Monday, December 26, 2005

How Miss Information spent Boxing Day

Regular visitors to this website can be forgiven for concluding that Miss Information is merely a cynical old crank who delights in finding fault with the world. She isn't really. It's just that the annoying things in life make more interesting stories. In fact, she loves all that warm and fuzzy raindrops-on-roses-whiskers-on-kittens stuff. (However, don't be misled. She absolutely loathes and despises all musicals--Broadway and Hollywood.) Anyway, like all normal sentimental people her very favourite thing about Christmas is how you get to visit with all those precious folks you've lost touch with over the years.

So, today Miss Information visited with her dear old friends at the Collision Reporting Centre. It's been ages since she last saw them. They're just looking so well these days.

Not looking nearly so well is her car.

As always, Miss Information believed she had constructed a foolproof plan for day. When will she learn? She makes the absolute worst plans. Not having shopped enough over the course of the last month, she decided to get out there and enjoy some post-Chrismas sales. But she's no dummy. In order to retain what few brain cells remain after spending Christmas with her family, she decided to skip the mall. Oh, yeah. Mall parking is always horrendous on Boxing Day. So, instead she went to some little quiet strip mall where only a couple of stores were even open. She shopped, tried stuff on but didn't buy anything. She then went off to another little quiet mall where she took a good look at the side of her car. You know how the side of a car is supposed to be sort of car-shaped? Like, not all dented and paint chipped? That's how Miss Information's car used to look--you know, yesterday?

Ironically, she realizes now that if she had gone to one of those big malls, her car would have been perfectly safe all hemmed in like a sardine among thousands of cars--unlike the little quiet strip mall where only 5 cars were parked, so of course the odds that somebody would back up into Miss Information's car were maximized. Oooooooh, she is just so pissed off.

Oh, and by the way, thanks for leaving a nice little note on her windshield identifying yourself, dumbass. You are so going to hell.

Anyway the Collision Reporting Centre guy estimated the damage at $1500. Which is great. Because she didn't spend money at the store, she can pay her insurance deductable! That's way better than new shoes!

Miss Information wishes all of you and your cars a happy, safe and dent-free New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Miss Information is feeling the love

Gosh, how Miss Information loves the holiday season--the peace, the tranquility, the brotherhood, the joy, the swearing, the death threats, the fist just makes a person feel all tingly.

Although the library is quiet right this second, it's probably just because the combatants are taking a break between rounds. So far today there have been multiple fights, several expulsions, and a near riot in the foyer. In addition, the police have been by to take statements from a kid whose life was threatened. And the day isn't nearly over. Fortunately Miss Information gets to work the evening shift so she'll probably be giving eyewitness testimony in court really soon.

Isn't Christmas wonderful?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Miss Information learns all about responsible library card ownership

Miss Information was sitting minding her own business at the Reference Desk when a Circ Desk clerk approached her, accompanied by a patron. It seems the gentleman hadn’t brought his library card because he doesn’t “carry things like that around with him”. He did however have a photocopy of the card and a photocopied piece of ID. The rules of the library require a customer to either have their card present or an actual piece of ID—because frankly it isn’t that difficult to carry around. They’re small and light. Most wallets have a little “library card compartment” to make it easy for you. Besides, Miss Information maintains that no one accidentally comes into the library. Most people set out knowing they’re going to drop in and it isn’t too much to ask that they actually have their card with them, is it?

Anyway, this guy insisted he was a customer well known to Miss Information and she could confirm his name.

Actually, no. Miss Information is notoriously bad with names. She finds herself describing staff members to each other in conversation because their names escape her. So, co-workers are known as “the guy in charge”, “that woman with the new dog” and “that really nice woman at circ”. And these are people she actually likes. The customers are a completely different matter. Miss Information has nicknames for the regulars—Ratboy, Opera Woman, the Farting Genealogist, etc. She even has a database. This guy, while not in the database is nevertheless familiar to Miss Information. This is the man who once lodged a serious formal complaint against her. She didn’t know his name then and she doesn’t know it now.

He complained that she was too lazy to help his wife look for a book. The situation was as follows. Miss Information had looked up a book for his wife (and she doesn’t know her name either). The computer said it wasn’t in the library, so Miss Information requested the book from another branch and that was that. Or so she thought. Wifey went to the shelves herself and found the book. Obviously Miss Information was a great big lazy liar who just hadn’t wanted to drag her great big lazy ass to the shelves. In fact, she was nursing a serious and unpleasant foot injury at the time and while she wasn’t in the mood for unnecessary dancing, she could just about manage to haul herself around the library for a good cause.

Unfortunately she had forgotten--a new computer program had been implemented just that week which was causing a number of “in library” materials to appear to be not “in library”. It had slipped her mind. So, see she wasn’t lazy, just incompetent. She told her supervisor and they had a big laugh over the whole thing.

