Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Help Yourself

While this is a self-serve type of library for the most part, the patrons seem to think this includes all objects and persons they can get their sweaty little paws on. This story isn’t so much funny as my desperate need to share my horror and try to make sense of it all.

Just recently, we had a perfect example of patrons who have problems with boundaries or at least basic human respect. During lunch, our AV desk is unmanned and only two people are at the information desk to deal with the lunch crowd until our comrades in arms bravely return. My trusty companion and AV librarian in her own right Mae Kyl and I were the ones to serve our time in that dubious position.
Quite suddenly, we got buzzed on our phone. We gave our standard “information” reply and readied ourselves to be informed by the secretary of an incoming call.“We need help back here.” A gruff, foreign voice said. Mae and I exchanged confused glances for a long moment trying to identify the voice and figure out why a staff member would say that. Since it was coming from her domain, Mae had to deal with it by default. (I love hiding behind my job description!).

She quickly darted back to AV. When she finally returned a few minutes later, the rage on her face made me relocate the scissors and break out our emergency supply of chocolate. It turns out that one of the patrons had decided that they were just a little too lazy to walk the extra thirty feet to the information desk and used our phone to buzz the desk…the phone that has a large sign strapped onto it telling the public that it is for staff use only….And no, these people were not handicapped in any way (unless you count their people skills).

But wait, there’s more.

It was a couple and the man had decided to plop his sweaty, dirty self down at the desk. Never mind that there was a chair two feet away for patron use. Oh no, he had to sit in our chair smelling...I kid you not...so strongly of excrement that I thought he had a colostomy bag (smelled it all day every time I passed AV). When informed that the phone was for staff use only, the woman snapped that the sign on the desk said to ask information for help.

The only time that a patron will actually read a sign is to twist it to their own needs.

But wait, it gets better!

The woman then sneeringly told her husband that Mae probably wouldn’t let hum use the staff chair either but “that’s alright, you can trip ‘er as she walks by.”\

Yes, that’s right, she said it. At this point I’d like to give a round of applause for Mae because no one ended up dead…except for the chair, it’s never smelled the same after that despite the dousing of Lysol it received. Funeral services will be held Saturday.

I listened to her relate this tale with my mouth agape and could not think of a single thing to say. Me…miss verbal diarrhea was left speechless…that was my level of shock. As much as I like patrons taking care of themselves in the library, this is too much. I also like the fact that they can threaten us and we have no recourse. Where else in life can you threaten somebody without being incarcerated? I can’t walk into a store and threaten to trip the woman who monopolizes the entire isle without 3 civil suits slapped on me. I can’t tell someone I’m going to hit him or her if they don’t hurry up in the ATM line without the SWAT team being called in. So why, oh why, is it okay to hurt a librarian?! Who will be our champion in the face of such evil?

That’s it, I don’t care what the director says, tomorrow I’m bringing my flame-thrower to work. Job satisfaction will go up and I guarantee patron complaints will go down.

This blog is brought to you by the makers of Lysol. Friend to Librarians everywhere. We’d all die of plague if it weren’t for you.


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