Friday, March 29, 2013

The Closers

Some years back now, I read The Closers by hard-boiled mystery writer Michael Connelly. In it, the main character, Detective Harry Bosch, joins the LA Police Department's Open Unsolved Unit where they take up cold cases and try to, you know, close them. It got me to thinking: those of us who close at the library aren't all that different from The Closers. OK, there are some superficial differences, like we're just dweebs in a library and not cops with guns or skills or street smarts; they risk their lives and we just want to kick people out of a public building and go home already; they use their inductive reasoning (or maybe it's their deductive reasoning--I can never remember which is which) and we use the catalog. OK, there are absolutely no similarities whatsoever, but tonight I sure wished I at least had Harry Bosch's gun.

We had finally chased out all the last-minute video selectors, the diehard Internet enthusiasts and the inveterate bathroom campers and were about to head into the back to grab our things, set the alarm and flee out the back door. As we walked past, some guy was pounding on the front doors and hopping from foot to foot like a three-year-old child who needs to wee wee real bad. He was using a ring to really give the glass a good rap and waving the other hand high over his head in a way that suggested that he just might be drowning.

I don't mean to brag, but I'm quite adept at ignoring people like that. I might give them a little smile and wave as though I thought they were just being friendly as I pass by and I was responding in kind, but that's it. With the hopping, I was certain he was just after the restroom and there are plenty of gas stations in our zip code. One of my kind-hearted coworkers, however, went over to the door and tried to hear him out as he shouted into the glass. He didn't look frantic enough to look like an emergency case, so I was a little disappointed with her. It would have been different if she was new, but she's worked at deskslave central longer than I have (before it even had the catchy name "deskslave central," if you can believe it), so she should have known better. I couldn't hear what he was banging on about, so the dialog as it reached me sounded something like:

Coworker. What?
Mr. Wee Wee. Mrrrflwzznp!
Coworker. I'm sorry, we're closed!
Mr. Wee Wee. Graffenhable! Sibnatchilar!!
Coworker. But the machines are all off! We wouldn't be able to check you out!
Mr. Wee Wee. Carflid hammalacka!
Coworker. It should still be there tomorrow when we open!
Mr. Wee Wee. Scriggles lamanchritobs! Flapdaddle tromesculant!
Coworker. I can write down your name to make sure they don't. What's your name?
Mr. Wee Wee. Cataphract!
Coworker. I need the last name, too!
Mr. Wee Wee.  Dribblongen kistnatalosh! Torfold rimpnamber!
Coworker. Then I can't help you, I'm sorry!
Mr. Wee Wee. Jammiklon mimflrrgindoo?
Coworker. I can't let you do that!
Mr. Wee Wee (making dismissive gesture and walking away). Spimwab!

"What did he want?" I asked her.
"He wanted to pick up somebody else's hold. He didn't know the title, and he only knew the person's first name. He wanted to come in and scan the shelves to see if he could figure it out."
"Bet he didn't have a library card, either," another coworker speculated.

Peach's Law of Patron Gratitude

Utilizing the latest developments in mood ring technology, Peach demonstrates his/her patented color-coded autonomic nervous system senso-matic readings!

I'm sure there has to be some grant money out there to help us with our reserch!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Anonymous' Corollary to deskslave's Law of Computer Assistance

Brilliant. Thanks, Anonymous! Is that really your name?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rachel Caine

Urban romance/fantasy author Rachel Caine is a pseudonym. I was at the always-helpful Fantastic Fiction trying to figure out the order of a series by her and discovered that her name is actually Roxanne Longstreet. If you ask me, Roxanne Longstreet sounds like the made up name.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Closing Ritual

There are a lot of rituals at closing time. One is walking around and telling people that we're closed. Sure they've heard the announcements at the half-hour before close mark and the fifteen minutes before close mark. Sure they saw the lights dim and heard the closing announcement. But it's impolite to not to pretend that they somehow managed to miss all the clues we provide. So we go around and tell the person on the laptop typing away that--wouldn't you know it--we're actually closed. They pretend to be surprised and then they pack up. Then we can tell the people browsing the videos that--as fate would have it--we are closed and that the machines to check them out are about to be turned off. And they get to act surprised and then bring their armload to the desk.

After I've rousted all them, I walk past a certain very nice woman and don't say anything to her as I walk toward the restrooms. There I guard the restroom doors. It really steams me when people who hang around after we're closed and don't leave until someone tells them to THEN want to spend some quality time in the bathroom. I draw the line there.

When the last people are gone, I can go back to the far corner where there is the very nice woman I mentioned earlier. She has terrible OCD. Or something. I leaver her alone until the last minute because she has to put everything in her bag, sling it over her shoulder, take it off her shoulder, rummage around in it, check her pockets, zip up the bag and then start the process again. Eventually that part is OK and she can push in her chair, then pull it out and look under the table a half dozen or eight times. Glowering or saying something won't do anything. I believe that she honestly wants to leave, but she just has to check off the boxes (again and again) before she goes.

If I were Raymond Carver, aside from being dead I would write a poignant story where the two rituals are woven together to give you a sense of something. Probably something bleak with just a touch of hope. Me, I just try to be patient with her.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Well, That's a New One, Weekday Edition

I got a call from a semi-nice woman looking for a book. After searching the catalog for a minute, I saw that we owned it and that it was in the building. Offering to go get it, I asked her to have her barcode number ready when I got back so I could place it on hold it for her and put it over on the holds shelf.

When I got back, I asked for the number. "That's OK," she told me, "I'll be right there."

I started to give her my "No Desk Holds" speech* but she interrupted me by walking up to the desk with her phone in one hand, holding out the other.

* When you tell people that you'll hold their book at the desk, they never seem to come in for it. If you tell them that you'll only hold it until close, they come in the next day. It's a law of nature.