Thursday, May 25, 2017

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #22

A long time female patron we haven't seen in months brings several books on tape to the desk to check out. She stands there for several seconds as I wait for it to occur to her that she needs to produce her library card. It does not.

ME: Do you have your library card?

PATRON: Oh, no. My name is SUZIE SCHEXNADER. (Not her real name)

ME: Well, these days you do need your card.

PATRON: Oh, sure. My husband said you had gone to a new system and that I would need to get a new card, but I don't have one.

ME: (For some reason, something about her name rings a bell with me. I believe I made her husband's card and that he had one made for her at the same time. I look her name up in the computer and sure enough there she is.) Are you sure your husband didn't get one made for you. We already have you in the computer.

PATRON: No. No. He showed me his, but he didn't give me one. I don't have a card.

ME: (Still remaining polite) Well, our computer says that we issued a new card for you. (I hold up an example wallet-sized card for her to see) You sure you don't have one like this?

PATRON: (Going through her pocketbook to no avail) No, that's what his looks like, but I don't have one.

I leaf through the stack of unclaimed or forgotten cards we keep by the desk, but her card is not among them.

ME: Could your husband still have it?

PATRON: Um. Maybe. I suppose I could call him. Can I use your phone?

ME: Sure.

As the patron dials the phone number and waits for her husband to answer, I notice that her phone-holding hand is also holding a ring of keys upon which is secured one of our Key-Card library cards.

ME: (Pointing to it) Ah. There it is!

PATRON: (Looks at it, dumbfounded, as though she's never seen it before in her life) Oh... um... (Hears her husband answer the phone ) Oh, hi, Phil. I'm calling from the library... and I... just found my new card. So... never mind.

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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.