Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Actual Questions to the Reference Desk #2

(At the Buffalo branch, which is a suburb of sorts of Big City. Not as far out as Taylor, but still pretty country)

Me: (Answering Phone) "Buffalo Library, reference desk, can I help you?"

Thick-Country Accented Patron: "Yeah. I was wonderin' if ya'll had the number to Davis' Gun and (Word that kinda sounds like "Peom")"

Me: "Excuse, could you repeat that name?"

TACP: "Davis' Gun "Emmpallm"

Me: (Not know if he said, "And Pawn" "Emporium" or "And Porn," which sounds like the greatest store ever. Sex and violence under one roof) "Could you repeat that last word?"

TACP: "Palmem"

Me: "What's that again?"

TACP: (Louder) "Polwm!"

Me: (Not wanting to say "I can't understand you cause of your thick @$$ accent") "Do you know if it's located in Big City or Buffalo?"

TACP: "I'm pretty sure it's in Buffalo"

Me: (Pulling out a Buffalo phone book) "Oh yeah, Davis Gun and Pawn. The number is ###-####"

TACP: "What time do they close?"

Me: "I don't know, but I'm sure if you call them, they'll be happy to answer."

TACP: "You ain't got their hours?"

Me: "No. It's just a telephone listing"

TACP: "Whelp. Thanks anyway." (Click)

The main thing I learned from this experience is that someone needs to open up a combination Firearms and Pornography emporium. Preferably in the back of a casino or liquor store.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cute, but little purpose

I'm at Riverview today and a school group comes in for storytime. Being that I'm working circ, I prepare for the bum rush of check outs that will follow. And to little surprise, a gaggle of 7 year olds comes to the desk to check out Junie B. Jones or whatever. One comes up to me and hands me his library card.

Me: (Scanning the card) "Alright, and let me see the books you want to check out."

Him: (Blank stare)

Me: "You're going to have to give me the books so I can check them out."

Him: (Nothing)

Me: "Do you have any books to check out?"

Him: "No"

Me: Then you didn't have to give me your library card.

Him: "Oh" (Pauses for a beat) "Thank you"

Me: "You're welcome"

Monday, August 27, 2007

Actual Questions to the Reference Desk #1

(This actually happened today. Not a reposting of older stuff)

I'm at the Middletown branch, manning the reference desk and an older gentleman comes in with his equally elderly wife. It is clear that they are both in their mid to late 80s. In addition, they are both incredibly country. The wife is wearing an actual nightgown, even though it's around 6 in the evening. She seems a little out of it, maybe just a bad case of old age or senility. Anyway, the guy comes up to the desk.

Old dude: Hello there son! I was wondering if you could help me.

Me: Well, I'll see what I can do.

OD: That's what I like to hear! I was hoping that you had a map of the area.

(This is not an uncommon request in Middletown. Most of the area lies on a flood plain for some of the rivers and people always want to check out the flood maps. Plus, since the area is growing and land values are at a premium, a lot of people come in to check out the Zoning.)

Me: Sure! What map are you looking for? Flood? Zoning? Census?

OD: I'm not exactly sure what exactly it would be labeled under.

Me: Well, what are you wanting to find out.

OD: You see, me and the wife have been bothered by the past couple of nights by the internet. It's so loud under the house that neither of us can sleep.

Me: (Baffled) What?

OD: You know, the internet. I can hear them all night long downloading pictures of nekkid women and lord knows what all else.

Me: (Very confused) So what kind of sound has it been making?

OD: I'm not a Gad-Dang spring pup that was just hatched under the turnip tree. I know what the internet sounds like. It sounds like the internet. The Internet! (Motioning to me like shaking his hands and repeating the phrase will make me remember the sound of the internet.)

OD's wife: (kinda absent-mindedly) we can't sleep. it's so loud.

Me: And you're sure it's under the house, not a neighbor or something?

OD: I know for a fact it's the internet. And I just wanted to see if you had a map of where all the internet is laid down in Middletown, cause I'm certain it's right underneath the house, but I don't remember them laying it down.

Me: (Slowly beginning to realize that he thinks the internet is laid underground like sewage or something) And you want a map of where all the internet was laid down?

OD: It couldn't of been too long ago. I know Middletown's a growing place, but people need to sleep. That internet's a distraction

Me: (Trying to think of a way to appease him) Well, I don't think we carry those kind of maps. I'm sorry.

OD: (Resigned himself to the fact that the internet will rob him of sleep) Well, come on mama (I'm fairly certain he meant that in the kind of way country folk do. No way on earth that was his mother. Or that his mother was still alive) They don't have a map of the internet here.

I took my break shortly afterwards.

Field Guide to Librarians

So usually in these notes I detail my various experiences dealing with some of our more unique patrons. However, since the AC is out today, no one has really been coming in and word gets quickly around to the homeless and crazies that we aren't the coolest place in town. So instead I thought I should describe my co-workers in a guide which will better aclament you, the literate taxpayer, just who you are dealing with when you are damning us to hell for letting your 15 year old check out Harry Potter.

