Friday, October 28, 2005

The return of Crazy Underwear Guy

(Part one of the Amazing Adventures of Crazy Underwear Guy is located below...)

It was a few weeks later. It was a Thursday. Miss Information was in charge of the Circulation Desk and we all know just how much she loves that. It was also Legal Aid Night. Bells should have gone off. Well, bells were going off, but it was only the alarm bell for the elevator and that goes off all the time so Miss Information didn’t clue in that it was time for the inevitable return of Crazy Underwear Guy.

At some point during the night she looked up from her very important work bothering the library fish. Oh, crap. There he was. At the circ desk. Miss Information prays that this is not going to involve her. She sees CUG having an intense conversation with one of the clerks. If she were any sort of human being, she would go over and help her co-worker. Instead she hides under the desk. Too late. The co-worker is coming over. She reminds Miss Information that she is in charge and asks if she can help CUG. Miss Information already knows the answer to that question is no but she is getting paid the big bucks to deal with this sort of thing so she picks herself up from under the desk and approaches the man, the entire time psychically sending a request for aid to the branch head who is so good with the insane people. His mind-reading ability needs improvement however and he fails to come to the rescue.

Crazy Underwear Guy is concerned. (Isn’t everyone?) He has an overdue book. He knows he has it. He wants to give it back, but he just can’t find it. He wants the library to send somebody to his house to help him look for the book. It’s in his house somewhere but he can’t be expected to actually find it himself, can he? What’s more, he wants the fines waived. It isn’t his fault the book is overdue. It’s the library’s fault for not going over and helping him look for the book. Miss Information wonders briefly if the VISA people would buy this excuse. If they really want their money, shouldn’t they come and get it themselves? She also wonders how far the library collection agency is willing to go to “collect” things. She can’t think of a single suitable response to the man’s statement. She opts to stare blankly at him. She is practically screaming a psychic SOS at the branch head, who remains blissfully unaware of her predicament. Suddenly, the man gives her a way out.

“You know,” says the man. “I’ve sent a letter all about this to the Shiny Happy Branch in the city’s west end. Maybe I should just talk to them about it.”

Miss Information is delighted. She agrees that if the Shiny Happy Branch has some knowledge of this situation, it really isn’t fair for her to get involved. The man should definitely deal directly with them. Who knows, maybe they’ve already hired a lost book finder to help him with his problem.

Miss Information says good bye and goes for a nice long break. She later learns that on his way out, the man asks circ staff to call Shiny Happy Branch and remind them of his standard 9 am wake up call.

That Shiny Happy Branch really provides a full range of services. They’re an example to us all.

Miss Information meets Crazy Underwear Guy

Miss Information just knows that this blog is going to generate a lot of ad-spam directing people to their underwear blogs. She apologizes in advance.

It was a beautiful Saturday. Miss Information was drinking coffee, visiting with her co-workers, answering her e-mail and generally enjoying life. Then some do-gooder had to go and open the damn library. Bastard.

Admittedly things were not making a lot of sense the entire day. Everyone was strangely intense. One woman snarled that she couldn’t look up her own books because she had a sore foot. Hmmm. This may explain how those keyboards get so grotty.

All in all, it was a pretty typical Saturday. And then, he appeared. An odd little man with a cup of water approached the Reference Desk. Miss Information asked if she could help him with something.

“The police have hassled me my entire life—all because I have a medical condition,” the man replied.

Miss Information assumes that’s a “no” then. How she loves her rewarding work with the mentally ill. She waited for the man to continue. He didn’t. She decided to pretend that he was making sense. After all, the police are apparently too busy to take care of the charming young people who deal drugs quite openly in the library parking lot. Perhaps all their crime fighting time is spent bothering this lovely man. She suggested he make an appointment with the legal aid lawyer who works out of the library. He was delighted with this suggestion and promised he would.

Eventually the man got to the point. “I need information about my dental plan in a manila envelope,” he said.

Ok. Here’s something Miss Information can actually do. She began searching the Internet for his insurance company, all the while wondering if the man would become violent when told there were no manila envelopes. But not to worry, the man suddenly got all chatty. Oh, good.

“I’m allergic to people you know,” he said.

Miss Information wonders whether she may suffer from this condition also.

“Oh,” she replied. “Must be awkward.”

“Yeah, well, I’m mostly allergic to Turks and Iraqis.”

Miss Information’s heart sank. She hoped that none of the large number of Middle Eastern customers in the nearby area had overheard. She did not reply, but instead turned the monitor on her computer to show the man what she had found.

“I have this bad reaction to computers,” he said. “So don’t delete anything. Bad things happen to me when people press the delete button.”

