Monday, October 29, 2012

Miss Information is sick of smiling

These past couple of years, Miss Information has carefully managed her career with one single goal in mind. She has dressed badly, neglected combing her hair for days on end, and has chosen a job that channels much of the human interaction through electronic devices. All this has been to avoid appearing in public. So on Friday, Miss Information was a bit annoyed to find herself the morning speaker at a library conference.

Miss Information had a script that she inherited from the previous holder of the job. She had sensibly gotten out without ever having to use it. She was sincere, dedicated and professional and her presentation was full of important statistics, loads of documentation, and even a few significant references. She also dresses nicely and combs her hair and would have been an awesome speaker.

Miss Information took that beautiful presentation and ditched the Powerpoint. Miss Information bloody hates Powerpoint--thank you, grad school. Then she removed all the relevant stuff and added pictures of Matt Smith, Jimi Hendrix and Julie Andrews. Never let it be said that she doesn't pull her weight.

She arrived at the venue early and started smiling at everyone. She was trying to build good will. Then she began drinking coffee. She had 4 cups before her presentation started. She actually began sweating coffee right before her introduction.

She did her presentation and remarkably no one died. People she didn't know actually came up to her after and said they enjoyed it. Of course she had to smile at them. Basically she was trapped into smiling at everyone for an entire damn day. She must have looked like a scary cult member. 

Her face still hurts days later.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Miss Information is annoyed on transit

It was Thursday night and it had been a tough one. Everyone who wasn't on vacation had called in sick and Miss Information was the guy in charge for the evening shift. It wasn't difficult. The few remaining staff members were great, the patrons were cooperative and the night ended with no fatalities.

As she entered the subway station she heard the familiar crackle of the PA. "Attention subway passengers travelling on the north-sozz r...(static) delay suzzbod at the (static) stuzzin. (static)(static) sznal pro.. During this time, please (static)(static) We apologize for any inconvenience." Sigh. These things are automated now. Shouldn't they make some kind of sense? 

Eventually Miss Information made it to her station without incident and got on a bus right away. One of her fellow travellers was an inebriated and loud young man. This was a little strange because the inebriated, loud people usually annoy Miss Information on the Friday night bus. 

This was a young man of colour, which will become relevant later. He was very loud and peppered his speech with liberal use of the word fuck. He would have fit in perfectly in the library staff room, actually. The young man was not offensive (unless one is offended by swearing). He was alone but spoke as if he were being interviewed. He was a big fan of Tommy Hilfiger, was very fond of his Polo wallet and was concerned that his shirt was dirty. By the way, he started wearing those shirts before anyone else did. He was from the West Side, you know. Miss Information imagines this is exactly what taking the bus with Kanye West is like except with less Kardashian. The young fellow shared his political beliefs: this is a great country for immigrants, we should be grateful for what we have, etc.

Did Miss Information mention that it was teeming with rain? She had no umbrella. She was about 2 km from her stop when a woman, Caucasian, which will become relevant shortly, approached the bus driver to complain about pseudo-Kanye. He might have a gun or a knife, you know. The bus driver (a woman) was sympathetic but wanted to get on with the driving. Miss Information wanted her to get on with the driving, also. Pseudo-Kanye had moved to the back of the bus and didn't know the woman was complaining about him but for some reason decided to make his presence known by shouting the word "fuck" and the bus driver pulled over and called for assistance. The complaining woman and several others opted to get off the bus and stand in the pouring rain because this made some kind of sense. Miss Information regretted not bringing an umbrella so she could walk home but she was staying put, thanks.

Miss Information has never been on a bus where assistance has been called and so she was completely astonished that the assistance came in the form of a disembodied voice on the PA. 

"(static)speaking szz blah loud man on the bus. Please (static)(static) or police will be (static)(static) snuzz sporgle..bus."

