Monday, April 28, 2008

An Even Sadder Realization

This weekend, I had a wonderful trip up to my old stomping grounds of College Town, which is located in another state than Big City. After randomly seeing a major rap star whilst filling up with gas, I made the voyage via car from Big City to College Town. (I'd name the rapper, but his name is synonymous with Big City, which would totally reveal any sense of remaining anonymous)

So I roll into College Town, a couple hours early. My frat's reunion was due to start until a couple of hours, and I wanted to check my email to see if McGruff had gotten her package (She hadn't as of yet, but that's not important). Of course, in the two years since I last lived in College Town, a lot has changed. I needed Wi-fi, but I had no idea where to get it. I couldn't go onto the college's campus and use theirs, since I no longer had a valid student ID. I also didn't know anyone living in the area, since everyone's spread out around the country post graduation. All the local coffee shops had closed and I wasn't about to go to Starbucks to pay for their crappy Verizon Wi-fi. But I really needed to check my email and whatnot. So I decided to take a drastic measure:

I purposely went to College Town's branch of the city library and used theirs.

As in, on my day off, during a trip that was meant to be fun, I purposefully went to a library, my place of employment, just to use the Wi-fi. And I actually talked shop with the College Town Librarian.

I swear, I had to go through 5 hours of intense fraternal bonding to get the awful taste out of my mouth. If past me ever gets a time machine and discovers what present me is up to, he'd probably kick my butt. Talking shop with a librarian. For shame, Tony Kris, for shame.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Government Customer Service on the Other Side

So I recently was on the other side of government agency customer service. I don't think I was that much of a problem patron, but if I get mentioned on some post office guy's blog about mailing horror stories, I won't be too surprised.

As mentioned before, I've got a very dear friend (the much alluded "McGruff the Crime Dog") who's currently doing a year as a missionary in Swaziland. Being the nice guy that I am, I decided to send her a care package via the United States Postal Service. Of course, since it's me, I'm not content to do a simple, reasonable care package. No, Tony Kris has to do it massive style. Whenever I was finished loading up the box with all sorts of niceities, it weighed in at 10 lbs. 13.2 oz.

So I walk into the post office with my enormous parcel in hand and go up to the next available counter. Behind the desk, there is an incredibly grizzled old man, waiting to inform me of how much shipping this bad boy was going to cost.

Of special note was this guy's beard, which can be only described as a "goat beard." Now there's a huge difference between a goatee and a goat beard. Goatees are what young hipsters have whenever they get sick of rocking the soul patch. Goatees are "cool," "hip," and "somewhat popular." However, this guy, who must have been working for the USPS ever since Ben Franklin established it, was the owner of a goat beard. It was long, scraggly, and intermixed with gray. To be honest, it wouldn't have surprised me if he was actually a satyr. I half-expected him to whip out some pan pipes and start dancing a jig with his cloven-hoof feet.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic. So I put my package down on the scale, and await Mr. Tumnus' instructions (Bonus points if anyone gets the reference without googling or wiking it)

Mr. Tumnus: "So, where are we shipping today?"

Me: "This right here is headed off to Swaziland."

Mr. Tumnus: "Okay, Switzerland" (Begins typing)

Me: "Not Switzerland. Swaziland"

Mr. Tumnus: (Looking confused) "Swaziland? Never heard of it"

Me: (Not wanting to get into the whole "Swaziland is indeed a country" debate once again) "Trust me, just look it up." (Starting to spell out Swaziland)

Mr. Tumnus: "Ah, you're right! Swaziland! It's right here!" (Begins typing some more) "And it looks like it's in Africa..." (Stares at me dumb-foundedly) "Good lord boy! In my 35 years of working at this post office, I've never had anybody send anything that large, that far!"

Me: (In disbelief that he's worked at the post office for only 35 years and expecting him to still whip out the pan pipes) "How much is it going to cost?" (Wanting to be done with this, since everyone in line is starting to realize that it's going to take a while for all my postage to be taken care of)

Mr. Tumnus: (Still wanting to talk about how far Swaziland is from Big City) "Gadzooks!" (He actually said 'Gadzooks') "This is going to probably cost a fortune! Who are you sending this to? Your girlfriend?"

