Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Toy Planes

I don’t sleep on planes.
I’m a face sleeper. Not only will I need Botox because of this, I can’t handle an upright position. Since sleep isn’t happening I settle for ignoring those around me, especially if I’m flying with family, and/or screaming children. In order to facilitate this, I have my personal item. No, not the first personal item that was so heavy the straps almost broke. My second one contains a book, a pillow, ear buds, thick socks, a drink, and an eye mask. If you check the fine print, as long as you don’t cart on Bleach Volumes 1-379, these items don’t count towards restrictions. With hours to kill I meander through the airport and look at the exhibits.

The vases weren’t as cool as the one they had the last time I flew out of there---I love sci-fi stuff, so I took a million pictures back in 2009 of the exhibit---yet all we have at Sac International is a lovely Chili’s Too “exhibit.” I board the plane in the last group, which I think is a joke. Do you know who should really board last?

The first class passengers.

Don’t you hate how they look at us, like we’re nothing but petty pathetic peons who don’t deserve to share the same airspace as them? Sure, in an emergency landing they’ll be on rafts instead of huddled on the wings, yet they look so smug I’m tempted to scream, “Might I remind you the people flew first class, too, and where are they now? Oh, yeah, that’s right, it no longer exists, just like American job security.”

But I’m too classy to do that.

Settling into coach, I took off my faux feather earrings, wrapped them in the 3 toilet seat liners I lifted from SFO, and waited for something to annoy me, which didn’t take long at all. Instead of finally reading Devil in the White City a whole year after no fewer than 3 librarians recommended it to me, I’m so nauseated by the constant movement of the plane that I give up and put on my eye mask. Big mistake. My eye mask is just a little too tight, something an ophthalmologist wouldn’t recommend, but hey, it was free with purchase. As we near our late landing at O’Hare, the flight attendant begins reading off the list of connecting gates. Mine is not read. Looking at my printout I discover I only have 20 minutes to get off the plane and get to my gate. Bringing the paper up front, American Airlines give me a reason to write yet another letter to company head quarters.

The flight attendant doesn’t know how to read the ticket.

That’s right. This nincompoop (and I don’t say that lightly) tries to convince me that the time on the ticket is actually the date (“It’s June 6, 2005? Really?”) and that my boarding time is 6:50. To which I ask, “How can board at 6:50 when my flight leaves at 6:20?” Instead of arguing with her, I race off the plane into Concourse H and latch onto the first person in an airline uniform, who correctly directs me to Concourse K. Problem is, I can’t really see. Everything past 15 feet is blurry, meaning I’m walking, as fast as one can in heels---they were easier to wear than to pack---and hoping its in the right direction since I couldn’t read the signs. I shouldn’t have worried. Being so late meant I could have simply followed the voice. That’s right, I am so close to missing my flight that my name is being paged. Badly, of course, but paged none the less. I ‘m limping as fast as I can thanks to the earlier ankle injury, and when I get there they grab my bag, place a valet tag onto it, hustle me into the plane and shut the door.

Having booked a completely different flight, I was assuming I was going from one big plane to another plane. OMG, nothing could have been further from the truth. This was some American Eagle you-should-have-flown-Southwest-teeny-tiny itty-bitty 34 passenger plane. The plane was so small it looked like a 747 gave birth to it. While I'll admit to dreaming about being in a plane that small, the dream involved me owning it and having my own massage room, not sharing the space with 33 other doomed people as we fall smack dab to earth. The flight attendant aboard told me they had changed my seat assignment and, “You’re now on an exit row. Should you not be able to perform your duties we can reassign you.” Which made me think, “Exit row? Can I exit out of it now and board a real plane?”

Of course not.

I strap myself in and start my inner dialogue which went something like this:

“I’m going to die!"

"This plane is made of tin foil and Betamax parts and I’m going to die!"

"They'll have to use dental records to identify my crispy corpse! Let it be quick and easy!"

"Maybe I should buy another drink. Then it really won’t hurt when we crash. Or maybe I’ll even survive. In car crashes drunks always survive after ruining everyone else’s life. Didn’t they have a crash where one person survived? Wait a minute, I should have cleaned my house! Now everyone is going to know I haven’t straightened up since I signed for a short sale. Short my inner thigh! How was I to know it wouldn’t close by now? I gave them a June 24th deadline! This is horrible! People are going to pick through my belongings at a garage sale and offer fifty cents for my cashmere sweater that retailed for $150. I should have written an extremely detailed will. Stephenee always liked that sweater. I should text her and let her know she gets first dibs on my clothes, and Amy can have my books since she's my only non-library friend who actually reads, and April can have my exercise DVDs, and Margaret can have dibs on any accessories my mother doesn't want, and no, she can't send my things to my oldest sister because she has no taste at all. She draws her eyebrows into a near unibrow. How many times have I explained the side of nose, corner of eyebrow equation to her? At least she's not as bad as that one woman who looks like her brows take after McDonald's golden arches but it's embarrassing to be in public with her! And what’s my mother going to do? Who will tell her how to use the remote when she insists its plotting against her? Who will stop her from answering the phone when annoying people call? If she goes to live with any of my brothers they'll tell her to get rid of all her stuff because, "There should be white space. A man needs somewhere to rest his eyes." Don’t they understand that if we didn’t want something we wouldn’t have bought it in the first place? I'm glad I didn’t leave them any money. You can have all the white space you want with my $0 contribution to your net worth. What am I saying? I don't want to die! Oh lord, please don’t let me die! How unfair it would be to die when I haven’t even had time to enjoy my life post student loans!”

About 5 minutes later I realize I’m getting hot. My calf is against the emergency exit door, and it’s hot outside, therefore I’m hot, and after studying the seat in front of me I realize it's simply a floatation device and there’s no parachute attached. Then we hit turbulence, the captain told us to stay in our seats and I started thinking:

“I’m going to die! For the love of God, please, someone get me off this plane! I shouldn't be able to tell the weather by feeling it on my leg! If you let me live I promise to be nice to people and eat green stuff other than parsley and Jello and clean my house...or hire someone to clean it, and I'll lie more because telling the truth all the time is plain mean, just let me live!"

Suffice to say, we landed safely.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

You can have the best laid plans, but if an airline is plotting against you just forget about it.

At noon I jumped into a Blue Van 2 hours before my flight to DC for the ALA conference. Remember back when you could arrive 30 minutes before a flight with a Big Gulp while your family stayed with you at the gate while they left their car parked out on the curb? I remember being fed real food with real utensils and even getting invited into the cockpit. Today you go the airport prepared to be strip searched, your drink confiscated, your carry on bag packed to the gills and your "personal item," i.e. big-bag-o-stuff, almost breaking from the weight of everything in it. You used to have 2 carry on bags and a personal item. Now if you want to bring a laptop you'll need to place panties in a manila envelope and slip it in your case. I skipped the laptop and took a real bag because I like stuff and I like choices. Yes, I took 5 pairs of shoes with me on a 6 day trip. By day 2 I'd already worn 4 pair.

But back to the story at hand.

I arrive at Terminal B early. If you haven't been to Terminal B it's because you booked on a better airline. Terminal B is an after thought. Terminal B is the equivalent of thinking you're giving birth to 5 kids and they find another kid in their during deliver, meaning you're in such a scramble to find a name the kid ends up stuck with Epidural or Invitro. Complete. After. Thought. No massage bar. No cute stores. That's Terminal B for you.