Miss Information was briefly tempted, but assured the man she would not delete anything. Maybe never again. The man went on to discuss at length his theory that every keystroke on a computer has a negative impact on the universe or people or something. Miss Information wasn’t listening. She was too distracted by the man’s underwear. She suddenly noticed that although the waistband on the man’s jeans was up really high, for some reason it didn’t quite intersect with his shirt, exposing several inches of underwear to the world. Grey underwear. Now this is depressing. Miss Information had, up to this point, found grey underwear to be rather appealing. Black underwear means you’re trying too hard. White underwear means you aren’t trying hard enough. Other colours are just too weird. Thanks a lot, Crazy Underwear Guy, you have destroyed men’s underwear for Miss Information—FOREVER.

She printed off reams of potentially useless information for the guy but included the phone number of the insurance company which she urged him to use, gave him a paperclip, miraculously found a manila envelope and waved bye-bye to the crazy person.

She later discovered the man had indeed made an appointment with the lawyer and then left in a huff because Circulation Desk staff had refused to arrange a wake-up call for him on Monday at 9 am.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Miss Information is annoyed by the reluctant

Ok, Miss Information has returned from vacation. So far, two people have told her she is looking tired. Another co-worker said it was clear she wasn't feeling well. In fact, up to that point she was feeling fine. Even a little perky. Now all she wants to do is go home and curl up with a good book and a hot cup of soup.

Instead of that this is what she's had to put up with this afternoon. One of her colleagues wanted Miss Information to tell her whether it was ok to take down the posters advertising the programme that had taken place the previous night. Well, geez, it is remotely possible that one of our customers will build a time machine out of old elastics and paper clips, tamper with the laws of physics and return us to the happy giddy time that was yesterday afternoon, but Miss Information thinks it is highly unlikely. She knows that sometimes independent thought is discouraged around here, but honestly, this is a decision a toddler could make. Even if you throw out the stuff and you're wrong, you can always deny having done it. Denial is one of Miss Information's favourite coping strategies. She didn't see it, didn't hear about it, didn't get the e-mail, wasn't part of the focus group, and most certainly did not throw out that out-of-date poster. Must have been somebody else.

Also this afternoon there has been an influx of particularly clueless adult students working on health projects. Miss Information suspects to her horror that they are nursing students from the college up the street. She reminds herself to never get sick again. The one Miss Information was assisting/trying not to kill this afternoon was looking for books on cardiac health. Miss Information led the hapless student to the shelf where there were several books on the heart. "Well, which ones have pictures?" said the student.

Now Miss Information has always believed that the way to find out what is inside a book is to pick it up and look at it. She gently suggested that the customer actually take some books off the shelf and flip through them.

"Well, what about medical encyclopedias?" said the student, declining to touch any of the books. Miss Information took the student to the Reference section where the medical reference books are.

"So, which of these has pictures?" said the student. Again, Miss Information encouraged the woman to reach out and touch something. The woman opted not to, preferring to stand with her arms folded across her chest.

"I need a picture of a good heart and a bad heart. Where can I find that?" said the student.

Miss Information once again suggested the woman take a look at some of the books on the shelf. As she went back to the desk she heard the woman muttering about trying the Internet. Maybe because the woman was a nursing student, she didn't want to expose herself to the bacteria in/on/around the books. Maybe she was frightened of breaking the books. Maybe she thought Miss Information has memorized the contents of every single book in the building.

This scenario happens amazingly often. One day Miss Information is going to close her eyes, press her fingers to her temples, make some woo-woo noises, pick a book at random off the shelf and hand it to the customer, telling them it has exactly what they're looking for.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Miss Information is annoyed by the service department

Miss Information has decided that she hates her car dealership and is never having her car serviced there again. It was time for her regular scheduled oil change and there were a couple of niggling automotive problems, so she decided to take the car in on her day off. Life would be good. Here was her plan for the day--take the car in first thing in the morning, wait for the car, get the car back around noonish and spend the rest of the afternoon drinking coffee somewhere cozy (too cold for the beach this week), then go to the 6pm step class followed by late night yoga where she would achieve perfect relaxation.

It was such a good plan.

She forgot just how annoying the car place is. Once, when she called to schedule an oil change she was assured that she could just come in anytime without an appointment for the quick lube service. The next week when she went to the quick lube counter, they chewed her out for not having an appointment. (A tiny part of Miss Information wants to use these people as her mentors.) Anyway, now she always makes an appointment.

She did. She called Thursday to tell them to get ready. She wanted new tires. She wanted an oil change. Also her brakes were kind of acting funny, would they mind checking into that?

She showed up at the predetermined time. As always she was ignored by everyone except the cranky man who jockeys the cars around. He always yells at her because she never puts her car in the right place and the right place changes every time. Miss Information doesn't let this bother her, while she tries to grow a third hand waiting for the service people to notice her, she has observed that the car jockey guy yells at everybody who parks in the service area. It may be that there are no "right places" to park for this guy. Well, at least he acknowledges the existence of the customers which is more than the service people do.

There are usually several staff members working the service counter--insofar as looking distracted and ignoring people can be called "working". The customers just stand around in a clump waiting to be noticed, too demoralized from their encounter with car-jockey-yelling-guy to interrupt the important conversations the counter people are having.

