Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stupid Tuesday

Today I learned about anion light bulbs, which claim to purify the air while illuminating from a standard CFL bulb, and when I Googled it (dammit, must add verb “googled”, “googling” and its kin to spell check), I was greeted with a very strange image.

So, I sent the picture to Marina in an email, with the message, “This is just a weird photo for an ad. It's for an anion light bulb that allegedly purifies the air, and is a CFL bulb. But the kid, pants down, it's just bizarre.”

Marina: That’s just too weird. I don't want a light bulb that makes kids appear on toilets in the meadow.

Me: Do you have meadows by you? Maybe it's already happening and you don't know because you don't have a big, Sound-of-Music meadow.

Marina: lol, I'm glad we don't have a meadow then!

So, beware the anion light bulb. And other bulbs. Kids with pants down, sitting on toilets, could magically appear in meadows somewhere when you use them. Or so we think this ad implied.

* * *

I had a patron today who brought over a receipt for 11 pages of faxing.

Me: Okay, so can I have the pages you need faxed?

Man: It’s this packet. I have six pages, and they’re double-sided.

Me: Are they all double-sided?

Man: Yeah.

Me: Ah, that’s 12 pages to fax then, not 11.

Man: No, it’s 11. I counted.

Me: Maybe one of the pages isn’t double-sided then.

Man: No, they all have stuff on the back.

Me: Then, yeah, it’s 12 pages.

Man: No, it’s eleven.

Me: Let’s count them. Because 2 sides of 6 pages is 12, so let’s double-check.

Together: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11…

Man: 12? How did I get another page? They were stapled together!

Me: *blink, blink* Sorry. You’ll have to pay for another page.

Man: When I get back, there better not be more pages to pay for!

Me: *blink, blink, blink*

* * *

Me: I’m making panko crusted pork chops if you want some.

Bro: I don’t like pork chops, but I’ll try one. Smells good. What is panko?

Me: Um, it’s like breadcrumbs, I think. Alton Brown told me to use them. Oh, the box says, ‘Panko is Japanese bread crumbs.’ Uh, why do I need breadcrumbs from Japan? And these are Italian flavored, so I paid extra for Italian, Japanese breadcrumbs? What the hell?

Bro: *laughs*

Me: They’re not even…what’s the word? Bionic? No, organic. Sorry. They’re not even organic.

Bro: Bionic? Mmmm, bionic bananas! We have the technology. We have the ability to make the first bionic bananas. Better. Stronger. Faster.

Me: *dying laughing*

Bro: The banana moves in fake slow motion making weird metallic noise. *mimics running banana in fake, Six Million Dollar Man slow mo*

Me: *holding in guts, laughing too hard*

Bro: Why did old 70s TV shows depict people running in fake slow motion to make it look like they were going fast? That doesn’t look fast! It looks slower than regular motion.

Me: That’s true! We just bought right into it. Bionic Banana, running in fake slow motion looks like a fast banana because we didn’t know better.

Bro: Ring, ring, ring, ring, bionic banana phone!

Then he had to explain banana phone to me and I suddenly got a joke Leelu told me weeks ago. I’m simply not with it when it comes to much of the Internet lingo. But I did use “copypasta” in an email to my coworkers, and once I hit Send, I regretted it because they’ll probably think I’m a moron for the typo of copy/paste. Maybe I’m just another version of the ad exec who puts a kid on a toilet in a meadow for an air purifier, and a guy who doesn’t know what 2 x 6 is, because other people are rolling their eyes and laughing at me for not knowing banana phone.

Sigh. It’s all relative.

Green Tip of the Week

Save gas and save money.

1 gallon of gas = 19 pounds of carbon dioxide.

To save gas, try the following: use cruise control, use air conditioning instead of open windows at high speeds, obey the speed limit, maintain constant speed, avoid rush hour, drive less aggressively, skip warming up newer cars, keep tires properly inflated, and keep car tuned up. Also, if you fill your car's gas tank early or late in the day, less gas will be lost to evaporation. This evaporation increases emissions and causes smog.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Likes & Dislikes

Dislike: Sudden hot days in the middle of the coldest summer in my memory. It felt like we were going to die of heat today, and it was only in the 80s.

Like: Painting Chef, who has ordered so many of my earrings from my Etsy store that her ears are officially my billboards.

Dislike: Arms, one of our security guys. He’s pouting and not speaking to anyone in my department, perhaps the entire library, because we each, individually, complained about how frequently we’re drilled, and the poor timing. Surely he thinks we’re a bunch of whiney bitches, but to sulk like a spoiled kid who got too much power too soon, and then didn’t have the maturity to handle the criticism that went along with it, well, it’s symptomatic of hiring a 25-year-old for a position of authority. Our bad.

Like: Terra Kettles, Sea Salt & Pepper potato chips. OMG, they are so good, and why haven’t we been putting pepper on chips all these years? We put pepper on potatoes! How stupid can we be? Runner up is the Terra Potpourri chips, with chips made from a wide variety of potatoes including sweet potatoes, taro potatoes and blue potatoes, all of which are delish.

Dislike: My orange and yellow plaid sandals. I was wearing them on Friday when I went to my doctor, due to the fact that I was wearing yellow shorts and my yellow and orange plaid shirt that matches the sandals. In my absence at home, our entire lower level was packed up and stowed in the garage so they could tear up the floor and put a dehumidifier and multiple industrial strength fans all over, and now all the rest of my shoes are somewhere unreachable in the back of the garage. I’m officially sick of my orange and yellow plaid sandals.

Like: Having normal blood pressure again. 120/70 sounds like music to my ears. FUCK YOU, PREDNISONE! I have recovered!

Dislike: The shame I feel because I have developed an enormous crush on one of the sons of Dog the Bounty Hunter. What the hell is wrong with me?! It’s just that he has that huge chest and big arms, the killer combo of dark hair and light eyes, and some distant part of my gene pool must be calling out to any man named Duane Lee. Someone put me out of my misery and get that damn show cancelled. I’m so embarrassed to watch it every week, giggling like a schoolgirl whenever he’s on.

Like: That July is finally almost over. August better not go by this slowly.

Dislike: Weeding at the library. Some of our most beautiful, interesting books haven’t circulated in 10 years, and I refuse to discard them just because our patrons have bad taste. I order plenty of books with Thug and Bitch in the title for them; the least they can do for me is occasionally check out my favorite DK book, Animal Life, or my DK book Ocean. Or my favorite sex positions book by DK, Carma Sutra. Okay, we don’t have that one, but if just one person requested it, I’d totally buy it.

Like: DK books. I wish everything was done by DK. I wish DK did fiction books and put their pretty pictures and their fun layouts into the long narratives I have to drag my eyes over to get to the end of some lame, formulaic, mystery novel. Save me, DK!

Dislike: My new neighbor’s kids. I caught the three year old, looking all cute with her hair in braids and in a pretty pink dress, standing in front of the bushes below my open front room window, antagonizing my dog and flipping him the bird, calling him a sonofabitch. Classy. It’s going to be fun watching kids like this grow up next to me.

Like: That River leaves gigantic turds in the front and back lawn, and the brats next door step in stinky piles of shit when they come by my house. Biological land mines: I has them.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Please, Just Stop

These folks are really, really, not doing much to improve stereotypes of librarians.

Thanks, guys.

Where are the stripper drill cart teams?? And the wrestlers? And the hot rod car drivers racing around with their carts? WHERE???

