Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are you sure you need a wumpus?

I was quite certain that he told me needed wumpus. I asked him to repeat...he did speak very softly. After quite a bit of back and forth with me asking questions, and him repeating at the exact same low volume that he wanted wumpus, it finally hit me: he needed "one pass." Which is to say a guest pass to use the IntarWebz. Needless to say, he looked at me like I was an idiot, which, in a way, I guess I was.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Getting Down to the Wire

April 15th inches closer and it shows at DeskSlave Central. Some very lovely people from the AARP come to many libraries, including ours, to offer FREE tax help to the citizenry. Actually, I think it's supposed to be for low income folks and the elderly, but they don't turn anybody away. It's around this that I have really been seeing the entitlement claws come out. For example, there might be a few appointments left in the second week of April, but I doubt it. That's how it works: something is free, so it gets snapped up. I did not do particularly well in Microeconomics, but I seem to remember that. So the surprise and anger I see when people simply cannot believe that they can't have a free session with a tax preparer because they waited too long is funny and a little disturbing.

The whole AARP thing is not run by the library, we just provide the space and let them stick an appointment book on a table in the library. We aren't taking appointments over the phone, since that's about all we'd do these days. So there is plenty of anger over the phone, since people don't want to go to all the trouble of driving over to the library to sign up for tax preparation services that are worth easily $100. Hint to those of you who would like to game the system: when you call and the semi-kindhearted deskslave answers and tells you that he isn't going to run over to the appointment book and sign you up you can go one of two ways. See if you can tell which one would work with him:
a) "So you mean to tell me that you won't walk ten feet over to the book and tell me what appointments are open? Get me you MANAGER!"
b) "I understand. It's not the policy and you'd nothing else all day, but I'm a senior citizen on a fixed income and can't really afford the bus fare to the library, what with the medication I have to buy for my seizures and my dropsy and the chillblains, but I'd sure appreciate it if you would make an exception, just this one time."
"Wait a second!" I hear you say. "The B in Answer B is short for BS!" And you're right, but BS is easier to take than entitlement.

The cake-taker this past week when it comes to tax help entitlement was from the woman who marched up to the desk all angry. She was angry because she had missed her appointment. It was her fault, though, right? No. It was our fault. Because we failed to give her a reminder call. You know, like we're supposed to.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Chances

After unscientifically observing patron behavior for about six days, I have concluded that:

The chances of a patron saying “Book on Tape” and meaning “Book on CD”: 100% (5 out of 5)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Questions for the Would-Be Astrologer

I was guiding a patron over to the 133.cuckoo section because she wanted a book on Astrology. (Ah, evergreen Astrology! Feng Shui, Nostradamus and 2012 will be gone and forgotten and you shall still be pumping up our circulation statistics!) While we strolled back into the stacks, she told me that our lives were guided by the stars. And the planets. I did not want to get into it with her. I just made some noncommittal sounds. These are the same sounds I make when I show people where the romance novels or religion books are and they want to talk about them, too. Luckily we had Astrology for Dummies (never before was a book so aptly named) and a few other choice titles in the field.

But I did want to ask a few questions. Like: do all the planets have an effect on us, or only those planets that ancient people could see and thought were planets, like the moon? Did the moon stop influencing us in the same way when people stopped thinking about it as another planet? There are something like 170 moons and counting according to the Planetary Society. Do all these moons influence human destiny, or just the one parked next door? If all planets have an effect on us, how have astrological tables been changed when new planets are discovered? Did they change again when it was scientifically determined (by vote, the most scientific method known to humanity) that Pluto was just an imposter? And what of the stars? Is it the visible light of the stars that influences our destiny, or is it something else? In other words, does the radiation emitted by a distant, flaming ball of gas determine our fates immediately, or does the determination only occur when we are able to perceive this radiation after it travels unimaginably long distances over unimaginably long periods of time?

As you can see, I'm not a big astrology fan. But, then again, I'm a Virgo and we tend to question things.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coffetosis Monday

Many fire departments have tried to popularize changing the battery in the smoke detector on the Spring Forward and Fall Back weekends. I would like to start a new tradition: flossing and using antiseptic mouthwash. And avoiding lattes. Today I have been gusted on most horrifyingly by several people who are innocent of oral hygiene, but who are aficionados of coffee.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Holy Grail of Found Library Objects

Wow! It looks like an actual toe tag. Could it be? It was found in a book and is now my treasured book mark.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Whole New Way To Get Grossed Out at The Library, Part 437

I’m not as squeemish as some and I have tried not to become a germophobe, like so many of the Purell-addicted lunatics around here. But today I felt like doing Purell shots and then soaking in a hot tub filled with Lysol for a few hours. Why? Because the woman who was just paying me for her print outs just COUGHED IN MY FACE. Her face was about two feet from mine as she proffered her tatty buck and suddenly cleared her "large breathing passages from secretions, irritants, foreign particles and microbes," as our friends on Wikipedia have so aptly put it.

I recoiled as though I had just been, well, COUGHED ON. “Don’t cough on me!” I said brusquely. Her look was as blank. I'm certain she had no idea that she had just done that. Luckily for all of us, her print out was not for a resume for a job in health care, just for a coupon from some chain restaurant.

Monday, March 8, 2010

At Least it's not Ypsilanti

I know, I'm constantly complaining. I can't help it. But none of my troubles quite measure up to this from Ypsilanti. After helping a man in the Children's section, the librarian returns to her desk. Then she

...looked up to see the man step out from behind a bookcase, completely naked, a police press release said. The man "thrust his hips in the direction" of the woman, but didn't make any other movements toward her, the release said. The employee went upstairs and called police. By the time officers got there, the man had fled through an emergency exit, taking his clothes and the children's books with him.

So forgive me for whining so much. I've had people steal stuff and leave through emergency exits, but all of them had the decency to make like Adam and cover up.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gratitude and Its Substitutes

When you bid the deskslave over and complain bitterly about something not working that’s actually working, just not being used right and he shows you how to use it right, it is now permissible to growl in exasperation instead of saying thanks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Which part of you would that be again? Would that be the part of you that isn't you at all, but, rather, is me?

I answered the phone, using my best calm, professional voice.
“I need to look up a number,” she said.
It's a good thing I don't usually take people at their word. There's no need to call and tell me that. She meant, in reality, “I’m too cheap to pay for directory assistance and too lazy to look in the phone book. So you do it.”
So I did.

watch out pokemon

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Let's Play a New Game Called "Which is Ickier"

1) Somebody leaving their can of off-brand mixed nuts on the floor in the bathroom stall;

2) Somebody taking the can up to the deskslave to put in the Lost & Found.

I Find Your Lack of Irony Disturbing

The Pay-to-Print kiosk deal was not working, so people had to come to the desk to pay. The guy had two prints, so I told him it was twenty cents. He handed me a quarter. “Keep the change,” he told me with a straight face. I wanted to say, “Gosh! Thanks, mister!” but of course restrained myself.