For the most part, librarians are female. Now, it's quite stereotypical to label them all "cat ladies." In all actuality, some of them only own 10 cats or less. I'm just kidding, but seriously, stereotypes have to come from somewhere. A more accurate description is that all librarians enjoy lolcats. I kid you not. If you look at any librarian's desktop, 9 times out of 10 you will see something from Don't ask me how that despite coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds, everyone seems to find a picture of a kitten with the caption "OH LULZ INTERWEB DOWNS!! MONORAIL CAT TO TEH RESCUE!" the funniest thing they've ever seen and has to look at it everytime they try to log onto firefox.

Like I said, the vast majority of librarians are female, and there are various subgroups that comprise the gender. I shall attempt to detail some of the more common ones.

1. The Old Maid. These are generally your upper level librarians in managerial positions. They went to library school and have numerous upper level degrees in library science. In exchange for their commitment and hard work, they get a job with the government being a civil servant of the lowest order. They openly lust after the pay of teachers, which is pretty sad when you think about it. They have forgone marriage and having a family in order to nuture a branch from a sapling into a strong oak pillar of the community. In exchange the community uses the library for free internet and child care. However, to over-compensate for their poor judgment in life goals, they have put it upon themselve to be the wacky best buddies of everyone. Like a bizzaro Steve Carrell from The Office. Most often, this over-compensation manifests itself in a wacky hat or colorful flower print clothing. Their bubbly enthusiam is not phony, despite the appearence of it being so. They are genuinely excited to help out a patron and rave on and on about the latest library activity. This species is simular to the Children's Librarian, but not quite as patronizing. They often drive surprisingly fancy cars, such as Lexus' and Fiats. They also have incredilby photographic memories and can remember exactly what a patron checked out 3 years ago. They are usually fearful of computers and technology, preferring a card catalog and microfilm to the newfangled contraptions.

2. Children's Librarian. These are the library science students that joined the dark side by getting married and having children. Though many years have passed since they made that fateful decision, they are currently the overbearing grandparents of a whole brood. Their husbands usually own some sort of blue color buisiness, whose influence has afforded them a chance to live in the country, commuting great distances to work everyday. They are patronizing and they happen to know every single children's book ever published, ever. In addition, they have the annoying habit of refering to books as "Old Friends." A sample of their lexicon. (In a sing-songy Carol Channing voice) "Well, here's a book about a fire truck and the little boy who loves it. I know it may not be the newest book on the shelf, but it's one of my old friends! I know the pages may be a little ratty, but that means it's been loved by many, MANY children. I think it may have even won a Caldacott award! I'm sure that if you gave it a chance, it could become one of YOUR friends TOO!" In addition, they run Storytime, which is known to the workers at any library as "Hell Hour" due to the number of children running around, often pantless. However, this doesn't shake the Children's Librarian, who is overjoyed to see kids reading. They usually drive a old battered minivan, covered in American flag magnets and a bumper sticker annoucing to the world their grandchildren.

2a. Young Children's Librarian. A sub-species of the Children's Librarian, these are bright-eyed and hopeful young women who're fresh out from getting their master's. They are yet to be jaded by the world of libraries and are most often seen over-decorating the children's room for "Summer Reading" programs. They are without exception single, and dream of meeting their soulmate somehow through the library. However, as we will discuss later, this dream is mere fancy.

3. Young Adult Librarian. Ah, the hippest of the librarians. They are the most "with it" and are the most down with what all the "phat" kids are "jiggy" with. They know about anime and manga! Yes, you heard me correctly, manga! If you want the latest Ranama 1/2 book, they're the ones to go to. They often dress up for no apparent reason and are usually seen breaking the rules about reading at the library by busting out their copy of "His Dark Materials." You heard me right, they cosplay. They try to make up for their social awkwardness in high school by becoming equally awkward for a whole new generation. Whenever any sort of movie comes out that is remotely based on a book, they are the ones who champion its cause at various book talks throughout the high schools. Even for "Eragon" (which is a private joke among librarians. They love recommending it even though they'll freely admit it is one of the worst written books in the world. It's only one step about "Chewbacca comes to my school and beats up Todd the bully" fan-fiction). Still, they are the ones responsible for getting graphic novels and TV series DVDs put into circulation. They drive late model Kias and Hyndais, often with Sailor Moon decals.

4. Reference Librarians. Before we say anything else, they are smarter than you. They know everything. They know where every piece of knowledge is contained throughout numerous databases and tomes of enormous size, they only pretend to utilze these sources of data in a vain attempt to make mere mortals more comfortable with their omnipotence. They did not go to library science school, chosing instead more ancient and noble degrees in History and English lit. And as a result of their superior intellect and cunning, they are bored. But not just any kind of bored. The vast immeasure sense of ennui that comes only through transcending several layers of knowledge. Yes, they will help you find a book on Julius Caesar for your 7th grade social studies class, but they don't have to like you. They know that they resisted the dark side and chose not to go to law school or get their MBAs. No, they are much too good for that. They don't need money to inflate their fragile egos. They channel this boredom into trolling on websites, they are without a doubt the best at finding excellent website to waste long hours of the day. You can usually find them playing "Kingdom of Loathing" at their desk covered with action figures. If they could figure out a way to play "World of Warcraft" without losing their jobs, they would. To them, "Unshelved" is the funniest webcomic ever. They also like going on Mental Floss so they can read articles which they vainly hope will impress their ever dwendelling group of friends. They grow weary of your inane stupidity and are usually about this close from snapping. They drive Scions and Vespas, and like emo bands. In short, they very well be the worst breed. Unless you have a question which might tease their intellect, you are best to stay away.