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blog Therapy

I am so angry, and I’m about to put myself through blog therapy, so feel free to walk away now.

It could be because my house flooded this morning, and it could be because I’m experiencing my first passionate disagreement with our new director, and it could be because I’m terrified my dog is still sick and might have a seizure disorder, and it could be because my mom’s mental illness seems to be worsening, and it could be 100 other serious problems I am dealing with all at once, but I don’t know why I’m so agitated.

Someone left the water on in the bathroom sink downstairs. I woke up this morning to find an inch of water in the bathroom and water under the laminate in the adjoining dining room. The sink cabinet was so super saturated that it was already warped, and the drywall and woodwork is all blackened and stinky around the bottom of the room. I foolishly went to work and left the house in the hands of my mother, who called the insurance company and then proceeded to clean up the entire house with Lysol and bleach. My brother told her not to touch anything, but she wouldn’t listen, and now we have bigger problems.

Everything that was in the bathroom she put into a big plastic bag, some of which she went through and others she just threw into the bag. She opened boxes and took items out, then threw everything separated into the same bag, meaning all the bandages were individually removed from their wet boxes and put into the bag with the wet boxes, as well as medications and soaps. Seriously, she emptied the trash can into the bag first, then she started piling the wet stuff under the sink into the same bag, so my boxes of contact lenses were opened, the containers of the lenses separated from the boxes (which marked what eye they went in and when they were purchased, so I knew which prescription was what) and they were steeped in water-soaked garbage that contained used menstrual pads and tissues we blew our noses into. All of my rubber bands and barrettes were in the bag as well, and the only things I could think to clean them with, that would make me feel okay about wearing them ever again were peroxide (which will bleach them) and vinegar, which will make my hair smell like vinegar, so no. She said that the insurance would pay to replace my lenses, and when I asked when that would be, she said the assessor wouldn’t even be out until the middle of next week, and then it would take a week or so to get the money. However, my severe astigmatism means that I have to special order lenses, which I not only have to pre-pay for, but they take an additional two weeks to arrive at my optometrist’s office. So I don’t have my next pair of disposable lenses, and if anything happens to the ones in my eyes right now, I’m screwed.

The stuff in the bag she had actually put in the garbage and wasn’t even going to tell me about it, or let the assessor see the extent of the damaged goods. She threw away everything that wasn’t glued or screwed down. Now we won’t get reimbursed for any of that because we can’t prove we had it to begin with.

I could just scream. But instead I’ve been walking around slamming stuff. It’s all I can do to keep from strangling her.

Boyfriend Extraordinaire is coming to visit in a few weeks, and I don’t know what I’m going to do to protect him from my mother, since she follows him around the house like a child starved for attention. The pressure of trying to entertain them both separately, and keeping her from driving him nuts, is making me feel like my head is going to explode, and he’s not even here yet.

It used to be that I could go to work for an escape from the insanity, but I feel just as insane at work, too. Our new director, who I truly adore, has gone nuts with emergency drills. What’s funny is that we have enough staff related emergencies that we really don’t need extra practice evacuating the building. Whether someone left the coffee pot on overnight or burned popcorn, we get to see the fire department a few times a year already. And living in the Midwest, I’ve had my fair share of tornado alarms, too. What really makes me laugh is the fact that he thinks we need to practice. I understand that some people are dumb as stumps and could be sitting next to a fire without feeling the need to warn others or save themselves, but it’s just superbly insulting to have to practice a fire drill once a month. Or in this case, twice in six days. We did this shit in elementary school and when we graduated and went to high school, we didn’t have to practice something so rudimentary again. What makes me laugh the most is that, essentially, we’re practicing leaving the building. Guess what? We leave the building everyday. We don’t need to practice. We know where the doors are, we know how to walk (or run, or crawl), and we know how to get out. It’s not as if the fire alarm goes off and suddenly everyone stands up and can’t remember where to go to get out. It’s not that I’m complaining about the short recess and getting fresh air. I’m all for that! But it’s insulting to insinuate that we need to practice getting up and walking out of the building. I laugh. What else can I do?

However, there is a down side to the insults and laughter. The patrons are not digging this. We had a woman who had been working on her resume for two hours when the fire alarm went off, and we did not tell people to take the time to save their work or lock their computers – we made them evacuate immediately. By the time she got back in, the timing software had deemed her session abandoned, exited her programs, and freed the terminal up for the next user. All her work was lost. So we could practice exiting the building. Again. Another patron is an older, sickly man, who suffers from a condition that gives him all the symptoms of advanced cystic fibrosis. He cannot leave the house when it’s cold outside, he can’t exert himself, and sometimes just talking causes him to cough so violently, we all consider calling an ambulance. Making him leave the building quickly, then stand around in the parking lot without a chair for 10 minutes, and finally allowing him to enter the building again totally wore him out and he had to call it a day. To me, when a disruption actually causes harm to patrons, it’s not okay. It’s not okay to make patrons do things that make them so sick they have to go home. As a drill. To practice something we do all the time. It’s just not right.

And it’s ironic when Arms talks about how he can do any drill he wants, any time he wants, having the green light from the director to drill the hell out of us at his discretion. It’s ironic because he was hired to protect patrons, but the constant drilling is going to actually hurt someone eventually. We already have patrons who don’t want to go because they are fed up with the drills. They drag their feet, take their time leaving, and it’s turning into a cry-wolf situation. One day it’s going to be a real emergency and our regulars will not leave. Not because they’re stupid and can’t remember where the exit doors are, but because they’re sick to death of having to practice, and then we’re going to have a far more serious problem.

Finally, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that we would have to practice a bomb threat so aggressively when it was only a short time ago that we had an actual bomb threat, and the former director and the assistant director (our current director), had such a difficult time deciding if we should close the library for that one. Seriously? You people told us you didn’t know if it was WORTH IT to shut the library down for the day of the bomb threat, and now you want us to practice getting out of the building if there is another one. For the fire drill, Arms, jacked up on the power trip, stood around taking notes in a notebook and timed us in the evacuation. We were later told very different times it took us to evacuate, so while we all managed to get out of the building as we have practiced everyday, that challenge of using doors and all, they couldn’t figure out how to time us properly. So, if they’re going to cry bomb threat and expect us to hustle out of the building, all I’m going to be thinking about is how long it took them to decide to do the right thing with our last bomb threat. We are far more logical and decisive than they are! We know how to save our lives! Let’s think about this: next time, will I run out and help them feel like we’re improving our evacuation time, or will I take the time to grab my keys and my bottle of pop so I can sit in my car while they count heads and chastise people for not moving faster? Hmm…

No mental relief at work.

So, I come home from work and curl up on the couch with my dog, and I watch him so closely, analyzing everything he does, looking for signs of brain damage or sensory damage from a seizure I don’t know he had. Oh no, he just tripped going up the stairs! Does this mean his vision is poor now? Crap, there are people outside and he’s not barking! Does this mean he can’t hear them? He’s asleep again. Is he sleeping more than he used to? Did he forget any of the tricks we’ve taught him? Is anything swollen on his body? Is he breathing normal? Does his heartbeat always sound like that? Will I ever relax around him and feel like he’s okay again? Probably not.

