Me Thinking Out Loud


My upcoming week

Monday I have to leave work early to get the kids. We will get home around 9.

Tuesday…I don’t know. Surely something will come up.

Wednesday I work until 8

Thursday I have a sorority thing at 7

Friday I get off early and the dudes are coming to replace the carpet in my living room, so I need to dig out the air compressor and see if I can’t get my vacuum to suck again. I swear my next husband will be a plumber or a vacuum repair guy. All others need not apply.

Saturday I have a MS Walk at 7:30 then my 7 year-old’s birthday party in the afternoon (he will be 8 on June 27) and a political dinner that evening.

Sunday I work three-and-a-half hours

Oh, yeah. I have to go to the Y five more times this month so work will keep paying part of my membership.

Said birthday boy did not bring home the addresses of his intended guests so I could not mail invitations last week, or tomorrow for that matter. This means I have to surreptitiously send them with Thos to school so he can sneak them to his friends, since we are not inviting the whole class.

Fortunately I have a huge park in my front yard and the theme will be the Olympics, so it will be pretty much an outdoor activity, which is good because my house is a wreck. Sadly the babysitter has prom so he can’t help run the activities for me.

Why are we having this kid’s birthday a full two months early? Well, I only get him every other weekend, and we will be in Disney World on Mother’s Day and the next time is Memorial Day which isn’t a great time to have a birthday party. Then their dad has them most of the summer, except I hope the week of his birthday which is also the week of the Chautauqua in our humble community and I am on the committee so I can’t get a birthday party arranged, plus he could not invite people at school since we don’t have any addresses!

Crap. I just looked at the weather. Saturday is 66 with an 80% chance of rain. That is some serious precip for here. At least it is rain not snow. What do I do? The kid does not remember his last birthday party that was not just family, he was 3. He deserves a party. 

We could do it after school gets out on a weekday too. Looking at my calendar that would be May 23rd since they get out the 22nd. Hmm. Maybe the babysitter could help then too…

I asked my boss if I could blog about work. She gave me her permission. 2,000 words later…


I work in a library.

  • Unlike doctors and lawyers, librarians don’t mind talking about books when we are not behind the desk at work.
  • I am not a magician. I do not know your Wal-Mart employee password so you can get the W2 form your employer asked you to download from their site so you could pay for the printing costs, saving them $0.15 per employee while causing mayhem in libraries across the country.
  • I am not a free child care provider. We serve doctors, lawyers and stay-at-home moms as well as bums, drug pushers and child molesters at our library. This is in addition to the 20-30 middle schoolers that come to the library after school for two hours. Keep this cost in mind when you save yourself money in after-school child care. We sent a ten-year-old kid home with the cops once.
  • I am not a phone service provider. If you have a daily need to have multiple personal conversations on our portable phone in a far-away corner, expect me to give you the phone with a cord to use.
  • I am not your personal phone directory. When you give me the number you want me to dial, give the numbers to me clearly and in the order you want them dialed, not, “mughshevenfourshix uh, yeah sixthreetwo.”
  • I am not a MySpace expert. I do not know how to add the online porn queens you have found to your “Close Friends” list.
  • I don’t have the books you insist you turned in. We looked on the shelves here. I do know that we have had the orthodontist, the auto repair place that loaned you a car and the school call us about our library books. When I say, “we will look around here again, but you need to look around home too,” what I mean is “it is almost never us.” And we check the book drop twice a day. We also think very highly of you when you can apologize after you find the books behind your kid’s bookcase.
  • The container out front with a round hole and a plastic liner bag is a garbage can, not a book drop.
  • I am not a love life expert, but as I print off the photos you found on the date-local site, I can assure you that the ex-wife of our local national celebrity is not going to be interested in dating you until you change your hygiene habits and lose about 20 years, even if she is bat-shit crazy, as I have heard.
  • I am not a mind-reader. I do not keep track of which un-attended kids at the library are yours, so I will speak to the children first about their behavior rather than you.
  • I suggest you log out of Facebook if you don’t want the next guy who sits at the computer to update your status.
  • I cannot answer all reference questions. Not all of them have obtainable answers, for example when you call to ask if one of Lady Gaga’s back up dancers is Scandinavian. That information is not available in the amount of time I can dedicate to this call.
  • When you call to see if your daughter is in the library, and we don’t know her by name, I suggest you find a way of describing her that does not include, “She wears a D cup bra.” This particular young lady also has very long hair and wears glasses, but that is not what her mom thought of first. Poor kid.

This sounds like complaining, but my job is mostly fun. I like the variety of people I know in town, from kids to cops to homeless people to the classes who come in with a one-to-one ratio of teacher to kid on Wednesdays, and it is always exciting to see the name of a patron in the police blotter, or better yet on the front page of the paper for possession with intent to deliver, particularly when that person has been especially rude to us over some matter or another.

We have nicknames for our distinctive patrons, ranging from “the Call Girl” who uses our phone once a day and is always surprised that we are not excited to see her coming and have the phone at hand, dialing finger poised, to “Miss Pickles” who has is such a character that I recognized her in a post on an online class I am taking on customer service. I checked my classmate’s profile and discovered she works in the town down the road, so I suggested we had some patron overlap, and she agreed. More about Miss Pickles later.

