Don’t Kick A Trojan Gift-Horse In The Mouth

, , , , , | Learning | January 12, 2018

(I’m a librarian. A woman comes in about 15 minutes before closing and asks for photos of the Trojan War for her fifth-grader to use in a school project. I do some searches and find quite a few, from carvings on urns to paintings to drawings of the Trojan horse, and portraits of Helen of Troy.)

Customer: “But those aren’t real. I need photographs, not pictures of drawings and paintings.”

Me: “I’m sorry; there aren’t any photographs of the Trojan War. It’s a myth, like stories of the Greek gods.”

Customer: “But I need photographs! That’s what the teacher told them they had to have! I don’t want my child to fail this project because you can’t find them.”

Me: “I’m sorry. I’m not explaining this right. The Trojan War was about 4,000 years ago. That’s 2,000 years before Jesus was born. Photographs weren’t invented until the early 1800s, about 200 years ago. So, the Trojan War happened thousands of years before cameras and photographs were invented. That’s why there are no photographs.”

Customer: “The teacher specifically said photographs. Can’t you look again?”

Me: “You know what? I think there was a miscommunication with the teacher. I’m sure if you tell her what I just told you, everything will be fine.”

Customer: *near tears* “But the project is due tomorrow. What if you’re wrong?”

Me: “Tell you what. Why don’t you choose some of these pictures, anyway? I’ll write a note to the teacher explaining why you have them instead of photographs, with my name and phone number in case she has any questions. Teachers usually make exceptions when we explain why we aren’t able to get exactly what they require.”

Customer: “Then, it’ll be your fault instead of mine.”

Me: “Right.”

Customer: “Well, it’s not what I want, but I guess I don’t have a choice.”

Drama Queen Meets The Queen’s English

, , , , , , , | Right | January 9, 2018

(I am just arriving at my workstation at shift change, and I catch the tail end of an irate customer’s complaint to the staff member who I am relieving. I am English, but have been a legal resident in the US for almost 20 years. I have never lost my accent.)

Customer: “…and I called here the other day, and some woman with a British accent answered the phone, and I wonder how those people can even be allowed to work for you!”

Me: *addressing my colleague in my best and most cheerful Princess Diana voice* “Good afternoon, [Colleague], and how are you today?”

Customer: *glares at me and stomps off without another word*

A Total Eclipse Of The Brain

, , , , | Right | January 8, 2018

(It is August 2017, a few weeks before a solar eclipse. News sources have reported that people can get solar eclipse glasses for free at libraries nationwide, misrepresenting our distribution process and availability. To make matters worse, all local retailers sell out of eclipse glasses weeks before the eclipse. Additionally, the day of the eclipse also happens to be the first day of school in our local district.)

Coworker: “Thank you for calling [Library]. How can I help you?”

Patron: “Hi, do you have any eclipse glasses available for purchase? My kids are going to be in school during the eclipse.”

Coworker: “Unfortunately, no. We are only distributing solar eclipse glasses at our solar eclipse programs to attendees. Because all of our other solar eclipse programs have already passed, we are distributing all remaining glasses at the viewing party on the day of the eclipse.”

(At this point, most patrons ask when the program will start and when glasses will be distributed. However, this patron has a better idea.)

Patron: “That’s really inconvenient, you know? Why would you have a family program like that on the first day of school? Now, none of the local students will be able to go!”

Coworker: “I’m very sorry, ma’am. We scheduled the program before the first day of school was announced.”

Patron: “If I complain to your superiors, do you think they might move the program to a different day, so that my kids can attend?”

Coworker: *pause* “You want us to move the solar eclipse viewing program to a different day?”

Patron: “Exactly!”

This Isn’t Your Father’s Library

, , , , , | Learning | January 5, 2018

(It is the last week of a 13-week semester at our very small college. The college has no dedicated study space and our one-room library is packed. Through diligent outreach efforts, the other librarian and I have increased the number of students we serve by 400% over the last four semesters. I get this email from the vice-president of the college.)

Vice-President: “I hear it is too noisy in the library. Students are complaining. I need you and [Other Librarian] to come to a meeting tomorrow at 10:00 am to explain why it is so noisy.”

Me: “I’m sorry; this week is our busiest week of the semester. We have about 150 students in the library right now, and there are no down times throughout the day. We cannot possibly be away from the library at this time. Could you find a time next week when we could meet?”

(The vice-president then proceeds to send me a 500-word essay on the importance of quiet. Then the principal, who has been cc’d in our emails, sends his own essay about how “in the old days,” libraries were quiet places, and asking “what’s wrong with kids nowadays?”)

Me: *to other librarian* “You’d think they’d realize that if there are 150 students packed into one room, it is going to be loud!”

A Sickening Policy

, , , , , | Working | December 27, 2017

(We’ve gotten a new administrator at the library who believes that “change for change’s sake” is good for employees and businesses, and so has implemented several policy changes for the sake of making changes. One such change is our time-off policy. Whereas beforehand, time off was dealt with on a case-by-case basis, now the policy is that every time you’re late for work or have to take time off, whether for a sickness or vacation, you get a mark on your record, and if you get three marks in one month you can’t take any more time off for the next 90 days. About a month after this policy goes into effect, I get a phone call at work. It’s a family emergency, and since this admin is the only one in that day, I have to go to him about it.)

Me: “[Admin], my mom just called. She’s having some kind of reaction and she needs me to take her to the hospital now.”

Admin: “Why doesn’t she call an ambulance?”

Me: “She’s not having trouble breathing or anything; she’s just really worried. Plus, ambulance rides are expensive, and we live so far out that I can get home and get her to the hospital in less time than the ambulance can find us. I’ll use my paid time off; I just need to go!”

Admin: “All right. We’ll cover your shift.”

(I thank him, grab my purse, and bolt for the door… only for him to follow it up with:)

Admin: “And by the way, this is another mark on your record. One more; and you won’t be able to take any time off for three months.”

(Policy or no policy, this was just the WRONG thing to say when I was already out of my mind with worry. I got my mom to the hospital, where it turns out she has Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, from which she eventually made a full recovery. When I got back to work I brought up the incident with another admin, and by sheer coincidence the policy was dropped within a week.)

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