Nutty Nativity

| Auckland, New Zealand | Holidays, Theme Of The Month

(We had just finished putting up Christmas trees and decorations around the library, and I was taking work photos.)

American Tourist: “Oh, my god. What lovely trees. They look magnificent.”

Me: “Thanks.”

American Tourist: “Are you all going to put up a nativity scene as well?”

Me: “No. Unfortunately not.”

American Tourist: “Why not?”

Me: “Council directives.” *glancing around and whispering* “Council has directed us not to put up Christian related symbolism and displays.”

American Tourist: “And why the h*** not?”

Me: “Well, unfortunately, Christianity has a bit of a bad image in the eyes of some of our patrons due to perceived injustices, abuse, persecution, and so forth, from people they assume are acting under the name of God. I myself have had bad experiences with some evangelists, but I do not hold it against the religion personally.”

American Tourist: “That’s sad to hear.”

Me: “Funny thing is, it only applies to Christian displays.”

American Tourist: “What do you mean?”

Me: “If I want to put up a three-meter tall Buddha for Wesak day, I am allowed to turn this library into a Buddhist temple. If we wanted to splash out on a Divali display, we can drag in a giant blue statue of Krishna that can fill the mezzanine area. But a nativity scene, nope. Not allowed.”

American Tourist: “That’s discrimination.”

Me: “I know. Tell me about it. I think it’s unfair and discriminatory, and I’m not Christian. We’ve tried to get Council to back down, but have failed for the last five years. But I suppose if enough customers complain…”

American Tourist: “Ah… right. So where can I find some comment forms?”

Me: *points it to her*

American Tourist: “Right. I’ll get to it in a minute. Can I take photos? The trees are lovely.”

Me: “Usually, no. But what the hey, it’s the holidays, so one or two I suppose.”

American Tourist: “Thanks!”

(Suddenly, a local patron comments loudly between the both of us and points at the Christmas trees.)

Local: “Holy Jesus and Lord. Such displays of idolatry. Such sinful displays here in a public space. Jesus will be spinning in his grave to see such displays.”

(Both of us stand there silent for a minute or two.)

American Tourist: “You know what, dear? I’m not going to put in that complaint. Maybe the Council has a fair point after all.”

Half A Mind To Watch What You Say

| Veron, NJ, USA | At The Checkout, Family & Kids, Language & Words

(A father and son check out books and DVDs.)

Me: “That’s it. Books are due in two weeks and the DVDs are due in one. But you can return the books at the same time as the DVDs are due, if you have a mind to. Thank you.”

(A few minutes later, as they go in the children’s room:)

Son: “What did she mean by that, Daddy?”

Father: “Well, I think she’s from down South and it’s just a saying…”

(I’m watching what “down South” expressions I use now…)

Heed The Words Of Wisdom

| WA, USA | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Technology

(Our libraries offer self-checkout stations in addition to staff-assisted checkout. The self-check consists of a touch-screen monitor and barcode scanner. Using the scanner can take some practice. If it doesn’t get the entire item barcode an error message appears on the monitor. There are also several other error messages a customer can get regarding late fees, exceeding the checkout limit, etc. Because the monitors face customers and not the staff, we don’t know what error someone has unless we run around the counter to look. Some customers aren’t great at articulating which error message they’ve received or for asking for assistance at all.)

Customer: *scans an item* “There. Are. Words.”

Me: “I’m sorry? Did you get an err—”

Customer: “THERE ARE WORDS ON THE SCREEN!”

Me: “Let’s take a look. It’s asking you to tap the ‘OK’ button and scan the item again because it misread the barcode.”

Customer: *she jabs at the screen and re-scans the item aggressively*

Me: “Yay, it worked!”

Customer: *grunts and walks away*

Coworker: “If she couldn’t handle reading the screen, how will she manage with the book she’s checked out?”

An Attention Deficit Disorder

| PA, USA | Bad Behavior, Criminal/Illegal

(A patron grabs a pair of our headphones, puts them in her purse, and starts walking away.)

Me: “Ma’am, you can’t take our headphones away from the computer area.”

Patron: “Oh. I didn’t think you were paying attention, so I just took them. Is that okay?”

Me: “…no. No, it isn’t.”

Ask A Silly Question…

| MO, USA | Awesome Workers, Bizarre, Books & Reading

(I am in charge of our text service at the library where I work. We had a patron for a time who delighted in pranking us with odd or silly questions. We generally handle such instances in a very professional manner, but one evening when the patron texted in, I decided it was time to fight back.)

Patron: “How do I get to the library?”

Me: “The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.”

Patron: “Is there any way I can practice watching the live NFL draft in the library?”

Me: “Nope. So sorry. Try [Local Bar].”

Patron: “But I have a final test tomorrow.”

Me: “Then [Local Bar] probably isn’t a great idea.”

Patron: “Thank you for your generous advice.”

Me: “Always thrilled to be of service.”

Patron: “I accidentally whispered on the quiet floor of the library. What are the repercussions?”

Me: “Death. There is no alternative. But on the bright side, your folks will probably get a hefty life insurance payout.”

Patron: “Unfortunately no one has yet insured my life. However if you are interested I can arrange for payments.”

Me: “Oh, that’s very sad. Maybe they don’t love you. You deserve parents who will put a price on your life.”

Patron: “Touché, library person!”

Me: *bows; exeunt stage left*

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