Me: "No."

Mr. Tumnus: (Trying to justify my desire to send a huge package overseas) "Then it's got to be your wife or fiancee!"

Me: (Though I'm not opposed to the idea) "Nope. Just a care package for a friend. Lots of American stuff she can't get there." (Like Pop-Tarts, for example.)

Mr. Tumnus: "Well, you've got to declare everything for customs."

Me: (I quickly do so, wanting to be as speedy as possible) "Here you go."

Mr. Tumnus: "Holy Cow! Now, do you want to send this overnight express, priority, or ground?"

Me: (Not wanting to spend a fortune) "Nothing in there is perishable, so ground's okay."

Mr. Tumnus: (Typing away) "Well, it looks like ground's off the table. You're going to have to do priority at the lowest, because...

I SWEAR I AM NOT MAKING THIS REASON UP! I cannot make that clear enough

Mr. Tumnus: " looks like the warlords have gotten pretty bad."

(Okay, one would think that if warlords were a problem, the least technologically advanced shipping method would be preferable. You'd think that planes and trucks would be taken over at a high rate. But no, it's the slowest transport that's off the table. I'm assuming that the extra money has to spent on bribes. Like I paid for my package to be sent via plane, but it's actually going on donkey back with the extra money used to pay off warlords from getting their hands on McGruff's Pop-Tarts.)

Me: (Scared of the price) "Priority is fine"

Mr. Tumnus: (Really REALLY loudly) "HOLY JEEZ! It's going to be $80.42!

Me: (Actually quite pleased. Way WAY lower than I feared) "Wow. That's quite reasonable."

Mr. Tumnus: "I've never, ever had anyone spend that much on postage! Holy Cow!" (I was afraid he was going to have a heart attack. Either that or I'd have to offer him a tin can just to calm him down) "And her name is McGruff the Kris?" (He's trying to finish the form so I can get out of there)

Me: "No. My name is Tony Kris, her name is McGruff the Crime Dog.

Mr. Tumnus: (Totally serious, like not even winking at me or anything.) "Not for long it's not. Whenever she gets this, she'll want to be McGruff the Kris."

I felt incredibly awkward after that. I paid my money and quickly got out of there. Still no word if the package made it through the warlords yet.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Up Next, The Dagobah 500

Still in Middletown, where I saw this amazing sign during my lunch break:

A quick note, Middletown is like white flight personified. All they've got there is rednecks and political signs for "Boner Leroy," (which is not his real name. His actual name is much dirtier, no lie) My favorite pastime whenever I'm working in Middletown is to blast some Ghostface Killa with my windows rolled down. Just to frighten the residents a little bit, which could possibly result in their moving even further away from Big City.

Anyway, this was a sign in front of some local establishment in Middletown. Verbatim.


Ready for Talladega, We Are

I had no idea Yoda was such a fan of stock car races, let alone resided in Middletown.

Busted Again

At Middletown, where I have deja vu for all the wrong reasons.

Woman comes up to the desk (maybe five minutes ago) with a stack of audio books to check out. I take her card. It's warm...

Yup, you guessed it. Not even 2 seconds after I give it back to her, it's back next to her bosom.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tony Kris, Casanova to the Extreme

As mentioned before, I've had a few run-ins with single mothers who somehow found my occupation a desirous trait. But I've never had to directly turn them down, I just shrugged them off or my purposeful aloofness gave them the hint. (I'm really not interested in meeting someone that way. Work is work. Anywhere else is free game, but the internet and at work at the two places where I refuse to allow such pursuits) Until now.

Covering the Teen desk at Antietam. I was scheduled to work circ, but switched over to cover lunch shifts. It's early afternoon, so not many teens are in the area. However, a mom comes by and strikes up this conversation.

Dedicated Single Mom: "There you are. I was wondering when I'd see you again."

Me: "Excuse me?" (My immediate reaction was that she didn't see me behind the desk and wanted some assistance.)

