Monday April 23, 2007

I hate you, library lady

Bah! Screw you, library people. I went to the downtown library yesterday (Sunday), returned a book I’d not finished reading because I decided to buy it instead, and spent the better part of an hour sorting through a list of things I was interested in, picking out probably 10 books and CD’s. I also wanted some writings of George Bernard Shaw (GBS was at a dinner party, and prostitution was being discussed. He turned to the lady next to him and asked her if she’d sleep with him for $10,000. “Well, of course,” she replied. “Would you sleep with me for $10?” he asked. “God no,” she replied, “what kind of a lady do you think I am?” GBS said, “madam, we’ve already established what kind of a lady you are — now we’re just haggling over price!”), but the initial call #‘s I’d written down all referred to critics writing about his work. I went back to the card catalog computers (which are terrible, btw), got the correct numbers, and ran back upstairs just as the lights started to go off and the librarians began to bark “we’re closing” at people. 4:50. I waved my finger at a couple of these women and told them “I just need to grab one thing.”

I actually had two different numbers, and, figuring I had a few minutes, I compared a couple of different books. But of course I don’t know squat about Shaw, so I picked one more or less randomly, ran down the stairs and to the checkout desk, driver’s license in hand (I lost my library card months ago). “I’m sorry, we’re closed — the computers shut down at 5 pm,” the nice lady told me. I was speechless, and I slapped my shit (50 minutes+ invested in finding it) down and walked out. But now I’m sorry I didn’t tell her “first of all, it’s not 5 — it’s 4:59 — my cell phone gets its time from the international atomic clock [I’m not sure this is precisely true, but my cell gets its time from somewhere other then me, and I at least hope it’s a reliable source], and second, computers don’t shut themselves off — people shut them off — and you very well could check out my stuff if you wanted to.”

Like I said: “bah!” Next time I’ll get to the desk sooner. But the library lady could have been nice and cut me some slack.


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  1. Scared of the Homeless    Tue Apr 24, 07:13 AM #  

    As much as I love the Downtown library, I can’t bring myself to check anything out.

    I’m suspicious of all the unsavory homeless men lurking around….sitting in the chairs, thumbing through the volumes.

    It’s a bit gross.

    Its become one big tax funded Vagabond clubhouse.

    I understand the librarians desire to run out the door at 5 minutes to 5.

  2. Steve Klotz    Tue Apr 24, 09:20 AM #  

    If libraries were operated like proper businesses, where the employees and management understood that their paychecks depended on lots of satisfied customers, this sort of shit wouldn’t be tolerated for very long. But they’re not, so it is. The typical run of wretched hags one finds behind the desks in public libraries long ago lost regard for the truly marvelous institution Ben Franklin invented in the 18th century, and now display all the professional integrity of postal workers (when they’re not oiling their weapons).

  3. Honza    Tue Apr 24, 09:40 PM #  

    Well, I was trying to resist piling on, but since the Post Office also got dragged into it….

    This sort of “service” is something to keep in mind for all of you out there who think government-run universal health care is a great idea. How’d you like to be treated the way Alesh was, only you’re in line to have life-saving surgery, not to check out books or get an IRS refund.

    Yeah I know I’m dragging it off-topic, but librarians aren’t too much fun to beat up on anyway.

  4. jordan massengale    Wed Apr 25, 01:15 AM #  

    How to get fired:
    1. be honest, tell the truth with no reservations
    2. work hard, even stay after hours
    3. develope a personal system that conflicts with others, even if you are unaware
    4. use your intuition
    5. say hello to everyone
    6. take issues into your own hands and deal with them
    7. turn negatives into positives with your collegues
    9. wear team colors
    10. help others succeed * love everyone regardless

  5. mkh    Wed Apr 25, 08:18 AM #  

    The issue isn’t with something being government-run, the issue is that a certain percentage of all people are assholes. Sure, the government-run health care sounds scary, but put the lackadaisical attitude of government workers against privately-run health care where you’re nothing more than a potential profit center, and you have a problem just as bad, if not significantly worse.