Well, Miss Information will not be ignored. She has a new strategy. She goes to the left hand side of the counter and stares intently at a service person. Once they make eye-contact, they're dead. Unfortunately, the first guy was on to this plan, so she took a giant step to the right and stared at the next guy. Contact was made! She explained she was here for her appointment. Guy number 2 looked her up in the database and directed her to "her" service guy. She took another giant step to the right and waited in front of guy number 3--whose name Miss Information has forgotten, so we'll just call him "Ed".

Ed was on the phone with another customer explaining that the service department had committed some sort of grievous error in conducting this person's emissions test. The conversation went on and on. As much as Miss Information enjoys eavesdropping on other people's phone conversations, she was now having serious doubts about Ed. Still, Ed was "her" service guy and she waited patiently. He eventually got off the phone and Miss Information finally had the attention of the slowest car service counter guy on the planet. Yes, she confirmed, she was here for her appointment. Yes, when she called she did express an interest in new tires. This caused Ed to make a phone call (he misdialled the number several times, however) to the person in charge of such things. No, of course they didn't actually have the tires but they could get some today, sometime, probably. Oh, and by the way did Miss Information know whether her tires are 31s or 33s? Here's what Miss Information knows about tires: they are round, black and they smell bad when you set them on fire. She does not know whether they are 31s or 33s.

And now she is starting to get the tiniest bit irritated. She didn't just drop in and ask for tires, she called in advance. Is it too much to ask that they actually arrange for there to be tires? Failing that, they have her entire car history on file. Couldn't somebody have figured out the 31/33 question ahead of time?

But no matter. Ed is positive he can make it all happen. He gets Miss Information to describe the noise her brakes are making--it's a groaning, not a grinding (he types in grinding anyway) and suggests that she not wait for her car. After all, they have to get those pesky tires ordered but he thinks she can have her car back by 5 pm.

Miss Information goes home and waits for Ed to call. Getting her car back at 5 will probably make it difficult to get to that step class, but it is possible and she's hopeful.

At least until Ed calls around 4:30. "So," he says, "Do you want us to get started on this brake work, then?"

Um, yeah--Miss Information leaves her beloved car with you bastards so you can fix it and you don't even start thinking about doing it for 6.5 hours? She assures Ed that she would like her brakes fixed, oh, sometime during the millennium, if it's not too damn much trouble, thanks.

"Ok, then," says Ed. "And we'll get those tires put on too."

Miss Information is forced to conclude that the mechanics have spent the entire day listening to her CDs.

Ed promises to call when the car is ready. Oh, does Miss Information want to know how much this is all going to cost? Not really, but she agrees to hear the total just to make Ed happy. Ed doesn't know. He could call back in 5 minutes after he adds it all up, if she wants. She decides she'd rather be surprised. She watches her evening plans dissolve while she waits for Ed to call back. Finally at about 7 pm she desperately calls the service department. She needs to catch a bus right now in order to get to the dealership before it closes--is there any chance her car might be ready? Ed promises.

Miss Information makes amazing time. She arrives at the dealership with the faint hope of making the late night yoga class, but she's forgotten--Ed is the slowest human being alive. He goes into great detail about the invoice...he may have explained why they opted to use a 12 point Ariel font on their forms. Miss Information never listens to this stuff. Is the car fixed? How much is it going to cost? These are the things she needs to know. She snatches her keys off the counter as Ed very slowly processes her credit card.

He tells her they've discovered a problem with the engine. He thinks it may be the water pump, but they aren't sure. Well, geez, maybe if they'd had the car for a little longer they could get around to it.

Ed concludes the relationship by giving her way too much information about his work schedule. This might be helpful if she were ever coming back...for example she could avoid him, but she's really never coming back. So, goodbye Ed. Have a nice life. You might want to consider amphetamines.

So, anyway, Miss Information missed the yoga class but the important thing is that tomorrow is another day and she has her car back--complete with new tires, repaired brakes and a water pump problem and she can drive wherever she wants--at least until her engine blows out.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Miss Information is on vacation

Miss Information took the week off work. She planned to clean and organize her house. Therefore, obviously she has spent much of the week hanging around the beach reading books and drinking coffee. It has been unseasonably warm and you have to be in the absolute right mood to do all that cleaning/organizing crap.

Here's what Miss Information thinks about at the beach: Mostly she thinks about how cool it is to have such a fine and largely deserted beach available. She wonders whether the nuclear plant you can see from the beach puts people off, or whether the beach needs a better marketing strategy. She doesn't much care, she enjoys the peace and quiet. But then she starts thinking about bees. There are always bees on the beach, and to her knowledge, she's never been stung. But what if she's deathly allergic to bee stings? What if one of the beach bees stings her, and causes her to die? There are no people on the beach. No one would find her body. Eventually the tide would come in and carry her out to sea.

So, to sum up, Miss Information has spent the week avoiding housework, sitting on the beach, drinking too much coffee and thinking about death.

All in all, it's been a pretty great vacation.