When all else fails, I go to the gym. The gym has a new owner. She’s a nice lady, but she’s very into the business of running the gym, which is completely the opposite of the last owner, and she’s trying to get me to bring in friends constantly. First she got me to join a competition that she has going over the summer, which I haven’t participated in at all, and now she’s grilling me about my friends and why I can’t get them to come with me. My serenity has been disrupted. She’s fucking up my mojo. If she doesn’t knock it off, I’m going to find a new gym, which will suck because this one is perfect. Other than her. But what am I going to do? I even started going in later hoping to avoid her, but she’s always there. She has never asked me about myself because she already owns my money. She only asks about my friends and family, wanting to know who she could recruit through me, and I feel a little like this has become the gym Amway. I know the economy is bad. I know people are probably canceling their memberships everyday, and getting new sign-ups is all but impossible, but dude, this isn’t the time to be pushy. Back the fuck off.

Sigh. There is no escape for me right now. And by no means am I truly in a bad position. No one in my life is sick or dying that I know of, I have a job, I have a boyfriend who loves me, I have friends who support me, and I have a brother and dog who I look forward to spending time with each day. Certainly, it could be much worse, but it’s just enough irritation to make me feel completely chapped, everywhere.

I need some kind of spiritual lotion.

Where does one by that?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crazy Tuesdays

How do you deal with a patron who needs lots of help, but her breath smells like rotted ass?

You talk really loudly and squint at the tiny text on their monitor 8 feet away as you stand behind her and instruct her.

Or, well, that’s what I did today. Fortuitous that my sinuses are now seared and I have no nose hairs. Who knew an odor could do that to your nose? Wasn’t worth the agony at the time, though.

* * *

Woman: Hi, I need to use a computer.

Me: Sure. Do you have your library card?

Woman: No, I don’t have one.

Me: Okay, then you have a couple options. You can talk to the folks at Circ about getting a card or you can use an Express computer. But, oh, they’re both in use, so let me see how long the wait will be. [click, click, click] Well, it’s a 15 minute wait, but it really opens up in 10 minutes. We just give people a few minutes to gather their stuff and leave.

She seemed a reasonable woman up until that point, and I was fairly sure she’d wait the 10 minutes and be grateful for the free computer use. Wow, how wrong I was!

Woman: 10 MINUTES? I have to wait 10 MINUTES? I won’t even need to use the computer that long, and you want me to wait 10 MINUTES? What’s wrong with you people? You think I have all the time in the world to stand around and wait for a damn computer?

My mouth was agape. Never did I expect her to react this way.

Woman: How long do they get to use the computer?

Me: Um, 20 minutes.

Woman: 20 MINUTES? Other libraries limit people to 10 minutes! 20 minutes is ridiculous! You might as well let them use it all afternoon! No one is going to wait for that! It would take me less time to get a library card, for Christ’s sake! What the hell is wrong with you people?

She was with her daughter who piped up then.

Why don’t we just go get a library card then?

Woman: They want ID! I didn’t bring my license. Did you bring yours?

Daughter: No. I didn’t bring anything.

Woman: Neither did I. I thought I’d just drive over to the library and use the computer really quick and then drive home. Why would I need ID?

No comment.

I could’ve said at any point that I’d give her a reservation for a regular computer because I understood her plight and felt like doing her a favor. I could have. But her tirade…

Instead I kept my trap shut.

She yelled some more insults about our library and the absurd expectation that she would deign to wait 10 minutes to use a computer. She then stormed out.

I never tried to stop her. That felt kind of good.

* * *

A young man walked up to my desk and asked me for a book on how to beat a ticket, which I was amazed to find that we had. I walked him over to the section and he said this would not suffice (not verbatim) because he needed to beat a DUI arrest, not a ticket. My suggestion was that he get an attorney, which he said he could not afford and he needed to find a way to beat the DUI. I showed him the legal section, offered to order something from another library or get him on a computer so he could do some online research on his own, but he wanted a book specifically on how to beat a DUI when you don’t have an attorney.

It’s always amusing to me that people think that there is a book out there for every individual need they have, even if it’s unreasonable, and they expect us not only to own it, but to have it on the shelf for them whenever they need it. Amusing. I laugh.

Later he approached me and scared the living shit out of me, partly because I’d already dubbed him an irresponsible alcoholic who drives while drunk, and also one who thinks he’s entitled to get out of it by some magic in a book that he need only find.

Man: Can you come over here with me? I have a question.

Me: Okaaaaay, what’s your question?

Man: No, I need you to go over there with me. It’s about a book.

He motioned with his head down the car repair aisle, which is an aisle he hadn’t been in. Why was he trying to get me away from my desk to ask me a question about a book in an area he hadn’t been in?

Sirens went off in my head. Should I ring the doorbell and summon a coworker, just in case? Should I seek out a familiar patron and try to give them some kind of concerned communication with only my eyes? Should I leave a trail of breadcrumbs so people will find my body? If only I had some glowsticks!

I followed him down half of the aisle and he looked quite lost, so I stopped in the middle of the break in the aisle, so people could see us in either direction.

Me: What book did you have a question about?

I needed more information before I would go farther away from the public, deeper into the dark and deserted corner of the library with him.

Man: Um…

Me: There is no book, is there?

Fuck it, I was going to be courageous and challenging, and if he still wanted to kill me, at least I wouldn’t go down naïve.

Man: Well, that man back there, he’s using that machine to look at newspapers, right?

Me: Yes. Old ones. On microfilm.

Man: I want to do that.

Me: Okay, but we need to know what newspaper issue it is.

The Local News. From 2000.

I need a closer date than a year. We don’t have that newspaper on microfilm, so I’d have to see if I could order it from another library, and they can’t send a year of microfilm, so we really need to know the day.

Man: July 27th.

Me: Oh, right, okay. Well, let me go back to my computer so I can look that up.

I turned my back to him with trepidation and walked quickly, listening closely for his footsteps behind me. He was walking much slower, which meant he was either pulling out his weapon or he was just walking at his own pace. Would he stab me in front of everyone? For some reason, I figured this was less likely and I hustled to the main area where all our computer users were. No stabs.

Turns out the newspaper he sought wasn’t on microfilm anywhere. I recommended other libraries that had subscriptions to databases that might hold the archives, but he was again shocked and disappointed that I couldn’t just hand him the thing he coveted.

How many failures would he allot before he came back, drunk, with a broadsword, and chased me around the car repair section?

Fortunately, I left soon afterward, so perhaps the pleasure of being dismembered in the 629s is a treat to be savored later.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Green Tip of the Week

More and more products are coming out on the market that purport having antibacterial properties, ranging from soap to socks to storage containers, and many actually do have antibiotic and antimicrobial additives. The CDC has deemed that these products are not demonstrably useful in a healthy household, as they were intended for use in hospitals, where germs and compromised immune systems are rampant. The widespread use of these soaps can actually be blamed for community-acquired MSRA outbreaks.

The American Medical Association is actively trying to persuade the FDA to regulate antibacterial products.

Enzymes that exist in the septic system are killed when we wash antibacterial soap down the drain, and the natural method of breaking down waste is killed with the enzymes.

Studies indicate that plain soap works better at cleaning your hands when used properly. It’s all in the scrubbing, people.

Things I Learned This Weekend

The Chicago Botanic Gardens is still one of my favorite places in the world, and if I had to put a price on the experience of visiting, I would value it over $20, but for some reason I resent the hell out of them charging me $20 to park every time I go.

(Pictures can be seen here and here.)

Walking through an enormous rose garden smells like old ladies.

Park district day camp groups should have to publicize their presence before visiting an attraction so that others can be sufficiently warned of the infestation in advance of driving an hour and paying $20 to park.