The patrons are the best part of the job. Well, the no fine perks rank up there too.

  • Last month a 30-year-old guy came in to replace his card. It had some very old fines on it, so I printed off the list of books that had been returned late. Two were on menopause and the other was a romance novel. I forgave the fines, but gave him the print-out so he could black-mail his mother with it.
  • Last week a teen showed me two card tricks, which was fun but not as fun as the day the special needs kid pulled his library card out of my ear! (I say special needs-he is nice and friendly but I doubt he will be able to live on his own-he thinks he is Elvis or the Hulk or a cop…)
  • Then there is the Goth cowboy I call High Chaparral and my co-worker calls Jingles. He wears spurs and a bandolier to go with his filed eye-teeth and the black eye make up he wears on his cheeks and eyes to make himself look more cadaverous than is strictly necessary. He hasn’t been in for a while, *knocks on wood*
  • I love asking a kid getting a library card if he brought his driver’s license for proof of address. Some will look at their parents in confusion and some will look at me and bust out laughing.
  • A guy came in once and insisted he had a card. I asked his last name. “Poinzadiem” he said. I typed it in three different ways and asked him for clarification. He insisted it was pronounced “Poinzadiem.” And he berated me because if I was Native, I would understand his name. I finally looked him up by his first name. I was spelling “Points At Him” wrong.
  • Then there is Miss Pickles, the lady of seven names. I shall call her here Victoria Cindellia Jane Hobbes Witherspoon Johnson Marquette. VCJHWJM has had her identity stolen by several entities and insists on using public access computers to register her complaints to the highest levels of the government. She also thinks I told her I know how to help her register a patent. I most assuredly did not.
  • One time a lady came in and wanted a list of her recent reads. I told her we didn’t keep track- that once she had checked the books in they go off her record. (This should come as a relief to those of you worried about the NSA asking for records of patron checkouts). I said, “I am really bad with faces, but I never forget a book. What was it about?” She said, “It started with a “P” and it was about horses.” I suggested it might be “The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls.” It was. I hadn’t read it, but I had noticed the title.
  • A tourist came through town on his bike and he wanted to camp out. I suggested the fancy new site on the way south of town. He said he was looking for something more rustic than that, so I suggested the zoo. Yes, you can camp right outside the zoo and wake up to the lions roaring. He didn’t believe me, but I bet he biked over there just in case I wasn’t lying, and if he did, I bet he stayed.
  • I was setting up a display for Native American Heritage Month last year, and I really needed something for the display cases (we have lots of books on the topic but no artifacts) so I cornered one of the matriarchs that come in and she went out to her car where she had a trunk load of beaded jewelry she had made as well as a star quilt and a number of other items I used for our display.
  • When I first started, in 2010 a family of kids, an older sister and three younger boys hung out at the library from after school until closing time (3 ½ hours). I usually gave them extra computer time because they were always there and they were well-behaved. This was in Dec, Jan, Feb…and that spring I read that their mother had died of cancer. They didn’t have a home to really go to, and probably no heat. They still come in sometimes. They live with a grandma.

Some things make me sad.

  • I don’t understand why Nebraska makes (makes) people applying for state assistance FAX their information (we charge $1 a page) to Lincoln rather than scanning and emailing for free, or even mailing for $0.48. No, they want it FAXed. I can’t imagine they have paper files on people.
  • When people can spend three hours on Facebook while their kids run around the library, and they don’t even let their kids get on the kid computers. They manage to keep the behavior to just under the threshold of asking them to leave, although I know when I ask someone to leave, I will have my boss’s full support.
  • It makes me sad when the boss weeds books and they go to recycling, (we do sell some on the annual sale, but we can’t keep them all-nor would there be a market for most of them) however, it is great when someone shows up looking for books on child labor laws and we don’t have much but what we have is brand new and current.
  • When people come in with neck-gash tattoos. A tattoo may limit your job opportunities, but a neck gash tattoo shows a real lack of judgment.
  • I wish I spoke Spanish. We don’t have a large immigrant population, but there are a handful of people who bring a kid along to translate, and some who just muddle through.
  • When young guys come in who appear to be plenty smart, but don’t bathe, and this isn’t a homeless issue. It is a hygiene issue.
  • When someone checks out an awesome book (like “Evil Obsession” by Yost) and I just know it won’t be coming back.
  • When people lie about already having a card. We can look you up by your first name, or your birthday if we think you might have a couple hundred dollars in lost items.

We do the best we can to make things easy for people. If someone has books out when they check out I make sure they know about them, and renew them if necessary. We don’t charge fines to homeschoolers and teachers. If they check out a lot of books I will write that number at the top of the slip so they can count first to see if they have them all ready to bring back.

If we don’t have it we can find it on interlibrary loan for you, or look online at the neighboring libraries.

Finally, something weird I learned the other day.

American Sign Language is different from German or even English Sign Language. (That was a huge missed opportunity. Imagine if all the deaf people –and those who knew sign language-could communicate!)

I have only worked here three and a half years. You can’t imagine the stories the lady who has been here 25 years can tell.