So, yes. Happily she was able to report that the customer was familiar to her, although she didn’t know his name.

Later Miss Information learned that the man didn’t have his library card with him because he keeps it in his gun case for safety reasons. She spent the rest of the shift relieved that he had only filed a complaint against her.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Miss Information is annoyed by the payroll department

One of Miss Information’s assigned duties is to fill in the timesheets so people get paid. She is really bad at it. She inexplicably forgot to pay one of her reference desk colleagues for a month or so, even though she worked side by side with this woman every day. (Luckily through some miracle of accounting, she got paid anyway.) Besides just forgetting about people’s existence, her counting ability sucks. In her world if people work approximately 70 hours, that’s good enough. But just try explaining that to those anal bastards in the payroll department who want to know exactly who worked, when and for how long.

The whole process is pretty 19th century. Miss Information counts up the number of hours people work on her fingers, enters the information into a spreadsheet and prints out a copy. She then faxes a copy downtown where the payroll people do something mysterious which results in people getting paid. (Actually, Miss Information is fairly certain that they count up the number of hours on their fingers and enter the information into a different spreadsheet. It all seems pretty stupid, but then she’s no accountant.)

In spite of her dislike of all things numerical, Miss Information has a good solid working knowledge of Excel. She actually enjoys it. She understands it. Sure, somebody else has to do all the tricky figuring out formulas and stuff, but nobody in the building can beat her at manipulating spreadsheets.

And she does admit to occasionally tampering with the payroll spreadsheet. Sometimes she has to use two rows to enter all the pertinent information, for example when somebody takes vacation time and sick time on the same day. Because she can’t bear for things to be out of order alphabetically (everyone has their anal moments), she moves things around so they make sense. This does mess up the page breaks, but Miss Information is a good soldier and resets them so the document prints out all nice and neat (which she then faxes downtown, etc.)

Today, Miss Information got a message that the payroll clerks want her to stop messing with the page breaks. It seems that even though they are fine when she faxes them, they don’t come out as nicely on the payroll machine. For some reason this causes the payroll department to not pay people. This seems fairly harsh. Miss Information has only a very basic knowledge of fax machines, but she is pretty sure that the information she sends out is received in its entirety on the other end—whether the page breaks are lined up right or not.

So, she promises from now on to quit messing with the page breaks. She doesn’t want to incur the wrath of the payroll department who up to now have been so very good about paying her. Her one wish for next year is that they update this stupid antiquated method of paying people. If they can’t convert to an automated system, could they at least let her send the document electronically? It would be like the best Christmas present ever.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Miss Information takes a break

(This is Part One of one of those true life adventure story things. Part Two follows below. While it isn't correct chronologically, it just makes more sense this way.)

Miss Information is still on vacation and decides to take a rest from her important work (drinking coffee and reading books) and leave town. In fact, leaving town isn’t good enough so she makes plans for a weekend excursion where she will drink coffee and read books in an entirely different country. Also, there’s gonna be shopping.

The trip gets off to a rocky start when Miss Information and her travelling companion get all chatty and distracted and miss their exit thus requiring a stupidly lengthy and annoying detour. Eventually they make it across the border—and shortly thereafter make a stupid navigational decision which Miss Information barely catches in time, preventing a second stupidly lengthy and annoying detour. She was not swift enough to prevent a short and annoying detour, however.

Some time before the end of the weekend, our heroines make it to their hotel. It has wireless high speed Internet access—which nobody employed at the hotel can tell them how to use. This marks the 4th time Miss Information has stayed someplace with wireless access and been unable to use it because the desk staff has “no idea how that works”. But whatever. Miss Information is really here for the shopping and coffee busies herself with that. Money is exchanged for goods. Coffee is consumed. All is well.

On day two, en route to more shopping and coffee drinking, our travellers watch helplessly as the tiny crack in Miss Information’s windshield (*see September 20 entry)mutates into something resembling an anaconda and crawls almost, but not quite, across the entire windshield. Miss Information had planned to get it replaced sometime. Not this soon however. Anyway, she drowns her sorrow with more shopping and additional coffee. Life is pretty good.