The daylight can ooze away in a matter of seconds, leaving you with a monstrous greenish-black cloud overhead, frightening rotating winds 20º colder than the ambient air, the smell of sulfur and water overwhelming your olfaction, and the hairs on the back of your neck standing up in an innate warning to seek shelter, and yet all this is no guarantee that rain will fall.

Having heard whispers by other people at my gym who dislike one of the women who works there left me feeling quite frightened of showing up one day when she’s working, and I’ve avoided her like the plague. Somehow I ended up going one afternoon when she was there, and not only do I like her a whole lot, but she is my favorite person who works there now. I really should not let the opinions of others influence me, because I so seldom like the same things that other people do.

There is a reason my dog doesn’t get out much and is behind on his shots: he is almost uncontrollable if I have to take him to the vet. He and I are both covered in cuts from him trying to violently rip off the muzzle put on him to keep him from eating the vet, and it took four of us to hold him down just to draw two vials of blood. The good news is that whatever spell he had Friday night and Saturday morning, it wasn’t something detectable in a physical exam or blood tests, and he was released with a clean bill of health. Our follow up appointment next week to update his shots should be twice as bad now that he knows what to expect.

There are many things that won’t get dog blood out of the fabric that upholsters the roof of my car. If there is something that will, I have not discovered it yet.

River might be a pitbull/rottweiler mix who looks tougher to his peers right now, but I don’t like the way he looks with cuts all over his face.

Wrestling with an 85-pound dog for two hours in a vet’s office is more exhausting than I ever dreamed. For both of us. Napping with your pooch after such a wrestling match helps.

The craziest, most unpredictable, most mentally unstable patron, whose phone calls we dread more than any other encounter other than having her in person, is downright pleasant when she calls from the hospital, where her medications are forced and she is as balanced as she will ever be again.

Peace lily plants, after they’ve been watered, perspire tiny droplets of water that cling to the very tips of their leaves. Even though it’s entrancing and beautiful, I cannot resist and touch the water drop, releasing it from the long, green finger that holds it.

I don’t know why I go see the Harry Potter movies. I shouldn’t. It’s a waste of money.

OH YEAH! I go for the previews!

A Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes, even if Robert Downey Jr. is in it, is just wrong. I love Holmes. I love those stories. I will have to go into hiding and avoid all future advertisements and trailers for this movie.

It has been years and years since I was this excited about an upcoming movie, but I found myself teary-eyed and grinding my teeth as I watched the trailer and waited for the announcement of the release date of Where the Wild Things Are. I hope I don’t cry with glee through the whole movie. I need a countdown timer for the movie on my blog!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Librarian Plague

A patron walked up to Marina tonight and said she was looking for a book. When she uttered the title, Marina couldn’t understand her. When she asked her to repeat it, Marina thought she had the right word: e-trade.

She typed “e trade” into the catalog and hit Search, telling the patron what she found about e-trade as the results came up.

The patron said no, not EEE-trade, BEE-trade.

What happened next is such classic librarian train of thought, it should be in a textbook.

Marina then typed “b trade” into the catalog and hit Search.

The assumption is always (and often fool-hearted) that the patron knows not only how to pronounce words, but that they know what they’re asking for, and we cannot know everything so if there is an e-trade and this patron has corrected her with what sounded like b-trade, Marina assumed b-trade was just something the patron knew about, which she did not.

Alas, there was no b-trade.

So Marina did the next logical thing a librarian does and expanded her mind around the syllables “b” and “trade” and thought maybe it was about the endangered honeybee situation.

She typed “bee trade” into the catalog and hit Search.

Again, nothing.

She tried to extract more information from the patron, who gave up that the book is part of a series, and when Marina searched for the series, she saw the elusive title that was there all along.


Not b-trade. Or bee trade. But close.

We are fatally too literal, we librarians.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Green Tip of the Week

Many plants (and the microorganisms in the soil) have air-purifying properties that can remove toxic gasses and pollutants from the air we breathe, as well as adding oxygen and humidity to the atmosphere.

For instance, a study posted on WebMD here, revealed that six mere hours of having English ivy in an area can remove 60% of the airborne mold and 58% of airborne feces (ugh), the results of which can be life-altering for people who have allergies and asthma.

See also the NASA research about which plants excel at purifying the air.

For further reading, I recommend How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office, by Dr. B.C. Wolverton.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pieces & Bits

Today was a beautiful day, and like most beautiful days, I decided I needed to go for a drive. The guilt of wasting gas weighs heavily, so I try to have a destination and purpose for such trips, and today I decided to visit a plant nursery up near Milwaukee.

While cruising comfortably with the windows down and the moonroof open, deepening the unbalanced tan on my right shoulder and arm, I noticed three motorcyclists in front of me and wished briefly that I was a biker chick. At least my arms would tan evenly while I enjoyed the wind in my hair.

A group of motorcyclists passed in the lane of oncoming traffic, and I noticed the three bikers in front of me all pointed to the ground with their left arms. Was this some kind of warning that there was oil on the pavement? I looked to where they pointed and nothing unusual was there. As the other bikers passed by, they too pointed down, and I realized they were exchanging a friendly acknowledgment of fellow bikers on the road.

Isn’t that nice?

Many years ago, a friend of mine had a ’69 Corvette, and whenever he passed other ‘Vettes on the road, he waved to them and they waved back.

Why don’t Matrix drivers do this?

Well, first because the front of a Matrix isn’t very distinguishable from other cars, so I’d be waving to everyone, then doing that uncomfortable wave renege that we do when we wave to someone we think we know, but it’s actually a stranger, awkwardly running our hand through our hair and looking skyward, or whatever it is you do.

Secondly, Matrix drivers are like I was until today, completely oblivious to the fact that there are strangers who wave just because they’re driving the same vehicle and acknowledging this shared membership in a club that has no organized meetings.

I want to be in a club like this! It’s the only one I can commit to and has no additional annual fees.

Strangers barely acknowledge each other’s presence anytime. I’ve walked through an entire grocery store and checked out, and not a single person made eye contact with me, including my checker and bagger. It’s far too easy to go through life without acknowledging anyone else. At work I’m compelled to make eye contact with everyone who walks into the library, nod/smile when they make eye contact back, and speak an actual greeting if they return a nod/smile. Outside of work, I myself am so into the zone of whatever I’m doing that I couldn’t identify a single trait of a single person I encounter on any given errand unless she looks inappropriate or he acts inappropriate, or vice versa. Everyone else is just a billboard I don’t even know is there except that it’s obstructing my view.

Maybe it’s time to start acknowledging people.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

* * *

I don’t know why, but this story makes me very sad. I really wanted Harry and Pepper to make it work.

* * *

Ever since I read this post on Neatorama, I have been fixated on wombats, the awesomeness of being so adorable, and having a pouch to boot! Whenever things happen in my life, or randomly in conversations, I will interject that I wish I had a wombat and then point out the applicable benefits of having a wombat who can carry things in its pocket for you as well as looking cute. For instance, B.E. was telling me a story last night about how dolphins have been trained to recognize objects, and you can tell these specially trained dolphins to find coins in the water, and they will dive down and look for coins on the ocean floor. I immediately pointed out how if that dolphin had a wombat for a sidekick (with an air tank), they could go on longer coin-diving expeditions because the wombat would be great company and could hold the coins in its pocket. In another conversation, I pointed out that if I had a wombat, it would not only be adorable, but it could hold my wallet while I walked it. What’s not to like about a wombat!?

