Monday, September 24, 2007

Ruining an otherwise perfect day

So I spent the other day at Antietam, which is probably my favorite branch ever. It's got nice building, a great patronage, and the best staff taxpayer money can buy. Going there is one of the few real pleasures this job has. In addition, I trained at that branch (All except reference, which I did at Redwell Waters) and have nothing but fond memories of the place. Sadly, I don't get to work that often since it's fully staffed and a high traffic library. Still, sometimes the powers that be throw me a bone and schedule me at Antietam, which occurs maybe once every 2 months.

The day was marvelous: lots of cute, literate kids for storytime, people checking out loads of materials, and a decided lack of persons monopolizing the internet. In short, it's everything the other libraries aren't. The only "bad" thing about Antietam is that it's located in a crazy religous zealot subdivision, so you get lots of homeschoolers and Penecostals. But hey, I'd prefer a close-minded homeschooled family anyday of the week over a mentally unbalanced homeless person.

But 2 people marred an otherwise perfect day. The first wasn't that major, but an ongoing annoyance; Petey Pedaphile showed up to do his regular searching for underaged pictures. What's remarkable is that this is the 3rd library he's shown up at whilst I was working, prompting me to wonder if he's stalking me or just getting around to all the libraries. He's never been kicked out or banned to my knowledge. I even asked some of the regular Antietam staff about him, to which they responded that they've never seen him before. This distresses me to a small extent since it gives a shred more credance to the theory that Petey is stalking me. So for about 3 hours, I played internet chicken with Petey, making sure he didn't fall into temptation and make those 2 extra clicks. And to be honest, each time I've had to deal with Petey, I've paid him less and less attention, which is probably a trap and all part of his plan to lull me into a false sense of security.

As time-consuming as Petey was, he was nothing compared to the next problem patron. Lemme set the scene: It's 20 marvelous minutes until closing. Petey's been gone for over an hour and I've recovered from constantly checking his screen. I've just finished checking in a whole slew of returns and am anxiously awaiting closing time so I can go out (hey, it was Friday night, and I have a social life not mentioned on this blog). I begin to start shutting everything down and pulling receipts when a charter member of Future Spinsters of America comes to the desk with a printout in hand.

FSA member in her 30s: "Yes. I got this in the mail." (Shows me the printout, which is automatically sent via the system through the mail. It's a notice of items that are overdue. Like I said, it's automated. 1 out of every 7 patrons has it with them when they have problems with stuff checked out)

Me: (Very used to this sort of thing) "Okay. Can I see your library card?"

FSA: (Coldly) "Here"

Me: "Thank you" (Attempts to smile at her to lighten her up, since it IS the weekend. The smile goes unrequited, I return to business) "Okay. I'm seeing a few things checked out on your account. Nothing overdue. In addition, you don't have any fines. Your account is clean"

FSA: "That's not what this says" (Dangling the slip)

Me: (Furiously typing away to get this over with. We are nearing closing and I want to get out of there) "Okay, all three books on that slip were turned in over a month ago. No fines. You're clear."

FSA: "I thought I turned them in!"

Me: "Yes ma'am, you did. And we have a record of it. You are good to go."

FSA: "Then why did I get this in the mail!"

Me: "Sometimes the computer issues those early as a reminder. It's probably just a notice that you renewed all those 2 times and that you would be unable to renew them again." (Library policy. You can renew stuff 2 times online before you have to take it back to a library, there you can renew them some more, unless there's a hold on it. Library 101)

FSA: "Well, all I know is someone needs to get fired over this!" (She is not kidding. Hellfire and Brimstone)

Me: (Baffled and slightly offended) "Excuse me?"

FSA: "What do you expect when you mail things like this? It's upsetting!"

Me: "Ma'am, you don't have any fines and the books were turned in on time." (She never gave me a chance to really read the letter, so I didn't dare venture to claim that the slip was reminder that her stuff couldn't be renewed online again. Even so, I didn't see what she was so upset about. Yeah, she got a official looking printing out with the County seal on it, but everything was cleared. Nothing to be upset about)

FSA: "Do you call this customer service?" (Shaking little sheet of paper) "Who sent this? I want to talk to their supervisor and get them fired! They need to lose their job!"

Me: (Wishing that I had a supervisor or a higher up around to help me out. So I decide to go to default get-out-of-trouble-excuse numero uno) "Well ma'am, I'm not a regular at this particular library, so I'm not completely sure how they do things here. (Works everytime) But at most of the other branches, the computer system automatically prints those out and sends them. Also, we just switched to a new circulation system, so there are kinks in the system that need to be worked out. However, if you like, I can see if I can get one of the regular librarians here to help you out.

FSA: (Slighty, ever so slightly mollified, but not much. Kinda like putting a kleenex over a razor blade.) Yes...Yes...I think I'll like that a lot.

By this time, it's 8 minutes until closing and the staff is beginning to congregate around the front, getting ready to leave. I motion over to one of the regular guys, and he comes over and just lays it on thick, like butter. After his explantation of events, he has not only totally set her mind at ease about the situation, but could probably get her phone number if he asked. She leaves and he locks the door behind her.

I know this is stupid, but it put a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the evening. If it was at any other branch, it wouldn't be a big deal. But it was at Antietam, which I hold to a higher standard.

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