October Theme Of The Month: Halloween!

Category: Books & Reading

Caused by stupid customers who know how to read (and often those who don’t!), feel for the poor librarians or book store clerks who are often tasked with finding a book solely by the color of its cover.

Every Day The Same Old Storytime

| NC, USA | Bad Behavior, Books & Reading, Family & Kids

(I’m the manager of a small public library. Every Saturday morning, we hold a program for infants and young toddlers where our children’s librarian leads everyone in simple songs and nursery rhymes, then reads a very simple book. The babies are so engaged that they rarely cry, and they usually laugh, which even I think is the most adorable thing in the world. My coworker (who is a pro) and I are working the circulation desk when this happens. A woman storms up to my coworker as the program is beginning.)

Woman: *clearly annoyed, waving at the babies and parents* “How long is this going to be going on?”

Coworker: “Story time lasts about 30 minutes.”

Woman: *sputters* “How often do you do this?”

Coworker: “Every Saturday at 11 am.”

Woman: “Well, you should really post a sign about it! In bold type!”

(Note: There is such a sign, literally in bold type, 80 pt. font, four feet to her right on our “Events” bulletin board. There are two other copies of the same sign elsewhere in the building, in addition to the program being advertised on our website and the local paper’s events calendar. My coworker is naturally polite, though, and just stares at her as she stalks off.  She sits back down at the computer where she’s been working and huffs loudly for several minutes while the children’s librarian and parents sing “Jack Be Nimble” and “The Grand Old Duke of York.” Two minutes later, she’s back in front of my coworker.)

Woman: “They’re not even reading stories! They’re singing!”

(The group is currently singing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat.’)

Coworker: “Yes…”

Woman: “Singing!”

Coworker: “Yes…”

Woman: “You let BABIES in the library? BABIES!”

Coworker: “Yes.”

(She threw her hands up in the air, made a sound of disbelief, and stomped off again. She was lucky she got my incredibly chill coworker and not me, who would have pointed out the sign beside her and tried to give her a lecture about the importance of helping children get an early start in developing pre-literacy skills like syllable recognition.)

Climbing The Ladder Of Crazy

| CO, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(I work in an old-fashioned bookstore, with high shelves and a ladder attached to them that moves along the wall. I am standing at the very top of the ladder, balancing a box full of books between the ladder and myself. All of a sudden a customer comes racing towards me. She grabs the ladder and shoves it to one side, effectively knocking my box down.)

Customer: “It has to be right here! Where is it?!”

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am! Please be careful with the ladder. I’m high up and I could get hurt!”

Customer: *ignores me* “I need help finding a book. Help me now, please!”

(She then grabs the ladder again and yanks it the other way, causing me to fall off. Thankfully I hold onto the ladder, so now I’m dangling from the side of it. Another customer quickly runs over and helps me get down from the ladder.)

Customer: “Excuse me, I said I needed help! Stop helping him and help me!”

Me: “I wasn’t helping him; he was helping me get down from the ladder so that you don’t kill me! Were you trying to break my neck?”

Customer: “What? You weren’t on the ladder. I need help finding a book. I need a book that will tell me how to smoke.”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “I tried it and I must have done it wrong because I coughed like crazy.”

Me: “Ma’am, you came in here, nearly killed me, and you’re trying to find a book that doesn’t exist, because you think your natural reflexes are wrong?”

Customer: “Oh, I knew I should have gone to Barnes and Noble.” *leaves store*

Can’t Use That Trick In The Book

| KS, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests, Extra Stupid

(I am working at my town’s library over the summer when the phone rings. I don’t normally answer the phone because they often need something done on the computer, which as a part-timer I don’t use, but since my superior isn’t around, I answer it.)

Me: “[Town]’s Public Library, how can I help you?”

Caller: “Hello. I would like to return a book.”

Me: “Okay, then, there’s two ways you can do that: you can bring it in while we’re open and we can check it in then or you can come and put it in the drop-box bin which we will check it in as soon as we clear it.”

Caller: “Can’t I just tell you the name and you could check it in now?”

Me: “No, ma’am. We have to have the book to check it in.”

Caller: “That’s ridiculous! I have the book right here so you can check it in!”

Me: “No, ma’am. The book has to be back here at the library for me to be able to check it in.”

Caller: “You lazy workers, making me bring the book there when you could just check it in from here!” *click*

(At this time my supervisor comes back.)

Supervisor: “Were you just on the phone?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, and I’m am never answering that thing again!”

Handily Not Available

| NY, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(I am working alone at night at a small town library. The town also has a prison nearby. A customer approaches the desk.)

Customer: “I’d like to order a specific book.”

Me: “What’s the title?”

Customer: “‘How to Use Your Hands as Lethal Weapons.’ The prison librarian would never order it for me.”

(I was relieved that I couldn’t find it for him either!)


| TX, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests

(We have a semi-regular customer who comes in with ‘research projects,’ generally meaning she wants someone to find all the best, cheapest books on a particular subject for her. Today, it’s Monet. I’ve already spent way too much time walking her through available and in print books on a busy day.)

Me: “So these are the only ones available in the store today, but we can certainly order any of these titles for you.”

Customer: “You don’t understand. It’s very important and I need them now.”

Me: “Well, we can get them in about a week, or you might try [Nearby Store]. Their art section is larger than ours.”

Customer: “But I don’t want to have to go there! Call and find out if they have the books.”

(I call our competitor and check:)

Me: “They do have a selection of books on Monet to choose from.”

Customer: *in great exasperation* “Well, can’t they just bring them here?”

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