We Are NOT Singing From The Same Reference Book

, , , | Right | April 29, 2020

I work in two university libraries: a big one that is open quite often and a smaller one that isn’t open as much. The smaller library is actually part of the bigger one but in another location in town. During winter break and exams, the smaller library is closed. If patrons need a book from that library, they can request it online and another colleague and I take the books to the bigger library. We only do it once a day, or twice if there’s a lot of requests.

I’m working the evening shift in the big library and I get a phone call around 6:00 pm.

Woman: “Are you still open?”

Me: “Yes, we close at 8:00 pm.”

Woman: “Oh, thank God. My son has an exam tomorrow morning and he absolutely needs one of your books for that exam!”

Me: “Okay, do you have the reference for the book so I can see if it’s available for your son when he comes?”

Woman: “Oh, he can’t come himself; he’s in [Other Town thirty minutes away] right now. I’ll come. And the book is [Reference].”

I realize that it’s a book from the smaller library. Since I’m working alone at the front desk I can’t go get it.

Me: “Unfortunately, this is a book from [Other Library], which is closed right now. Maybe your son can come get it tomorrow morning? I’ll take it to our bigger library as soon as I get to work tomorrow and your son can get it when the library opens at 8:00 am.”

Woman: “What? No, that’s too late; my son’s exam is at 8:00 am in [Other Town]. I’ll come get it in one hour, so you can go take it to the other library.”

Me: “Well, first of all, I have to ask, do you have a library card? If not, you’ll need to make one before you can take the book. And second of all, I can’t take it because I’m alone at the front desk and I can’t leave.”

Woman: “No, I don’t have a library card; I thought I would just use my son’s card. And if you can’t leave the desk, maybe I can go take the book, instead? Just give me the keys to the smaller library and then I’ll come to you with the book.”

I am shocked that she would even think I would be okay with giving her the keys.

Me: “Unfortunately, you can’t take books with your son’s card because cards are strictly personal. You would need to create one. And I really can’t give you the keys, sorry.”

Woman: “Stop being so difficult; this is for my son’s exam! He’s going to fail if he doesn’t have that book!”

Me: “You could look into [Other Town]’s libraries; maybe some of them are open before your son’s exam.”

Woman: “No, you’re the only library with that book! Look, how about I just come to the front desk and stay there while you go take the book?”

Me: “Um, sorry, but again, that won’t be possible. Have you tried [Bookshop #1] and [Bookshop #2], instead?”

Woman: “Yes, but it’s too expensive. But I guess that since you’re so difficult, I’ll have to buy it anyway!”

She then hung up, and I let out a big sigh. I am quite proud of myself for not getting rude. Because really, this is a university; her son is an adult and should be doing that kind of stuff himself, and earlier than the day before his exam!

Also, I tried to think of many alternatives to help her and she still called me difficult, seriously.

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