Lost In Multiple Translations

| Mariehamn, Finland | Right | November 21, 2016

(I’m standing in line at the service desk at the library. It is located in a Swedish-speaking region of Finland. A patron is in front of me.)

Patron: “Hi! I’m looking for a book. A very specific book.”

Librarian: *very friendly and accommodating* “Of course. Do you have the title or the name of the author so I can look it up for you?”

Patron: “Well, here’s where you can help me, because I can’t remember the title of the book. Or who wrote it. But I think it was about an Italian girl… or a woman. Maybe she was French, by the way. Or Finnish. Somewhere from that area anyway.”

Librarian: *still friendly* “All right…”

Patron: “There also may have been a crocodile involved in the book somehow. But I can’t remember which page that was on. Or if it even was in this book.”

Librarian: *just a tad less accommodating now* “Well, er, you see—”

Patron: *interrupting* “And I simply can’t remember what language it was written in, but it’s very important that you find me the book with a Swedish translation. The original edition was written in English. It might have been Japanese, though. And there was a crocodile in it. I think. In Finland. Or in Italy. It’s about divorces.”

Librarian: *not looking very happy at all* “Let’s just go have a look at our fiction section, then…”

Patron: “No! It was a biography! Or a short story. I think.” *they walk away*

Me: *to the other librarian* “And I thought I had had a bad day working in retail.”

Other Librarian: “This is the second time this week!”

(I later found out that the woman was looking for ‘The No. One Ladies Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith! Way to describe it.)

This Spells Trouble

| FL, USA | Learning | November 17, 2016

(I work at a very busy reference desk. I answer a phone call from a patron.)

Me: “Hello, this is Reference. How may I help you?”

Patron: “Yes, my little girl is in second grade and the teacher gave her ten spelling words to do. If I bring in the list will you please fill out the paper?”

Me: “Do you mean you want me to do your daughter’s spelling words?”

Patron: “Yes. It wouldn’t take you long to do it.”

Me: “Well, that’s not really why she was given the homework. She needs to learn to spell the words she was given.”

Patron: “What am I supposed to do, then?”

Me: “The best thing is to bring your daughter to the library. We have dictionaries in the children’s room that she can use to look up the words and do the assignment.”

Patron: “Oh. Okay. I will come there.”

(I hang up the phone and shake my head. Fifteen minutes later a man walks up and lays a second grade spelling page in front of me, saying.)

Patron: “Take your time with this and come and get me when you’re finished.”

Me: *head-desk*

Whatever Boris Is Into Is None Of Our Business

| ME, USA | Right | November 7, 2016

(We have a patron who frequently asks the library staff to check the spelling on various words or phrases that she’s searching for online. She never accepts that she just spelled it wrong in the first place, but insists that Google it intentionally messing things up for her.)

Patron: “Can you look up the correct spelling for the Northern Lights?”

Me: “Sure. It’s N-O-R-T-H—”

Patron: “No, I mean the real name for them, ‘Aura’ something.”

Me: “Ah, Aurora Borealis.”

Patron: “Yes, but when I typed it in Google kept messing up and showing me dirty stuff! Can you write down the right spelling?”

(She handed me a slip of paper to write on. On it, she’d already written “AREOLA BORIS”.)

Doesn’t Take A Private Eye

| Coloma, MI, USA | Right | November 3, 2016

(At the library where I work we make photocopies for patrons because our machine is prone to problems.)

Patron: “I need you to photocopy this for me.”

Coworker: “Certainly, I’d be happy to.”

Patron: *handing the librarian the items to photocopy upside down* “Now don’t look at these when you copy them. And don’t look at the photocopies either. I don’t want anyone else knowing my business! This is private.”

Coworker: “I won’t look; I promise.”

(After she made the copies and handed everything back to him upside down, he paid and left.)

Coworker: “That will be real private. Those were postcards.”

They Would Be Useless In The Matrix

, | AB, Canada | Learning | October 28, 2016

(I work with college students which is terrifying when situations like this one arise:)

Student: “I can’t find the one.”

Me: *thinking* “Neither can I.” *out loud* “Sorry, I’m not sure what you mean?”

Student: *repeats* “I can’t find the one.”

(Then she walks away and waves me to the printer.)

Me: *at the printer* “What seems to be the problem?”

Student: *motions to the keyboard* “Where is the one?”

Me: “Do you mean the number one?!”

(I miraculously locate the ‘1’ and type it in for her.)

Student: *showing no signs of embarrassment whatsoever* “Thanks.”

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