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Well Worth The Wait

, , , | Right | August 17, 2021

I work for a well company. Most of the time, I am completely by myself at the office once the guys all leave for their jobs around 7:30 am, until at least early afternoon.

Once in a while, a random customer will drive all the way here instead of calling to ask about service for their well, pump, tank, etc. Usually, I can talk to them, look up their file, and give the information to our service tech to make an appointment.

A man comes in through the entrance downstairs. The office is upstairs, so I go to the top of the stairs.

Me: “Can I help you?”

Customer: “Yes! I need to talk to someone about a problem with my well.”

He walks upstairs to talk with me, telling me about his problem as if I would know what he’s talking about, while simultaneously complaining that our business sign is by the road but not on the actual building where we rarely receive customers.

Me: “Well, the service tech is out on jobs already for the day, but I can take a message and get it to him.”

It is about 9:30 am.

Customer: “Oh, really? This early?”

Me: “Yep, they’re gone by 7:30, usually earlier.” *Gets a pen ready* “What’s your name?”

Customer: “Oh, wait. No, I’d better give you my mom’s name since it’s her house. She just moved in and your company’s name was on the well.”

He gives me her name.

Me: “Okay, and what’s the address? Maybe I can find the paperwork on the computer.”

Customer: “Uh… three something… I think it’s near this road.”

Me: “Okay… what’s her phone number? Maybe we can call her and ask?”

Customer: “Oh… Um… You would ask me that, huh…”

Me: *Pauses* “I can’t really help you without any of this information.”

Customer: “Yeah… I’m just gonna have to call you back. I guess I should have called instead of coming all this way.”

Me: “Okay, you do that. Thanks.”

He walked away and left.

This Is Why We Need Black History Month, Part 2

, , , , , , | Right | June 18, 2021

It’s 1988 and I have been with the library for not quite a year.

Black History Month is upon us and children of all shapes, sizes, colors, and cute smiles are looking for information on various famous people.

But they clearly do not know what or who they are looking for.

Child #1: “I am doing a report on a famous black singer. Her name is Martha.”

Me: “Oh, good choice. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were a great singing group!” 

Child #1: “There’s another Martha? My report is on Martha Luther and her Kings.”

Next child:

Child #2: “I need a book on a famous black man who got his leg shot off during the war.”

Me: “Um, I am going to need more information than that. Which war are we talking about?”

Child #2:The war.”

Me: “Honey, there have been lots of wars over the years. Was it the Civil War? The American Revolution? World War II?”

Child #2: “The Revolution! Yes, the revolution! When the people came here from England to fight the Americans to free the slaves.”

We finally figured out we were looking for Crispus Attucks, though I don’t remember him getting his leg “shot off,” only that he was among the first killed at the start of the Revolution.

And then there were the inventors. Not Lattimer or McCoy or Madame C.J. Walker. No, we are talking about the well-known John Doe. Mary Smith. Lotta Peeples. Who “invented” THE comb. The hairbrush. THE washing machine. And of course, the kids needed at least five books on each of these people.

No surprise, there were none. Cue child sobbing because they have to write an eight page paper on this person.  

We had to start writing a form letter to teachers (which soon became known as the Dear Dummy letter) explaining that back in the day, many, many, many people created and patented a new version of the hairbrush or the comb, or created and patented a different version of a wringer for a hand-cranked washing machine. Or new buttons. Or corsets. Shaving creams…

We had to explain that these people were black, white, Hispanic, or Asian background, and that the only reason we know they existed and what their race was is because the forms for the patent office included a little box for this. ALL we know about the inventor is his or her invention, their name, the number assigned their patent… and their race.

Regardless of their race, there are not five paragraphs, let alone five books on each person.

Imagine having to send that out daily with an extra line scrawled at the bottom saying, “Please allow [Student] to choose a new topic so he won’t flunk your class.”

Every year for closing in on ten years, the head of the tech department where patents were kept would contact teachers and explain that we could not supply five books on the life of a citizen who happened to try making something new for an already existing device, so please don’t ask kids to write a ten-page paper on them. Every year, the teachers would say they understood… and then send the kids in to research the same obscure people anyway.