I slide through security with my bag-o-liquids was still inside my bag-o-stuff. Yes, the official packing program lecturer says you're supposed to get liquids on the other end of your flight, but she's white. The rest of the world can buy conditioner at the airport kiosk. Blacks have to go to shall I put it...questionable side of town to get products, meaning I spend the night before a flight squeezing shampoo into Barbie sized bottles. Anyway I get through, I have lunch, some nice miscellaneous military man heading to Mississippi pays covers my tab (how thoughtful!) and before we even exchange names we get the news...

The flight was canceled.

Yeah, my thought exactly.

An AC unit broke, meaning they'd have to fly at a lower altitude, meaning if they did so they'd hit a mountain. (BTW, what a pleasant thought to put in the minds of passengers who are about to fly over mountains, thank you very much.) They sent us downstairs to the counter. Too bad they didn't tell the poor woman behind the counter what was going on before they did so. While she was staving off a panic attack my fellow passengers were saying things like, "It's always American Airlines!" and "I knew I should have taken Southwest!" Then a woman passes out the airline phone number as we stare at her because how fast can we really get through to a live person when there's 180+ people calling at once? And what good will it do us when they hadn't officially canceled the flight? So after they cancel the flight we call and are all told, "Oh, we are so sorry, and we'll get you on the same flight tomorrow," which, in airline speak means, "Didn't you learn life sucked way back in kindergarten?"

I'm ready to burst into tears, knowing I can't do anything unless it involves a time machine and booking on Continental instead, when I get a great idea and call back and ask, "Is there anything leaving SFO to DC?"

"Which airport were you going to?"

"Whichever one that has a plane flying to DC."

"I can get you on flight 1522 to BWI tonight. It leaves at 11:45 pm."

I do a mini happy dance, run out the airport, and catch a Blue Van to Amtrak following a call to the KP desk for their number in which I am told, "you really need to get an iPhone!"

I arrive, meet some nice people, take the train to Emeryville, the bus to the Ferry Building, and taking the Embarcadero station BART to SFO.

I get there, bash my ankle with my carry on bag which weighs about 300 pounds, and head up. I go to the check-in line, slide in my card, and outcomes something unexpected...

A notice saying it was too early to check in because my flight wasn't scheduled until the following night.

This is about when the internal meltdown started.
Ever dealt with a screaming toddler and when you go to pick them up they lift up their arms, slide out of your hands, and start bawling on the ground? Just pouring their little 2-year old hearts out on the carpet you just steam cleaned because, "Mommy says I can pee in my pull up!" and no matter how you try to convince them that not letting them watch Dora the Explorer/eat chocolate cake/pry the electrical safety cap with a fork is not the end of the world they're still upset?

That was me.

The person behind the counter said, 'We're not supposed to do this, but you came from Sacramento, so I'm going to put you on this flight." I had to stop myself from screaming, "WTH? Your fellow employee booked me on the wrong flight but you risk getting in trouble for fixing his mistake? What's wrong with you people?" Instead I just told her what anyone in my situation would tell another person.

"I need a drink."

Honestly I could have had a massage instead. A massage is therapeutic. Alcohol, on the other hand, can get you into a bit of trouble. But a 30 minute massage at SFO runs $80, versus $10 for a drink. I'm frugal. I had the drink. While I'm certain the whole restaurant heard me screech, "What do you mean you're out of Mojitos?" and "What do you mean you're out of chocolate cake?" I settled for a top shelf margarita and a vanilla cupcake. As one fellow librarian put it, "A margarita massages your insides." I felt a lot better after I swallowed half in one gulp before slowing down.
All was well.

At least for the moment...

Monday, June 28, 2010

PTS---Conference Style

ALA is coming to an end. I can still here the sounds of the crowds stories above me as they eat cake and down as much alcohol as possible following the Michael Printz Awards reception. What should I tell you I have enjoyed the most. Is it running into amazing librarians from all parts of the world, including one from Bangladesh? Is it doing the author version of speed dating? Was it simply making it here after the chaos of travel, which I will walk about later?

For all of you who have never gone, a national conference can be a real PITA. You're there, everything you want to go to takes place simultaneously at spots across town, it's crowded, and there aren't enough hours in the day. That being said, there must be a reason why I've gone 4 years straight, paying out of pocket the last 3 times. (If any of you want to contribute to my Visa bill, please e-mail me. I'll take it all---dollars, pennies, pesos, whatever.)

It's...magical in a way. This week I spoke with Toni Morrison, if only for a second, sat down next to Laurie Halse Anderson, taken pictures of John Grisham, and sat on my knees in the front aisle to sing along with Natalie Merchant. There were old friends to have lunch with, new friends to make at breakfast, lost connections made at parties thrown by vendors in an effort to intoxicate you enough to sign a binding 5-year contract you won't remember until the invoice arrives on the director's desk. It's wonderful, yet it's awful to know I have to go back to work and rejoin Library Land after going to truly innovative programs and no one telling me their child just peed on the multi-colored furniture.

But most of all, it's just plain fun.

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PARC and Wreckreation

Was I the only one to breathe a sigh of relief when the PARC system temporarily went down?

After weeks of, “OMG, I don’t know what I’m doing!” and an hour long training that made me certain that yes, I was completely clueless, there was a part of me---I believe it was my brain---that made me grateful to have a bit longer to figure this out. Who would have thought I’d be nostalgic for the old paper system? Let’s see, 1 hour spent on my 2009 evaluation vs. months spent pulling out my hair trying to determine the meaning of life. And it’s not even the unwanted hair I’m pulling out, so we really have a problem.

Honestly, do I really need goals? My job consists of telling people where to find Magic Tree House books, avoiding paperwork, pointing out where the bathrooms are, telling teens lower the volume on their iPods if they hope to have any hearing left by the time they hit the old age of 25, playing movies, telling stories to classes, and making crafts, mainly paper bag puppets, with toddlers. So far we have made a pig, a cow, a dog, a cat, a bunny, a lion, and even a Christmas tree complete with presents and bows. Go figure. After looking at my schedule and discovering I’ll put on over 130 programs over the next year (movie nights, toddler times, class tours, DCA, summer reading) I think maybe my goal should be to stop looking at craft sites and other library systems’ events calendars and saying, “I wanna do that!”

But a person has to have real goals, right? So I thought about it and created a few that should do the trick:

1. Lose the inches I’ve put on since I started working here.

Time line: By my class reunion.

Is it measurable: Very!

I’d feel better if I went down a size. In turn, I would treat people better. In time this kindness would trickle down to actual patrons. In order for this to happen, an hour of my shift should involve hitting the gym, with another hour devoted to taking a shower and doing my hair. Since I’d feel more comfortable showering at home, where I have all my products and won’t tell a fellow bather, “Those are fake,” I need another hour for travel time, plus one more to get a massage at Mellow Me Out to relieve the tension.

2. Not strangle anyone.

Timeline: Ongoing

Is it measureable: Yes, by number of incident reports.

