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The Final Shoutdown

| Learning | June 17, 2016

(I’m working the overnight shift at a large university library that is open 24/7. There are only four staff members, myself included, on duty at this time of night, and as it is finals week, the library is absolutely packed. It’s about 3:00 am and I am stuck at the service desk checking in/out textbooks that are on reserve. Not far from the desk is a large, sound-proof music studio which students can “check out” in order to record audio/visual projects. Included with the room is a case with a microphone, tripod, camera, and various other A/V equipment. A student shuffles up to the desk and gestures to the music studio.)

Student: “Hey, what’s that for?”

Me: “Oh, it’s for music students to go record their projects. They can use some of our equipment, too. Would you like to reserve it?”

Student: “It’s for music?”

Me: “Yes. Video, too.”

Student: “So, like, it’s sound proof?”

Me: “Yup.”

Student: “Okay, I wanna use that.”

(I scan his student ID to reserve the room and then reach for the equipment case to check those items out, too, when he stops me.)

Student: “Oh, no, I don’t need that stuff.”

Me: “You have your own equipment?”

Student: “I don’t need it.”

Me: “Okay… do you mind if I ask what you’re using the room for?”

(The student fidgets a little, digging his hands in his pockets, and then sighs.)

Student: “It’s finals week. I need a sound-proof room. Can I have it for fifteen minutes?”

Me: *beginning to understand* “Yeah… all right.”

(He politely takes the keys to the room and retreats into the room. Twenty minutes later, a student who has reserved the room for 3:20 am arrives and asks for the keys. Because the previous student has not returned, I go to check on him. I open the door and immediately find him standing stiffly in one corner shouting obscenities at the top of his lungs. As soon as he sees me he stops, shuffles over to give me the keys, and smiles sadly.)

Student: “Finals week… you know?”

Me: *sadly* “I know.”

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