5. Circulation Librarians. They are divorcees who need extra cash. Or retired teachers. They don't understand the new check procedures and revert back constantly to the old DOS system, even though the new GUI is much easier. They are neuortic, wear unfashionable glasses, and truly fit the embodiment of the "cat lady" persona. They are sticklers for regulation, not daring to bend the rules for anyone. And god forbid if you don't have your card. They have the most overt problems and mental shortcomings. They drive the car that their ex's new trophy wife didn't like

6. Hot Librarians. Sorry, they don't exist. In the realms of schoolboy daydreaming, there is the fantasy of the incredibly attractive librarian, who's pent-up sexual frustration has reached a boiling point and is about to take her hair down from that tight bun. Well, I'd hate to be the one to ruin it for ya, but that's about as a unlikely as a nurse wearing a garter belt to check on her comatose patient. In all my travels to the various librarians, I haven't seen many librarians who rate over a 6 in the ole "10-point scale." That being said, I have seen one that actually fit the description of attractive. However, the powers that be realize this fact and have condemned her to the archives room at one of the least visited libraries. So sorry boys, you probably should find another thing to lust over, like the new Halo 3 screenshots.

Now that we've covered the basics of female librarians, let's get to the minority of all minorites, the male librarians. There are 3 basic groups, each of is but a fraction of the actual librarians.

1. The Gay dude. Yeah, most male librarians are gay. Get over it. They're usually the most entertaining to be around if you're working a late shift. They're often funny, sarcastic, and always ready to go with a good quip. Kinda like Uncle Edwin from "Bewitched." They drive Volkswagons and BMWs.

2. The older black dude. These are the equivilent of having Lando Calrissian or Mace Windu check out your books. They are in their 40s to 60s and have seen it all. They bring their lunch in a Whole Foods bag. They call you "Young blood" as a compliment. They've seen the old days at the library and are glad to have the new technology appease the populace. They often sport quite impressive facial hair. They flirt shamelessly with attractive mothers who come in for storytime. In short, they are everything you've ever wanted to be, but aren't. Their coolness flows freely from their essence like fresh morning dew. They are somehow able to afford Hummers and Yukons even on a librarians salary. But no one needs to ask how, they're just cool like that.

3. The pale white kid. The complete opposite of Lando Windu working the counter, these dudes all have one thing in common, they are whipped. Bad. Usually to some girl who works as a YA librarian at some other branch that outweighs him by a weight class (I'm not saying the girls are fat, it's just these guys are all pasty whelterweights). They look like they've never seen the light of day and try to overcome their pale-esque appearance by growing patchy and pathetic attempts at facial hair. They are to pitied. They are in a constate state of engagement, never actually getting married, but never having the guts to call it off. They usually surf the web for Warhammer figurines and check out dating sites during the working day, never daring to attempt such a feat on their home computer where their king kong fiancee would beat the crap out of them even looking at another girl. They are usually a semester a way from starting Library Science school, mainly because their "beloved" is forcing them to go. Remember that girl in middle school who wasn't that pretty, but made good grades, all the teachers liked her, played trumpet in the school band, and wrote crappy stories about ponies? That's who they are engaged to. They don't drive cars because their significant others have deemed them unworthy to drive. You will often find them sadly eating their packed lunch in the break room since they can't be trusted to eat out for lunch.

4. Tony's. That's me! I really need to describe myself?

Finally, there is one more group that I must mention. Pages. Pages are overworked and overpaid. They are the kings of slacking off to check their facebooks and know the furthest limits of the internet filters. They are the ones to bear the vast majority of the grunt work, but are paid ridculous sums of money for their time. They are the most normal employees of the library, since they only work 2 hours a day and are using the experience to pad their college resumes. In addition, they are the only persons at the library to date, since their outrageous salaries coupled with no bills allows them a lavish lifestyle for a high school student.

So there you go. We aren't all crazy, we're just smarter than you. Too bad we never figured out a way to fully apply ourselves

Kaptain Kris and the Rapscallions of Riverview Round 2: Electric Bugaloo

I've been back to Riverview a few times since my epic encounter with Lexie and Major League Baseball, but none have been all that memorable or interesting. Until today.

Today I was lucky enough to gain witness to a whole new classification of weirdo. And let me just say, the place was swarming with them. When I came in for my shift, I noticed a lot of jurorish people hanging around the periodicals. This is a trifle strange because for the most part, the homeless have claimed that territory for themselves, allowing the jurors limited usage of computers and restrooms. It's kinda like the Jets vs. the Sharks minus the dancing and inter-factional romances. Seeing a bunch of well dressed individuals in staunchly homeless lands was shocking. Had I really been gone so long that major lands had shifted ownership? Were the jurors really that far along in the neverending battle against the homeless? Had they actually succeeded in pushing the tide of the homeless back unto the second floor. Flabberghasted by what my eyes were seeing, I manned my station behind the desk and prepared myself for a dullfully draining day.