Adults are not too happy that they can’t use kids’ computers. I get so many complaints. The majority of them boiling down to they are doing their kids homework for them helping their kids out, or the reservation sent them downstairs because they’ve been using their kids’ cards to avoid paying the $700 fine they owe. Then I get the stray adults who want to sit in the purple chair, lay on the bean bags, and are most upset that they have to take the elevator up to the 2nd floor to get to a bathroom when it’s so much easier to walk down a flight of stairs and to the ends of the earth to use ours. Whatever it is, they’re not happy with me, and the feeling is reciprocal. I’d hate to hurt one of them and end up in jail while waiting for my lawyer to get me off scot-free. Jail may have worked out for Martha Stewart, but I’ll take a pass.

3. Stop buying things from patrons.

Timeline: Ongoing

Is it measureable: Yes, in the amount of money I save.

Whether it’s candy or pizza, somehow I am guilted into buying items I don’t need, don’t want, and can’t use in order for some kid to get to Sly Park, Sutter’s Fort, or some other miserable, God forsaken middle-of-nowhere, don’t-know-why-they’d-want-to-go-there place. Can’t anyone go anyplace nice with air conditioning, indoor plumbing, and something entertaining to do? I have yet to have a child say to me, “My class is doing a spa retreat in Carmel and we could really use your help getting there.” Instead I’m wasting my (sometimes) hard earned money so a kid can get frostbite while panning for fool’s gold in the dead of winter.

4. Read more juvenile books.

Timeline: Ongoing

Is it measureable: Quiz me.

The only time I seem to have to read kids’ books (discounting board books and Where’s Waldo) is when I’m on a trip. I read The True Meaning of Smekday during a Thanksgiving gathering at a vacation resort, and The Lightning Thief on my flight to Florida. Seems to me it is in SPL’s best interest to send me on as many trips as possible to enhance my reader’s advisory skills. I’ve always wanted to go to the French Riviera. Just think of all the books I can read on the way over!

I’d write more goals, but I have to be realistic. These four will be hard enough to accomplish.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

LH Has Left the Building!!!!!

This is for LH. I can’t believe she’s escaped deserted us! Because she’s a great worker with the organizational skills of a 4-star general, she’ll most likely be replaced with a person who is one step away from an amoeba and couldn’t make chocolate soy pudding to save his or her life.

LH said her old town frowns on dancing---while it’s not a sign you’ll burn for eternity, Satan was reserving you a spot. I find this sad because dancing was one of my pastimes and it keeps teens out of trouble. After dance rehearsals even if you could muster the strength to rob a 7-11, you stunk so bad they could smell you a mile off.

At one time my friends and I all knew this complete dance. It is my greatest hope that by the time LH finishes her library degree and returns to Central (this is not an option---you have to return!!!) she will have learned this whole dance and can perform it for us at Training Day. The rest of you, feel free to join in.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Off to Florida

It’s time to head out to Florida.

It’s interesting to fly in this age. When I was 8 years old and flying to Chicago, the pilot invited all us kids into the cockpit to show us all the really cool things. We ate food. Real food. Not sample sizes and vending machine packets. With metal forks and knives.

Fast forward a few decades.

We can’t have liquids. If you pump, be willing to drink your own milk. They wouldn’t give us blankets last time because of swine flu, you can’t bring on more than a pocket protector without paying $25, and the last time I was really fed on a flight was when I wore my bikini top under a cardigan and the male flight attendant asked twice to see what I wearing beneath the black knit and me, being me, showed him both times.

That’s it, I’m getting my mid-twenties body back by May 31st.

While I was told (gleefully) by the SPL safety person that I would most likely be subjected to embarrassing search techniques on my way back home, I figure I’ll be tired to care…

Because I’m going to have fun!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Big Fat Visa Bill For This Wedding

I am not a wedding person.

My brother IC had a destination wedding. I got a free week in Florida and one in Aruba.

IC is my favorite brother.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have said this on camera because another brother, NC, won’t even bring me a cup of water from across the room. (“Why don’t you ask your favorite brother for a glass?”) And now NC’s getting married, and he’s shown me why he’s not my favorite…

Let’s just say there will be no subsidized massage in a beach cabana this time.

Yes, I know they can’t pay for my travel expenses. Yes, I know they want a nice wedding. Do you know what I want? A house and thin thighs. But do they care that their wedding is costing me half of a liposuction procedure?

There are days in which I hate weddings.

Sure, sometimes wedding hoopla is fun, like when I helped someone plan their wedding. She told me, “I want everything to be perfect. After all, how many times does a person get married?”

Then we laughed.

It took a few minutes and telling each other, “Girl, you’re soooo funny!’ and, “That was a good one!” before we could return to the task at hand. There were interesting incidences, such as when we went to one venue and I asked, “Didn’t you get married here before?”

Yes, she had…

Then there are times I’m completely fed up with the wedding industrial complex telling everyone their union is doomed to fail without the aid of ice sculptures. They seem to forget many of these unions were already doomed. It’s not like commitment and love are marriage requirements. More than likely one night you looked over at the person with the frozen feet lying next to you, realized they had better health insurance, and decided the next logical step was marriage.

New Law Would Ban Marriages Between People Who Don't Love Each Other

Some folks are against gay marriage, which I don’t get. After all, everyone should have the right to lose half their worldly belongings if they do something stupid. I, on the other hand, say we would be better off banning weddings.

Weddings are mostly about money---who has it, who doesn’t, who’s faking having it, and who thinks their guests must be loaded. They’re also about making other people jump through hoops to prove their love. They’re a venue to show off your creativity and entertainment expertise. But more than anything, they’re a place for us to suffer through.

Things That Get Me About Weddings

1. Invites:
Doesn’t matter if you send an e-mail, a postcard, or a twenty page $80 floral-embossed certified document; either we’re coming to the wedding or not. Perhaps you consider e-invites tacky. Just remember, one way or another, your invitation is likely going into the trash. I got one which was a message in a bottle with sand and shells. Because this was 2004, as soon as I saw it I screamed, "Anthrax!" before remembering I'm not important enough for someone to send a bio hazard to me.

Also, if I’ve bought a plane ticket to get to your wedding, believe me when I say I’m going. Don’t follow my “I’m going and I bought the ticket” sentence up with, “When are you going to mail the RSVP card?”

2. Parties and Gifts
Brides used to have bridal showers. Now they have a bridal shower, a lingerie party, a bachelorette party, a Jack and Jill, a bridesmaid luncheon, a Pampered Chef party, the wedding itself, a post wedding day breakfast, and all these other events no one has ever heard of before. Brides make up parties like Hallmark makes up holidays. This whole set up must have been created by the same people who brought us payday loans because you think everything is wrapped up, but it's not. If I as a single person threw a party for myself it would be considered tacky, but once a ring is on her finger, she can have as many parties as she wants. You’re expected to bring a treasure trove of gifts, and then when you ask about a thank you card they say, “I’m busy planning.”

One woman (who I barely know) sent me invites to her gazillion “gimme” parties. Included were her sizes. Because I am a sweet, demure, tactful person, I didn’t call her and say, “Hey, Heifer, you two have lived together for a decade and you quit work to stay at home with the kid. Seeing as I’m not impressed with the home schooling skills of a person who barely made it through high school, perhaps instead of sending me a wedding registry list longer than my leg, you should get a job. And are we really supposed to believe you wear a size 6?”