DSM: "It's been a long time since you were here. I remember you."

Me: (Not wanting to go into the whole song and dance about how I'm only at certain branches at certain times) "Well, I don't get to come to Antietam as much as I might like, but I always like to come here."

DSM: "I'll bet." (Noticing my grad school book that I have to the side. It had to be finished for seminar the next day and I was pretty much absorbed in it during breaks and lunch) "What's that you got there?"

Me: "Nothing really. Something I've got to read for class." (Holding up the book for her to see) "It's about Elvis"

DSM: (With more than just a suggestive eyebrow raise) "Elvis the pelvis, eh? (Looking a little disappointed) "So you're at UBC?"

Me: "Yeah, getting the ole masters."

DSM: (I suppose hearing of my graduate degree and knowing that I wasn't a minor reperked her interest) "Watch out! Going to get the big bucks!"

Me: (Laughing because my degree's in history and there's no way I'll ever make any decent amount of money) "That's the plan. Anyway, can I help you with anything?"

DSM: "Actually, you can. My name is Dedicated Single Mom, but you can just call me Dedi. And you are?"

Me: "Tony Kris. But just Tony's fine" (Expecting to hear some sob story about how her child's book report is due tomorrow and she had no idea and if I could write a report/find the movie version of the book. I've hear it all and immune to most of it.)

DSM: "Tony...I like that makes you sound so charming. Anyway, Tony, I've seen you around the library before and I've noticed that you've got a great way with kids"

Me: (Knowing that she's buttering me up to do her kid's book report) "Thank you. I try"

DSM: "Believe me, you do more than just try!" (Nervous laughter on her part. I have no idea what's funny) "Anyway, I was wondering if you wanted to go get coffee or something sometime?"

Me: (Still waiting for her to lower the boom of doing research for her child. Stunned by her forwardness.) "What?"

DSM: "You seem like an awfully nice guy and that's what I need in my life right now. It just seems like a fun thing do, you know?" (Winks at me)

Me: (Baffled and going for aloofness to shy her away) "Umm...Wow..." (Truly at a loss for words)

DSM: "I know you had to have noticed me. You were such a sweetheart the last time I was in here, helping Jimbo get his Thomas the Tank Engine books."

Me: (Really struggling to remember this woman, or Jimbo, or Thomas the Tank Engine. I honestly do not remember seeing this woman before in my life, but apparently I was such a sweetheart that I warranted asking out. I mean, I'm never flirtatious or anything at work. Sure, I'm nice to the kids, but who isn't? Just because I help your kid find books, doesn't mean I'm coming on to you. Remember, I do sorta get paid for this) "Just doing my job ma'am."

DSM: "It's Dedi, not ma'am"

Me: "Well Dedi." (She giggles a bit) "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to turn you down on your offer." (She looks a little stunned. I don't think she ever expected the libraryman to turn her down. I suppose she thought me as dateless and desperate as herself. I AM working in a library)

DSM: "Why..." (Quick look of dread as glances down on my hand) "You aren't married, are you?"

Me: "No, I'm not married." (Struggling to find a way to turn her down easily. I'm not too sure about the patron fratenizing policy, so claiming that might be a risk. I'm not about to go the 'I'm not interested in single mothers' route, though that's the truth. And claiming gayness seems like more trouble than it's worth. I decide to be somewhat honest) "I mean, it's flattering, but my life is so busy and stressful right now I don't think I'll have time." (A risk, since my life is actually loaded with time and about as non-stressful as you can get. I'm a full-time student with a part-time library job, how much more non-stress can you get?)

DSM: (Not understanding) "I understand" (Pulls a slip of paper from my desk and jots down something) "But here's my number. Anytime you want to talk or do something, I'll be there." (Quickly walks away before I can figure out a way not to keep her number)

I really hope she isn't expecting me to call. I don't want to be mean, but there's no way that I'd go on a date with someone I don't remember, who asked me out while I was at work. Sorry, but it don't come in that flavor

Are Those Bears Even Legal?

