Time’s Arrow Marches Back And Forth

, , , | Right | March 19, 2018

(I am working at the reference desk. I often help people find books in the library’s catalogue, which is connected with at least two dozen other libraries in the region. We also have two monitors connected to the reference desk computer. One faces me, and the other faces the patron so that they can easily see the search results, too. It’s also important to note that our online catalogue records often have pictures of the library material. A man in his 50s approaches the desk.)

Me: “Hello. How can I help you?”

Patron: “Hey. Can you help me find a book? It’s called The Arrow.”

Me: *pulls up advanced search, types in the title* “Sure. Any chance you know the author’s name?”

Patron: “No.”

Me: “That’s okay. Let’s take a look and see what kind of results we get. Okay, there’s quite a list here.”

Patron: *points at his screen* “Yeah, that’s the one.”

Me: “The first record at the top?”

Patron: “Yeah, yeah. That’s it.”

(I take a closer look. It’s an erotic-looking romance novel; the cover shows a shirtless muscular man in a kilt. It is unusual, but also awesome for a man to ask for a romance novel, but it doesn’t matter what I think about his choices, so I stay neutral and professional, and don’t express any opinion.)

Me: “Okay, it shows that [Public Library two miles away] has it and it’s available for check out.”

Patron: “Yeah, I was there, but it’s not on the shelf.”

Me: “That’s a bummer. But now that we have the author’s name, I’ll do another search and see if there’s a chance there might be another record for that book.” *searches by author* “Okay, it looks like there are about a dozen of her other books available, but there’s only the one record for The Arrow by this author.”

Patron: “Yeah, I’m trying to figure out which one of the series that I need.

Me: “Okay, but I thought you said you wanted The Arrow? It looks like there are other books in this series. There’s The Chief…”

Patron: “Yeah, but I need to know which one I need next.”

Me: *confused, but trying to not get frustrated* “Okay, let’s go to the author’s website and see if I can find a book series list that can tell us the order.”

(I easily find the author’s website, which is clearly that of a romance novelist, and all the book covers show more shirtless, muscular men in kilts.)

Me:The Chief is the first in the series.”

Patron: *studying the screen* “No, I don’t think that’s the one I need. I need to know which one comes next.”

Me: “Here’s The Arrow; it’s the most recent one available in this series.”

Patron: “No, that’s not the one I need; I need the next one. I know that [College Library 60 miles away, which is in the catalogue] had the one I need. Can we check to see if they have it?”

Me: “Okay, I’m getting very confused. So, you’re looking for The Arrow, which is the latest book in this series, but that’s not what you’re looking for?”

Patron: “I’m trying to find The Arrow, the next book in this series.”

(I am now incredibly frustrated and not sure what the next move will be. Next thing I know, he pulls out his cellphone, punches in a number, and begins talking loudly on the phone.)

Me: “Excuse me, sir?”

Patron: “Hey, can I talk to [Woman #1]? I mean, [Woman #2]? Yeah, [Woman #2]. Hey, I’m looking for that book, The Arrow, and I know it’s out at [College Library 60 miles away]. Do you have it? They can’t find it in the catalogue here.”

Me: “Sir? I can’t help you if you’re on the phone.”

Patron: “Naw, you can; that’s okay. I can talk to both of you at once.”

Me: “No, actually, you can’t. I will finish helping you when you’ve finished with your phone call.”

(I refuse to do anything to help him while he is on the phone.)

Patron: “Yeah, [Woman #2], you got it out there? Okay, cool.”

(He talks a little bit more, and then hangs up.)

Patron: “Yeah, looks like they have the DVD out there; that’s what I wanted! Can we take another look at the catalogue?”

Me: “Wait, what? DVD? You are looking for Arrow on DVD? As in, the TV show based on a comic book? Okay, look: that is a completely different search, and asking for a book was not helpful.”

Patron: “Yeah, well, I meant the DVD.”

Me: *internally screaming* “You shouldn’t have specifically asked for a book, then. Or told me that the book record for a romance novel was the one you wanted.” *taking a deep breath* “Okay, so, you want Arrow, the TV series, on DVD, yes?”

Patron: “Yeah.”

Me: “Okay, let’s see what I can find.”

(I searched for Arrow on DVD and easily found it in less than a minute, figured out that he wanted season three and four, which were not available in the catalogue yet. Aye caramba!)

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