Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Crazy Tuesdays

Man: Do you have those guys who...they do that thing...when you write letters?

Already I was perplexed.

Me: Um, what kind of letters?

Man: Letters. That you write. With lists of stuff you do on them.

Me: Resumes?

Man: YES. Do you have the guys who put their name on those?

Cue small stroke in left temporal lobe.

Me: I'm baffled. I'm not sure what you mean.

I looked at Marina and she shook her head and turned her back quickly, wanting nothing to do with this translation from nothingness to English.

Man: They do this! *slams fist down on the desk*

Me: Hammer? Gavel? Stamp?

Man: YES. Stamp. They stamp them.

Me: A postage stamp? Like the post office?

Man: No, with their name.

Me: Like, to notarize something?

Man: YES. Do you have any of those guys here?

Holy crap, that was the scenic route to a question, though not very scenic.

* * *

When Circulation transfers a voicemail message mistakenly left by patrons on the Circ phones, which should have gone elsewhere, the message is merely copied to our voicemail with only a blinking light to indicate that it has occurred, and if you haven't heard the phone ring or walked away from the desk in an hour, it's startling to see that there is voicemail to be retrieved. I do not like that. It sneaks up on me.

So, when I noticed the blinking light of messagry, I quickly retrieved it, slightly frazzled.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the caller was lacking in voicemail skills, which I too did not know was a skill until today.

The message was simply a sexually ambiguous voice, sternly yelling out their phone number, then hanging up. No name. No information.

I called back and found the still sexually ambiguous voice to be only slightly more comprehensible live.

S/he wanted to know if we had US Constitution study guides, to which I said that we did. S/he then wanted to know how many we had of different kinds. I informed the patron that there is pretty much a standard issue study guide that is used most everywhere. S/he wanted to know what exactly in that study guide a person had to know to pass their citizenship exam. I said it would be wise to know everything inside, but I had no idea what would be covered on the exam. S/he then demanded that I gather no fewer than three different study guides for to use. I explained that we had one, which is the standard, and has been used for as long as I can remember by both students and citizenship seekers. S/he demanded to know why we didn't carry others.


The patron said, "Oh." Then s/he hung up on me.

* * *

A few minutes later, the light was blinking again. What is up with this?

I punched in my code and hit Play for the new voicemail. This is what I heard from a new sexually ambiguous voice.

This is [mumble, mumble]. I was just there and got a library card. I was wondering if you have [mumble, mumble]. *pause* Okay? *pause* Should I wait? *pause* I'm waiting -- is that okay? *pause* Should I keep waiting? *pause* What should I do? *long pause*

Then s/he hung up.

Absolutely had to be related to the previous caller. I'd bet my life. Lack of voicemail skills that severe has to be genetic.

If three patrons hadn't walked up to the desk as I hung up the phone, quickly deleting that voicemail, I would've run over to Circ and spanked someone hard on the ass for sending me those two messages in a row. You just know they had to have listened to both messages and laughed hysterically, then forwarded them to me for the sheer pleasure of torturing me.

Clerks are evil.

* * *

When my desk shift was over, I went to the office to grab my pasta for lunch. As I was pulling the bowl and fork from my bag, I fumbled the bowl. While trying to keep the pasta from crashing to the ground, I pushed my hands together to catch everything in my arms, thusly positioning the fork against one arm, stabbing it deeply into the other.

I got tined.

Unbelievable. Now I have a four-pronged puncture wound and dragging scratch across my wrist. I’ll just have to tell people a cat did it. How can I possibly admit that I forked myself hard and drew blood?

* * *

Later, I was telling Christi about the weird voicemail messages and she said, “We should have a special extension to transfer the crazy people to. It would just play hold music forever. And not the nice hold music, but really creepy music. And once in a while we’d pick up the phone and say something totally bizarre. ‘Horseshoe bandages.’ Then more creepy hold music. ‘Go get an orange.’ Then more hold music.”

It was brilliant. It was the single most brilliant thing I’ve heard in a long, long time. But like usual, we spiraled out of control after that.

