Saturday, December 29, 2007

Quite Possibly the Strangest Questions Ever

Okay, I swore that I wouldn't reveal too much about my personal life, but I think this tidbit barely qualifies: I don't look like your stereotypical bibliophile. I'm not exactly the type you'd expect to working at a library. I was in fraternity for all 4 years of college, and kinda look like what you'd expect in an ex-frat boy. And I'm not going to lie, I used to tease and bully the "nerd" kids in middle school, not letting them know that I too was going home at night and rereading "The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm" for the 50 bajillionth time. Don't worry, I've long since outgrown that phase.

Anyway, I'm working at the Check-in desk at Antietam when I get a phone call. It's somebody wanting to renew their books. Taking care not to use my newly discovered 'smooth-n-sexy' voice to lead the caller into temptation, I renew their stuff. Then I get a bizzare question.

Caller: "What's your main number?"

Me: "You want the phone number to the Main library? (Big City's library system has one Main library, and a bunch of branches. I think that should go without saying, but just to clarify)

Caller: "No no. The Antietam branch. What's your main number?"

Me: "Well what are you looking for? Children's? Reference?"

Caller: "Where you check books in and out and can renew them. What's that number?"

Me: "You mean the one you're calling right now?"

Caller: "Yeah. What's this phone number?"

Me: (My head is straining with the logic contained in her call. She wasn't transferred, she dialed the number, and is asking for the very number she dialed. My head is starting to hurt with just trying to comprehend her thought process. However, against my better judgment, I decide to go ahead and just give her the number) "Okay it's ###-####."

Caller: "###-####? And that would bring me to the place where I can renew books?"

Me: "Yes" (She hangs up)

But has strange as that question was, I got an even harder question later when I was working at the reference desk. A girl comes up to the desk, looks to be about early high school aged. I ask if I could help her find something and she lays this loaded question on me:

Girl Who Doth Expect Too Much: "Yeah, do you have any good books here?"

Me: "Sure we do! What exactly are you looking for?"

GWDETM: (Taken aback by my enthusiasm. What can I say, it had been a slow day, and any question was welcome. Plus, I don't look like the type who'd be excited by books.) "Just something to read"

Me: "Well, that's a tall order. Are you looking for something fiction or non-fiction?"

GWDETM: (Blank Stare)

Me: (Deciding to go through the stuff that most kids her age seem to be into) "Are you interested in Sci-fi? (Blank Stare) Fantasy? (Blank Stare) Graphic Novels? (Blank Stare) Manga? (Blank Stare) I'm a big history fan, I can recommend some very good history books. (Blank Stare) Do you want something that's popular? We've got the new best-sellers over here. (Blank Stare) Cook book? (Blank Stare. I'm still trying to help her, so I finally ask) Well, what sort of things are you interested in? What do you like to read about and I can go from there.

GWDETM: "Just a really good book"

Me: "Is this for an assignment? (She shakes her head) Might you be interested in some of the classics? (Blank Stare) Ever read "Catch-22"? It's one of my favorites. (Blank Stare)

GWDETM: (Realizing her question is not going to be answered without her volunteering any more information.) I guess I'll go look over at the new arrivals. Thank you for your help.

Me: "Feel free to ask anything else."

I suppose people don't expect the frat boy to be a book dork.


kittent said...

That's funny. Did you have trouble getting hired because of your dashing good looks, your familiarity with greek letters, etc?

As the student supervisor for departmental library in a university library system I can say that I generally try to find out if an applicant is part of the greek system or not. Frat boys are notoriously too cute for words
and sometimes try to get by on personality and charm but the ones who are working for me now have all that plus a large measure of intelligence and efficiency.

Tony Kris said...

I'm not exactly cute, more like the "ex-football player who wasn't good enough for the college team and decided instead to rush a frat, and doesn't leave the party, even though it's so over"

I never really brought up my Greek past during my interview; it wasn't asked, and I never volunteered the information. It really has had little to no bearing on my current job life, except for the fact that I don't look like the type to know so much about the "Xanth" books

Dale said...


I ran across your blog from a Google alert I have for "main library" (I manage an electronic discussion list for library administrators). I've been working in urban public libraries since 1986. I have to tell you, not much has changed. Great writing: wryly funny.

My name will connect to a blog I did for work. I have a personal blog as well.

I'll look forward to reading your posts--and never fear, I won't be forwarding them to the discussion list!

Marietta said...

I find that hilarious as well. People also tend to not expect "the chick" with a dark version of Victoria Beckham's haircut and an affection for Abercrombie & Fitch clothing to be a nerd either.