Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Miss Information is annoyed by the technology challenged

It is computer training day. The last Wednesday of each month, Miss Information’s colleague introduces people to the wonderful world of e-mail. Miss Information secretly refers to this workshop as “E-mail for People who Shouldn’t Use E-mail”. She used to be the instructor for this particular training session but it almost always made her curl up in a tiny ball and weep, so the guy in charge had someone else take over.

Here’s how it would go: a group of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed idiots…no, patrons…would drop in to benefit from Miss Information’s years of experience sending joke e-mails to her friends. The class would log on to some free e-mail provider, yahoo, hotmail, gmail, whatever. It didn’t matter, it was always a disaster. Some people just aren’t good at filling in forms. It often took the entire 2 hour class to get 10 people e-mail accounts and the 75% of the script dealing with actually using e-mail went unpresented.

Miss Information tried to feel good about getting everyone signed up but the end of the session was always really discouraging. The very last thing in every workshop was to make these clueless bastards…sorry, students…log back in to their brand new account. In spite of her pleading with them to write down their log in and password, in spite of her providing them with a little specially designed piece of paper to do so, in spite of the class only lasting 2 hours, the majority of the group would be unable to log in having forgotten their account information. Sheesh., wait, yes...morons!

Some things never change. As soon as the class was dismissed today a couple walked directly to the Reference Desk. They needed help logging in to their new e-mail account. What was their login? They weren’t sure. What was their password? Didn’t actually make a note of that. Miss Information sent them back to their instructor. Some people can’t be helped.

In other lack of technology news: a customer singing the praises of Wikipedia wanted to know how many volumes it was published in. Another patron wanted…no, needed…a movie with the word “sunset” in the title. When asked for additional details, the woman offered the information that the movie was released in a year starting with 19. Great. Big help.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Miss Information is annoyed by too much information

Miss Information is mourning the loss of distance. She has always fancied herself to be inscrutable and mysterious. She urges others to follow her example and stop providing her with unnecessary details of their mundane lives. She has her own mundane life to worry about, thanks.

Her reference desk colleagues do not need to announce their bathroom breaks, for example. One of them typically phrases it the form of a question: is it ok if I go to the washroom? Miss Information’s understanding of science is minimal, however she thinks it’s ok, perhaps even recommended, but maybe you should consult with a medical professional just in case. Honestly, some day she’s going to say no just to see what would happen.

As ick-inducing as these declarations are, Miss Information recently experienced something worse. Mike has been coming into the library every day since he was a child. Even then it was apparent that he’d missed the train to normal by several light years. Everyone expected (hoped? prayed?) he’d grow out of it. He didn’t and so now he’s pretty heavily medicated but basically harmless. Miss Information usually likes to think of patrons like Mike as differently normal.

One day recently, Mike asked to use the phone at the reference desk. He didn’t have money for the pay phone and he had to call his mother. She’s been worried lately because he’s been peeing outside and he needed to call her and tell her that he hadn’t peed at all today, but he wanted her to know that he hadn’t been peeing outside…today…yet. Miss Information was delighted to hear this--as was everyone in the library. Mike has no indoor voice. He says everything at 11.

Miss Information, usually reluctant to allow customers to use the phone, made an exception and handed it over. Mike changed his mind. He decided to tell his mother in person instead. Miss Information was happy for them both. She spent the rest of the day longing for a shower.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Miss Information is annoyed by a hanger on

Miss Information once spent a lot of time in a Christchurch, New Zealand Starbucks without realizing that it had closed. The store hours weren’t posted and the counter person never actually said they were closing, because obviously then Miss Information would have left. Reasonable people leave when a place closes.

The Starbucks had closed because it was closing time but sometimes a place needs to close for another reason—flood, fire, sarin gas leak. All good reasons to evacuate and sensible people would go away, at least until the hazmat team clears out. Miss Information’s library rarely closes to the public. It has remained open during times of no heat, times of too much heat and a really neat flood…The library briefly closed when some joker set fire to the toilet paper dispenser in the men’s washroom but only long enough to determine the smoke wasn’t toxic. Anyway, staying open during chaos is the library’s only claim to fame and the staff lords it over more feeble branches who close for a stiff breeze. Closing is a last resort—which happened on Saturday.

It was a power failure. The library remained open for an hour or so but when the emergency lighting faltered and parts of the library were plunged into darkness, the decision was made to evacuate. Most people distressed over the inability to surf the net left peacefully. One man, the man in the yellow coat, refused to leave. He didn’t understand why the library was closing. Miss Information tried to reason with him, the library was getting cold and the washrooms were unusable. It’s ok, the man replied. He had a coat. Also, he had gone to the washroom before he left home. This was a little too much detail for Miss Information so she turned it over to one of the senior staff librarians. She confirmed that the library was indeed closed and the man should exit. The man didn’t feel that this applied to him because he only wanted to read the newspaper. The librarian in charge got involved. The man wanted to know why he should have to leave—the encroaching darkness, the falling temperature, the many hazards, and the library asking him to leave not being enough of a reason. Eventually he demanded an audience with the manager. Miss Information suspects that her fellow staff members, not being fellows, did not have that masculine authority Yellow Coat Guy was looking for. Sadly, the duty manager was also a woman. She had a seemingly endless phone conversation with the guy who repeated the phrase “but it isn’t logical” about 1000 times. After about 20 minutes of this, the man slowly made his way to the exit, vowing to write letters of complaint to, well, everyone.

So, Miss Information has a new appreciation for that Starbucks employee who let her stay in the store even though it was closed. While acknowledging that much better coffee is readily available almost anywhere in New Zealand, she urges those in the vicinity of Cathedral Square to drop in and visit the Starbucks there. You don’t have to have the coffee.