* * *

This is my first week back at the gym after taking two weeks off. There were medical reasons I didn’t go, but part of my lack of motivation had to do with the fact that after 5 weeks of going multiple times a week, I managed only to lose inches in my boobs, and I lost a lot there, dropping a full bra size. What I mean is I went down a size, which is two inches around, and a cup size. That’s a lot of missing boobage! I find myself trying to send neurological messages to The Girls when I’m working out, letting them know that they don’t have to work so hard right now. Having large boobs has benefits, like they keep the lower part of my body dry in rain, and the seatbelt fits nicely between them so that it does not ride up and chafe my neck. Why have I lost nothing in my arms, waist, hips, thighs, etc., but it’s flying off my chest? Marina asked me if I want bigger boobs, which I surely do not, but I was just hopeful that I wouldn’t end up boobless before losing weight anywhere else. It’s just not fair.

* * *

While I’m talking about my boobs, it behooves me to mention that our new director decided that we should be wearing nametags, like people do who flip burgers. [Big sigh.] So, we now wear big, ugly, magnetic nametags.

Recently, one of my coworkers made a comment about not minding having to wear it, and I quickly chimed in and said I hate it. People are making me uncomfortable with how often they use my name.

“HV, would you look this book up for me? Thanks, HV. I really appreciate it, HV. HV, how long until my book comes in? HV, does the printer print in color, HV. HV! HV!” It makes me nuts. I’m starting to hate the sound of my own name. I don’t know their names! I don’t like them having something on me! It’s not right that they’re calling me by my first name like we’re friends, except that even people who know me do not use my name this much. I HATE IT! They’re rubbing my face in it and it’s cruel!

Which makes me wonder about some of them who use my name way too much in a conversation. Are they using my name as a cover for the fact that they’re staring at my boob? I noticed everyone wearing their nametag on their left upper chest, so I did as well, but my boobs are big and my cleavage goes almost up to my neck, so I basically wear my nametag on the top of my left boobie. Now people have a reason to stare at my left boob. Clearly I need to switch and start wearing it on the right side for a while so the right boob doesn’t feel unappreciated. Should I get one for each boob? Should I wear it in the middle? What if I snap one day and shout at that creepy guy, “HEY, my eyes are up here, bub!” and it turns out he’s just trying to read my nametag? I never thought I’d long for the old days (two directors ago) when we had to wear a plastic library card badge around our neck like a noose.

* * *

I’ve decided to become a Green Santa.

My quest to improve my health, fight the carcinogens in my immediate area, and increase the effort to save the environment, is very much unique among people I know. Some are concerned but less willing or able to make many of the changes necessary to clean up our personal worlds, and I understand that. Others don’t give a crap. For those who are concerned but for whatever reason aren’t as obsessed as I am, I have decided that with each paycheck, I’m going to purchase and bequeath to one unsuspecting loved one, a gift of greenness and a reduction in their chances of getting cancer.

I’ve already decided to give Ann an air-purifying plant (maybe a bamboo palm, or a Boston fern, or a peace lily) for her apartment, where she’s recently started trying to develop a green thumb. She has a few sparse plants that she treats like pets, and of course there’s Bob, the green bean sprout she carried around her neck as a bean until he sprouted and she could put him in dirt. (Yes, she named it Bob. I can’t extrude from her why.) But Ann is in Alaska this weekend, so I have someone else to give a green gift to, and I’ll get her later.

From my last paycheck, I purchased a chlorine filter for the showerhead in my house, and though it contradicts my water preserving desires, I have been taking long, luxurious, hot showers, enjoying my chlorine-free water. So, when I decided to be a Green Santa, I had to get a chlorine filter this week for someone, and it was challenging trying to decide who I should give it to, to jumpstart the beginning of their chlorine-free life. My best friend and her family have been talking about getting them for their showers, and I have faith that they will eventually. Besides, they make well over six figures a year (WELL over) and why should I spend $23 of my hard-earned money when they want to do it, can afford it, but have just been too lazy to go get them? Wait, Green Santa shouldn’t be bitter, right? No, but I definitely need to give it to someone who will use it and appreciate the effort, which she probably would not.

So, I picked a friend, someone I think will appreciate it and use it, and it will be an absolute honor to give it to her and her family. It feels unmistakably like I’m giving them the gift of better health, taking away cancer risks and reducing their chances of having heart disease, and I get a little giddy thinking about helping people live longer. Or something like that.

Before I’ve even given the first green gift, I’m already looking forward to next payday and what I’m going to get someone else as a green gift.

I really wish I had more money to be a bigger Green Santa. OH, the green gifts I would give!

Two Types of People

I have no forgiveness in my soul. The very idea of forgiveness is one I cannot quite comprehend. A murderer kills someone’s family member and she is interviewed on television saying she forgives him and accepts his punishment in this life or beyond. No, ma’am, there is no need to forgive, I say. Maybe you accept things, maybe you’re at peace, but you don’t forgive. I don’t forgive.

When a patron walks into the library, they are immediately cast into one of two categories: people who have pissed me off, and people who haven’t. There is no forgiveness. If you acted afool one time in the 17 years I’ve worked there, and you yelled at me or someone I care about on staff, you go into the People Who Pissed Me Off category forever. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had 200 neutral or positive experiences with you since that fateful day. The fact alone that you went into a library and hurt someone’s feelings with your selfish tantrum is something I’ll never look past. I may not treat you in a way that’s noticeably different, but I have a threshold of kindness I can afford you, required by my position, and I will not go beyond the required amount of kindness I must show you to keep my job. There will be no bending of the rules, no sitting at a computer with you for an hour to help you fill out a job application, no recommending of books that are awesomely life-changing, and no real smiles. You may not be a smelly person who is mentally ill, but you will be treated with the same safe distance I allot those folks. And I’m good at this, so you might not even realize it because you have never been a recipient of the smiley, friendly, jovial service I offer people I really like.

The same applies to my coworkers; they fall into the same two categories, and whenever I have dealings with those who have pissed me off, they too are kept at a safe distance I reserve for bad patrons and the mentally ill.

This week, one of my coworkers went from one category to the other.

All it took was one painful, 30-second conversation with him yelling at me and treating me like an idiot, and when I hung up the phone saying goodbye, I said goodbye to the friendship and cast him into a pail of coworkers I would just as soon avoid. It’s sad, actually, because I qualified him as a friend, and there is a slight sense of loss, but more than that, there’s a sense of betrayal. And if there’s one thing I never get over, it’s betrayal.

Working in a library, I’ve had many heated debates with my coworkers, disagreed on many topics, and have poked fun at them on this blog, but there is a stark, cold disparity between having a difference of opinions and having a coworker who would brutally rip you a new asshole at work, for no reason or due to no fault of yours, just their own inability to do their job, remember previous conversations, and show a little decorum in dealing with a question from you that they do not want to deal with because of above mentioned inability and lack of memory.

I’m sorry, but you don’t get to read me the riot act because I asked an innocent question about something that you should have taken care of two months ago. Your job is stressful, your life is stressful, and often you deal with idiots. Welcome to the club. It’s not an exclusive club. You’re not so fucking special. Behave professionally, please. Unless you’re on a ledge about to jump, you don’t get to say those things to me and expect me to take it without consequence. And consequences don’t involve filing a complaint at work or taking it to your boss. No, I am not the weasel in this situation. Consequences simply mean you will always be That Guy, right then, the one who was screaming condescendingly at me on the phone. That conversation will be in my head each and every time I deal with you. And you will simply get what I give the smelly, mentally ill patrons: what is required of me by my job description. Nothing more.

