As our intended opening day approached, we still didn't have all the furniture we'd ordered months before. Though we didn't yet know for sure, it would still be a few weeks before we had received and installed all ten of our patron computers. And, there was also the matter of the toilets that weren't quite up to snuff when it came to actually flushing their contents (though we did have a urinal that would take your arm off), thanks in large part to shoddy sub-contractors whose work hadn't been checked after by the main contractor. But we could certainly operate without all that stuff for a while. The major thing we'd been waiting for was the delivery of our shelf-ends. For those not in the know, the shelf ends are basically thick, monolithic slabs of stained and ornamented wood that are affixed to the ends of our metal library shelves ideally to add some aesthetically pleasing quality to otherwise institutional shelving. Unfortunately, the very first one I looked at, and, as it turned out, many others, looked as though they had been assembled by a blind, paraplegic rhesus monkey, in the dark.
You see, the ornamentation on each shelf end amounted to two sections of allegedly squared off molding with fancy curls at their corners, which were glued one above the other to the overall surface of the shelf end. I say "allegedly squared off" because both of the molded pieces on the first shelf end I looked at were not at 90 degree angles within the overall shelf end, nor were they at all parallel to one another. As I mentioned, this was one of the worst examples, but was by far not the only one available. Of the 35 some odd shelf ends in the building, 22 of them should never EHEHEHVER have passed through quality control. I was furious. And after I'd pointed them out to Mrs. A, she was not real happy either.
This brings up a none-too-pleasant retail concept I've been developing called: Give the Library the Broke Ones. It's a concept similar in nature to the "They F*CK you at the drive through!" syndrome, so commonly experienced at french-fry-serving fast food restaurants worldwide, and phrase-coined by Joe Pesci in Leathal Weapon 2. (I myself once returned to a McDonald's from which I had purchased a super-sized value meal to-go, and came up to the counter brandishing my half-full box of fries. "I'm sorry," I said, "but it seems I've been given the incorrect amount of fries. I was supposed to get a super-sized order of fries." The girl at the counter looked at it and replied, "That is a super-sized order of fries." I smiled and said, "No. That's a super-sized box containing a medium-sized amount of fries." Having absolutely no grounds to make an argument, she took it away and filled it to its proper level.) In Give the Library the Broke Ones, retailers of furnishings for libraries, schools and nonprofit agencies requiring furniture low bid a job in order to get a contract with said organization, then will supply them with remaindered furniture that they couldn't otherwise sell to businesses that can afford to pay more. My evidence for this is based on our experiences with two separate companies that supplied us with furnishings of such shoddy workmanship that it took our breath away. I've already covered the extreme shittiness of the 22 shelf ends. We also ordered ten tables of varying sizes to fill out our reading areas from a completely separate company. Out of those ten, six came pre-scuffed for our convenience. That's four full-sized tables and two coffee tables that were so obviously damaged that I cannot see any way that they could have been supplied to us by accident.
Now, I'm not going to name names of the manufacturers who tried to unload their ass-stock on us because in both cases they did (albeit nearly a full year later for the shelf-ends) replace their damaged goods with no additional cost to us. In fact, the table manufacturer was very quick to answer our complaints and we had new table-tops in a matter of weeks. Until then, though, it ws my job to photographically document all the shoddy workmanship. In addition to photographs, I went around and put post it labels on all the shelf-ends with notes showing how exactly they were flawed. The most severely damaged ones we put out of sight, against brick walls, and at the end of lesser-traveled aisles. Some, though, just stood out. Unfortunately, Mrs. J, not realizing the nature of my notes, came along and removed all of them, forcing me to do them all again. Then, again, she came behind me and removed all of them because she's so OCD that she cannot stand for such obviously out-of-place notes to be there. I considered alerting her to the lack of right angles demonstrated on some of these ends, but feared the knowledge would destroy her. Instead, I decided to not put any more up until closer to replacement date, at which time Mrs. A ordered Mrs. J outright to leave them the hell alone, which she did.
This was, of course, not the last problem we would have with the quality of the materials within or the construction of our new building, but it was still a great place to be.
(TO BE CONTINUED...)