3. Food
Low end: Paris (name has been changed to protect the guilty) threw a wedding in the middle of summer…

And didn’t provide us with any water.

It was 100 degrees and there was 4 gallons of punch, a the tepid red concoction housed in what appeared to be an industrial-sized mayonnaise container with a spigot at the bottom, to be shared amongst 150 guests. Chatting up the bartender (which scored me a free bottle of water) I discovered the bride was given the option of bringing in non-alcoholic drinks free of charge…

But she chose not to.


High end: Okay, what’s up with the spoons of food? I don’t want a spoon of food. I want a spoon in a bowl of food. With all the Barbie-sized portions I’m not certain if I’m at an upscale wedding or sample day at CostCo.

Food reality: Men kept staring at me at my sister’s wedding, and it wasn’t just because my bridesmaid dress was cut three inches from my navel. I was eating the kids meal---fruit salad, chicken strips, and French fries. After seeing it, they asked the servers to bring over any spare kids’ meals. That’s right, you’re dropping a boatload of money on people who’d rather have a #7 at McDonald’s.

4. Kids:
I don’t like kids at weddings. Being a children’s librarian means folks think it’s okay to dump a bunch of kids at my table with coloring sheets and few boxes of crayons. I don’t get it. My sister’s a cop. No one puts criminals at her table and tells her, "Keep an eye on Uncle Steve. Sometimes he likes to take things."

But if kids are excluded, there inevitably will be a parent throwing a hissy. “Why Madison loves everything we do together! Like when we go to Mommy and Me play group, or get crazy at keg parties, or tour nuclear power facilities, or when she asked the technicians all those questions while I was getting my yearly mammogram. Madison would be crushed if you didn’t invite her to your evening wedding with its open bar!”

But there are reasons why people have a child free wedding:

a) We hate Madison.
She’s a snot-nosed, tantrum throwing brat. Because of a quirk of fate (co-worker, shared DNA) we have to invite you. If we could get away with it, we’d only disinvite Madison, but then we’d have to finally tell you that you’re a crappy parent with boundary issues. Most likely you’ll bring her anyway and ruin our night out.

b) Kids are expensive.
Certain wedding venues treat kids like “Horton Hears a Who”---a person is a person no matter how small. Even if there is a kid’s meal at your venue, you’re in for an ugly surprise. An adult plate will be $70, a kid’s plate $35. But that doesn’t include beverages, which are $15 per person under 21. Or the chair cover, the sparkling cider toast, the extra cake, or the cutting fee, all $2.50 each. Or the tax and gratuity, which is 8.75% and 21% respectively. Suddenly you’re paying $80 so a preschooler who should be home sleep can regurgitate mashed potatoes on your rented organza overlays.

4. Shades of Blackness.
Brides are really into fake tanning. It’s like being black but without the racism. It doesn't matter that many look less like blushing brides and more like Senator Boehner. Speaking on behalf of all the black community (as I had to do in college), we'll let the tanning slide…

What we won’t let slide is having a gospel choir at your wedding but no black people in attendance.

I was watching Platinum Weddings. You know, the show in which couples spend more money on favors than you did on house payments over the last 5 years. I watch the show because I'm waiting to see some, I don't know, shock and awe maybe from the bride. Because they're rich nothing phases these women. Doesn't matter that daddy spent $4.5 million wedding venue because she didn't like the other ones, or that the flowers were flown in from an outer ring of Saturn, these women will just display the same polite smile I do when a crazy person is chatting me up on public transit.

Maybe the Botox has something to do with it...

Anyway, in this episode the bride and groom decided they wanted a gospel choir to sing when they were pronounced husband and wife. And there was not one black guest. How do I know for sure there were no black people there? I asked someone who worked the event, “Were there any black people there?” Nope. Which I find quite strange, seeing as there are plenty of black people around. I scanned the crowd for blacks, Latinos, Native Americas, Indians, and other natural shades of brown, red and yellow, yet the only minorities I could spot was two Asian people who were probably seated at the same table because, “You have so much in common!”

New Rule: If you want to listen to a live gospel choir, you must either a) sit through a 4 hour church service in which the collection plate will be passed no fewer than 3 times, or b) invite twice as many black people to the wedding that there are in the choir.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “When it’s your day you won’t hate weddings!” Maybe not. But I live on Earth not on Planet Bride. I know it's not my day. It's a day, one of 365 days that happen every year. And I’m fairly practical. When I marry either it will be to a man loaded with money (possibly a former executive at AIG) or I will use the many books available at the library to keep costs down without driving everyone crazy. There’s “How to Have an Elegant Wedding for $5000” and “Cater Your Own Wedding” and “Let’s Elope” (and put everyone out of their misery). I likely won’t go as far as making the $10 wedding dress out of extra large men’s T-shirts. It’s a cool idea, but there’s a little something called Macy’s discounts which are made for these events. No matter what the scenario, I will feed the guests recognizable food in pleasing portions and not force any of them to drink out of a water hose to quench their thirst. And despite not being engaged, I already know the perfect day to get married:

Training Day.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to get out of this event. Someone in HR (who shall remain nameless) about strangled me when I suggested we use the day to catch up on all our work, but hey, I liked Training Day a lot better when we had money. Remember the massages and yoga and author visits? Now I have to console myself with bringing Ziploc baggies and Tupperware containers and making off with the next day’s lunch and all the cookies and brownies they were going to toss. (Is there a reason why we’re not putting the extra stuff in the 5th floor staff lounge?)

Either I can marry right before Training Day because I can’t be denied a honeymoon, or I can marry that day at the courthouse. Better yet, why not just hold the ceremony in the Galleria during break? Talk about multitasking! Everyone would be happy. I’d be happy because my co-workers would get to see me get married. All of us would get paid to be there, parking would be covered, and the meal is already catered. Plus we can wear our regular clothes.

But why stop at weddings? JP and LP, since we never got to see your ceremony, how do your feel about having a vow renewal as the second session of the day?

Just a thought…

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sunny Side Down

My house search has lasted well over a year. (See what happens when you do short sales?) Yesterday I got news from the bank. I could have the house…if I was willing to tack on $20,000 to the asking price. They said other homes of its size in the area are selling for that much. I wanted to protest, “But those homes are attractive! They’re 5-year-old open floor plan homes, not 20-year-old tri-levels with brass fixtures. No one wants carpet in their bathrooms! No one dreams of vacuuming around a toilet bowl or laying down plastic because it's potty training time! And by the way, who was your decorator, Rainbow Brite? Every room is a different color!” Was the house horrible? Of course not. Seeing as I have about as much fix it know how as your average 3 year old, I wasn’t about to move into the moldy house or the house that looked fine save for the gigantic hole in the bathroom floor that led, for all I know, to Narnia. The home was move in ready...

As long as you were willing to move into a semi-ugly house.

When I went through with a clip board I thought I wouldn't have to change much---it just needed painting, new light fixtures, new faucets, different shower surrounds, to have the bathroom carpets replaced with tile, to have the kitchen counters replaced since there was a built in blender, create direct access to the deck, fix the garage door, install closet systems, seal the garage floor, stain the cabinets, seal the counters, and tame the back yard.