At Paradise Plaza. The entire library world has been liberated. Today is April 16th. While we had scores of patrons come in demanding free tax services prior to this lovely day, there is now a dramatic drop-off with inquiries. To celebrate this fact, the staff was kind of taking it easy. There was an ease and flow about today. Everyone was in a good mood, we were freer with stickers, lots of smiles. And then Stinky Homeless Dude comes in. (He reeks of like industrial cleaner and pixie sticks)((He also kind of sounded like Will Ferrel's impersonation of Harry Carry))

Stinky Homeless Dude: "Hey!"

Me: "Yes sir, can I help you?"

SHD: (Long pause) "I bet you're glad to be done with taxes!"

Me: "Most certainly" (chuckling a bit to see if he's going to laugh along. He doesn't)

SHD: "Well, you gotta do your taxes. I did mine last year."

Me: "So did I, but the government keeps wanting more" (Trying again to get a shared laugh going. Critical failure once again. You'd think I'd learn)

SHD: "Bulls@#$! If you ask me, they're nothing but a bunch of cheaters! Money-grubbing hucksters! They tried to audit me once!"

Me: "I bet that wasn't a good day."

SHD: (Finally laughing) "You bet it wasn't a good day! For them! I sicked my drop bear on that IRS agent! I don't think they ever missed him!"

Me: (Horrified beyond all measure)

SHD: "Anyway! Can I get on an internet!?"

I did not choose to argue with this man. So not only did he boast about killing a member of the IRS audit team, his method of execution was sicking a carnivorous koala on him. I can't respond to that. Score one for the crazies.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's Called a Bra. B-R-A

At the Redwell Waters branch, where I get this horrifying patron.

A woman comes in and asks if we can look in the lost and found. She had left her driver's licence and other personal information at the library and wished to see if we had found it. However, what was truly disturbing about this woman was her bosom, which was located underneath her waistline. No exaggeration, she was drooping hardcore. Furthermore, she was a hand-talker, gesturing wildly to punctuate her quirey.

So here's what the whole conversation was like on my end:

Droopy: (Waving hands to get my attention, which also results in her shirt moving in ways that aren't wholesome) "Do you see my licence!?!?"

Me: "Not yet"

Droopy: (Leaning over the desk in order to see my progress. Of course, her chest was totally on the counter. I was honestly fearful that she'd expose herself from the bottom of her shirt) "Are you sure it's not there?"

Me: (Trying my hardest not to wretch. This desire to be rid of her disturbing chest only spurs my efforts. I really want to find her information) "Wait, I think I see it"

Droopy: (She jumps back off the desk, making the most horrifying movement yet. Too much independence in the bosom area) "Oh! Thank you!"

I'm still disturbed by her attire. I mean, I know it's biological, but things weren't meant to droop that low

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oh Those Sneaky Patrons

At the Taylor branch, back at work for the first time since going on funeral leave (Fraternity brother, guy I rushed with and lived next door to for all four years. Brain tumor. Cancer. Nasty stuff. He was 23). Trying my hardest to maintain decent patron relation skills in order to offset the ongoing sad thoughts. Luckily, the wackiness of patrons came through when I needed surreal humor the most. Woman walks up to the desk with a reference book.

Sly Lady Patron: "Yes, I want to get this book renewed"

Me: "I'll need to see your card" (Scan it into the computer) "Okay, it says here you have nothing checked out"

SLP: "No, I checked this book out 3 weeks ago. I just want to renew it"

Me: "I'm sorry, but your account doesn't have anything checked out." (I notice that it's a non-circulating item) "Also, those reference books don't check out. See the star on the binding"

SLP: (Now realizing that the jig is up) "Bye" (Darts out of the building)

As near as I can figure it out, she thought she could get around the whole "THIS ITEM DOES NOT CIRCULATE" stamp with her clever lies. I'd like to think that she planned this out for weeks, waiting for the exact moment to spring her genius on the unsuspecting library world. I guess all my years of education were for naught, since they never covered how to deal with such brilliance. I'm so thankful that I unexpectedly foiled her little plot, or else I'd be fleeced something good!