Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ah! Fond memories of working at the library

Another goodie from my archives.

Mrs. Dempsey wasn't only an old lady, she was a SENIOR CITIZEN. She was born that way. She went right from mewling and puking to whining and bitching. She was also on a FIXED INCOME.

Back in the day, when we had VCRs, she borrowed some videos, one of which she returned damaged. It was actually off its spool. The clerk at the desk explained that she had to pay for the ruined video--I think it was $20. Mrs D replied that this vicious video had ruined her equipment, and she was in no way at fault! We should have paid her for the repair of her equipment! And anyway, she was a SENIOR CITIZEN.

She went on to ask why $20? We explained that that was the replacement cost. Mrs D didn't think she should have to pay for a brand new video, we had already gotten some use out of it, hadn't we? It wasn't new any more. And she was a SENIOR CITIZEN.

She went around and around on this with the clerk, who then called her supervisor, who told her the same thing. Her next interview was with lucky me, the head honcho. I explained it all again. As she was taking up a whole morning's worth of time of three library employees, who theoretically could have been doing something else, I asked her how much she thought was fair. She thought a dollar would do the trick. And there we agreed to disagree. Oh, yes, and before she left, she asked me if I could give her daughter a job.

A couple of weeks later, I got a call from the board president, who had also had a discussion with Mrs. D. Apparently he had persuaded her to pony up $10. She also asked him if we could give her daughter a job. His reply is not part of the record.

A day or two later, Mrs D came into my office. She opened up one of those change purses with a snap closure, and grudgingly doled out 10 singles, slowly, one at a time. This was supposed to make me feel bad, as she was a SENIOR CITIZEN and LIVING ON A FIXED INCOME.

I gave her a receipt and thanked her for bringing the matter to a successful conclusion. Then she asked me to give her daughter a job.

She wasn't the worst of the job-seekers, however. One man came to me and asked me to give his mother a job. There wasn't much she could do, he explained, as she spoke little English. I think he considered the library a high-class sort of day care for seniors.

Another family used to leave their brain-injured son in the library for hours. If he had just sat still we wouldn't have known him from our other nutcases, but he insisted in walking around the card catalog (which we still had then) over and over, gathering speed like a jet engine, and making much the same noise.

Then there was Mildred. She came in with her stuffed doll, which she seated next to her. We were okay with that. But when she started to call various staffers over to engage the doll in conversation, admire its wardrobe, and discuss its politics, something had to give. I ordered the entire staff not to speak to the doll. That put an end to it. Mildred was crazy, but she was not stupid.

2 comments:

Francis W. Porretto said...

You may have missed an opportunity there. Some dolls know more about politics, economics, etc. than the entire United States Congress.

Most dolls, actually.

miriam said...

Damn! I should have thought of that.