But then I started noticing the behavior of what I percieved as jurors. Upon further inspection, I found that the group only numbered 3 or 4. Judging by the ease in which a homeless person sat next to them, they were not jurors, rendering my turf war hypothesis useless. The pieces continued to click together by noticing that they were all women, young for the most part, and had on buisness suits. Not only that, they were looking through the classified ads of the paper. This was not unusual. The branch has an excellent career center and a lot of people come in looking for jobs. Thinking it was just a bunch of girlfriends who'd just graduated from the community college, I paid them little mind, only hushing them a few times when they got too loud.

As I dealt with the usual crowd of smell, mentally unbalanced homeless having problems with their Wal-Mart application. I noticed that the group of job searchers up front wasn't really moving, being content to pass the time talking slightly too loudly about their current work. Intermixed with the random dealings with patrons, I began to piece together a few more little tidbits about them. First off, their skirts were a little leggy, not exactly what you'd wear if you're trying to get an office job. By the same token, their heels were a smiggen too tall for being on the job hunt, or walking for that matter. I heard little bits of their conversation and heard the phrase "Gold Club." My inklings of suspecting something were confirmed when one of them came up and asked if the library was hiring and if she could get an application. This is asked at least once a day, usually by teenagers looking to become a page (I'm sure they heard how much they get paid for so little work). Being well rehearsed in what so say, I launched into my usual speech that she'd have to go on the County's website and fill out the proper forms. In addition, she'd have to take the appropriate section of the civil service test whenever it was next offered. She then asked if the job got good benefits. I honestly replied that any county job has ridiculously cushy government benefits and covers optical and dental. Pulling out a resume, she expressed that her old job didn't offer that many benefits. I refused the resume, since we don't take any, being that the process is all online. But I was able to scan the top and check out her last place of employment. Yep, she was a stripper.

Well, an ex-stripper to be fair. Her hair was two-toned between a bottled platinium blonde and her natural darker color. The manner in which her coat was cut allowed a glimpse (I don't know if it was intentional or not) of a flower tattoo of her chest. She then pulled out a few DVDs she wanted to check out and gave me her library card. I proceed to check out the stuff and noticed that her birthdate was only a few years before mine. Impressive, only 25 and already washed up as a stripper. She certainly didn't look 25. The caked-on make up and lines on her face from hard living made her look in her late 30s, maybe even early 40s. I'm not going to make judgements on her life based on her appearance regarding drug usage, but I wouldn't be surprised if she had engaged in such activities. After she got her 2nd Season of "24" checked out, one of her other ex-stripper buddies also came up with a few magazines checked out. This one was obviously younger, a quite a deal better looking. However, she was easily in her 2nd trimester, and I'm willing to bet that stripping gets a lot less lucrative when you're pregnant. A lot less make up and she had her natural hair color. After she got her things together, the two of them left with a third friend, who I never got a decent look at, but was dressed in simular attire, barely skanky clothes. I watched the three of them leave, all the while wondering how a pregnant woman waddles around in four-inch heels.

I thought nothing more of the situtation until 15 mintues later, when another ex-stripper type came in. She was joined by another, who entered in from a seperate door. Both of them presented applications and asked if the library was hiring. After giving my speech again, the two of them asked for a computer reservation and proceeded to get on

Now I know what you're probably thinking, "Um, it's downtown. It's not the nicest area. Those weren't strippers. Dude, those were hookers." And I'd have to tell you that no, those weren't prostitues. That's one of the interesting things about working around the very general public, you can pick out hookers. I've been around long enough to pick out the real "sex industry workers" from those who just take off their clothes for money.

Anyway, the "Strippers looking for work" is a new catagory of patron I'll have to learn how to deal with when I'm at Riverview. They seem nice enough and don't cause much trouble other than being ogled by all the homeless dudes. But then again, I'm sure they're used to being ogled at their old jobs.

But all this pales in comparison to the galant return of our old friend, smelly homeless person trying to get a library card. But here's a shocker, he actually had an ID. With a real address. That wasn't a shelter. He actually fit ALL the critera and got to finally get his hands on that plastic little card which had alluded him for presumably years. After finally getting it, he feigned asking if the library was open on Saturdays, which he already knew it was since he's hung out here all day for geographical eras. I told him that it indeed was open on Saturdays and he makes this memorable comment: "Really? That's neat. I was just noticing how nice and air conditioned this place was and it seems like a great place to get out of the heat. I may have to come by and just hang out here for an afternoon. Maybe even get on a computer." Okay, never mind the fact that he's advertising that he's going to loiter, and that most buildings are air conditioned; he just pretended to plan to do something for the first time that he's been doing everytime I come by this library. It'd be like me saying "You know what might be fun? I've heard about this iPod thing. Maybe I'll put some headphones on and listen to it. Who knows, I might even listen to rap music for the very first time when I do so." HE'S A REPEAT OFFENDER!!! Dude, nobody has ever said anything about you hanging out in the library before so don't even bother making up a story that it's going to be your first time.

On a sadder note, one of the more interesting patrons, if not the most interesting patron, I've ever had to deal with came by today. Yes, I'm talking about "Major League Baseball." What's sad about her little visit was that she wasn't crazy. In the least. She just returned a pencil (which is shocking at any branch. Pencils never get returned by anyone. Ever.) and thanked us for letting her borrow it. She then walked out the door. She wasn't wearing her goggles or ranting about how she was being poisoned. Even though I was kinda relieved to have her not cause a scene, it made me wonder what happened to her. Did MLB finally get to her? Or was it Oschner that beat them too it? She didn't seem overly medicated. But I am certain it was her. Alas, we can only hope craziness is like a hydra, and that two more will take her place.


