Monday, July 26, 2010

The Bitch Principle

Thank you so much to my anonymous commenter for reminding me of this post. I wrote it when I worked for another director, in another department, and the reminder was both painful and jarring. I needed it, thanks. It's part of the defunct Happyville Library archives and no longer published, but I figured I should re-publish it for nostalgia's sake. And my own. So here it is.

Warning: I wrote this post after reading (and re-reading, because it was so damn funny) an entire book of Dilbert comics. When I finished, I had an abundance of crazy manager memories flooding my brain and I wrote this with many of my past jobs in mind. Happyville is NOWHERE near this bad, but I've been places that are and this is not an exaggeration of some workplace philosophies. Read it with the humor it was written with.

The Bitch Principle

You are owned by the taxpayers of this community. This means you are their bitch. They pay your meager salary and begrudge you every penny.

Corollary 1
A bitch’s job is to keep the patrons happy, at all costs. Some will be satisfied that you have done your job if you merely answer their question about the library’s hours; others will be dissatisfied with your output if you call in favors, pull strings, hack a government computer and sell your personal possessions to pay for the bribe used to acquire information you seek on behalf of a patron. It is recognizable that you may eventually find your resources have reached a limit. When this occurs, find another bitch with greater resources and tell the patron you are referring them to someone with more authority in that area.

Corollary 2
If you are off the clock and shopping in a local store, you are still their bitch. Whenever possible, without regard for your personal situation, do your best to serve their needs.

Corollary 3
Find someone else’s bitch for them. Sometimes patrons get attached to the work done by a particular bitch on staff. If Joe is Mr. McCarty’s favorite bitch and Mr. McCarty is on the phone looking for Joe, find Joe immediately. Patrons don’t like to leave voice mail messages for staff because it feels less like their bitches are at their beck and call, so you must track that staff member down or take a message, thereby taking personal responsibility for Joe getting the message. Bitchdom is transferable like that so it is preferred that you find the bitch in question.

Corollary 4
Never forget you’re their bitch. No matter how harsh, offensive or brutally critical a patron is, show them their proper respect. Only when a patron breaks a law and infringes on the rights of other patrons can you act in defense of the other patrons. Your honor is not important and if they belittle you, that is their right. If it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t have a job. It is only through their generosity that you are able to put food in your mouth. Show some gratitude.

    If you are a member of the community in which you work, a taxpayer to the library where you are employed, you are not your own bitch. Being everyone else’s bitch overrides any entitlement you might have. If you would like to have a library full of your personal bitches, you must move out of the library district in which you work. You automatically forfeit your rights to having library bitches when you live and work in the same library district.

Behavior Principles and Management Noninvolvement

Patrons are unpredictable and you should predict their behavior accordingly, without aid of your supervisors.

Corollary 1
Try to diffuse a belligerent patron’s temper before they take their complaint to management. Managers sought promotions to get themselves away from the positions of serving the public because they were terrible at it and they hated it. Do not remind your boss of his or her shortcomings by bringing them a raging patron.

    By “diffuse” we mean to use any means necessary. A shovel and dolly are in the receiving room and the property is adjacent to some dense woods. Use your resources wisely. A dead taxpayer is preferable to a disgruntled taxpayer.

Corollary 2
Inebriated patrons should be refused service. There are no repercussions because if they are as drunk as they seem, they won’t remember it anyway. If the inebriated patron raises suspicion that they might be dangerous or driving, the police should be alerted. If you are feeling apathetic on this particular day, remember that they are parked in the same parking lot as your own vehicle, and they might have lagged on their liability insurance.

Corollary 3
Mothers with children are like ticking bombs and should be given an enormous amount of leeway. Some prefer you to discipline their children for them; others don’t care if their child has eaten the first three volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and they do not want you to say a negative word in the direction of their children. You have to figure out which type of mother you are dealing with and then be prepared for the fallout. Again, “diffuse” the situation accordingly and avoid management if at all possible.

Corollary 4
Patrons will deny responsibility for any and all offenses they commit, no matter how obvious it is that they are guilty. If you cannot convince them that they must be accountable for their actions and the matter is presented to management, be prepared for the manager to exhibit his/her spinelessness and give the patron what they want, not backing you up and not standing by the written and formal policy. Managers suppress their confrontational abilities until they wield the pent-up confrontation on an underling. If you are the patrons’ bitch, your manager is an upper echelon bitch and held to an even higher standard of devotion and servitude to the patrons. Do not expect your manager to take your side or uphold your decisions.

Corollary 5
When all hell breaks loose, call the police instead of management. Though there will be a delay in the time it takes for officers to arrive, it will be much faster than locating an effective member of management. Order must be restored as quickly as possible, and often that can only be accomplished by those with guns. Choose wisely and keep in mind that the library will remain open regardless of fatalities, so minimize the mess because it will be you working among the splattered blood.