    And don’t give me any crap about free enterprise and/or the market solving that problem, either. Quality of product and service is meaningless to a sufficiently well-capitalized organization. Throw enough money into marketing and you can convince people that (a) a turd is a hamburger, or (b) all hamburgers are turds, but you’ll look cool if you buy ours. Capitalism and image- or psychologically-based marketing are mutually exclusive.

    But yeah, sorry you ran into that bitch, Alesh. I have several friends who are professional librarians, and they bust their asses to keep their institutions open in the face of people who think public libraries are somehow anti-American because they encourage free speech.

  6. Steve Klotz    Wed Apr 25, 09:28 AM #  

    Having absorbed a raft of horrible experiences involving doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and assorted medical personnel over the last 12 months, I’m not too worried about the “government” componenet of a “government-run” health care system. I don’t see how it could be much (if any) worse, in terms of commitment and professionalism. It’s the same basic problem: people regard their jobs like cramps, and the people they serve as the reason for them.

    My solution to this is to make them equally miserable, escalate the hostility to the point where higher authorities are summoned, then deliver a pointed, nasty critique that outlines everything I find objectionable. You’d be surprised how effective that is, how fast they back off and apologize, and how utterly cathartic the experience. Particularly in the medical field, which at one time was filled with people who actually gave a damn. I’ve heard.

  7. Honza    Wed Apr 25, 11:14 AM #  

    Steve sez:
    My solution to this is to make them equally miserabl e, escalate the hostility to the point where higher authorities are summoned, then deliver a pointed, nasty critique that outlines everything I find objectionable. You’d be surprised how effective that is, how fast they back off and apologize, and how utterly cathartic the experience.

    Agree that “private” does not automatically equal “wonderful”, but as to the statement above, that approach works a lot better when you’re a paying customer, much less so when you’re the poor slob on the receiving end of government “service”. Try your approach with the next cop, TSA or IRS agent you deal with, and let us know how it worked out…

  8. Steve Klotz    Wed Apr 25, 11:45 AM #  

    Good point, Honza…..and in fact, I don’t suggest this approach with anybody who carries a weapon (public or private)or has sufficient authority to arrest, detain, or legally harm you. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, any sufficient discretionary income to retain legal counsel.

    I have deployed it with government entities, and on occasion actually reduced people to tears. One was my grandmother, though, so that doesn’t count (she cries with grief ALL the time when I’m around her).

  9. Boba Fête    Wed Apr 25, 04:16 PM #  

    My solution to this problem would be to suggest that instead of pulling some last minute, give-me-five-more-minutes-routine, you should access the library via your intenet at home, request that the books be sent to your nearest public library, wait for them to call you to tell you that they’ve arrived, and then go pick them up at your convenience.

    You can even get the books sent to your house in the mail.

    Our library system rules; use it well.

  10. Michael Emilio + Miami Real Estate    Wed Apr 25, 11:22 PM #  

    “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” – George Bernard Shaw

  11. kingofrance    Thu Apr 26, 01:54 PM #  

    My guess is you did the initial search using the subject field rather than the author field which gave you the the #‘s for critics stuff rather than his texts. I’ve always found their catalog pretty straight-forward and you seem like a pretty bright guy so I’m surprised weren’t able to go directly to the books you were looking for.

    Ok, now the whole thing with checking the books out right before the place closed; are you really that surprised? What kind of service you think you’ll get walking into a restaurant a couple minutes before closing? Or what about when your boss gives you some task at 5:25 on a Friday. I don’t think that’s behavior only exhibited by librarians. And remember, you didn’t even have your card with you, so the whole thing would have taken some time. If you haven’t already, you should check out the library’s online reservation feature. You can search for everything from home (while making as much noise as you want) and then have the items held at whichever branch you designate.

    And Mr. Klotz: I have a masters degree in Library Science. I am not afraid of you and I will beat your ass.

  12. Manola Blablablanik    Thu Apr 26, 04:44 PM #  

    Alesh, what did you want to know about Bernard Shaw besides the quote?

    Hey, that librarian is a closet South Beach cocktail waitress, give her a break!

  13. Steve Klotz    Fri Apr 27, 09:47 AM #  

    Dear Mr kingofrance: Thank you kindly for the offer. Encyclopedias at 30 paces?

    Alesh: “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.”GBS, in Pygmalion