Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What's in a name?

A post over on on Love the Liberry and a recent policy change in my own system has me thinking. Apparently, there was a vote I don't even remember at our recent staff day to give us new employee badges that will only have our title and not our names. The reason: these badges will save the county money by being generic and badges can be reused after an employee leaves a position. The real reason: Creepy McCreeperson is about to have a restraining order against him for stalking one of our teen pages, Old Lady Crazy-Make-Up is leaving nearly 10 messages a day on a coworker's voicemail, and Home-Schooling-Mom-of-13 thinks another coworker is her personal librarian/research assistant.
Ok, so it's not the official reason, but things have gotten a little weird around here within the last few months with patrons having boundary issues with staff. Yes, we are friendly, but that's because we are paid to do it. We are not friendly because we enjoy hearing hour long stories about your sick parrot and want to be your friend. We are having too many issues with patrons calling and wanting to speak with one person and one person only. This would be different perhaps if it were for the branch manager or a specific question, but instead it is for a specific staff member and usually something that can be answered by anyone.
What I'd like to do instead is allow everyone to create a stage name to use at work. The staff member who's obsessed with "True Blood" can be Sookie, our dirty joke telling old AV guy can be Buck Naked for all I care.
Don't get me wrong, I like helping people and it is nice to have someone seek out your help because they enjoyed the service you provided. However, it isn't so nice when a patron who has learned your name calls the library and pretends to be your dad in order to talk to you, or calls the police and says you stole her laptop, or shouts your name across the library and threatens to physically assault you for not allowing them to check out a book. Yes, all of these things have happened to me on the job and a generic ID badge probably won't eliminate all of those problems, but maybe if I can start going by my alterego I won't have to make that mad dash from the building to my car everynight, looking over my shoulder and running in a zig-zag formation to avoid snippers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bugs and other pests @ your library

We have had an ant problem at our branch for quite some time, so it's not uncommon for a patron to report ants in the children's storytime room, or to get emails with the subject line "Ants in 200's - tell exterminator when you see him!"
A couple weeks ago I received an inner office memo from admin and when I took out the paper I saw that an ant had traveled with it. So why were we surprised when one of our pages noticed that there were actual ant hills, several of them in the staff lunch room lining the wall? Or maybe, why are we surprised period when we're leaving Phyllis's old birthday cake out all night?!

In a new email this morning, a coworker reported the addition of a baby mouse being spotted in the kitchen. I emailed her back asking how she knew it was a baby, but didn't get a response (maybe I like asking asshole questions), instead she asked if we should put traps out. This sent me into a flashback from my old job when we had a rat and my boss kept putting glue traps out, which I collected behind him and promptly threw away. The glue traps are disgusting if you've ever come across an occupied on and I've always felt they are inhumane. I also liked this rat because he, or one of his friends or relatives, had a hole right outside my window and I'd spend some mornings (after I'd played zookeeper, checked my email 17 times, and zoned out long enough) watching him dig in his hole. First he would dig with his front feet, then switch and dig with his back, then switch again. I felt like I was watching National Geographic at home, except I was sitting next to a basement level window at work. To reward my rat friend, I would often dump my remaining french fries from the McDonald's across the street into his hole. It made my boss pissed, but I didn't care, and one day I thought I saw the rat waving at me, but I had also been breathing in varnish all morning in a poorly ventilated basement library.
What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, I never got to eat any of Phyllis's cake.

Monday, May 3, 2010

You lower those eyebrows, missy!

Woman approaches the reference desk slowly as if I am a small animal that might get frightened and run. Her whole way of moving is what makes me look up, her spidery legs taking steps forward from the circulation desk, but the entire upper part of her body is stiff. There is a frozen smile on her face, her eyes are bulging to the size of golf balls and the eyebrows are raised so high they are almost to her hairline.
Possibly Crazy Woman: Hiiiiiiii, there. How are you doing?
Me: (thinks: Greaaaat. Someone who wants a favor from me) Hello. How can I help you?
PCW: The funniest thing happened: I've been waiting and waiting for this The Lovely Bones to come in, and I finally got the call it was ready and I come to pick it up and it's the book on CD version, not the DVD.
Whenever someone says "the funniest thing happened" it usually isn't funny at all, but something that reflects their stupidity.
Me: ... Would you like me to request you the DVD version?
PCW: Well, you see, I went to go do that myself, but I noticed that I'd be number 80 and it doesn't seem fair for me to have to go to the end of the wait list, just because I put a hold on the wrong one.
Me: But you see, it wouldn't be fair to put you at the front of the list to everyone who put the right format on hold.
Her expression doesn't change. I'm slightly concerned she is trying to mentally bend me to her will.
Me: I'm sorry, I can request the DVD for you, but I can't move you to the front of the wait list.
PCW: ...?

Finally, it seemed she understood that she wasn't going to get what she wanted just because she made googly eyes at me and spoke in a sugary voice. Her smile faded and her eyeballs receded back into her skull, but her eyebrows stayed raised, as if she was surprised someone told her 45-year-old-SUV-driving-white-lady-with-fake-nails-and-spray-tan ass "no" for the first time.