Because if not for the job, we would not cross paths ever again. And if we encounter one another outside of work, I don’t even owe you a courtesy hello.

On a staff of 50, many of whom I have close relationships with, in an environment with an unusual legacy of life-long bonding with coworkers, you are cast down and out, into the realm of exile, and I won’t listen to your long, rambling stories, or ask about your family, or even speak to you unless necessary. We are done. This does not mean I carry this anger with me forever, nor does it mean I punish myself reliving the events and the emotions. The hurt feelings go away. The anger goes away. I just think so much less of you. You are That Guy now, who cannot keep it together and castigates anyone who happens by, passing your judgment, thinking you’re superior, thinking you can get away with saying anything that pops into your head, perhaps even boldly thinking that our friendship affords you more leeway than lesser beings. You are so wrong. If I happen by, and trust me, I will not do so of my own choosing, a very long arm’s length will be applied, and it will never be the way it once was. I simply do not care about you anymore, and I have no delusions that this is something that matters to you, that I am denying you some great luxury in life. It is my means of self-preservation, and since you are not capable of taking my feelings into consideration, I must do so by omitting the perceived threat. We are coworkers. Once that meant something.

I don’t even know what forgiveness is, but I don’t have any, nor do I want any. There are simply two types of people in this world. People Who Have Pissed Me Off, and People Who Haven’t. You will be treated accordingly.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Worm Within

THIS is a story I stumbled upon a few months ago, read it like a great book, shared it with friends, and promptly forgot about it until I came across it again, and now I'm sharing it with you. It's hilarious and disgusting and I can't pass up an opportunity to share it with even more people, so here it is.

The Worm Within

Monday, July 6, 2009

More Bits and Pieces

Sometimes it’s nice to live with my adult little brother because we have the same sense of humor. Conversations always leave us amused and enlightened because we’re on the same page. It wasn’t always this way, but it is now, and I cherish it.

When I come home from work, we make dinner together. That’s just how it’s gotten to be. Sometimes the prep work is all me, sometimes it’s all him, sometimes we split the duties, but I always set out food for the two of us and count on him to participate.

As I was prepping food tonight, we had a discussion about the chicken.

Me: Want some chicken and cheesy potatoes?

Bro: What did you bread the chicken with?

Me: Crushed tortilla chips, flax, wheat flour, garlic, Parmesan, salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash.

We love Mrs. Dash. We put it on everything.

Bro: Sounds good. I’m hungry but I don’t want to cook.

He pretends like this isn’t a ritual and I didn’t already know we were having dinner together. We act like it’s random, but there’s a reason we’re both hungry at the same time. It’s become our thing.

Me: Look at these breasts! They came from the Anna Nicole of chickens!

Bro: Why? Are they on drugs?

Me: Are they dead?

Bro: Are they drunk?

Me: Did they have their own reality show…that sucked?

Bro: Did they have trouble putting complete sentences together?

Me: Did they marry a rich guy for his money?

And on it went. That’s quality family time in my house.

By the way, the chicken was awesome.

* * *

I know I’ve already mentioned this, but I’ve become obsessed with going green, probably five years after it was trendy, but I’m not concerned with trends. Like all obsessions and fetishes, mine originates from somewhere dark.

Since he died, I’ve had recurring nightmares about my father, where he’s still alive but hurt and dying, and I try to get him help, but can’t. Either he’s been stabbed and I’m running from house to house, screaming in the streets, begging someone to call 9-1-1, with every phone I find dead and useless, or I see a truck coming at him and can’t scream loud enough to warn him to get out of the street. These dreams plague me. I still carry an enormous amount of guilt about not being able to save him from his cancer or prevent him from getting it to begin with.

I’ve developed such a terrorizing fear of death that I frequently burst into tears when I see a dead animal on the road. Death is something I cannot handle on any level anymore. They all strike me as preventable and it maddens me that someone could be gone forever, needlessly.

It wasn’t until last Easter that I figured out why my horror over anything dead upsets me so. How’s this for irony? I was driving on Easter and I hit and killed a rabbit. I killed my own Easter Bunny. Of course, it totally flipped me out, I turned the car around and went back to see if the rabbit was savable. It wasn’t. It was gruesome. So, I was telling a coworker about it the next day, trying hard to hold back the tears, trembling, and she expressed sorrow that I went through that, but asked what bothered me so much about it.

I said, “What if he was a dad?! What if he had a family who needed him?! What about everyone who loved him?!” Then I realized what I’ve been doing. Every dead person or creature became my dad to me. It still goes on, and I still battle the sobs each and every time I see a dead animal or hear about a person dying, but at least I understand where it comes from now.

Back go going green. In doing green research for work, I have found that everything seems to boil down to the prevention of needless death and cancer. Dioxins and nitrates and BPAs, oh my! I don’t believe the FDA anymore about pretty much anything, and turn to the Canadians for true, objective research about what’s safe and what’s dangerous. And so much is dangerous. So much is killing ecosystems. So many toxins go right back into our bodies through our water supply or as the end of the food chain, where poisons accumulate. It all amounts to death and cancer, and I have turned my life upside down trying to eliminate all these needless, external carcinogens.

I started a Going Green display at the library, and one of my very clever coworkers suggested I add a Green Tip as a signature to my emails, instead of those stupid quotes that seem to be inside jokes or quotes that represent the opposite of what that coworker exhibits. So, for a few months, this is what I’ve been doing. Every week or two I change my Green Tip in both my email signature and on a dry erase board on our Going Green display, and something amazing has been happening.

Lately, my coworkers have repeated one of my own Green Tips back to me. They don’t remember where they heard it, they don’t have a clue that it came from me, but they are telling people, and they’re also telling me.

First Marina told me about having to remove the caps from plastic bottles you recycle or the entire bottle will be rejected because each piece is made of a different grade of plastic, so the sensors pick up the combination and reject the piece entirely. That was my first Green Tip. We talked about it extensively because one of my other coworkers even called the garbage company to verify, and they did indeed. It’s cute that some months later, that one stuck with her and she’s still telling people about it.

Today another of my coworkers quoted to me a Green Tip she hadn’t realized she read in a global email I’d just send about something unrelated, and the Tip mentioned the dangers of chlorine in our water supply, and the need to have a chlorine filter on your showerhead.

It’s spreading. I may not be able to bring my dad back and I might not even be able to stop anyone I care about from getting cancer, but it’s the beginning of something right here in my library, and every revolution starts with people caring and sharing the need to make changes.

And the nightmares are not coming as frequently. Maybe one day I’ll fight death enough that I’ll be able to finally accept it.

* * *

Should I include my Green Tip on my blog, maybe in the sidebar, for anyone interested? Do you guys care? Would you hate me if I did it anyway? I promise, they’re not all gloom and doom, like this week’s is about organic foods, how much more nutritional value they have, and that it can amount to the equivalent of, or more than, an additional serving of fruit and vegetables each day.

* * *

I was down in Tech Services today, begging them to move the Marco Polo book from 915 (my travel section) to anywhere else in the building or I’d weed the fucker because it’s only circulated twice in twenty years. Bless their detail-oriented, rule-ruled hearts, they are considering my plea, but it’s not looking good for Mr. Polo.