Why do I invite myself to insane people by openly asking for another crazy person to entertain me? Not even ten minutes after I posted this note, a woman comes in with a more impressive 5 o'clock shadow then I could grow in 3 months and goes "Inquiriy. Where is the State Capital and the book on witchcraft? I don't know who I am." Of course I am struck silent by the question and just kind of stare. Once again, she goes, "Inquiriy. Where is the State Capital and the book on witchcraft? I forgot who I am." She repeat this several times as if after she 10 times of repeating the same question, I could finally be able to translate the crazy talk and inform her exactly who she is. Finally one of the regulars notices what's going on and goes "Well, the State Captial is right outside those doors." And then crazy lady goes "Can you believe I forgot who I was?" And then just walks out, happy as a clam.

Frightening yet kinda sad.

Maybe he really is a Ninja

So I was driving through the Pit to get to the Washington Branch and I saw the Cajun Ninja booking it across the ledge in front of the library. I mean, he was really running. Fast, even. And while he's running full blast, he gets to the end of the ledge, where there's a 3 foot drop onto concrete. Not missing a beat, he proceeds to do a triple jump, ending in a front flip landing on the concrete, and keeps running. I don't know if he knew if anyone was watching or if he did it all the time. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Tiny Pet Peeve

So today I was at Paradise Plaza, which is a nice enough branch. The fun personalities of the people there balance out the drudgery of the work admirably. So today was a rather short and uneventful day. Since I'm not at that library enough to really know their cast of characters, I wasn't able to get in on the continuing adventures of their wackos. It's actually a pity that it's so rarely used since it's the newest library and has the best equipment. Hell, it even has wi-fi. But no, I don't suppose the homeless people and weirdos know enough about the branch's existence to warrant visiting there on a regular basis.

Like I said, the staff at Paradise is a great bunch. They fit all my librarian stereotypes to an uncomfortable T. It's always good to be called "young blood" by a guy who used to sub for me in high school. It makes time go by faster to man the reference desk when you know you're surrounded by a colorful cast of characters.

But, work is not just hanging out with co-workers, no there are patrons to appease and give computer reservations in order to pacify them for the time being. It's not as bad as some of the other branches. Actually, some of the kids seem to be fairly computer literate and knew how to use the print management system (An honest shock. The rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina is further along then the implientation of the new awful printing system. But that's a longer post for another time) But seeing as school had just started a week ago, I got a lot of questions about school books and research topics. However, most of them had to do with one topic: Summer Reading.

Now I could understand if it was some enterprising kid who had delayed the inevitable by putting off summer reading all summer and was struggling to cram it all in. But no. These are parents. Parents coming up to me, shoving a reading list in my face, and demanding which books are the shortest. I'm sorry, but didn't you care about your child's scholastic achievement, i dunno, maybe a few months ago, in the SUMMER?!?!?! Page count means nothing at this stage in the game, you're just screwed. Back when I had required summer reading, my parents made sure that I got started on it at an early enough date that I wouldn't have to wait until mid- to late August to get it done. And I know a lot of those books I had to read sucked and I barely remember them now, but you better know that on the first day of class, I was able to ace that quiz testing if I'd done the reading.

The thing I find most amazing is that these people are shocked, SHOCKED, I tell ya, that the book that's been on the summer reading list for the entire county
is checked out and there's a waiting list!??!?! You mean there are equally irresponsible parents that have putting it off as long as I have!?!?! And then they get the gall to demand me to check it again, as if I would be like "Oops, you got me. I'm a jackass. I get off on withholding stuff from people. I've got a whole slew of copies of 'The Lightning Thief' under my desk because I was testing you." I mean, most of those books (The previously mentioned 'Lightning Thief,' 'Blood Red Horse' and 'Basketball or Something Like It') we don't even bother looking it up in the system. Why? WHY?!??! BECAUSE WE'VE FRAKING HEARD FRAKING 3 MILLION FRAKING PEOPLE DEMANDING THOSE FRAKING BOOKS ALL FRAKING SUMMER AND WE FRAKING KNOW THERE'S A FRAKING LONG WAIT! Jeez. Give us some credit.

And my favorite part of the entire equation is when they get desperate and start asking where they can get a copy cause their kid needs it tomorrow. First off, those lists were given out in May, so don't act so surprised. Secondly, don't be offended when I suggest trying Barnes and Noble or Amazon. People have it in their head that book stores are our enemies and the library will close if they start buying books. Two words: Government Funding. As long as you draw breath, we will get paid. But by the same token, you don't give us money directly, so we don't have to give you the book right then and there. Didn't you idiots ever see "Reading Rainbow?" It's called a Free Library. And if it's free, you've got no right to complain.

Anyway, in closing: Paradise Plaza is underrated, summer reading should be done in the summer, and for the last time, we don't have any copies of bloody "Cottonmouth Club"!!!

Should I call Boystown?

Kid of about 10 comes up to the circulation desk.

Kid: "um...yeah...this is kind of a strange question since you're a library and all. But, uh, where is your death section"

Me: (baffled) "Excuse me?"

Kid: "Yeah. You know, books on death."