On day three, Miss Information notices the car making a funny noise. This is very similar to the funny noise it made last year after a big chunk of ice got stuck in the wheel well (or someplace). Even though it isn’t actually that cold, she assumes it is the same sort of thing. Ironically last year Miss Information was positive that the funny noise was a flat tire and spent ages standing around in the frigid weather carefully inspecting her tires. This time she ignores the noise and keeps driving. Obviously, when she’s at the duty free store, stuck in that no-man’s land between one country and the next, she looks down and notices, yep….that tire sure is looking a lot more pancakey than usual. You know, the new tire she just got 6 weeks ago (*see October 12 entry). Fortunately the border crossing goes smoothly and our travellers begin their search for a garage. Of course because these things never go particularly well, our hapless heroes take a wrong turn and end up on a scenic route through a national park. Miss Information does like to see important historic sites, but finds it hard to give them the reverence they deserve when her car is about to die. Eventually, they exit the park, having learned much about their native land—for instance there are no car service centres inside national parks and find an honest-to-god town. At the first corner, they see not only a gas station, but a gas station with a service centre. Their troubles are over! Except the service station is closed. In fact all the service stations in town are closed. Monday afternoon, not a holiday--some kind of tire-fixing-guy festival perhaps? Oh, well. Miss Information’s tire savvy companion puts the air back in the tire and off they go now on four doughnutty shaped tires.

Miss Information gets her tire fixed

(This is actually Part Two of an epic battle between good and evil which begins above. So you're going to want to scroll up and read that first. It just makes more sense logically to put it here.)

The troubled twosome manages to limp back to civilization on 3.5 good tires, but Miss Information decides to get that tire fixed right away. Like before she goes home. She has sworn that she will never return to the place she got her tires(*see October 12 entry), so she goes to her backup service place(*see January 27 entry). She figures that if the tire is defective she can sue those other bastards later, but she just can’t face them after 6 hours on the road.

The back up service centre is almost but not quite as annoying. There are two lines. One for people dropping off their cars and one for people picking up their cars. Neither line moves but if you get into the wrong one, you’re pretty much screwed. Miss Information waits patiently as the group at the front of the line asks thousands of ridiculous questions. (Example: When you get new tires put on your car do they charge extra for taking your old tires off your car?)

Eventually Miss Information gets to the front of the line. Except, now the intake counter guy has disappeared. At this point she is so tired she’s getting all weepy. She really hates to wait. As she’s waiting trying not to cry, a woman gets into line behind her.

“Are you in line?” the woman snarls. Well, duh. Why would a person stand here otherwise? Miss Information snaps something at the woman and sometime before everyone dies, the counter guy returns. He is so personable Miss Information almost forgives the horrible service—but not quite. She is quickly running out of garages she’s willing to take her car to. She tells him she what she wants and she tells him she’s waiting. He tells her how much it will cost and says something about two “boys” working and her car will be fixed as soon as possible. This sounds good. Probably because Miss Information is sleep deprived, she doesn’t comprehend that the two “boys” also have to work on the cars of all those other people she was in line with. She reads her book. She wonders whether she can get her keys back and get a more interesting book out of her car. After about an hour she realizes that her car has not even made it onto a hoist yet. Also, one of those “boys” doesn’t seem to be, well, working. At all. And that book isn’t getting any more interesting. Not only that but she worries that the ice cream in the trunk of her car is melting. Finally she sees her car again. One of the “boys” digs something out of the tire and starts to fix it—very slowly. She is so happy, she smiles at the snarly woman who is also waiting. Mistake. That woman is seriously cranky and proceeds to list all of her complaints. Not the least of these is that they are fixing Miss Information’s car first. It seems she would have been here ahead of Miss Information, but she got stuck in traffic. Sucks to be her. Also it kind of sucks to be stuck in a waiting room with her.

At some point but not soon enough Miss Information’s tire is returned to her car and the car is taken back outside. Since Miss Information is anxious to get away from the snarly woman, she goes straight out and gets in the “picking up your car” line up. The cashier at this desk is doing something complicated with a guy who keeps wandering away to get more car parts all the while talking on a cell phone. Obviously this is going to take awhile. There is no other staff member anywhere in sight. Miss Information waits. A different cranky woman stands behind Miss Information.

“Are you in line?” asks snarly woman #2. Well, duh. Why would a person stand here otherwise?
“Am I supposed to be in this line?” the woman asks.

Miss Information is all happy at the prospect of getting her car back and helpfully explains the two line-up system to the woman. The woman goes into the “dropping off your car line” and complains to all and sundry that Miss Information told her to go to this line but it isn’t moving. Sucks to be her. She fails to realize that Miss Information’s line isn’t moving either.

However, that personable guy resurfaces and he’s calling for Miss Information. He hands her the keys and wishes her well. Then he disappears before she pays him. She does something bold. She goes to his part of the counter and waits for his eventual return--even though this means she is sort of cutting into the “dropping off your car line” and no doubt really pissing off snarly woman #2.

When he does come back he looks at Miss Information and asks why she’s still hanging around. Miss Information expresses an interest in paying for her repaired tire. He suddenly appears horrified. It seems he screwed up the invoice. He tells her to just go away and “forget about it”.

While Miss Information was delighted to not pay for her repaired tire, she thinks the place might provide better service if they charged everyone for their work and used the money to hire a few additional mechanics.