While down there, the clock struck lunchtime and two of us mentioned that we were due to go to lunch pronto.

One asked me where I was going and I said, “The gym.”

As if I didn’t like them all enough already, they poo-pooed the gym idea, booing and telling me that was no way to spend my lunch break.

They’re my kind of people, but I went anyway.

When I got to the gym, one of the employees was there teaching someone new how to use the equipment and she asked, “Are you here on your lunch break?”

I answered yes, but it made me curious why she would ask. Did she need me to stay later or something?

Me: Why, what’s up?

Her: Nothing, I just can’t believe you come in on your lunch break. I could never do that! That’s really amazing.

Huh? What? I don’t do amazing things when it comes to working out. I’m a lazy slob who wears stained shirts, doesn’t shower after, and returns to work. Ick. So NOT amazing.

Another woman who was there piped in.

Woman: Yeah, I could never come on my lunch break.

Me: But, no, you have to understand how lazy I am. I refuse to get up early to do this before work, like normal people. I won’t sacrifice my sleep for exercise.

Woman: I won’t give up my lunch break for anything!

Her daughter agreed.

Daughter: Ohhh, yeah, I totally vegetate on my lunch break. No talking, no thinking, barely human.

Me: C’mon, you guys. You’re making me feel good. Cut it out.

We all laughed and they shut up. Do they think I’m sacrificing my lunch, meaning my food, to work out? Or do they understand that I eat after working out? Because, truly, this is the lazy way to exercise. Trust me.

* * *

My brother got a check in the mail for $10 today.

Bro: Can you believe I just now got the rebate for my wireless antenna today?

Me: Oh yeah?

Bro: I bought it SIX MONTHS AGO! I sent that rebate in immediately, too, because I wanted the money back, and it was only supposed to take 4-6 weeks. I’d actually forgotten about it. SIX MONTHS LATER, I got my $10! That’s criminal!

Me: But think about it. People say 4-6 weeks, but we know that when they say a week, they mean a business week. So five days now equal seven in the real world. If you’re talking about multiple weeks, I’m sure it stretches out to being six months. Which is another reason why I fucking hate the whole concept of business weeks.

Bro: Yeah, why do they get to call 14 days only 10? ‘It will take only 10 days to clear…but we mean 10 BUSINESS DAYS, so fuck you, it’s going to take 4 more because we don’t work weekends!’

Me: Just because they’re not working doesn’t mean time isn’t elapsing. You can’t redefine time based on your hours of operation! Call during the business day? FUCK THE BUSINESS DAYS! Business happens 24 hours a day and doesn’t come to a halt because you send your employees home at 5 o’clock! So their business day is 8 hours, their business week is only 40 hours, and that means that 4-6 weeks in business time will arrive in about 6 months. It adds up, those assholes!

Bro: Wait! I am only awake 16 hours a day, so those other 8 hours don’t count toward anything. For anyone.

Me: Oh, does that mean you’re only 21 years old, because only 2/3 of your life counts?

Bro: That’s right! And some of those days I slept way more than 8 hours, so I’m even younger than that!

Me: Yeah, but in business time, translated to real time, you’re ancient.

Bro: That’s just wrong.

Me: Be happy you got your $10. The last rebate I sent away for, which was the last rebate I ever WILL send away for, sent me a letter 3 months later saying my rebate was void because I filled something out wrong, and the time had since expired for the rebate to be valid. I couldn’t even fix it. I just didn’t get my money, even though they had everything they needed to issue the check.

Bro: Business ethics.

Me: HAH! Only a fraction of actual ethics!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tall Tales or Truth

I thought I was done with the feelings of shame I associate with some of the accepted things our country does, and feeling like the sentiments in the South are not only against my beliefs but completely inhumane in the way treat outsiders or anyone not like them, but apparently, I’m not done with that.

Let me run this story by you and you tell me what you think and if you think it’s true.

Arms tells stories, and whether they’re true or not, I’ve yet to figure out. I have no way of knowing if his college wildness is blown out of proportion, or if his antics at previous jobs are at all accurate, but he told me something last week that is haunting me, not because I think he lied, but because he might be telling the truth.

Arms is a frat boy, through and through: muscle and brawn, beer and bullying, total frat boy kind of guy. In fact, he still goes away on weekend benders back to his old university, to party with his old fraternity, even though he graduated three years ago. He’s steeped in the lifestyle, which I thought people grew out of once they realized that the real world doesn’t work that way, but he makes it possible, and I don’t disrespect the feat that is. It’s hard, I’m sure, to work, pay your bills, be a responsible adult, and then drive hours and hours away on a Friday night to spend two solid days in a drunken stupor, barely clothed, roof-diving into a pool, and then drive back Sunday night to return to responsible living. If his liver doesn’t go first, his heart is just going to give out on him, I’m sure.

Once, a group of fellas from their fraternity in a Texas college came to visit.

Arms: These boys were from SOUTH Texas, you know.

Me: Uh-huh.

Arms: And they were huge! They make me look like a little girl.

Me: *eyeroll* Yeah, right.

Arms: Seriously. They were enormous. And they showed up and walked right into the house like they owned it, wanting to know where the party was. I just got out of the way and let them do whatever they wanted.

Me: *smirking*

Arms: Like I said, they were from SOUTHERN Texas.

This should have been some indication about where he was going, but I still didn’t get it.

Me: Uh-huh.

Arms: They’ve been shooting guns since before they could walk. And they live on these ranches that just go on and on. Anything goes, down there.

So far I’m unimpressed with how he is painting these guys. He hasn’t said “redneck”, but he’s on the cusp.

Arms: And they told us, totally seriously, that they sit around sometimes and just shoot ‘em dead whenever they get onto their property.

My mind was racing. Shooting what dead? Were they shooting coyotes? Because if they’re shooting coyotes, I’m about to get really mad at Arms for telling me this story. Nobody better tell me about shooting coyotes dead just for sport. What else could it be, right?

He was looking at me with that can-you-believe-that face, and I wasn’t sure what he was asking me to believe.

Me: What were they shooting?

Arms: Illegals! Border-hoppers!


Arms: Really!

Me: NO!

Arms: Yeah, there’s no law against it down there. They see someone crossing the border, they can shoot them dead. Especially if it’s their property. No one tells them they’re wrong.

I felt my head getting hot, like I was about to either start screaming or throw up.

Of course, right then a patron walked up and I had to help her, so Arms walked away giving me that look like he meant what he said.

I know things are different in Texas because of the border situation, and I know that Mexico, being a third world country and all, has to make some people a little nervous when you’re neighbors, but to shoot people dead because they crossed over, that can’t be real. It can’t be.

Someone help me. Someone tell me this isn’t true and it was either Arms’ imagination or the drunken boasting of some guys from the South pulling everyone’s legs.

Someone?! Please.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bits & Pieces

Sergeant will not show anyone else his war face. It’s really starting to tick me off. Why be shy around Marina, except if she brings out your own shyness with hers? To deny her the fun of seeing the war face is just cruel to me and I don’t appreciate it. It makes me want to show him my own war face.

* * *

I need to work on developing a convincing and frightening war face.

* * *

While I was in the middle of speaking with a patron today, an older woman approached and interrupted me mid-sentence by shouting, “Excuse me! Excuse me, Ma’am!”

