Friday, October 31, 2008

Speak softly and don't get any coffee

As we all know, deskslaves need caffeine. Lots of it. It helps us type important phrases like "Jackie Chan" and "Stephenie Meyer" quickly. I usually try to tank up before coming to work and then switch to the antioxidant-rich and much cheaper green tea. But yesterday, I needed a boost, so on my way in to DeskSlave Central I pulled into a Starbucks drive-through. (I know, starbucks=$tarbu¢k$=evil, but I was late)
"Hello, welcome to Starbucks! What can I get started for you?" came the voice of the cheery young man over the intercom.
As you may recall, this deskslave is a boring, middle-aged man. The coffee beverage of choice for my demographic is NOT a double tall mocha frappaccino with non-fat soy whip cream and a pineapple slice. It's just boring old coffee. Black coffee, in fact. Putting the drip back in drip if you will. You are what you drink, so make mine dark and bitter. I sometimes get funny looks like I could not possibly be ordering something with only one ingredient. But there you have it.
I try to cooperate with the sizing conventions at places like Starbucks. The sizes, in a rational world, would be small, medium and large. But of course we have the grande and the venti. I forget what small is. Probably like "diminuto" or maybe "miniscolo." So I piped back in an equally cheery voice, "Hi, I'd like a venti* coffee, please." Always polite, never demanding: we know what that is like. I think I may be the most polite person when I am on the other side of the counter.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?"
I'm a little soft-spoken, it's true. Years of working in the hushed atmosphere of the library have turned my deep, booming baritone into a pathetic rasp. "Venti coffee, please."
Another pause.
"Could you say that again? Toffee? Do you mean Mocha?"
"No! Coffee!" I stretched out the second word so as not to leave any doubt. I was definitely overmodulating my voice, too.
"Coffee! COFFFEE COFFEE COFFEE!! CHARLIE OSCAR FOXTROT FOXTROT ECHO ECHO! It's the second word on the Starbucks logo! The one that's not 'Starbucks!!'" OK, I admit it, I was raving. I was late and undercaffeinated. This guy was probably fucking with me.
"I'm sorry, sir, could you pull around...we can't understand you."
I just wanted to leave at this point. But that's not easy to do at a drive through; I was hemmed in. SUV in front of me, SUV behind me. For the very first time, I cursed my diminutive, gas-sipping Subaru. If I had an SUV, I could go over the curb and get back on the main road. Maybe even take out a few benches and a bus shelter on the way. Instead, I meekly advanced to the window. A young woman comes to the window and looks at me in much the same way as I would if a car had pulled up and there was a talking dog in the driver's seat. "What did you want again?"
" Venti coffee?" I was a little embarrassed. The mild mannered deskslave had briefly become a maniac.
"Oh." Over her shoulder to her coworker: "He said coffee. A venti."
The coworker with the headset sighed, and gave the ceiling a Lord-give-me-strength look. This was clearly my fault. I could have left then, I guess. Pulled away. But I almost had the darn coffee, and it had only cost me my pride and whatever a venti goes for. A non-deskslave made of sterner stuff might have demanded it for free. Instead I overtipped.

* The sign says Venti, so I say Venti. I have been corrected by staff who pronounce it like the Spanish word for the number twenty. Don't ask me why.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A day late

Actually, a week and a half late, young man. The Man has decreed that the deadline to register to vote is long gone. I'm sorry. No, really, I have nothing to do with it. I'm quite certain your reason for waiting so long to register is both true and compelling, but I have about as much control over the deadline as I do over the Tide Table.

My question: do the people at the Elections Office get complaints about fines?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From the Little Known Fact Department

If your library computer is slow or if the mouse is not behaving the way you would like it to, smacking it up and down on the desk will help, evidently a lot.

Monday, October 20, 2008

No I do not wish to see you dance, or anything else for that matter

There's a guy who is probably Native American who only comes in when he's bombed. I only bring up the Native American part because of what he did yesterday. On Sundays, we show an old movie in our sumptuous Community Room. The guy had been around most of the afternoon, chatting up staff members about Elvis Presley. (Personally, I learned that The King had a twin who died and that his mother's name was something, but I forget what it was, but I'm pretty sure he said that she had one. Sorry, I'm too lazy to do my job as a reference librarian and look it up for you right now.) It was all well and good: I'll listen to just about anybody for a little while, including the inebriated, and when I've had enough, I just say that I have to get back to work.

I had the DVD in the player in the Community Room and was about to go up to the front of the room and do my little Masterpiece Theater schtick about the movie when the guy came in. Maybe he wants to see the movie, I hoped. But, no, I was wrong.
"I wanna do a dance for you," He told me, "a traditional dance." Only he slipped up on the word "traditional."
"Actually, it's movie day here," I said brightly, trying to sound all chipper and somehow give the impression that people came in all the time wanting to dance for us. "If you'd like to have a seat I'm about to..."
"No, man," he slurred, "I'm a do a dance!" and proceded to start what might have been a very moving dance, only he was, as I mentioned, several sheets to the wind. So when he lifted one foot, he began to lose his balance and stumble backward. Upon recovery, I wanted either get him into a chair or get him out of the room, so I told him again that it was movie day, and not dance day.
The dance, he informed me, was a gift of the Spirit and I had no right to prevent him from dancing. I offered to give him the card of our programs specialist so that he could do an entire dance program or he could do his dance outside the library, or he could have a seat and enjoy a film noir classic. I was hoping he'd take the card, but he actually sat down and lasted through the opening credits before getting up and tottering off.
If he'd dry out, I'd actually like to see the dance.

The Consumption of Alcohol: an Observation

When a patron feels the need to tell that he has not been drinking, he's probably pretty ripped.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Where am I?

Interaction of the day:

A young woman comes up to the reference desk and says she can't locate a book that says it's on the shelf. I ask for the title. Type it in. Its not in our collection. I tell her this and tell her which branches it is at, offer to place a hold in order to have it shipped to our library.

She looks at me blankly and says, "But I'm in T____d. And you said its in at T____d. Why isn't it on the shelf?"

I explain that she's not in T_____d, but rather T_______n.

No she's not. She's in T____d.

I explain that T_____d is just down the road from us, but she is indeed in T______n. Which is not T____d.

Then I draw her a map of how to get to T____d.

She looks at it and says, "That's like a half a mile from my house. How did I get here?"

I don't know. But take yourself off to T____d. Please.

Monday, October 6, 2008

OMG! An actual reference question!

They are so infrequent sometimes. So often it's just "do you have this" or "my computer is doing that." But today, a man came up and asked about a symbol that's used in the Code of Federal Regulations. The symbol: §. Put on your thinking caps! The answer will be revealed some day.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I'm almost as surprised as you are

Usually when people aren't sure of the author's last name and don't know the first name and don't know any of the author's titles and aren't even sure of the genre, the titles just pop right up in the catalog.