Saturday, August 20, 2011

Consider the Grocery Store

Most of the time there is no line at the ref desk and I can spend a decent amount of time with each person who walks up. Occasionally, things back up a bit and I start to feel an overwhelming pressure. I get anxious because PEOPLE ARE WAITING. In a way, I understand. Maybe they just want to ask where the copier is or want to know what they need to do to get on the Intrawebs. Sometimes, the frustration of having to wait for something small causes people to interrupt whatever transaction I'm doing.

I thought about this as I waited patiently in line at the grocery store. I love self check; it gives me the opportunity to work for free and avoid interpersonal interaction. Sadly on this occasion, all the beep stations were occupied by people who did not seem to know how to move objects across a flat glass plane and then put the objects into bags that were being held open for them by a clever bag holder. These same people then had trouble swiping cards and/or inserting currency into slots. People got in line behind me and together we watched the pageant of incompetence. It wasn't very interesting. No matter how ridiculous it got, though, none of the people behind me jumped the line to say that they only had one thing and that they should be allowed to play through. They restrained themselves even when it was my turn and I walked toward the vacant machine with my large basket of important items including several varieties of unhealthy snacks.

So: why is it that people feel OK about getting huffy about waiting when they are at the Ref Desk and not when they are at the grocery store?


Banned Library said...

Yeah, I get this a lot. It comes down to the fact that patrons think differently about libraries. They see the staff as people that sit and read all day, the materials as things they are entitled to, and that their reason for being there is more important than anyone else's. They don't see that while library work is low impact, it can be stressful and require multiple talents. They are right that the materials are public and should be used, but often to a high degree that they feel we are treating others better than them. The public also comes to the library for important reasons most often and feel their interactions with us and our materials are more important than others. If you go to the grocery store, no one is starving at home waiting for you to return with the groceries. If you go to the library, you may be applying for a job, checking your student loans, or a myriad of other life changing applications. It's all in how you look at it.

DeskSlave said...

Oh, right, the sit around and read thing. You speak wisdom, which makes my dudgeon seem a little tacky.