the counter and then hurls down a dollar. I look her up by name, confirm her license number in the account and pull out our two types of library card.)

ME— Would you like a wallet card or a key card?

OWWPIT— (Angry) It doesn’t matter.

(I grab a blank wallet card. I start to scan its code into her account when she stops me.)

OWWPIT— No. On second thought, I want a key card. Cause that’s what I have here.

(I look up to find the patron holding up her keychain on which is one of our key cards.)

ME— That’s your library card?

OWWPIT— I guess.

ME— Well, I’ll can just go ahead and use that.

OWWPIT— No. Just go ahead with that.

ME— But if you have your card already, I can use it.

OWWPIT— No, just go ahead. Just go.

(Long seething pause)

ME— Ma’am. If you have your library card here now, there is no reason for me to replace it. I can check your books out on it.

OWWPIT— Fine! (Practically flings her keys at me.)

(I use her key card to bring up an account, which turns out to be her son’s.)

ME— Oh, this is your son’s card.

OWWPIT— (Huffs and rolls her eyes as though this had been obvious.)

(I start to check the books out on the card, then decide that, no, I’m going to check them out on her account after all. I reopen her account, replace her library card number with the new key card, as I had been about to, then check all the books out. As I'm doing this, I realize that this was perhaps unwise, because the lady has now retrieved her dollar, creating the awkward situation in which I will have to ask for it again since I was doing a replacement card after all. I can't undo my card replacement because the new number has already been saved in place and I don't have her old one to rereplace it with. I consider just letting the matter drop and checking them out on her new card while letting her think I was checking them out on her son's card, but then there's the whole matter of the new card already having been created, plus the fact that she's been an unmitigated bitch to me. It is NOT our fault that she can't remember to bring her card with her when she wants to check out library books.)

ME— (Sliding books across desk to her) And here are your books, checked out on your new card.

(She is instantly furious and rips open her pocketbook, snatching up the dollar and flinging it onto the circ-desk. She gathers up her books and heads for the door.)

ME— (As sweet as pie) Have a good evening.

OWWPIT— (In a tone that suggests she would sooner eat dog vomit than mean it) Yeah! You have a Good! Evening! Too!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

"Liberry" Glossary: Lag Time

Lag Time

  1. The amount of time that passes between the moment a patron arrives at the circ desk to check out to the moment they remember that they need their library card in order to check out to the moment they actually fish said card from whatever walletular orifice they last stuffed it into. Average Lag Time: 30 seconds.

  2. The amount of time that passes between the moment we inform a patron their "innanet" time is officially up and we need their computer for someone else and the actual moment they relinquish it. Average Lag Time: 3 minutes.

  3. The amount of time that passes from the moment a properly noise-polution-aware patron's cell phone ringtone has gone of in a blaringly loud fashion to the moment they actually make it into our less-than-soundproof breezeway to take the call. Average Lag Time: 15 seconds.

  4. The amount of time that passes from the moment a patron who couldn't give less of a damn about talking loudly on their cell phone in front of God and everybody receives a blaringly loud cell phone call and the moment I make it over to them to banish them from the building: Average Lag Time: 30 seconds.

  5. The amount of time it takes for us to reboot said computer from the ground up in order for it to be fresh and clean and history-wiped for the next user. Average Lag Time: 1 minute.

  6. The amount of time it takes for my blood pressure to rise once I discover that our filtering and security software has failed us once again and a completely different patron's email account has automatically popped up on our screens, fully logged in, and that patron hasn't visited us in days. Average Lag Time: .03 seconds.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #139

SETTING: My "liberry" on a Monday, a day when there are traditionally only two staff members present neither of whom are Mrs. A or Mrs. C. It's a time that is ripe for issues I've never had to deal with, despite my seven years in the "liberry" ass./ninja game, to crop up. Mr. B-Natural, grumpiest old man in all the world, approaches the circ desk.

MR. B-NATURAL— Yeah, I need you to have them fax me a (STOCK RELATED DOCUMENT I'VE NEVER HEARD OF).

ME— Them who?

MR. B-NATURAL— The... the people that... They've done it for me here before.

ME— Done what here for you before?

MR. B-NATURAL— Faxed me the (STOCK RELATED DOCUMENT I'VE NEVER HEARD OF). I just told `em to fax me over the (STOCK RELATED DOCUMENT I'VE NEVER HEARD OF) and they called and had it faxed. Call up Charleston.

ME— Call up who in Charleston?

MR. B-NATURAL— (Agitated) Ya just call Charleston and have `em fax it. MRS. C's done it for me before.

ME— And that's what I'm asking you-- call who in Charleston?

MR. B-NATURAL— (Gives off a growl, then looks over my shoulder as though looking for someone in the staff workroom) Is MRS. C here?

ME— (Anticipating his next question) Neither of them are here today.

MR. B-NATURAL— Is MRS. A here?

ME— (Using exactly the same tone of voice and inflection from five seconds earlier) Neither of them are here today.

MR. B-NATURAL— (Mumbles something and walks away.)

Half an hour later, Mr. B-Natural returns to again try both my patience and to get me to call Charleston concerning this document he so desperately needs. I decide that as I have no other authority figures in house, the least I can do is phone Mrs. S at Town-C's branch to see if she knows what the hell he's talking about. Sure enough, it's a very common document as far as stock-related documents go and she gives me the name of someone in Charleston to ask for. I phone them, they don't give any indication that this is a hassle and have the documents faxed over within five minutes. Mr. B-Natural leaves with them in hand, a couple of dollars lighter in pocket, and a spring in his step at having made me dance his dance.

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.