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    Your Complaints Are On Thin Ice

    | Seattle, WA, USA | Top

    (Our location has two entrances, one of which is closed because of unsafe conditions on the adjacent sidewalk due to a recent snowstorm. A woman approaches me as I’m shelving books.)

    Patron: “Hi. You look like who I need to complain to.”

    Me: “Okay. What seems to be the problem?”

    Patron: “These conditions are unacceptable. I had to walk another block just to get in here. All because you and your employees are too lazy to pick up a shovel and clear that sidewalk.”

    Me: “Ma’am, we don’t have the say as to whether that sidewalk is open or not. The city made that decision yesterday for safety reasons.”

    Patron: “I should have known when I saw you that you weren’t going to help me. You have that kind of face.”

    Me: *speechless*

    (At this point, another patrons steps in at my defense.)

    Another Patron: “Excuse me, miss, I hope that you’re not referring to the sidewalk on [street]. My name is [name]. I’m a civil engineer for the city and I can assure that, given the water main rupture and the three feet of frozen ice/slush, it’s going to take an extensive amount of labor to clear and fix that sidewalk. Furthermore, I find it incredibly insensitive that you would complain about this inconvenience to you when, just the other day, a poor boy slipped and fell and broke both legs on that very sidewalk.”

    Patron: *dumbfounded* “Well, I didn’t…” *walks away*

    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 5

    | Central Florida, USA | Geography

    (This is during the 2008 primaries. Our library has been set up as an early voting center. We have information sheets to help the voters make their choices.)

    Customer: “I just don’t know what I should do. These things are so confusing. Who did you vote for?”

    Me: “I didn’t vote.”

    Customer: “That’s what’s wrong with you young people today. No ethics.”

    Me: “You misunderstand. I didn’t vote because I can’t vote.”

    Customer: *shocked* “Oh MY GOD! You’re a FELON? Why would they let a FELON work here?”

    Me: “No, ma’am. No. I’m not a citizen.”

    Customer: “Oh. You’re just saying that aren’t you?”

    Me: “No, ma’am. I’m not a citizen. Would you like to see my green card?”

    Customer: “So, you’re from Canada?”

    Me: “No, I’m from Europe.”

    Customer: “That’s in Canada, isn’t it?”

    Related:
    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 4
    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 3
    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 2
    Canada: America’s Hat

    Silence Is Golden

    | USA |

    Customer: *in writing* “Where are the encyclopedias?”

    Me: *slowly, making sure he can lip read me* “One floor up–”

    (The customer gestures me to write. I assume he can’t lip read. He goes on his way after I write the instructions. Suddenly there’s a crash and he looks towards the sound.)

    Me: “I thought you couldn’t hear!”

    Customer: *in writing* “Stop talking, this is a library!”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson Would Be Proud

    | Pennsylvania, USA | Bizarre

    Patron: “Do you have any books about division?”

    Me: “Sure, we have lots of books about arithmetic. One of them is bound to have what you’re looking for.”

    Patron: “Good. The radio frequencies around my house interfere with my calculator, so I have to learn math again.”

    Me: “Let me just show you those books.”

    The Horrors Of Mispronunciation, Part 4

    | Wisconsin, USA | Top

    Customer: “I want books on gynecology.”

    Me: “Okay. This way, please…”

    (I start to take her to the health section.)

    Customer: “Yeah, I really want to learn about my ancestors.”

    Me: *quickly change course to the genealogy section*

    Related:
    The Horrors Of Mispronunciation, Part 3
    The Horrors Of Mispronunciation, Part 2
    The Horrors Of Mispronunciation


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