The Public Is Me And No One Else

, , , , , , | Right | February 15, 2019

(I am a customer in this story, doing some work in the public library because it’s usually quiet at home. This library has special Microfilm computers which are free to use for people to look up family history, etc. I am sitting on a desk next to a free one when a middle-aged lady with a walking stick comes to the end of the aisle and starts complaining to a member of staff.)

Lady: “It’s not fair that all the machines are being used! Someone should move!”

(I’m a little confused, because I can see a number of free machines, but I take it that this lady wants a particular one and is hoping if she complains loud enough, someone will move and she’ll get it.)

Library Staff: “There more machines over there.” *points to the other end of the room* “Or, if you’d like, you can go over to the search desk and they’ll be able to look it up for you. Is there anything in particular you’d like to look for?”

Lady: “No, I’d like a machine to use. It’s not fair when other people use them or students come in and use them. These machines aren’t meant for them!”

Library Staff: “The machines are for public use, and if students are using them for their intended purpose, then they can use them. If you’re not willing to use the machines over there, there’s nothing I can do to help you.”

(An elderly man tries to help and point her in the right direction to a free machine, but she just gets angrier.)

Lady: “FINE! I guess I’ll just go and have a walk round, then, if that’s what you want! Honestly! The nerve of some people!”

(She starts to hobble towards me, sees the empty machine, and pounces. I think this is the end of the whole thing, but she turns and says.)

Lady: “See? Someone obviously heard me complaining and left because they were afraid they were in the wrong. It’s not about how or what you say, it’s about how threateningly you can say it! And if that doesn’t work, hit them with your cane!”

(She then proceeded to go about her work and left me alone, but I couldn’t help but think what an entitled a** she was. And they call my generation “snowflakes.”)

These Boots Were Made For Beeping

, , , , , , | Learning | February 11, 2019

In middle school, my class takes a field trip to a major government library to research a history project. It’s worth mentioning that at the time, I am a bit of a punk-y tomboy. They have some very sensitive and valuable documents inside, so everyone is required to go through a metal detector before they can enter.

Most of the class goes through with only minor hiccups, like forgotten change or house keys. Then I go through. The detector beeps, and I’m confused because I only have a cheap necklace on that I was sure wouldn’t set it off, but I remove it anyway and try again. Again, the machine beeps.

This prompts me to have to go through every pocket I have — quite a few as I like wearing cargo pants — and after a few more failures I even leave my emptied coat with the guard. Still no luck. Finally, they break out a wand to try to pinpoint the issue. The wand is silent until they get to my shoes, where it starts beeping madly, and I realize with horror that I completely forgot that the boots I’m wearing are steel-toed. The guards immediately break out laughing, as no one even considered the idea that petite, blond, thirteen-year-old me would be wearing men’s work boots.

I wasted about fifteen minutes of everyone’s time in the end, and my classmates teased me for weeks about being a shoe-bomber. At least they didn’t take my boots from me!

Attitudes Need To Move Out Of The Way

, , , | Right | February 4, 2019

(I am a volunteer at my local library. I shelve books and organize the shelves, and have been doing so for the past three years. On occasion, while I am shelving, someone will come up to me and ask for directions to a specific book, or something minor, and they are always polite. Today is… different. I have a couple of audio CDs to put away, and there is a somewhat elderly lady standing in front of the shelf that I need to put the CDs away on. I wait for about a minute, and she shows no sign of leaving.)

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am, I’ll just be a moment. I need to put these away.”

(She moves to the side. I leave one of them on the top of the shelf and put the other away, as they have different codes, and then stand back up to reach for the first one.)

Lady: “You shouldn’t do that.”

Me: “Sorry? Do what?”

Lady: “You shouldn’t ask patrons to move. That’s very rude. You ought to wait.”

Me: “I apologize for the inconvenience, but I need to put these away.”

Lady: “No, no, no, you need to wait. Did they not train you at all?”

Me: “Ma’am, I’ve been here for three years—“

(She moves back in front of the shelf, blocking where I need to put the other CD away. I shut up and wait a minute. Again, she shows no sign of leaving, and I start to become irritated.)

Me: “Ma’am, I really need to put this away.”

Lady: “I don’t care. You need to wait for me to finish.”

Me: “I don’t have time to wait, ma’am; I have other books to put away, as well. Now, please, I’ll just be a moment.”

Lady: “Well, I never!” *storms off in a huff*

(Meanwhile, another volunteer has been standing not ten feet away, listening to the whole thing. As I finally put away the CD and pass her on the way back, she rolls her eyes in the direction of the lady.)

Co-Volunteer: “Some people.”

Me: “Tell me about it.”

The Brightest Things In The Library Are The Librarians

, , , , , | Hopeless | February 3, 2019

The library has a light therapy lamp for winter blues. On this day, I’d been specifically planning to use the lamp, and I’d been having a bit of a bad day, so it was pretty important to me. Usually, no one is using it, but when I got there, there were people sitting in both of the seats. I waited ten or fifteen minutes and then asked them how long they planned to use the lamp; there’s a sign on the lamp asking patrons to limit their use if there are people waiting to use it.

They said they were going to be there a while. I told them I was hoping to use the light therapy lamp for a little bit; they muttered a few things, and while I didn’t catch the exact words, the general gist was that they weren’t moving.

I wasn’t assertive enough to press the issue or show my displeasure, but I was pretty upset, since they’d clearly been there for a while before I even got there, and I suspected they weren’t even using the lamp for light therapy. I was also angry at myself, for not being assertive both in that situation and in general.

I wanted to ask a librarian for help, but I was too nervous to, both because I didn’t want to be “that person” and because I was afraid the two patrons would overhear and get mad at me. But a few minutes later, one of the librarians, who had apparently noticed the situation, came up to me and offered to move the lamp to where I was. Presumably, those two patrons didn’t actually need it; I suppose they were only attached to the seats.

I was really surprised and really grateful to her for doing that. She helped make my bad day a lot better, especially since using the lamp was the last thing I planned to do before I went home. She also would have had to approach those two patrons to ask if they were all right with her taking the lamp, which came with a risk of them getting mad at her. And she did that on her own initiative, without being asked at all.

I’ve always liked the librarians here, but this is really going to stand out for me.

This Call Went South

, , , , | Right | February 1, 2019

(My town was founded as two towns back in the lumber baron days, and was made into one much later. Residents still know and refer to the areas on either side of the bridges over the river as “East Side” or “West Side.” This is important whenever giving directions, for example. It is my day to work the circulation desk at the library, and part of that includes fielding phone calls. I pick one up about halfway through the day.)

Me: “Circulation desk. This is [My Name] speaking. How may I help you?”

Caller: “Hello! I was hoping to get some directions to the library!”

Me: “Certainly! Our address is [address]. Does that sound familiar?”

Caller: “Not really…”

Me: “Hmm, well, are you East Side or West Side?”

Caller: “What?”

Me: “East [City] or West [City]? I can give you directions based off of that.”

Caller: “There’s an East and West [City] now?”

Me: “Er, as long as I’ve lived here… in [City], Michigan.”

Caller: *starts laughing!* “Oh, my God!”

Me: “What is it?”

Caller: “I meant to call the [Same City], Oregon library!”

Me: *starts laughing as well* “Yes, our library would be a bit of a drive!”

(We both had a good laugh about the mix-up. I wished her luck in her endeavor and spent the rest of my shift in a lighter mood!)

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