Or as the bank would put it, a weekend project.

The $20,000 extra the bank wanted from me already had plans. I was going to spend that money over three or four years to de-uglify the house, putting my own touch on it while also removing the punch hole left in the master bedroom door which was probably put there when the owners realized they could no longer afford the place. That, and I was going to use some to pay for my trip to Ireland.

But that’s another blog.

All the way home I was sad. I couldn’t decide whether or not to eat the contents of my fridge or do kickboxing. Since eating everything would require cooking, and, as my friends pointed out, I have a wedding to attend in a few weeks, I chose kickboxing. I got a great work out. Every time I punched or kicked I pretended I was fighting one of those bloated, bailed-out bankers. When I got into the library this morning I tried to distract myself from my sadness by actually working. It didn’t help. There's not a lot of thought involved in planning summer reading. I don't know why we bother to categorize programs by subject matter. Honestly, most of us are just looking at the price, and there should only be three price levels:

Programs that will only happen at COO

It took me a whole 5 minutes to click on each individual entry to see who cost what. Afterwards I had to ask myself, "Should I go with Art Works, or should I go with Art Works?" It's a good thing I like Art Works because they're going to live at CEN this summer.

And with that out the way, I started thinking about the house again and wondering when they would return my cashier's check.

Maybe I should change my approach to house hunting. Instead of looking for a home, perhaps I should instead be searching for a man. After all, in most every fiction book written since 1950, the cure to all of a woman’s problems is getting married. Thus I have crafted the following ad:

"SBPF seeks (legally) employed SM with no criminal record who likes to drive and owns a <15>home with 4 bed/3 bath, 2+ car garage, and tile roof in the EGUSD. No HOA, underwater mortgages, pools or facial tattoos. Must not say anything when I suddenly decide to go on big, expensive trips at the last moment, stain the cabinets black or insist on my mother visiting for long periods of time. In exchange I will pretend you're surfing the Internet for news when you lock yourself in your man cave, will keep my mouth shut when you replace our dining room table with a pool table, will be nice to your friends, even the stupid ones who will eventually get you killed trying to win a bet, and let you play sports without fussing about you getting hurt, though if you play rugby you will need to install an outdoor shower and buy an additional washing machine."

Think I'll get any answers?

I wondered if this was my fault. To a point, yes, it is. But then I started thinking back to all the homes I've loved before. There was my initial short sale home, the one I just had to have. It's still on the market, though now it's a foreclosure. There's the nearly identical yet in much better condition short sale across the street. It, too, has also been on sale over a year. There was the home I was outbid by $30,000 that I didn't get. There was the home I overbid by $36,000 that I didn't get. There were homes I don't even want to think about anymore, yet I feel bad because some members of my family (the guy members) are saying I'm just not trying hard enough. When my brother I.C. was in Japan he sent me a postcard: "I threw a coin for you into a well so you could get a house. The well threw it back."

I love my family.

So here I was thinking that everything was my fault. Then I remembered a book by Barbara Ehrenreich called "Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America."

The premise: we're told the key to success lies in being happy, cheerful and positive. (That, and a perfect toe touch while wearing a 14 inch skirt.) But instead of cheerfulness being something we choose, it's become mandatory. You must be happy at all times. If something bad happens to you, if you don't get what you want, it must be your fault. Somehow you brought it into being. Because you can bring anything into being just by focusing on it. Why, if I really tried, I could overcome my snowballs chance of winning a gold medal in men's hockey, an NBA championship, or a Heisman trophy. I just need to put it on my to do list and create a story board on my wall.

And when it fails to materialize, it will be my fault, too, LOL.

Ehrenreich doesn't believe the hype. She states, "I never think delusion is OK." She wrote this book following a diagnosis of cancer. People kept telling her that she would emerge from her experience a better person if she would be upbeat and work on her attitude. Which I really don't get. It's cancer, not a winning lottery ticket. Why would she be better for it? (And if I ever get sick with something bad, before any of you tell me I'll come out at the end of it acting like Mother Teresa or the Flying Nun, you might want to make sure there's nothing within my reach that I can easily pick up and throw at your head.) Ehrenreich got treatment, and far from being a better person, she says the experience made her nastier. It probably had something to do with being smothered in a sea of pink ribbons, bears and races. The incident got her thinking about American pop culture in general and how it promotes this idea of optimism. The flip side---forced optimism has the power to blind us from facts. How can you not buy a home if you're told you were meant to be a home owner? Why won't you invest in the stock market when it can only go up? Why is it that you're just not patient enough to wait for what is coming to you?


My realtor, she was optimistic about me going through with the house deal. Me, not so much. Maybe this has to do with math being one of my top subjects (as long as it wasn't taught at 8 a.m. or after a heavy meal). The figures told me I could afford the long as I cut out vacations, buying clothes, buying books, cable, Internet, phone service, eating out, and I traded my dream of getting a dog to owning a pet rock. Possibly I would have to forgo having two kidneys at once.

I really like having two kidneys.
On the bright side of things, but the time I buy a home I can skip the mortgage and just pay for it cash...
Or just marry a stranger like women on reality TV.

I figured if someone can post the Calle Oche video on Grand Central, I can post this video. I love Tamia's music. She was diagnosed with MS in 2003, but that has not stopped her from making great music, and I felt this was perfect since there is now a stranger in my house. (My house! Mine!)


Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Heart Valentines

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Either you’re extremely happy because you’re getting something, extremely agitated because you’re buying something, or extremely nauseated due to the overwhelming onslaught of jewelry, lingerie, chocolate and flower commercials, pop-ups, and tie-ins. Yes, this is a delightful pseudo holiday, and if you mess it up, you could pay for a long time. For years. On the Chris Rock Show, one of his old girlfriends was still complaing how he gave her a horrible Valentine's gift. His response: "You didn't even bother to tell me you were pregnant when we met!"

For those of you who saw your shadow and snuck back in for the next few weeks, here are a few Valentine's highlights for you:

1. Valentine’s Crafts

One of my duties as a children’s librarian is to find post-storytime crap crafts. That’s easy. There are lots of useless things I can have your children create for you. But for toddler crafts I have to focus on things that are a) easy and b) pose no choking risk. With b) being of utmost importance, the attractiveness factor tends to fall by the wayside and you end up with things like the item below.

Is it just me or does this look like a crime scene photo?

This craft was likely created by a mother trying to wiggle her way out of a double murder charge. The woman had successfully managed to bury the nubile 19 year old nanny, her cheating husband and the bloody hatchet in the backyard by the swing set. But when the cops showed up because the neighbors heard the hubby yell, “Hide in the closet!” before the screaming ensued, the mother had a bit of explaining to do.

“Well, you see officers, that’s not really blood. My 18 month old just decided to make something special for me for Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that nice?”

2. Romantic Movies

This is the time of the year in which the media coverage of love gets overbearing. Sappy Hallmark commercials coming on the screen. Nicholas Sparks’ films in the theater. The Lifetime Movie Network pauses for a week to show you all the happy films of people in love…before returning to its usual blitz of movies focused on women and kids on the run from abusive ex-husbands or worse, women nursing their estranged spouses back to health. Because why leave the cheating jerk and tour Europe when you can spend the rest of your life feeding him through tubes and arranging for oxygen tank delivery? Seriously, whoever does the programming at that place needs therapy so they can learn there are more than 2 categories of men besides Prince Charming and Norman Bates.

