Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back Talker

A man walked up to my desk and mumbled something to me, which I could not make out. All I heard was something about signing up for something. Given that our newsletter just landed in the mailboxes of all our residents, he could’ve been asking to sign up for any number of things.

Me: Excuse me? You’d like to sign up for what?

He rolled his eyes at me, turned his back to me and leaned against my desk facing away, and mumbled again, “[Mumble]...sign up...[mumble]...library card...[mumble]...for a few minutes.”

I know why old people are cranky. I’m getting there way before my time already. Patience with rude, inconsiderate and stupid people runs very thin somewhere around the age of 35, if you’ve been dealing with the public. The more you deal with the public, the quicker it runs out.

Surmising from the three phrases I managed to understand, and completely jumping to conclusions about the mumbles that interspersed the intelligible portion of his conversation with me, I not so patiently replied to him.

Me: I’m sorry but it’s hard to understand you when you’re not even talking TOWARD me. Are you asking for a reservation for an Express computer because you don’t have your library card?

Him (glancing over his shoulder, rolling his eyes again): YES, a COM-PEW-TUR!

This guy was not a punk 14-year-old. He was easily in his late 20s, judging by his receding hairline and slight acne still upon his skin. And by the way, he needed to wash his thinning hair. Even though there wasn’t much, it was greasy-gross. I should also mention I might not have noticed how clumpy and sticky his shiny hair was if that wasn’t the part of his head he insisted on presenting to me.

So I made the reservation, tore off the reservation slip, and held my hand out to his back. Still he would not turn around and face me, and eventually he noticed out of the corner of his eye that I had my arm extended to hand him the slip. With maximum effort -- I kid you not -- he twisted his arm around backward so that he wouldn’t have to actually move his body at all, and just opened his hand up so I could put the slip into it.

I did not gracefully and delicately place it into his hand, lets just say.

From there, things did not improve. Though I was helping other people, in the middle of explaining something with words flowing freely from my informative lips in the direction of patrons standing before me, FACING ME, he would yell to me from the computer, “MISS! MISS! THIS ISN’T WORKING!”

“This” being his brain? Sorry, I’m not trained in handling that kind of problem.

I grew tired of looking at him in the middle of my conversation and giving him the finger.

Not that finger. Thought I very much wanted to.

The hold-one-minute finger.

Eventually I quit bothering with the finger and just kept talking. He would sigh and get the point, though it didn’t stop him from continually doing this throughout his stay.

What it turns out he needed was something from his mortgage company that had his address on it. A simple bank statement wouldn’t work. Apparently, in order to register his child for school, he had to prove not only his address with formal ID, but ownership of property. I’m guessing he was mistaken but this was what he insisted upon, and logging into his online account did not include the physical address of the property anywhere in the account, so he was frantically demanding I figure out what he could do.

I asked if another item would suffice: utility bill, car insurance card, etc.

He looked at me with incredulity.

Guy: They’ll take a car insurance card?

Me: Well, I don’t know. You’d have to ask them. What I’m asking YOU is if you asked them if they’ll take anything else with your address on it.

Guy: I don’t know. Why would they take my car insurance card?

Me: Because some have an address printed on them, which may or may not be enough proof that your car is registered to that address. That’s something else with an address -- car registration. I mean, there are a number of options, but I can’t tell you what the school will accept.

Guy: But why doesn’t the mortgage put my address on my online account?

Me: I don’t know that either, but it’s probably a security measure. You log into your credit card account and, at least with mine, they don’t put the account number on it. Sometimes the last four digits, but mostly you just have to know it’s yours and recognize the rest of the information. It’s for your protection.

Guy: So how am I supposed to get this information?!

Me: Call your mortgage company and see if they can print something out for you. Or call the school and see if they’ll take something else.

Guy: But what else would they take?!

I was tempted -- oh so tempted -- to turn my back on him and mumble my repeat of suggestions, rolling my eyes. If he can dish it out he should certainly be able to take it, but that is almost never the case.

Instead I paused and repeated. He was realizing that his problem wasn’t going to be immediately solved and so he stormed out.

Good riddance, I say.


[Mumble] riddance...

1 comment:

Kate P said...

Wow. (Bless your heart for not using the OTHER finger.)

You get him once, but that poor school gets him for several years, probably.