For Librarians, They Sure Don’t Read Enough

, , , , , , | Working | September 21, 2020

About two decades ago, I started to do extensive research about true crimes. It led me to write my first book, and several of them since. Being the early 2000s, digital cameras were still very expensive, so, when I went to archives or libraries for documentation, when I couldn’t do copies — which happened a lot, because old documents were too large or fragile — I pretty much had to integrally transcript on a notebook each and every newspaper article I needed for my stories. That was long, and sometimes exhausting, but totally worth it.

When I left my folks to live near Paris, I did buy a digital camera and a laptop, and man, did it radically change my efficiency!

But when I went to the main French library, I was scolded like a child by librarians when I tried to take pictures of newspaper articles. I was very surprised; that was the first and only place I was reprimanded for it, so I thought there were special rules I didn’t know about. Since I didn’t like their tone, the place, and a few other things about it, I stopped going there for almost a decade. 

But to be honest, the library was the best place to go to find pretty much every French newspaper ever published without having to drive hours to go to local archives, where staff were usually way nicer and none used such drastic rules! Since one of my books truly needed every piece of information available, I drove to about sixty different places throughout the country to complete my files during the next few years.

Meanwhile, some colleagues confirmed for me that no other study place in France worked that way — only official archives, and even then, only with files containing sensitive information, and absolutely not newspapers. So, I tried my luck again in the library, only to be rebuked once again when they saw I brought my camera. I tried to ask if they were sure they weren’t wrong, but it was like talking to a wall, so I called it a day and used my laptop to type the articles.

I went there about ten times in two months, and a librarian eventually noticed that I was ordering about twenty newspapers on each visit. He asked me about my work, and when I explained I had to copy articles, he asked, “Don’t you ever bring your camera? It would be way faster!

“But every time I’ve tried that, your colleagues have told me it’s forbidden!” I exclaimed.

“Not at all!” he assured me.

The truth was that about a week before that precise day, library management did realize that laws had changed about photographs in libraries and did accordingly apply them. The problem was that my very first try at that library happened… about six months after the law was effective.

I honestly couldn’t repeat each and every curse word that came right away to my mind about these bureaucrats without being censored definitely there.

But believe me, there was a huge bunch of them.

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Have A Good-Bi While You’re At It

, , , , , , , | Working | September 20, 2020

This wouldn’t be much of a story if it wasn’t for who it happened to.

Anyone who works retail knows that when you say a thing so often that it becomes habitual, you tend to speed through it. Part of my spiel after serving someone is, “Have a good day!” 

Of course, those words getting rather smushed together means my genius mouth comes out with, “Have a gay!”

This has happened twice.

The first time was to two little old ladies, who, thankfully, didn’t seem to notice and left.

The second time was to the local priest, who stopped and stared at me as I froze.

My boss gave me an extra break because he was laughing so hard he had to go hide out the back for a bit.

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Knowing How To Lie Is A Valuable Skill

, , , , | Working | September 18, 2020

“All babies are beautiful to their mothers,” so the saying goes.

I have a work friend who always tells the truth, no matter how harsh it is. She has a good heart and is a sweet, if gruff, person. She will tell you up front, “Don’t ask my opinion because I don’t waste time being polite. I will be honest.”

One day a coworker was showing off pictures of her truly gorgeous grandbaby. This baby was 1,000% adorable, beautiful, a delight! Everyone was ooh-ing and ahh-ing, including my outspoken friend! She said, “Yes, that baby is gorgeous.”

Then, another coworker wanted to show a picture of her own grandbaby. Most people were, umm, far less enthusiastic, but still polite. The outspoken coworker gave fair warning, as usual: “Don’t ask my opinion because I will be honest.” People backed up because they knew what was coming. The photo was shown. A moment passed. My outspoken coworker said, “That is one ugly baby. You’d better hope they were born with a lot of brains because they will get nowhere on their looks alone.”

Did she say what many people were thinking? Yes.

Did the grandmother of the “ugly” baby get offended? Yes.

Was she warned? YES. 


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That’s… Not How Deposits Work

, , , , | Right | September 18, 2020

I am an optician. We have a patient come into the office stating he has lost his glasses. He says he would like to order the exact same pair. I search his information in our computer system, give him the total price, and ask for a deposit of half as per office policy.

The patient gives a deposit of half and I tell him we should be calling him later in the week after his eyeglasses are ready for pickup. Later that week, his eyeglasses are ready to go, a phone call is placed to the number on file, and a voicemail is left.

A few days later, the patient calls to inform us, “I have found my glasses and would like my deposit back.” I explain to him that the eyeglasses were completed and we cannot return his deposit. The best we can do is keep the deposit to cover our costs and time and remove the rest of the balance from his account if he doesn’t want to spend the rest of the money to complete the purchase. I explain that had he called me within twenty-four hours of placing the order, we could have given the deposit back. 

We go back and forth a bit; I throw in that this is what deposits are for, etc. He finally concedes and eventually picks up his glasses a few weeks later.

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She Has Cast You Into The Role Of Helper

, , , , , | Right | September 18, 2020

A woman comes in who has been in an accident. She has trouble walking and her arm is in a cast, so she asks me to help her shop. It is quite slow at this time of the day, so this isn’t much of a problem.

I help her do the shopping, and she is being kind of grumpy and commanding me around the whole time, making me go from one aisle to the other and back again, etc. 

When the shopping is done, I help her check out and bag her stuff; that isn’t usually done by store staff in the Netherlands. She tells me to take her stuff out to her car, which isn’t a problem, but it makes me wonder how she was able to drive, seeing the physical state that she is in. 

We arrive at her car, which is parked right in front of our store — in the handicapped-spot without a permit, even though there are plenty of parking spaces open — and in the drivers’ seat is her fully able-bodied husband. 

It still puzzles me to this day why she would ask store staff to go shopping with her and snap at, instead of her husband.

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