And of course, my favorite kid was the one who came in with his dad. The child darted across the floor to the desk, leaned against it, and crowed, “Hey! Where your dead black people at?” His father — both were African American — did a facepalm and shook his head. He said, “Son, they aren’t keeping the bodies on ice out back. Tell the lady who you want to read about.”

That exchange had the dad and I laughing for most of the exchange. I miss those days, as the demand for writing reports has fallen off. I just hope I never have to explain to another child that the singer she wants to report on is actually a Civil Rights Leader.

This Is Why We Need Black History Month

Your Reason For Being Here Does Not Compute

, , , , | Right | May 24, 2021

It’s 1989. Computers in public libraries are just becoming a thing. Thanks to the generosity of the local rotary club, we have several refurbished office desktop-style computers that patrons can use.

Most patrons need just a little help to get going and then are able to figure out what to do on their own until they need to print, at which point we help them again. Most everyone is very excited by the prospect of being able to use computers to write and think it is wonderful that the Rotarians were good enough to donate the money for the refurbished computers.

And then there’s this guy.

He complains about the lack of quality. He complains because the computers aren’t new. That the keys look grubby. That we only have dot-matrix printers. That the computers aren’t in a private spot. That no one will sit and hold his hand while he writes. 

Patron: *Sniffing as he demands more help* “You must realize, I am used to better. I have a complete computer system at home that cost me over $8,000. The printer prints in crisp black lettering, not this dot-matrix crap. This is appalling service!”

I am still fairly new to the job and young enough to think I can get away with just about anything that comes out of my mouth.

Me: “Well, sir, if I owned an $8,000 computer setup, I can guarantee I would not be journeying downtown to use crap refurbished library computers.”

Patron:Well, if I didn’t come to use the computers, I would never visit this ugly library.”

Me: “Well, sir…”

I let the sentence trail off. I was young and rash but not stupid enough to finish that sentence which would have been, “…this would not be a problem for the rest of us.”

But I did give him a significant amount of stink-eye. He stormed out. I still wonder who that jerk was trying to impress.

Don’t Trust. Just Verify.

, , , , , | Legal | May 13, 2021

It’s a Saturday, nothing especially noteworthy going on. I’m on my computer in my room and my mom’s down the hall watching TV. Suddenly, my phone rings; it’s my grandpa.

Me: “Hey, Grandpa! How are you?”

Grandpa: “[My Name], I’m at the bank. I have the money! Are you all right?”

Me: “What? I’m fine, Grandpa. What money?”

Grandpa: “The money you told me to send you! Are you all right? Are you in prison?”

I leap up, freaked out.

Me: “Prison?! What are you talking about?! Grandpa, I’m at home!”

Grandpa: “You’re… not in prison? Does your mother know?”

Me: “No! I’m in my room, at home! Mom’s right down the hall. Do you need to talk to her?”

Grandpa: “I think I might, yes.”

I go to my mom’s room.

Me: “Hey, uh, Grandpa’s on the phone, and I think something weird is going on.”

I handed her the phone and they talked for a while.

Apparently, some scammer had called my grandpa with the ol’ “Grandpa, it’s me, your grandson!” And my grandpa, being, you know, old, didn’t realize it wasn’t me, dropping my name and giving the scammer a chance to latch onto it. The scammer then gave him a sob story about how “I” had taken a trip to the city and gotten “myself” arrested somehow and that my grandpa needed to wire “me” a large sum of money to pay bail. The scammer also insisted that my grandpa not tell my mother about this, which he agreed to for some reason. He was already at the bank, checkbook in hand, but luckily, he had the presence of mind at that point to call my actual cell phone to confirm I was okay. 

The good news is that he didn’t lose any money. The bad news is that my mom was pretty pissed at him for a while for nearly getting scammed and for the notion that if I were in prison, he would attempt to keep that secret from her.

Dam, That’s A Good One

, , , , , | Learning | April 30, 2021

One April morning, the student body got an email.

“In an emergency announcement, it has been reported that the beavers that own [School] are tearing it down. It will be closed Friday, and on Monday, we will resume study in dams. I have included their locations and which students will be attending them in the attachment.

[Attachment]: Beaver Dam Classroom Arrangement

Mabel Syrup

CEO, Beaver Loan Corp”

When I opened the attachment, it had only two words:

“April Fools!”