Because TV movies are powered by actors best known for roles as the mother in some 80s sitcom, they’re not nearly as bad as the guy films disguised as comedies. Hello, I’m supposed to believe Katherine Heigl would go for Seth Rogen? So what if she was drunk? There is the drunk girls night out code, which goes like this: we’ll let you do something stupid you’ll regret in the morning, but we’ll at least make sure the something stupid happens with an attractive guy in nice clothes who might own a car and doesn’t live like a teenager whose mom is away for the weekend. Even if I suppose Izzy from Grey’s Anatomy decided to have a baby by a couch surfer, this is where lies come in. Tell everyone the father is a doctor or lawyer, or governor of Virginia, and things just didn’t work out. Tell them you picked the father from a book at the clinic. He’s in the Peace Corp and loves his mother. Telling everyone this will allow people to assume your pregnancy was well thought out instead of something that happened with the guy from the mail room that lives in his parents’ basement.

But the movies that take the cake are the ones in which the best friend decides they love the best friend. There are only two ways this can end:

Woman in love with her best friend: The man will let his female best friend know she means essentially nothing to him. While he’s worried about her hooking up with another guy, he’s more concerned about its effect on his life instead of his feelings stemming from authentically caring about her well-being. He’ll marry his fiancĂ©e and his best friend will end up dancing with her gay friend at the reception. But only because the test audience thought the original ending was too sad, and what gay man doesn’t want to spend all his time and frequent flyer miles propping up his straight female friend with witty comebacks?

Man in love with his best friend: He’ll do everything in his power to break the couple up. Some of these acts will be downright criminal, yet he won’t get caught, and if he does, it will be laughed off instead of taken for the serious act that it is. He’ll finally confess his love at her wedding, a 6-figure event someone mortgaged their house to pay for. She’ll gleefully dump the handsome, attentive, super rich man who would make a great husband and father in order to marry her best friend instead.

To summarize, male best friends get to marry their female best friends. Female best friends get to eat rocky road ice cream while watching Beaches or The Color Purple. Got it?

3. Dating Advice

If you’re married you’re lucky enough not to have to read dating books.

At least not until the divorce comes through.

Right now you're still married, meaning you have other horrible things to read; books on sharing your feelings, potty training your toddlers/preschoolers/pre-teens, or finding your moved cheese because the kids need college money. There were those of us who weren’t interested in marriage when we were younger, focusing more on a person’s ability to give a good massage than to be a good provider. (Hey, my neck and back get tense.) Now I’m older, and all the married people in stained clothes and toy strewn houses are telling me how miserable my life is without marriage and kids. They say spending my money and time on buying beautiful clothes, impossibly high heels, tax deductible vacations, fine meals, good books, DVDs, and doing exactly what I want is a plea for help. Not help outside with my purchases. True help. I don't do what I want because I'm fulfilled and have disposable income. I do these things because I’m lonely, which is really a surprise, especially for me. And to help me end this loneliness I’m soooo not feeling, "Wouldn’t you like to watch the kids this weekend? They love you so much and we really can’t afford a babysitter and the kids have tons of fun with you…Perhaps we can hook you up with my brother-in-law. Since he’s unemployed and living on our couch, he’s always available for a date. Please? Will you marry him? I swear we’ll hire him and kill him off in a work place accident since OSHA will only fine us $500 for that, but for the love of God I want to see my couch again!”

No thank you.

Yes, all single people are glum and depressed. Single men would starve to death if it weren't for Carls Jr., and they'll still die because they don't have women to drag them to the hospital when they get colds or have kitchen accidents. Which they shouldn't have anyway since they can't cook, hence the dependence on fast food. Single women will be found dead in their homes eaten by cats, because only single women have cats. No one else is allowed to have a cat. Not families, not single men. Cats are the mascot of single women, and if you get one it has nothing to do with you liking cats and them being independent. Which means everyone is trying to get you to marry.

This is doubly true if telling you you'll die unless you marry can sell you a book.

Some of these books are so horrible they’d be funny...if we weren’t talking about people’s lives being ruined. Don’t believe me? Browse through some in Central Express like I did. God forbid I check one out and have it forever on my record should I turn it in late. (Hey, I’d be willing to pay twice the fee amount if the titles wouldn’t be listed. Just a thought…) Flip to any page and read 5 lines, which will tell you all you need to know. One of them was Make every man want you : how to be so irresistible you'll barely keep from dating yourself. It claims to be written by a woman, but I have my doubts. Somewhere in there it said something (stupid) along the lines of, “Traditional dating books tell you things such as not to call a man constantly or not to sleep with him on the first date. There are lots of people who slept together the first date and it led to meaningful relationships.”


Well…technically speaking, sleeping with men on the first date is one way to make any man temporarily want you and may lead you to a meaningful relationship with the doctor who supplies you with Valtrex. However, I’m sure if you follow this advice, instead of finding your dream person you’re twenty times more likely to look stupid when you run into your neighbors as they’re heading to church and you’re coming home in the slinky black dress they saw you in the night before. And you’ll feel even worse when the guy in question files a restraining order for your obsessive calling. Because unlike movies in which the cops don’t show up until the killer has slaughtered 3 of your friends while you were babysitting some rich people’s kids, the cops take phone stalking seriously.

Then there is Steve Harvey’s book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man. Even if you don’t follow a thing he says, he’s pretty funny. This one I actually checked out, but only because he was on Oprah. I was rolling, and I actually checked this one out and read it all the way through. Yes, what a crack up. What I find even funnier is him telling women on a radio show to marry down. And by down, he doesn’t mean short, or a man who makes less money because he does something meaningful like teaching in inner cities or searching for the to cure cellulite. He means marry the man with the part time minimum wage job, if that. Currently 43% of black women have never been married, and 70% are currently single, mostly because we refuse to use the dumpster diving theory when picking a mate. You know, find him on the street, fix him up, he’ll be as good as new. Works great on end tables, not so much on humans. Harvey is not stupid enough to tell us outright that he feels we should write to convicts and troll halfway houses in search for person of interest number one, but it’s what he means. He just couches it in other terms to make women feel greedy and petty for asking to be equally yoked. He asks, “Does a man really need to make more than you?”

Do I hear crickets?

Seeing as men statistically still make more, we have no national maternity leave policy, you’d have to sell your kidney on eBay to afford child care, and a cleaning service can add up, yeah, his making more money would be helpful. I have friends who married the type of man Harvey is discussing. These women bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, pour up the grease, clean the pan, clean the plates and forks the bacon was eaten with, mop the floor they stood on while making the bacon, wash the cups that held the drinks they also bought, wipe down the microwave which heated up the pancakes, launder the kitchen towels and disinfect the counter. Meanwhile their husbands take out the trash and tell them how lucky they are to have a husband considerate enough to scrape the plate he ate off of before dumping it into the sink for someone else to scrub. Then one day you come over to her house and say, “I haven’t seen your husband in a while,” and she responds with, “Neither have I. Want a margarita?”

