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Inattentive About Attendance

, , , , , , | Learning | April 23, 2021

Back when I was in middle school, when students completed eighth grade, the school would have a “graduation” to celebrate the student’s move up to high school. This graduation was similar to high school graduation; however, it focused more on the achievements of students, with many awards given. From academic achievements to sports achievements, almost every student received an award.

I was always a high achieving student, but I was never the top one — I missed being in the top 5% of my graduating class from high school by one person, for example — so I knew it was unlikely I would receive any academic awards.

My claim to fame at the time was the fact that I hadn’t missed a day of school since kindergarten. I know, nowadays everyone realizes how bad it is to give an award for coming to school when sick, but back then it really mattered to me. To get the perfect attendance award at the graduation, you had to not have missed a single day of seventh and eighth grade: two full years of classes you had to go to. And I had.

This was additionally impressive because I had a birth deformity that caused me to have over a dozen surgeries by the time I graduated high school. Over my time in middle school, I had two surgeries. Despite being in tremendous pain and taking strong painkillers, I was always in school long enough for it to count.

The day before the graduation, I went to the front office to ask a question about something unrelated and got on the topic of graduation with the secretary who was assisting me. I asked about the perfect attendance award, and while she told me she wasn’t allowed to release the names of who was getting what award before graduation, she did know there was one name for that award. I thought that confirmed it; I was guaranteed at least one award.

The next evening was graduation. I was super excited, as is any student; we all thought we were so cool, about to start high school. The night was wearing on, and we got to the final few awards. I hadn’t received a single award, which I expected, but I wasn’t upset because I knew my award was coming. Finally, they announced the award, went on a spiel about how some years no one wins this award, but this year there was one!

I was getting ready to stand, as I was also on crutches for an unrelated injury to my ankle; the student sitting next to me knew I was expecting this award and had agreed to help me stand up when it came.

They announced the name… and it wasn’t me. I was so upset, and the other kid looked a bit confused. I almost started crying at graduation. The awards finished and I didn’t receive anything.

I found a friend and expressed how upset I was, and he mentioned that we should talk to the guidance counselor. We eventually found her, and I expressed how upset I was that my name wasn’t called for the award. She initially gave me some pushback — apparently, a computer program spits out the correct students for each award so it’s “never wrong” — but I pushed too. She said she would check as a favour to me, and we left her.

Before the end of the night, the counselor found me again with my parents. She told me she’d read the program incorrectly; I was the only person to get perfect attendance. The student whose name was called had only missed one day and was second on the list. She told me she would print out another certificate and get it dropped off at my homeroom for the next morning.

At this point, it meant nothing to me. As a middle schooler who was smart but not the smartest, athletic but not the most athletic, and going through what I would later realize was a depressive episode, this was supposed to be my one moment to shine. My homeroom teacher the next morning tried to make a point to present my award, but no one really cared. I got home and threw the award away.

I learned my lesson, though: my next surgery, I took an entire week off school and really milked my recovery period.

Eight years later in college, I now have problems seeing the importance of attending classes, because that one teacher let me down when it meant the most to me.

An Ugly Side Of Society Has Been Unmasked, Part 11

, , , , | Right | April 11, 2021

As I’m walking in to pick up my order at a fast food place, a guy not wearing a mask shoulders past two employees, ignoring them when they call out to him. The girl at the cash register steps back and speaks calmly.

Employee: “I’m sorry, sir, but we can’t serve you without a mask.”

Customer: “I’ll wait for my food out in my car, but you can’t make me put on a mask. I want—”

Employee: “Sir, I’m not allowed to serve anyone who isn’t wearing a mask.”

Customer: *Quickly getting agitated* “You people need to learn the g**d*** law. You can’t force me to wear a mask! You’re discriminating against me because of my political beliefs! What if I had a health condition?!”

Employee: “Sir, the sign says—”

Customer: “You’re all a bunch of f****** robots!”

Everyone else was very tense, and I saw one other customer start to reach for their phone, but luckily, the guy quickly stormed out, although not before flipping everyone off with both hands.

An Ugly Side Of Society Has Been Unmasked, Part 10
An Ugly Side Of Society Has Been Unmasked, Part 9
An Ugly Side Of Society Has Been Unmasked, Part 8
An Ugly Side Of Society Has Been Unmasked, Part 7
An Ugly Side Of Society Has Been Unmasked, Part 6

There’s No Talking Her Out Of This

, , , | Right | March 26, 2021

It’s not uncommon for elderly patrons to come in or call the library to have someone to talk to. We understand this and try to give them attention, but it can be a problem if there’s a line or it’s a busy day. This woman calls about three times a week, either to find out about the items she just purchased or to ask us to find the phone numbers of people she used to know.