Me: (trying to understand) "Are we talking fiction or non-fiction?"

Kid: "I dunno."

Me: "Are you looking for CSI-type stuff or like a scary story?"

Kid: "It's for a class assignment. I have to bring in a book about death. So where's the section?"

Me: "Um...well, there's a horror section."

Kid: "Is that about death?"

Me: "I'm sure that death's an element."

Kid: "Okay, as long as there's death in it."

Me: (Points him in the direction of the YA horror section)

Kid: "Thanks. You ought to put in a death section though"

Me: "I'll bring it up"

Kaptain Kris versus Pus Man and the Cajun Ninja

(Note: these did not all happen today, I'm just incorporating old posts from other sites to build up the blog)

So my day is barely half over and I've got an astonishing amount of library persons in a relative short amount of time.

Today I am at the Washington branch, which is located in an area of town known as "The Pit." Geographically speaking, it's the area inbetween UBC and downtown. It's not the worst area in terms of crime, but it's up there in regards to poverty. While not as inviting as the Riverview to the homeless population, it still gathers a surprisingly high number of interesting individuals.

The vast majority, and I mean the VAST majority of patrons are kids under the age of 13 who use the library as a sort of computer fun world. Since it's the summer and they aren't in school, by default, they go and hang out at the library. However, since there are so many of them, the computers begin to get in short supply, resulting in rowdiness and general fighting. Those that are on a computer usually try to go to Bebo, which is blocked, and then compromise by getting on music sites and blasting it to the max in their headphones. This causes much distraction to other patrons since the library is supposed to be a place of quiet. Yet, since the kids are deaf due to their prolonged exposure to music cranked all the way up to 11, attempts to tell them to be quiet or turn it down are fruitless. One kid in particular, who I have named Deafy McDeaferson, has been here every time that I've worked at the Washingon Branch, from open to close. He is the worst offender to the "turning up music til your ears bleed" rule. Even worse, he always chooses crappy local myspace music, the type that have serious sound editing problems, so in addition to the sheer volume, you are offended by the poor job done by the sound mixer and the fact that the beat keeps changing. (I swear, this one song had at least 10 time signature changes during a single verse. How the hell is anyone supposed to rap over that?)

As many of them as there are, it's not the kids that make Washington unique or different. No, it's the Washington street people, who are a completely different breed than your average downtown homeless. A prime example was this man who came in this morning to print out something from the computer. He came to where I was working at the reference desk and asked why nothing was printing for him. This was an understandable question since the library switched over to a new printing system which requires patrons to set up an account. It's fairly complicated to set up, but once it's done, print jobs are a snap and the patron no longer has to pay for copies or print outs. But this guy was having a problem setting his up, which most patrons have had, so I went over to see if I could help him get it done.

As I approach the printer where the touch screen console is giving this guy grief, a pugnent aroma fills my nostils. This guy smells. Bad. But it's a new type of stench, one that I haven't smelled yet from a homeless person. In my experience, most homeless people either smell like they haven't had a bath in a very long while or some sort of substance (liquor, pot, etc.) But this guy reeked of pus. That's right, pus. Like he was currenting harboring a giant festering infection. It was the second worst thing I've ever smelled in my entire life. And then he opened his mouth to talk to me and that's when the worst thing I've ever smelled in my life hit me, his breath. In addition to the horrendous pus smell, his breath had just a hint of rotten eggs and foot fungus. Trying my best to breathe through my mouth and not vomit. I start to run the guy through the steps to create an account. So we get to the part where he has to put in the first 4 letters of his last name. I prompt him to do so, and he goes "Lockhart, H-A-R-T." As you might expect, it doesn't work. So again it comes up to put in the first 4 letters, and I tell him "You need the first four letters, so L-O-C-K." and he goes "I'm not stupid! I know how to spell my own damn name! H-A-R-T!" and surprise, surprise, it doesn't work. His response "DAMMIT!" Once again, the accursed last name prompt reappears and I tactfully go "Well, sometimes the touch screen can be fickle, let me try. Your last name is Lockhart?" To which replies, "Yes. Spelled H-A-R-T." I type in L-O-C-K and what do you know, it lets him through. He finally gets his print job and goes back to the computers, where the sounds of "Ima Money Hu$tla" by MC Random MySpace Rapper are causing vibrations to be felt on the reference desk.

But that's not the end of Pus-Man. He comes back to the references desk and starts ranting at me that I'm not going to get my inherentence on July 31st because I haven' t been taking away people's print jobs. In addition he pulls out the pages he printed, which he claims are legal documents that make him the heir of the huge sum of $17,000, which I'm not going to get because I didn't do something with the printer. He's not mad that I'm robbing him of his inhertence. No, he's ranting cause I'm robbing myself. In a final act of defiance, he slams his fist down on the reference desk, which leaves a small pool of sweat/pus/some body fluid I don't even want to know about. I try my best to clean the fluid puddle and spray the area with lysol, but the aromatic gift he left me still stinks as I type this.