The dating book that takes the cake is one I haven’t read, nor will I read because I already read the article the book stemmed from and frankly, it’s stupid. The title: I'm Pathetic. The author, who I won't bother to name, is a miserable and desperate 40+ single mother with rescue fantasies who wonders why the best men just aren’t that into her.

Maybe it’s the whole miserable and desperate thing that scared them off.

The fact that she just told every literate person that the guy she marries will be beneath her and not what she really hoped for doesn't help her much, either. I'm sure he'll get tired of people coming up and saying, "So you're the loser she settled for." She tries to warn younger women to take any man they can because that’s what she would do. This woman would marry a coma patient. Honestly, she should read Harvey’s book, where he tells women than men like standards and you should get some---

Just as long as those standards don’t extend to having a job, an education, or the ability to support you while you recover from your C-section.

The best dating book in Express was by the Millionaire Matchmaker. I like her. Enough to read her Be Your Own Matchmaker from cover to cover? No. That’s not the point. The point is she tells women if we want to meet men we should wear low cut tops to steak houses and eat at the bar in order to be picked up on by lonely out of town men.

At least that’s what it seemed like to me.

So, to recap our Valentine’s Day lessons:
1. Send your child to daycare instead of having a nanny.
2. Doing stupid, risky things is the key not just to having your picture featured on Nancy Grace, but it’s the key to finding true love.
3. Have standards, just not ones that mean anything.
4. Remember that as a female best friend, you won’t get the man you want unless you stop wanting him.
5. Keep reminding yourself that, according to miserable, single, bitter people, misery comes from being single and not from other bad lifestyle choices.

I'm just going to sleep through Valentine's Day.

***About the video in my last post…
I was sick a few weeks ago. Heck, I’m sick all the time, and because I’m taking a day off, I’ll be sick again then just because I have plans, even if those plans include a pillow and eye mask. I was on allergy pills for a few days. Unfortunately they weren’t the really good kind that make me clean. (Remember that time I cleaned all of Kids’ Place and there wasn’t a single book left to shelve or anything to dust because I did it all?) Instead I got fixated on 80s rock, and when I decided to practice my piano, imagine my delight when I discovered I had a lot of the sheet music. I know my family was simply thrilled to hear my rendition of Sweet Child of Mine and every song by Journey I could get my hands on. This time I’ll leave you with something different.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Clear Your Desk Edition

Okay, who sent me the old library magazine?

Last Thursday I decided to stop being lazy and check my mailbox, something I hadn’t done since that Tuesday. Some of you may be wondering why I don’t check it everyday. It’s a logistics issue. I dwell under the stairs like the mole people on the lower level and my mail box is on the 5th floor. The regular elevator doesn’t go up to the 5th when we’re open, and Murphy’s Law dictates I never have mail when we’re closed. And when I do have mail, I have so much I need a cart. Technically I could use the freight elevator, but that elevator freaks me out. It’s padded. No, it’s not as bad as it used to be---remember back when it had ripped dark blue padding, as if someone had tried fruitlessly to claw their way out of there? Still, it’s pretty bad. Whenever I’m in there it makes me think someone is going to lower a bucket from its roof and say, “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.

But that’s another story unto itself.

I go upstairs, check the staff room to see if there’s anything to eat, look around for free movie passes, get my mail, see it’s full of magazines and start sorting. One is from December 2009. Half the staff has already seen it. Two are from October. I’m the last person on those lists. Then, in an envelope, I spot the Library Journal dated May 15, 2008.


Do you know what how much has changed since then? In May of 2008 I was still wondering if it would be Obama or Clinton, I could truthfully tell people I was in my 20s, and I had the full spectrum of cable channels because, like a drug dealer, they were getting me hooked before upping the price. May 2008 was over a year and a half ago. An elephant’s gestation doesn’t last that long. This magazine has been sitting around someone’s desk, then they sent it to the next person who, in turn sent it to me. What was the point? Giving me a magazine this late completely disrupted the Library Magazine Ecosystem Chain! This how it’s supposed to go:

Receive magazine. Skim over the library/librarian/architect/award-you’ll-never-get-because-you’re-just-not-that-dedicated of the year section. Skip pages having to do with professional development or the department you work in. Discover an author you like is coming out with a new hardback in 5 months.


Check catalog for the new title only to discover it is not there. Put a reminder in your calendar to check the catalog in another two months.


Two months later, while watching a funny YouTube video involving talking animals and eating an entire box of crackers because some pop culture quack dietician said it was okay to eat as many carbs as you like as long as it was before 5 pm, a reminder pops up telling you to check MillCirc for your book title. You check it only to discover the record is SUPRESSED. Set another reminder for later that month.


Three weeks later you discover the title you want is officially in the catalog and the holds list is now wider than your rear thanks to time/the crackers. Become 301 of 301 holds.


Receive your hold request four months later only to realize you bought the book at CostCo for 40% off the day it was published. Chastise yourself for not having the patience to wait 15 weeks for a book you wanted 9 months ago. Try not to remind yourself that you could have conceived and given birth to a baby in the time that has passed since you first learned about the title.


Rinse and repeat.

So what should you do if you find an old library magazine under the pile of donated disintegrating National Geographic magazines at your desk?

1. Go over the list.
2. Cross off my name. (Trust me, it’s for the best.)
3. Cross off the name of anyone who has retired since the printing of the mailing list.
4. If you’re one of those OMG-there-might-be-something-important-they-need-to-read folks, AND someone has retired in the last few weeks, send the magazine out in a clean envelope. Hopefully the person on the receiving end will assume the retiree cleaned off their desk.

When I got the magazine, after I thought, ‘You’ve gotta-be-kidding-me,” and, “Why do some librarians think it’s okay to wear what they would wear while cleaning the litter box in a professional magazine?” I contacted CDV. They said for something that old they could just file it away. So for those of you who are upset that you have to read the “Going Green” article in Academic OneFile instead of in print form…

It’s all my fault.

(This time.)

I'll explain the video later.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Call Center Chaos

Asking me what it’s like to work Telis is the equivalent of asking someone how it feels to get a bikini wax. While they are searching for a tasteful way to tell you about the excruciating pain of feeling like someone set you on fire and then told you they had to do it again to even things out (“On a scale from 1-10, with childbirth being a 10…”) there is simply no way to convey what Telis workers go through. Many of our calls are straightforward, pleasant transactions with nice people who are happy to have a live person on the line and are easy to help. There are the people who want answers to crossword puzzles, need you to settle a bet between them and their spouse, want an audio edition of an older popular title...

And then there are the other calls.

Everyone gets the other calls. People who are upset that we don’t do court appointed community service, provide fax machines, proctor tests or give foot rubs.

I made the following other call up.

(In other words, don't write me letters.)

It’s completely fabricated, melding several common Telis situations, yet it so matches the calls we routinely get so much, a co-worker didn’t know the difference. When I showed it to him he said, “I got that person on Saturday. They must have called back.”

No, they didn't.

If only it were one person...