In this case, she is looking for neighbors who moved.

She goes through an extensive explanation of the current people moving in and wants everything I can find on the company named on the side of the van. I find their Yelp reviews and read a few to her. In the next breath, she asks:

Old Lady: “Now, I need the phone number of the people who used to live in that house. They live in [State] now and their name is [Last Name]. I think they must have a new number.”

I imagine that this family must have recently moved, given that another family is just moving in, and they probably don’t even have a phone set up yet. I don’t bother saying this to her because, in her mind, everything happens right away and everything is set up to suit her, even when it isn’t her phone or her house we’re talking about.

I look all this up for her, but I can’t find anything about this family in a town in [State]. She just KNOWS they will want to hear from her as she used to call them every day. I try every permutation of the name on every combination and form of online White Pages available to us at the time.

Me: “[Old Lady], I don’t know what to tell you, but there is no one by that name living in [State] or anywhere around [State]. There are some people listed by that name, but the article is an obituary.”

Old Lady: “I don’t understand; they moved there over twenty-five years ago, and I used to call them all the time. They must have changed their number recently, or maybe they got an unlisted number.”

That’s when it all clicks together. When I get off the phone, almost forty minutes after we began, I relate the story to my coworker, who shakes his head. 

Coworker: “Dying was probably the only way they could get her to stop calling.”

Documentation Frustration

, , , , | Right | March 15, 2021

Thirty-plus years ago, when important documents from the government were only available to the public on paper at approved public libraries, it was common for scholars and researchers to call and ask that every part of a document be brought to the main reference area so they could study the item. Some government documents — in this case, the hearings on JFK’s assassination — are in many, many parts.

A self-proclaimed Kennedy scholar is on the phone:

Caller: “Hi, is this the downtown library?”

Me: “Yes, sir. This is the downtown library.”

Caller: “I am doing a very important research paper for my doctorate and I will need all the books pertaining to the Kennedy assassination. My name is [Caller] and I will be there in a few minutes.”

Me: “Of course. We will have them on a cart at the main reference area, sir.”

Caller: “I want to check them out.”

Me: “Sir, this item does not circulate because of its rarity. You would need to study the sections here. Actually, even if it did circulate, the number of sections is in the double digits and you wouldn’t be able to carry them all.”

Caller: “Well, you’ll need to keep them downstairs for me as I will need to come in every day.”

Me: “That’s fine, sir. We can keep it on the main floor indefinitely and just roll the cart into the back when you aren’t using it.”

I leave my boss and another colleague at the desk, grab a book cart, take the elevator up to the documents floor — which is closed to the public — and load the entire series onto the cart. It requires some creative placement since there are more parts to the series than there is space to stack it.

I bring it all downstairs and wait for the imperious scholar to show. I attach a card with the name to the cart.

By closing, he hasn’t shown up.

Nor does he show up for three weeks. We need the cart, so we stack the books on an empty shelf behind the desk. Another three weeks pass. My supervisor and I take turns saying we should reshelve it, but we keep getting sidetracked by other more pressing tasks. Finally, my supervisor and I are sick of looking at it, and it’s taking up room we need.

Supervisor: “We have to get this reshelved. But we’ve dealt with this jerk before and I just know he’s going to come in ten minutes after we’ve put it away.”

Me: “Well, we’ll get some exercise, right?”

Finally, we organized it, tracked down the page responsible for shelving government documents, and sent him upstairs to put it all away.

Not twenty minutes later, and about half an hour before closing, guess who showed up to throw a hissy fit and to insist he had been using it for the last two months?

We were involved with other projects, pointed out the time, and told him it would be waiting for him tomorrow morning.

If you guessed that we brought the whole thing back downstairs and that we never saw him again, you get a cookie.

Optical Delusion

, , , | Right | March 5, 2021

A patron calls me over to the computer and indicates the screen.

Patron: “It’s blurry. I cannot see it properly. Fix it, please.”

I am looking at a crystal-clear image on the screen.

Me: “Sir, I don’t know what you mean. The image is perfectly clear.”

Patron: “Not for me. It is blurry. Please make it clearer.”

Me: “Sir, there is no way for me to make the image sharper than it is. It is absolutely crisp and clean.”

Patron: “Well, I left my glasses at home and the image is blurry, so adjust it so I can see it clearly.”

Me: “Sir, the only way I can do that is by driving you home so you can get your glasses, and since I am the only one here, I am not allowed to leave the desk.”

He was super-duper cranky about that, but he never forgot his glasses again. I mean… seriously?