I have come to realize that this is not going to be a dire emergency in need of 9-1-1, nor is it even a mild emergency requiring a squirt gun full of pickle juice. No, this is a personality flaw, and whether it turns into me needing to call 9-1-1 because the patron is murdered by my hand or squirting the offender with pickle juice will suffice depends on how they accept my reaction, which is a stock reaction of, “Hold on. I’m in the middle of helping someone else right now,” and I gesture toward the person standing right in front of me.

Usually this cools their heels. Occasionally they storm off in a huff. Two patrons have refused to accept this answer and demanded immediate attention, which was, for both patrons, the need to have a computer instantly so that they could check their email.

Need I tell you that they did not get what they wanted, when they wanted it? No, I don’t. You know me well.

It’s also worth noting that both these patrons are now banned from our library because the rudeness didn’t stop there.

Anyway, today my interrupter waited her turn and then told me she needed to fax something. I informed her of the cost, sent her to Circulation to pay for her fax need, and asked her to bring the pages and receipt from Circ to me when she was ready.

She replied, (and I type in caps because she spoke so damn loud) “HOW MANY PAGES IS IT GOING TO BE?”

I was befuddled. How could I know this answer?

Me: Well, that depends on how many pages you have to send through.


Truly, I wasn’t sure what to say.

Me: I…I…I don’t know how many pages you need to send. What are you trying to send?

Patron: ALL OF THIS!

She held up three pieces of paper.

Me: Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm, that looks like three pieces of paper to me, so if you need to send all three of those, then you have three pages to send.

She looked confused.

I know I was confused.

Me: Soooooooooooooooooo, if you have three pages to send, that will cost you $3.


Me: Okay, I guess I’m not sure what your question was.


At that point I gave up.

Me: Well, that’s between you and them. Find out what they want, and each piece of paper you need to fax counts as a page.

She huffed and waddled off to pay Circ.

She came back with one page and a receipt for $1 in faxing.

Now I was really confused.

But wait! It gets worse!

I sent the page through, received the confirmation, handed it over to her, and was gleeful to be done with my dealing with her.


Me: Sign what?


Me: This confirmation is from our fax machine saying that it successfully sent your fax. This didn’t come from the company you sent it to. Do you have arrangements with them to send something back here when they receive yours?

Patron: NO.

Me: Maybe you should make those arrangements.


I said yes and dialed the number for her, thinking it would be a quick and easy call.

Nothing is ever quick and easy.

It turns out, she was faxing to the phone company, and that’s who she called using my phone.


For the next thirty minutes, I sat near her as she screamed into my phone that she needed her home phone service turned back on, and they gave her instructions on how to go about that, which she did not like, and more screaming ensued.

I repeatedly asked her to keep her voice down, but for an unknown reason, I didn’t ask her to end the call. This was partly because I’d let her start it and just wanted her to be done and over, and partly because she kept saying she was done with them and said extra loudly, “GOODBYE!”

However, these were not ends to the call. These were her personal ends to dealing with whatever conversation she was having with the person on the other end. More yelling followed.

At more than one point, she was instructed to call back in 40 minutes, which she challenged. I shuddered. I was going to have to deal with her for 40 minutes while she waited, and then let her use my phone for another round of this? Oh no! No way!

Finally she hung up, and without waiting a moment for her to say she was going to need the phone again, I pounced.

Me: Ma’am, I’m sorry, but that was an incredibly long call, and extremely disturbing not just to my workflow, but for everyone nearby. If you have to call the phone company back, you’re going to have to go to a friend or family member’s house. We simply cannot accommodate this kind of need.


Me: No. There are already a number of voice mails waiting for me just during the time you were using the phone, and I can’t have the line tied up that long. I have other patrons I need to help.


I accepted her apology and smiled my fakest smile of mild sympathy.

A part of me wondered how many years that took off my life.

* * *

Two patrons who had been present during the aural assault of this patron calling the phone company sighed in relief that the noise was finally gone.

One threw his hands in the air and said, “Hallelujah!”

The other stood up and announced to all the other computer users that they could all relax and get back to whatever they were doing because the storm had passed.

I had to apologize to our patrons for letting that go on so long, even though I asked her repeatedly to quiet down. She couldn’t be quieted. My guess is she was hard of hearing, but she seemed to hear me fine while I spoke at a normal volume and she bellowed at me.

I really hate having to apologize to our patrons. That won’t happen again.

* * *

While Marina and I spoke with a bison vendor at the local farmer’s market today, we were shown a photo of twin buffalo calves at his farm, and we were invited up to see them.

Frolicking baby buffaloes, a youthful shade of tawny sand, skipping about on his farm: too sweet. He went on to tell us about how he was plowing a field where the grass and alfalfa had grown to three-feet in height, and the twins chased the tractor around, thinking it was a toy. The mama buffalo finally rounded them up and he was able to continue with his plowing. Touching story. Proud human caregiver.

Anyone want three pounds of buffalo meat? Don’t know that I can eat it now.

* * *

This weekend, Ann and I were held hostage by about 50,000 people at the Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, which is only slightly smaller than the Taste of Chicago, with more artisans and less food. We were held hostage by the crowds who could neither move at a reasonable pace, realize that they were holding up traffic, or recognize the clear signs that I was about to commit mass murder on their drunk asses because I was sunburned, hungry, tired, had to pee, and had somehow spent all my cash and only remembered eating a small strawberry shortcake while sitting in a flower bed in a dirty parking lot, next to a dumpster. And that was the highlight. There were just too many goddamn people, which is a gross understatement because ten is too many goddamn people in my opinion, so 50,000 was the stuff of my nightmares.

However, on our way home we pulled off the highway and had cheese curds at Culver’s, which were delish and one area where Wisconsin does it right.

We sat in the parking lot for roughly three hours, enjoying the weather and conversation, and this is usually when we share strange things about ourselves with one another, with this day being no exception.

As a kid, I suffered an enormous amount of anxiety for one reason or another: unhappy home life, volatile father, insane mother, despair, abuse and poverty, among others. From a very early age, I built tents. Not real tents, but makeshift tents. I took all the blankets in the house, whatever furniture I could borrow that wouldn’t be missed immediately, and I built tents that no one else was allowed to enter. Often they were just large enough for me to sit in, and I would sit silently in them for hours, almost in a meditative state, just enjoying the sensation of feeling safe. Nothing bad could or ever did happen in my tents. They were my refuge.

When I had a nervous breakdown in my teen years and locked myself in my closet for 9 months, it was the same idea, just a different setting. No one was allowed inside, and as long as I didn’t leave it, I felt safe.

Upon sharing this bizarre side of myself with Ann, she asked me where I flee to when I need to feel safe now, and it surprised me to know we both have the same safe place: our cars.

I need to drive every single day, whether I have a destination or not. This is where I feel the freest. This is where I sing at the top of my lungs, which I will not do in the presence of any human on this planet, and where I frequently burst into spontaneous tears and cry myself into a coughing, sniffling fit. I hide from my family by going for drives, and feel so much more attached to my car than I do most of my other possessions. It is my tent.

Ann asked, “Do you feel uncomfortable allowing anyone into your car?”

The answer seemed strange, but we both agreed that because our cars are sacred to us, we do not comfortably allow just anyone inside. Occasions have required that we give rides to some we would rather not give passage into our sacred haven, but necessity trumped emotion and we suffered through it.

It’s quite strange, but I bet many people feel the same way.

If you feel like commenting and sharing your “tent”, I’d love to know what you consider your safe haven now that you’re a grown up.