Here it goes:

Me: “Good (morning/afternoon/evening), Sacramento Public Library, may I help you?”
Them: “Yeah, what are your hours today?”
Me: “Which particular library branch do you need the hours for?”
Them: “Your branch.”
Me: “This is telephone reference. We answer all calls for all branches in the Sacramento Public Library System. I need a name of the branch you’re looking for.”
Them: “I need the hours for the Sacramento Public Library.”
Me: “That’s the name of our system, not a library branch. I need the name of an individual library.”
Them: “I need the one on the corner.”
Me: “Which corner would that be?”
Them: “Your corner.”
Me: “What’s the name of the street?”
Them: “I don’t know. I think there’s a McDonald’s and then you turn the corner and go down a few blocks and it’s right there.”
Me: “Sir, there are about 60 McDonald’s in Sacramento County. I need a more exact location. What part of town are you talking about?”
Them: “You know the one I’m talking about.”
Me: “Actually I don’t. Can you remember the street name at all? Is it by a mall or in a high school?”
Them: “Never mind…Know what, I’ll just go to something downtown.”
Me: “There are three downtown branches, Central, McKinley, and McClatchy. However, all of them are closed on Mondays.”
Them: “Closed on Mondays? That’s ridiculous. I went to the big one a few months ago and it was open on a Monday. When did it start closing on Mondays?”
Me: “Central Library hasn’t been open on Mondays for about 5 or 6 years.”
Them: “Oh. Well, I need this book like now.”
Me: “If you give me the title of the book I can look it up, see where it’s located, and have it sent over to the library of your choosing.”
Them: “That will work. I have the ISBN.”
Me: “Hmm…I’m not seeing this. Is this a textbook?”
Them: “Yes. I need it for class.”
Me: “While we have the occasional textbook in our system, we do not purchase them.”
Them: “Why not? I need it.”
Me: "We do not carry it. What’s the name of the book?”
Them: “Calculus and Analytical Geometry, 9th edition.”
Me: “We don’t have the 9th edition. The only one I see is the 6th.”
Them: “Well how do you expect me to get the 9th edition?”
Me: “Usually your campus textbook store will carry the item if it was assigned by your professor.”
Them: “You want me to buy the book? Do you know how much that would cost me? It’s $160!”
Me: “Amazon has a used copy available for $8.29.”
Them: “I’m not buying it. Where’s the old edition at?”
Me: “Okay, the computer shows the book you want is at the Norman R. Siefkin Library in Folsom.”
Them: “Never heard of it. What town is that in?”
Me: “Folsom.”
Them: “So it’s not the one on Folsom?”
Me: “No, the one on Folsom Blvd is Rancho Cordova, which is closed for renovations. Norman R. Siefkin is in Folsom. But I can have it sent over to one of the open Sacramento Public Library branches if you give me your library card number.”
Them: “Can I have it sent to the one on Folsom?”
Me: “No, Rancho Cordova Library is closed for renovations.”
Them: “But I was just there are few days ago and it was open.”
Me: “It’s been closed for several months; however, I can have it sent to a nearby branch such as Arden or Arcade.”
Them: “Have it sent to Arcade.”
Me: “Yes, if I can please have your library card number I can have it sent over.”
Them: “I don’t have my library card on me. Can you look it up by name?”
Me: “Sure. What’s your name?”
Them: “J. Williams. J is my first initial.”
Me: “I’m going to need more information.”
Them: “The last guy looked it up by my name.”
Me: “Sir, there are over 509 entries for J. Williams in this system. May I please have your phone number starting with area code?”
Them: “I don’t like to give out my phone number.”
Me: “Sir, your phone number was entered into the system when you applied for a card.”
Them: “How about I give you my social?”
Me: “Uh, we don’t use social security numbers. What’s your phone number starting with area code?”
Them: “000-867-5309.”
Me: “I don’t see that number in the system.”
Them: “Try 000-634-5789.”
Me: “The record is pulling up…Mr. Williams, it says here you owe us $465.”
Them: “For what?”
Me: “Apparently you have 15 items you never returned, plus a collection agency fee of $10 added onto that amount, plus late fees for 12 other items---”
Them: “You have to understand, my stepfather’s half-sister’s cousin was in the hospital and my hamster died, so I wasn’t able to get to the library.”
Me: “According to our records the items were due 9 months ago.”
Them: “I’ve been busy. But if you’ll let me check out this one book I promise to bring the others back.”
Me: “Your account fines have to be under $5 for you to check anything out.”
Them: “Maybe we can work out a deal.”
Me: “A deal?”
Them: “You know, I only pay part of that amount.”
Me: “But you still have our materials.”
Them: “Yeah, they’re around here somewhere.”
Me: “You may speak with an individual branch about making a deal on the late fines, but we need our materials back before we start any type of negotiations.”
Them: “I’ll return the things if you waive the fines.”
Me: “That’s not how things work. We also need to see what condition the items are in.”
Them: “Look, I was using them for school.”
Me: “You were using Scarface, 300, The Complete 5th Season of the-X Files, The Godfather DVD Collection, Alien vs. Predator, Cosmo Kama Sutra, Purple Panties, Sublime, Icky Thump, Zodiac, The DaVinci Code, Enter the Matrix Official Strategy Guide, Twilight, The Essential Bob Dylan and The Joy of Sex for school?”
Them: “Yes.”
Me: “Really?”
Them: “Yes.”
Me: “I don’t know what school you attend, but the semester we’re discussing should have ended in four months, meaning you could have returned them five months ago. We would like our things back.”
Them: “I don’t have time to bring them back. And it’s your fault for not reminding me when the books were due.”
Me: “My fault?”
Them: “Yeah, you should have sent me an e-mail.”
Me: “Sir, when you signed up for a card you acknowledged you understood the checkout period was 21 days. When you checked something out you received a receipt listing the item due dates. Receiving an e-mail is a courtesy, and when you didn’t return the materials on time, you received several notices before we billed you for the items.”
Them: “Oh. Then I want to use my wife’s card. Can you look up her card number?”
Me: “According to this there are no cards linked with your account.”
Them: “What does that mean?”
Me: “It means we cannot give you information on anyone else’s account, nor may you use their card.”
Them: “But she’s my wife!”
Me: “Is she home? If I can speak with her and her account is in good standing she may check this item out.”
Them: “She’s not here. How about I use my kids’ cards?”
Me: “Sir your account is not connected with their accounts either.”
Them: “But they’re my kids! You’re telling me I can’t check out things on the account I signed for?”
Me: “You signed them up for their own accounts for their use. If you return our materials in good shape and speak with staff there they can work out a payment plan and get you this book as soon as possible.”
Them: “I don’t want a payment plan.”
Me: “I have to take the next call. If you have any other questions---”
Them: “You’re hanging up on me?”
Me: “Your time is up and there are people waiting in the queue for us to answer their calls.” Them: “I want to speak to a branch. What’s Arcade’s phone number?”
Me: “Those numbers are not available to the public. We take all calls for all branches, including Arcade.”
Them: “You won’t give me their number?”
Me: “No, sir. We transfer calls on a need basis if we cannot answer the questions here.”
Them: “I have a question.”
Me: “What is your question, sir?”
Them: “My question is for them.”
Me: “We have to take your question before transferring calls to them to make sure it is not something we can answer.”
Them: “Do you know who pays your salary?”
Me: “I’m hanging up now.”

To be continued...

BTW, I saw this video and had to add it. I enforce a strict dress code policy in Kids' Place and have kicked teens out who repeatedly wear sagging clothes. Now I think I'm just going to yell, "Pants on the ground! Pants on the ground!" while security drags them away.