Emergency Principles

The only thing that should close the library is the building itself being blown to smithereens. Your emergency kits should suffice in rescuing you from any situation, with the exception of the building being blown to smithereens. If you and the building are blown to smithereens, you may officially close the library.

Corollary 1
If there is a fire, gather the patrons and rescue them first. Your life is less valuable and without the patrons, you wouldn’t have a job anyway. Then you may rescue the library pets. Once the important ones have been evacuated safely, you may leave the building. Don’t forget to sign out (you won’t be paid for your time of evacuation), log off the computers, turn on your voice mail, leave a note for your boss saying you left early and why, and get it signed by a fireman on scene (preferably the first one in the building so that they don’t force you to leave before you have finished your duties). The library should reopen immediately unless otherwise indicated by the fire department.

Corollary 2
In the event of a tornado, patrons should be gathered and led to the shelter areas in the building. Some will refuse to evacuate to a safe place – leave them where they are because that is an effective “diffusing” of a problem patron, no doubt. Remember to bring the emergency kits located at each reference desks and the circulation desk. You should then nominate a staff member to check outside to see if the tornado has passed and it is safe to come out. If that staff member doesn’t return, wait a while longer, nominate a new staff member and repeat. If the building collapses on you due to the tornado’s damage, you will be glad you have the emergency kits handy.

    These emergency kits will save your life. In the rare event that a sharpened pencil, some scratch paper, a flashlight, some glow sticks, a whistle, band-aids, and a battery-operated radio cannot be utilized to save your life, their presence will absolve the library of liability and prevent your next of kin from filing frivolous civil suits. If you do not know how to save your lives with the whistle, a sharpened pencil and some glow-sticks, then that is your problem.

Corollary 3
If a bomb threat is made, follow the same instructions given in Corollary 1, but remember to call the police and have them sign your note to management. We do not have bomb alarms and if a board member or the director happens upon an empty library with all the patrons and staff running for their lives and no police or other law enforcement present, it will be assumed you have abandoned your position and you will be fired. This is particularly important if the bomb threat was a hoax and the building was not blown to smithereens.

Corollary 4
With frequently erupting cases of violence and mass murder occurring in workplaces and public buildings, a domestic or non-domestic terrorist threat should be handled as exhibited in the following passage:

    Evacuate as outlined in Corollary 1. Inform the director immediately so that she might sit in her chair observing a storytime session, staring off into space, ignoring the threat for a good hour or so. Employees will be ordered back to work right away and the director will protect the public from future attacks by posting a color-coordinated Library Terror Alert system, which instructs everyone to be watchful but continue with their lives, regardless of color warning. Paranoia will be the key to convicting the suspects and the library faction behind it will be chased, without being caught, for all eternity. Dissidence will be considered anti-patronotic and a Patronage Act will be passed that allows the library to revoke library privileges from anyone, at any time, holding their library card hostage and forcing people relinquish their library books indefinitely, without a defense. Terrorists will not get away with harming our library. Well, they might, but we’ll look busy trying to fix it.

Corollary 5
If a patron has an accident, becomes ill, or shows symptoms of ill health, call an ambulance immediately. If you are unable to prevent a bodily fluid spill from occurring, it is up to the staff member nearest the spill to clean it up, regardless of their job description. Supplies are scattered about the building haphazardly, and you will probably have to cordon off the hazardous area until the supplies can be gathered. No matter how enormous the spill, the library should not be closed. A biohazard suit is available, as well as anti-tuberculosis wipes and individual alcohol swabs in case contact is made. The janitors should be notified immediately and contaminated material should be set aside to be determined if it is in need of being destroyed. It is preferred that contamination should be contained and only staff exposed. Innocent patrons should be spared first and foremost, and management spared second.

Corollary 6
Miscellaneous emergencies such as gas leaks, flooding, building damage, power outage, water shutoff, etc., should not result in evacuations unless advised by the fire or police department, and the library should remain open. Keep in mind one steadfast word: smithereens. If the building is not in eminent danger of being blown to smithereens and valuable patrons are not in danger, you should continue doing your job and the library should remain open.

    If a patron knifes/shoots/maims one of your coworkers, you should not suspend your duties or accompany that coworker to the hospital. Should that person die, you are advised to mourn their loss on your off time.

Remember: smithereens! Don’t stop doing your job unless the library is blown to smithereens!


Anonymous said...

I shared this with reference, security, circulation, and YS.
All of us understand perfectly and want you to be our leader.


Happy Villain said...

Hilarious you should ask, thanks, but no, I'm no leader. Trust me on that one. :)

Kate P said...

"If you are a member of the community in which you work, a taxpayer to the library where you are employed, you are not your own bitch. Being everyone else’s bitch overrides any entitlement you might have." Well, that explains what I went through last year!

ldahospud said...

Ah, the Happyville archives . . .I wish you'd bring them back! Your readers demand access to all your written brilliance!