As interesting as Pus-Man was, he wasn't the most memoriable person at the library today. No, that honor belongs to a man who I shall call the Cajun Ninja. I've gotten pretty good at recongizing the relative craziness of a person as they walk through the door. For the most part, everyone who comes in is a mentally healthly, ordinary individual. But when someone comes in wearing a painters mask and goggles, you make a mental note that "Hey, this person isn't all there in the head. I might need to keep an eye on them and make sure they don't cause too much trouble." So around 10 this morning, a stereotypical Cajun looking dude comes in, a young guy, maybe a few years older than me. I didn't think too much about it until I took a closer look. My first clue of his wackiness was the fact his hair was up in a top-knot. And then I noticed that he wasn't wearing shoes, just black slippers. I notice that these slippers have a split-toe design. Then I fully realized that he was wearing an all-black homemade ninja gi, complete with a cod-piece cover supported by safety pins. He goes and gets on a computer. About an hour later he comes up and asks me if we have any books on pressure points of the human body or ninjitsu. I do a general search and tell him the call number where books on that subject would be found. Granted, Washingtonh is a small library and the selection wouldn't be that great, but there's a few books on Karate and other martial arts. I showed them where they were. He bowed and went on his way.

Or so I thought. About 5 minutes later, he comes back and says that there weren't any books about pressure points, and he really needs them because he's studying to become a ninja. And that he's been training since he's been 2 years old, but his training really started when he was still in the crib, watching ninja movies. Apparently his teacher is his step-father, who was the first white man to become a master at ninjistu. The style that he practices is called "Swamp Gator" Ninja style since and I quote "it gives him the strength and agility of a tiger." He then asks if I'm into Martial Arts, to which I honestly reply that I really Kung-Fu movies, but I'm not a practioner. I mentioned that I recently saw some stuff with Tony Jaa in it and it impressed me. To which my new ninja friend replies that martial arts movies give you some of the best instruction and that his dad beat Tony Jaa in a ninja sparring match. Never mind that Tony Jaa is a Muay Thai kick-boxer and has no connection to Japan, Boudreaux-san's dad kicked his ass with his Tiger speed from Swamp Gator style. After showing him a few books on human anatomy, which had some information on pressure points, he says that he wishes that he could use his martial arts knowledge to protect himself but that "The BCPD won't let me due to all the assassinations." I give a quizzical look at the assassinations claim and he responds "Oh yeah, (Names 3 very much alive local politcal personalities) and Ron Howard. That was all me. But don't tell anyone." (Let alone that all of these individuals are still alive. Maybe he's got a vendetta against Southern politicians and the stars of "Happy Days") He then gave a bow and asked where on the internet he could find out about ninja weapons. I told him that I couldn't think of any sites right off the top of my head, but a google search should help him get some ideas. He bows again and asks if the main library has more books on martial arts. I told him that the main library is much larger and would have lots more books than the Washington branch would. He then bows again, much lower and thanks me for all my help. He then proceeds to rise back up, spin, give a little flying leap, and starts to kinda "Ninja run" while ducking out the door. Like I said. It's its own brand of crazy.


The Cajun Ninja came back! I suppose some of his ninja training must be legit because I didn't see him come in the door, all the sudden he appeared at a computer several hours after vanishing from the library via ninja sprint. He was searching cosplay sites, and major shocker here, he was looking for ninja pictures. He also informed me that he finally found a website detailing the pressure points of the human body. He kept to himself for the rest of his session, but I was able to look at his cosplay browsing, which quickly took a turn for the bizzare when he discovered pictures of female cosplayers. One in particular he became enamored of. She was dressed as the character Starfire from the anime "Teen Titans." I knew this fact not because I've ever watched the show, but by the fact that the theme music was blaring in his headphones, which was a welcome change from MC Myspace. After picking out a few pictures that he liked, he proceeded to prep them for printing, but before doing so, he added his own hysterical twist.

He wrote poetry on top of them.

Yes, he wrote poems professing his undying love for the character and by proxy, the girl dressed up as her. I knew the subject matter of the poem not because I was looking over his shoulder, even though it wouldn't have been too hard since he was using something like size 20 font. No, he was reading and rereading it aloud to himself. Now, i'm sure in his mind, he was speaking quietly, not daring to let the world in on his unrequited love. But his private infatuation was ruined by the fact that the volume of the "Teen Titans" theme song forced him to speak over it. What came out was a blurring and slurring of his love note coupled with a very repetative theme song. It sounded a little something like this:

Cajun Ninja: "From star light afar, you came to set my heart..."
Music: "Go Teen Titans! Go Tee.."
Cajun Ninja: "...nd yet my heart is presented unto you, if only you'd..."
Music: "Aaaaaaaa! Teen Titans! Go Teen Titans!"
Cajun Ninja: "...ttom of my ninja loins..."Music: "...een Titans!"

Finally, after it looked like the rest of the computer users were about to actually die of laughter (which luckily he never heard. I'd hate to be the subject of another one of his assassinations) I asked him to turn down his volume a tad. He bowed and complied. Soon after, he printed out his poetic masterpiece, along with pictures of an underaged cosplayer in revealing clothing, and left the library. However, instead of throwing down a smoke bomb or anything, he simply walked out the door, with no flurish of ninja skill.

I either get paid too much or too little for this job

Kaptian Kris and the Raging Rapscallions of Riverview

So usually my library job is fairly predictable and quite boring. I show up, I check out books, I look up information, I check my mail way too often, I make the rounds of the usual bored out of my gourd websites (fark, the onion, wikipedia). After all is said and done, I go home and I get paid for my trouble. It's not like I have a problem in getting paid for not doing anything, quite the contrary, I feel like it's the only way to work. I pity people who's jobs are action packed and require constant attention.

