Thursday, June 30, 2011

Me and My Allergies, She and Her Manners

Summer is here and with it comes showers of pollen that make me want to claw my eyes out. Even with drugs like Claritin, I look like, according to one coworker, "a long-term cokehead who really needs more product." She even did an impression: vacuous look, vacant eyes being rubbed, sniffing. How she knew what a long-term cokehead looked like I didn't think to ask because I was busy sniffling and rubbing my reddened, puffy eyes. But she was probably right.

But I soldier on at the desk. One patron had been looking for some non-fiction title and could not find it. I went down the mental checklist of things to do when somebody says they can't find something that's supposed to be in. First, I check the catalog. Fairly often, the book is checked in, just not at deskslave central, but at some other, lesser library. Then I make sure that the catalog thinks it's actually in. People can, in their excitement, see that we own the book and not look at the circulation status. Then I find out the check-in time. I can't tell you how often people want something that was checked in 31 minutes ago (usually it's a movie) and would still be on a shelving cart in back. For this one, everything looked good for it actually being on the shelf. I don't want people to feel bad if I want to look on the shelf where it's supposed to be, so I tell them that I want to look near where it's supposed to be in case it was just shelved wrong. But this one wasn't where it was supposed to be. I scanned the nearby shelves after all. The poor pages can make mistakes after shelving nonfiction for a few hours. 973 can look an awful lot like 937 if you're 19 and operating on 3 hours of sleep after partying all night. But I couldn't find it. I was feeling stumped and, with the allergies, stupid to boot. The title was something like Dictionary of Some Damn Thing, so it occurred to me that maybe the page just assumed that it was a reference item. I mentioned this to the patron and took her over to the Reference shelves.

And lo, it was there. I felt all jubilant and leaned down to pull it off the shelf.

"Don't touch that!" the patron--literally--shrieked.

I straightened up.

She moved in and snatched it off the shelf. Walking away with it, she snapped over her shoulder, "I don't want to get what YOU have."

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