Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Little Understanding Goes a Long Way

It’s nice to have a boss I can complain to and follow up my complaint by saying, “Some days I go home and pat myself on the back because I didn’t kill anyone today. They may have deserved it, but I let them live. Good job!” He agreed, good job, and there was no call to 9-1-1 to have me taken away. He gets me, thankfully.

The patron I was complaining about is quickly becoming one of the most hated people we deal with, not just by me, but by anyone who has to help him. First, he comes in right before we close and has extensive research he wants us to do. Secondly, he has no idea what he’s looking for and requires a ridiculous amount of digging to discover what he’s looking for, and then we must try to locate it. He’ll know a song, but not remember the name or the band. It’s always Christian rock too, so don’t even get me started on that crap. The song may be by this band or that band and he’ll know it when he sees it, so he needs us to look up each band, every album they’ve made, so he can look at the song lists until he recognizes the one he’s looking for. Some of these bands have 20 albums, and because they’re obscure, unpopular Christian rock, maybe 10 libraries in the world might have it. I have gotten to the point where I’ve said he has to sit down and figure out the album and artist himself – Google or Amazon can deliver the information – because I just don’t have time or patience enough to have him leaning over my desk so he can see my monitor as he tells me, “Scroll down, no, not that one, down, more, wait, maybe, no, not that one, keep going, is that it?, no, okay, next album.” I won’t do it anymore. I make him get on a computer and scroll through the albums himself until he finds what he needs. There is no leaning over my desk, breathing in my face, giving me orders to scroll anywhere. Not anymore.

But he does this to other people, though I think many of them have followed my lead and tell him to find the album first and then see us.

Yesterday he came in and wanted to make a resume for his daughter, who has only worked at the local arcade. Why a high school student needs a resume I’m not sure, but that’s his problem – he has to make it. Well, evidently he thought he didn’t. Rude awakening! I’m not writing your daughter’s resume, moron!

So, I sit him down at a computer, get him to open Word, show him where the templates are, explain it’s fill-in-the-blanks and I can’t do that for him so he can get to work on it.

He said, completely seriously, “So, if I have a question, what do I do? Yell out ‘HEY YOU’?”


I replied, with a definite air of irritation, “Uh, nooooooo, you walk up to the desk and ask whoever is available to help you.”

Why do I have to teach this man basic rules of etiquette?

Later he walked up behind me, behind my desk, and said near my ear, “I need help!”

When I shook off the fact that he scared the shit out of me, I wanted him dead. Not quickly dead of an aneurysm or stroke, but slowly, losing parts of his body one by one, with time in between to wallow in the agony, and then another comes off. To the pain. Then to the death.

I walked over to discover he had 2 minutes left until the computer shut down, which is irreversible and not extendable when we’re closing – it’s automatic. So, instead of being able to teach him how to save a document, I jumped to action and saved it quickly to the computer so I could log in again after it shut him out. Oh, and he also wanted a PDF as well as a DOC, even though the document wasn’t complete. And he wanted it burned on a CD, not emailed to himself, free of charge. And he then had to go purchase a CD from Circulation. I kept thinking about his deserved death and the injustice of not being able to give it to him myself, but I managed to get through it.

As we were finishing and the CD was burning, he wadded up a piece of paper as garbage and tried to hand it to me, saying, “Here.”

This was too much. There was no nice left in me. WHO DOES THIS!?

Cold as ice I said, “There’s a garbage can right there. You can put it in yourself.”

He laughed a stupid and unfriendly laugh and responded, “Yeah, you don’t get paid to do that, huh?”

I said, “That’s not the point. You can throw away your own garbage. The can is 5 feet away.”

He didn’t say anything after that and I just walked away in disgust.

On his way out he thanked me and said he’d be back the next day to keep working on it, would likely need more help, just so we knew.

I nodded. I knew I wouldn’t be closing tonight so I figured it was up to the next crew to not kill him. And if they did, I’d completely understand. And I’d testify on their behalf. And I’d dance on his grave.

He never showed up tonight. Maybe someone else did the deed for us. He can’t be that rude and shitty just to us – this has to be a trait he practices all the time. To be this good at being an asshole takes a lot of work.

But it takes more work to let him walk out the door without shedding a drop of his blood.

I’m glad I have a boss who understands and appreciates this.


Kate P said...

"To be this good at being an asshole takes a lot of work." Sadly, some people take great pride in doing just that. Especially at libraries, it seems. I had one or two students talk that way to me, but I chalked it up to their immaturity. That guy had no excuse, and you should be commended for your diplomacy with him. Not to mention the not-killing-him part.

Leelu said...

You deserve a commendation. My blood would probably have boiled out of my eyeballs by the end of that transaction.

ChiLibrarian said...

I feel your pain. I had to walk away from the desk last week and take a few calming breaths because I couldn't bear how a patron was treating my coworker. It's actually worse when you have to watch it and you're helpless to stop them because they're just being jerks, not quite stepping over the line where you could call security. Some days not saying what you really think, or committing homicide, is a clear victory.

Anonymous said...

You should re-post "The Bitch Principal" that I printed out years ago and still refer to when I'm feeling particularly homicidal towards a dreadful individual pretending to be a patron. Your post from years ago captured perfectly that we are the patron's bitch and as such they are free to treat us like their bitch just because they can. It's early Monday and I'm off to work a new week with 99.9% of our good patrons but there is always that .1% that will be there to make me miserable including the crude, the crazy, and the clueless. Cheers, Happy Villain.