But today, I earned my keep.

I had never been to the Riverview Branch before. It's a rather small library in size, despite having 4 stories. In addition, its location in downtown Big City coupled with a lack of parking make its patrons either one of two types of people, with very little exception.

First you have your government workers. They usually come from the nearby courthouse or law offices. They don't require much attention. Usually they pick up holds they had sent from other libraries or see what DVDs are availible. In the same ilk, you have the jurors, who come here almost directly from the subway next door and instantly begin to violate the law by talking about the case.

The rest of the patrons are various homeless or other sorts of street people. Not really much of a problem there. The majority are just happy for an air conditioned place to hang out during the heat of midday. Most like to read the newspaper or surf the internet. A few even take advantage of the career center and try and find work for the day. There's also a lot of people from various shelters who try and make better of themselves by utilizing the facilities. For the most part, everyone keeps to themselves and things run smoothly. We are a government agency for the people and we try to be as inclusive as possible. It's part of the job desciption and I don't think too much is strange about it.

But today we had two interesting individials who did not fit into these nice cliched roles.

The first was a budding policitian who had a magnificant beard and an even more impressive odor. He came in once to inform us of his new platform for his run at the governor's office. He then left shortly thereafter. He then came in again to present a list of various asian dictators and mafia figures. He asked for some research on the names. Thinking not too much of it, in addition to being informed by the regular staff of his habits, I proceeded to a nice nostolgic trip down EBSCOHost to look up biographies. He came back, with his odor informing me that he had returned, took the printed out sheets, thanked me, and left. I was later told that he had indeed filled out the paperwork to run for governor and his name would actually appear on the ballot this November.

The second was a bit more distressing and weird. A woman came in dressed in a business suit and proceeded to ask for a computer reservation. At first glance, she would appear to be just another office worker coming in on her lunch break, but the goggles and painter's mask betrayed her appearance. She went to the 3rd floor, but came back a few minutes later visuably distrubed. She complained of the odor on the elevator, which in of itself is not uncommon, the place does smell. But then she claimed that there were only men and children on the 3rd floor. Not only that, but the computer kicked her off. And even beyond that, she was being poisoned. You see, there was a conspiracy against her, a retired government worker, and they wanted to poison her because she was an original resident of Big City, even though she had lived in Los Angeles for the past several years. There had already been an attack on her this morning when a car tried to hit her. Then at UBC (University of Big City), she had been attempted to be poisoned for the first time. The branch head listened to her ramblings, being very agreeable, until the woman finally decided to leave and report the whole matter to the police. She left and we all were relieved, since according to the regulars she had never acted this unstable before.

Then she came back.

Only I noticed her entrance, the rest of the staff was busy with other people. I tried informing my co-workers that she was back, but no one seemed to acknowledge the breth of that information. She got on a computer and started to type furiously.

Then the screaming started.

She screamed. A deep primal scream. A scream that was unignorable. The type of scream that says "hey, you thought I didn't make sense before, just watch how nonsensical I can get." After the inital scream, she began to yell "It's a conspriacy! I'm being poisoned like a man! They are treating me just like a man!" Needless to say, the other patrons were alarmed, to say the least. She got up and began her triade again, this time including new information. Such as the fact that her father was one of the first blacks to graduate UBC law. And that she had been thrown off a bus twice and she had the pictures to prove it. And that she was a Big City native and there had been a conspiracy to get rid of these native Big Cityians so Major League Baseball could turn UBC into a pro team. And since her father was an UBC law grad, she was one of the most important people to get rid of. And that she was being raped and sexually assulted by the men sitting next to her at the computer. Plus, did she mention she was a retired government worker that was being poisoned? And MLB wanted to turn UBC into a pro team? She finally left, this time to hide from Shriner's clinic, who wanted to take her away. And the Shriner's clinic wanted to lock her up and poison her.

As part of security procedures, I had to go over to her computer and log out of her session, as well as patrol the area for any other things that might of set her off. I tried my best to keep a straight face, but I totally lost it when I saw the internet item that set her off. She had tried a MSN search for the following item:"Who is (Her name, withhheld for privacy reasons by myself) the daughter of a Korean War Vet who was the first black at UBC, used to live in Los Angeles but is a native of Big City and was attacked by being thrown off a bus in 1999 even though she is a retired government worker getting poisoned by Major League Baseball" (Verbatium, I swear. You can't make this stuff up)

And yet, this didn't seem to phase the staff in the least. They just treated it like a normal day and commented that I was no longer a "Riverview Virgin." No, I most certainly am not.

Things I do on Taxpayer money

Since I took the job as a Librarian, I've gotten many things, such as a nice salary and more cushy benefits than you can shake a stick at. In exchange, here's all the things I do for you, the literate tax payer.
-Endlessly wiki articles
-Edit wiki articles
-Endlessly check my mail
-Make fun of the books you check out
-Make fun of your kids
-Research Wii games
-Prevent the best DVDs and Books from getting on the shelves because I already checked them out
-Research random @$$ history topics
Check out the ever increasing wait list for the new Harry Potter book
-And rarely, I get to assist a patron

That's your money at work.