Me: Well, if they’re crazy like Crazy Karen, that would probably make total sense to her. She’d love it. She’d call all day long and talk to the crazy hold music and randomly worded messages.

Christi: OOOH! We should have a way to make a party line, so that when Crazy Karen and Betty [the soul-sucking whiner] call, we could transfer them both to the line, and there would be nothing but silence until one of them talked. ‘Um, I’m looking for information on storms that hit the US during the summer of 2002,’ Betty would say. Crazy Karen would say, ‘Well, I’m looking for information on the Northern Hemisphere. Did you know we are in the Northern Hemisphere?’ And then they would talk their crazy talk to each other!

Me: The two of them? Talking to one another? The universe might implode! Can you imagine the ramifications if that much crazy was put together? Gravity would spontaneously stop working and we’d all just fly off into space.

We both started waving our arms and pretending to be weightless, flying around the office, each taking turns calmly noting that Crazy Karen and Betty must have found one another again.

Sometimes you have to battle crazy with crazy.

* * *

Late tonight, before I left, a patron walked up to me and handed me a cell phone she’d found sitting next to an empty computer. I thanked her and brought it to Circ, where our lost and found calls home.

The phone started to make noise and I panicked.

I don’t have a cell phone. I don’t use cell phones. I don’t know the first thing about cell phones. I teach computer classes for advanced computer users because I don’t have the patience to help those who have no idea how to use a mouse. I customized our library’s website. I do advanced editing in PhotoShop and make animated gifs for fun. But this noisy cell phone was technology I knew not of.

I held it out to the lady at Circ like it was alive.

Me: Someone left this behind. I have no idea how to make it stop doing this. It has all these button-thingies and I don’t know what to do with it.

Clerk: Well, I don’t either. I don’t know anything about cell phones.

Me: It’s all shiny and new-looking and there look like secret buttons over here. I can’t…I don’t know…MAKE IT STOP!

Clerk: Someone should answer it.

Me: Not me! I’d probably hit a button and it would take a picture of me making this face at it. *made a look of terror*

Clerk: Let’s just put it in the lost and found. Maybe someone who sits near the lost and found knows how to stop the noise and they’ll do it.

Me: We’re hopeless. This cell phone stuff is just too complicated.

Clerk: I know!

And so I am cast into the realm of idiots who are afraid of technology, which makes little sense given what I do, but there are some things I just don’t want to learn about.

Which puts me on par with many of our patrons who have no want of computers, but a need of computers.

Maybe I’ll go in next Tuesday (the Day for Crazies) and ask a patron how to work a cell phone. See how they like it.


BeckEye said...

I wish you had written this a few weeks ago. I had to have something notarized at the bank. It would have been fun to just walk up to the counter, slam my hand down and ask, "Can you do THIS to my paper?"

Mary Ellen said...

We used to have a crazy guy that would call our library all the time and just babble nonsense into the phone at us. If we hung up on him, he'd call back pretending to be someone else, but since he had a very distinctive (and deeply creepy) voice, we weren't fooled. We started transferring him to an unused line, where he would leave long, rambling messages to his hearts' content. My favorite (long since deleted, alas...) involved him playing the radio into the phone, and then talking at great length about the connection between Puff the Magic Dragon and the CIA.

Kate P said...

I know it's a stereotype, but teenagers are the answer to your cell phone problems. They'd have it silenced and figure out who owned it in two minutes flat.

Your notary story should be in a library professional service course. "Here's how pretty much all of your informational interviews will go. . . Get used to it."

Shy said...

I've long advocated some sort of matching service for the crazy patrons so they could amuse each other. A colleague and I even started figuring out who'd go with whom (some were matched with staff). We just need to organize an intramural insanity mixer of some sort now.... Not enough of them are online/computer literate enough to launch crazylibpatron.com, which is too bad since we had a great time filling out imaginary profiles for them. Hmmm, maybe the crazy isn't all on the other side of the desk....

Romana1 said...

I had a coworker here at our library who always used to say, "You don't have to be insane to work here...but it helps!"

Ah, yes...it does help. ;)