Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Climate Committees

An old tradition has been resurrected at my library recently, at a time of year when resurrections are en vogue. For the first time in a long while, we have a Sunshine Committee.

My outspoken abhorrence of committees not withstanding, the very concept of a committee designed to bring sunshine to the staff strikes at my very sensitive phony bone. Cookies, parties and random acts of caloric kindness do not a Happy Villain make. People, I lost 70 pounds by kicking sunshine’s ass, and I’m not about to let a committee of people with teeth too white and attitudes too bright take that away from me. Besides which, I’m pretty damn content being partly cloudy.

Now, I like the people on the Sunshine Committee a lot. They are happy faces I enjoy encounters with and who routinely make me laugh, so righteously they belong on a committee dedicated to raising employee morale. However, given the choice, I’d much rather go home and study my bellybutton than stick around the library on the clock and mingle with my coworkers over snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. Add some lame-ass games to that mix and I’d just about fall upon a sword to get out of it. Forced socialization makes me covet a recluse lifestyle.

As if this all weren’t bad enough, we are having another all-day, all-staff meeting, which, when I look at the schedule, seems to me to be a feeble excuse to get people to obey an order to come to work and participate in seminars, activities and exchanges that no one cares about or really could benefit from. An hour on our retirement fund? Two hours on assertiveness? One hour on happiness? A question and answer session? Should we really close the library for an entire day for this crap, and pay everyone to be there? There is a one-hour luncheon event put together by the Sunshine Committee, and given my specialized diet, it’s a wasted hour and an expense I can’t participate in. Additionally, there is a one-hour activity, fiercely secretive, held at the end of the meeting, put to us by the Sunshine Committee.

I have to go in on my day off for this.

Thus, I have decided I am going to be the unofficial, unsanctioned Gloomy Committee. I will not bake for staff; I will not throw them parties; I will not ask them to play games at work instead of doing their job or going home; and I will not give anyone a hard time for not being gloomier. I will simply be my gloomy self and not impose my attitude on others. It is my plan enjoy my Gloom by politely refusing the Sunshine and sitting in the shade, rolling my eyes, wishing for a fire drill or building-wide case of dysentery.

It’s hard to be sunshiny when I spent the afternoon fielding calls from cranky patrons who aren’t satisfied with all the free things they get from the library. Patron A is pissed because the museum pass program, which gives people free admission, doesn’t include the museum she would like to attend, and though Macy’s actually sponsored this and we just hand out the passes, she would like to lodge a formal complaint that we are misleading people into believing that we have a program ongoing that is of value, which she feels is not. Furthermore, she would like us to find a way to get free passes to her museum of choice to satisfy her need. Then, Patron B, who has an affinity for music that’s so obscure it has to come from one of the 4 libraries in the world who own it, yells at me because we don’t have it on our shelf for him right this minute. Patron C, who is also a music-lover, is looking for Celtic music, but he pronounces it with a soft C instead of a hard C, which makes me wonder if the basketball team is putting out albums now. Patron D just signed up for a new email account and already forgot her password, which she’s angry with me about because I have no way of retracing her history on the computer to see what she used. Am I seriously expected to be sunshiny 4 hours into a shift of frustration like this? Oh, and did I mention I’m midway through my week of estrogen withdrawal and Midol can only do so much? Ain’t no sunshine.

My two favorite patrons graced me with their loveliness today, too, but I was unable to find the sunshine.

Mitch and I discussed books for a bit, until he realized he had a small stain in the middle of his sweater and began rubbing it, licking his thumb and smearing it around, enlarging the stain with each touch.

Me: Um, it looks like you’re growing an emblem on your chest. Maybe a superhero uniform? Is that it? Is that the larva stage of a Superman costume?

Mitch: I should stop, huh? It’s just getting bigger and bigger.

Me: That happens when you rub it. In my experience.

He didn’t get my dirty joke because he was so focused on rubbing the stain. Eventually he wandered off and about 20 minutes later he walked past my desk sheepishly, trying to avoid eye contact, and I noticed that the once pea-sized stain had grown to the size of a softball and looked freshly drenched. I laughed, but even Mitch couldn’t make the gloom go away. There were too many patrons barking at me from other directions.

When the phone rang and I took a deep breath, expecting to be yelled at by another patron, I was pleased to hear the voice of my other favorite, Tim. He gave me the name of a book he wanted and I ordered it, then finally identified myself.

Me: Hi, Tim, it’s Nikki.

Tim: HEY SWEETIE! God, I haven’t seen you in way too long!

Me: I know. Where have you been?

Tim: Ugh, you know how it goes. I’m actually downtown right now in a meeting and someone mentioned this book so I thought I’d get it right away before I forget about it. So how ARE you? What have you been up to?

Me: Well, given that you’re in a meeting and talking on the phone with me, I’ll give you the LONG version: I’m fine.

Tim: Hahaha, okay, I’ll come in so we can catch up.

Me: You better. Or I might forget about you.

Tim: No, baby, don’t do that! I’ll see you soon.

Me: Promises, promises.

Do people have these types of conversations with their librarians? Tell me I’m not the only one out there playing around like this.

But even Tim couldn’t bring the sunshine.

And if Mitch and Tim can’t bring the sunshine, cookies in the staff lounge are not going to cut it.

Thus, I am a natural Gloomy Committee member. A committee of one. As it should be.


Huff said...

I hate enforced fun at work. Can I join your gloomy committee? You don't have to talk to me..promise :-)

Leelu said...

...I like to bring in treats for people. And to make them laugh.