This wasn't that helpful. Pseudo-Kanye didn't realize that the message was directed at him, and even if he had, it wouldn't have helped anyway because the message made no damn sense. When the fellow realized he was part of an incident, he asked the bus driver what was going on. The bus driver told him he was making people uncomfortable and asked for a show of hands. Miss Information suspects that the uncomfortable people were the ones outside in the rain because no one put their hands up.  Shouting ensued, the bus driver threatened to call the police and eventually the man left the bus. 

The whole thing left Miss Information sad and she wishes she had done something in support of the man. He had done nothing that she could see besides be loud and black on the bus. There was certainly no reason to suspect he was armed. The complaining lady got back on the bus feeling very virtuous that she had prevented an incident, but all she'd really done was make Miss Information dislike white people a little bit.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Miss Information really can't help you with that.

Last evening Miss Information was at the Information Desk minding her own business when a young woman asked a question. It was going to be a stupid question the woman explained. Oh, good. Miss Information expects a question about books or library services or the subway or something.

Nope. The woman wanted to know about her hair--her own hair that is. Does the colour make her look old? Uh. What? Miss Information is completely unqualified to answer this. For one thing, her hair is really dirty. Really, really dirty. She had a sore shoulder earlier in the week and she doesn't want to re-injure it by doing any tricky shampooing. Also, there was stuff on tv.

Anyway, there are a couple of things that are complicating this interaction. First the woman is wearing a hoodie and refuses to take it off so Miss Information can get a good look at her hair. The three strands of hair that have escaped from under the hoodie look fine and that's what Miss Information tells her. Another problem is that she has no idea how old the woman is supposed to look. She's always been told that it's rude to ask a woman's age so she isn't going to.

She tells the woman the truth--that her hair looks fine. (Actually she probably would have said this even if the woman's hair was not fine because you know...) Unfortunately the woman has a follow-up. Is her hair keeping her from getting ahead at work?

Miss Information sighs. She has no idea. When the woman presses her, Miss Information points to her colleague who has pink hair this week and explains that hair colour isn't really a big concern in the library world. 

The woman shakes her head and goes away. Miss Information is sad the woman didn't ask about her shoes, which were completely wrong with her pants. (If she had asked, Miss Information would have said the shoes were fine, too, because she's really not here to comment on the customers' fashion choices.)

Later when sharing this story with colleagues, Miss Information discovered that the woman is a regular who has asked everyone either the hair question or whether her pants make her look fat.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Miss Information is neither here nor there

Miss Information is at work today which is a miracle because yesterday was awful. Nothing worked. It probably would have been easier to cope if she'd realized it was National Vodka Day but she didn't find out until much later.

At one point she was on the desk trying to figure out why she couldn't make a booklist appear on the website just like she does every month when a patron appeared with a question. She wanted to know if Brenda the librarian was around.

Miss Information was delighted. She actually knows who Brenda is. This is something of a miracle. This branch has 6 floors and perhaps 20 separate departments. Each one is like MI-6. Outside of her own department Miss Information knows a handful of people and most of them are referred to as: the guy who might be called Tom, the woman who broke her leg that time, the blonde ponytail and other various nicknames.

But she does know Brenda! She tells the woman that Brenda works on the 2nd floor. If only that had been enough...

Woman: Is she there?
Miss Information: Not sure. Check with the second floor staff.
Woman: But is she there? Maybe she's somewhere else.
Miss I: Possibly. The staff upstairs can direct you, though.
Woman: But what if she isn't there?
Miss I: Well, I can't say for sure but if I wanted to find Brenda this is what I'd do. I would go to the second floor and ask if she's available. She might be there, she might not but hanging around here isn't going to work unless Brenda wanders past at closing time. If you don't go to the second floor none of us will ever know where Brenda is.
Woman: Maybe I'll just go ask at the second floor.
Miss I: Sure. That might work.

After that, Miss Information locked herself out of the workroom where she keeps her bus pass and wondered whether she would ever get home. Fortunately another staff member wandered past with a key and took pity on her.

The day ended on a positive note though. On the bus ride home, Miss Information discovered a dark chocolate Mars bar in her bag that she'd forgotten about.