Work


One of the interesting things about this whole blogging thing is watching the search terms that lead people to my little corner of the blogosphere.  Recently, this popped up:

“i work at a library” social phobia

Prince William Visits New Zealand - Day 2

I guess the reason I’m so amused by it is that, while I can piece together why that search might’ve lead someone here, I’ve never actually written about it… And yet.  And yet. I do sort of have a social phobia.  And I do work at a library.

I’m a fairly anti-social person.  I have a handful of good friends but 9 times out of 10, give me the choice between going out to a party or a bar, and staying home to watch a movie or read a book….And I’m going to stay home.

But, like I said, I work at a library.  I’ve been in my current position for a little over a year but before that, I worked at other librarys for a total of about three years.  And always, always public service.  Why??  I’m not a huge fan of people (I very much prefer the company of animals!), so why do I continue to put myself in this position?  I honestly don’t know.

So to whoever searched “i work at a library” social phobia–I understand.  I feel your pain.

I feel like I’ve been sucked into a time machine and transported back to high school.

Work has been ridiculous the past couple of weeks.

People have been gossiping more than normal.  People have been more childish than normal.  People around here still haven’t figured out how to step up and take responsibility for their mistakes.

Seriously.  Ridiculous.

More than once, I’ve day dreamed about simply walking out and never coming back.

If only…

Dear Coworker,

What I would like to say is, “Mind your own **** business,” but I’m trying desperately to find a more polite way to put it.

If you are not my supervisor and you are not my mother, you really do not have any room to tell me what to do.  You can ask me to do something for you, work-related, and I’d be happy to help, if I can.

Other than that, please keep your nose out of my business.

Sincerely,

NoMoreMissNiceGirl

I haven’t written in a while…Not because I didn’t have anything to write about but because if I’d written about what was on my mind, I would’ve gotten into trouble.  There’s been all kinds of drama at work the past few weeks.  Serious drama.  Not just the, “Omigod, ican’tstandher!” kind of thing (though there has been some of that).  But like, people are in serious trouble, kind of drama.  It’s a mess.

The only thing that’s been keeping me going has been the thought of VACATION TIME!  I had to wait a year to take vacation and even before the year was up in January, I was thinking about what I was going to do.  Next week is Spring Break at our School so I figured it would be the perfect time to run away.  At first, I had big plans to go to DC… Gradually that turned into–Save money & stay in Ohio.  Do things I’ve never done around here.  Then sort of randomly, I decided to go to Virginia. Well, it wasn’t entirely random:

It started with this book called Walden Two by B.F. Skinner.  The book is fiction but depicts an “Intentional Community” (see commune).  After reading that book, I came across a community that was, in the beginning anyway, based on Skinner’s ideas.  This community is known as Twin Oaks.  One of the members of the community wrote two books.  The first was called A Walden Two Experiment.  The second was called Is It Utopia Yet?.  I devoured each of these accounts of the community, and began to think about visiting the place to see what it was all about for myself.

The community, as you may have guessed, is in Virginia.  I’ve planned a sort of road trip that will allow me to take my time getting down there over a few days.  I’ll stop in a couple different cities, do some interesting things, eat some good vegan food, and then end up at the community next Saturday if all goes according to plan.  I’m very excited!  I’m looking to find Utopia there, or something closer to it than what I know here, anyway.

My vacation starts tonight when I leave work.  I have quite a bit planned for the next week and tonight’s festivities will include stamping with LibraryDiva and then out to eat afterwards.  I’ve never done the whole stamping thing but I’ve always admired the creativity of those who do.  LibraryDiva assures me that it does not require all that much creativity but if my cards turn out crappy, I’m blaming her. 😉

I don’t think people always realize the importance of their job.

Ms.Encounter & I have 8 Student Assistants that work for us.  Essentially, our student assistants help us keep the library open.  At times they have to open or close the library by themselves.  Other times, they’re covering the desk so that Ms.Encounter or I can take breaks.  Honestly, there are also times when we’re all just sitting around with little or nothing to do.  But their jobs are important–essential, even–to this library.

Most of our students are here just because they need something easy to get them through college.  That’s fine.  I definitely understand that this job is not important to them.  It’s just a job.  I totally get that–I’m right there with ’em.  But the thing is, it is a job.  And they should respect that.  They should respect their superiors as well as their peers.

  • Repeatedly calling off, less than an hour before a shift is supposed to start?–Not respectful.
  • Talking to me like I’m one of your kids?–Not respectful. (I may not be older than you, but I’m still your boss.)
  • Sitting at the circulation desk, talking on your cell phone?–Not respectful.
  • Telling the law students to wait, while you finish printing out your homework?–Not respectful.

There is one student in particular who is really pushing the limits.  I swear if she calls off again today, I’m gonna tell her that she doesn’t need to come back at all.

I’ve been trying to better myself the past few weeks.  I’ve been eating better and exercising regularly.  I’ve also been trying to cut out the crap in my life.

And sometimes the crap is people.

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to enjoy causing trouble?  It often comes in the form of gossip and I’m to the point where I’m just over it.  So over it.

When are we going to grow up, people?  I’m 24, and other than the student assistants in the library, I’m the youngest person who works here.  Don’t get me wrong…I gossip, too.  I do my fair share, believe me–I’m not up on a soapbox here, claiming perfection.  But there is a definite difference between a little gossip amongst friends (still not a great thing, I know), and going from one person to another, saying things, knowing perfectly well that it is going to make everyone upset and/or angry.

Office drama is not worth it.  Let’s be adults, here, ladies and gentlemen.  It’s about freakin’ time.

Snowy Footsteps

 

When you spend a lot of time with people, you get to know different things about them.  You might learn about their past, their hopes, their dreams… But you might also become aware of their little quirks over time.  Maybe they bite their nails, perhaps they drink coffee like it’s going out of style, or, conceivably, they’re a bit OCD (I mean, CDO–if you get that, then it probably describes you, too). 😉

That’s all fine and dandy–it comes with every new relationship that one forms.

But then there are the qualities about a person that you may just sort of subconsciously pick up on…

For example, have you ever caught yourself identifying someone by the sound of his or her laugh?  That’s not too bad–some people have very distinct laughs.  How about a cough or a sneeze?  (I have a very recognizable sneeze.  Or, I guess I should say, sneezes as I never sneeze just once–It’s usually at least 4 or 5 times, one right after the other.  I kind of sound like a little dog, barking.  Not going to lie.)

And what about identifying someone, simply by the sound of their walk–their footsteps?

I work at a library, as I’ve mentioned before, and many hours are spent sitting at the front circulation desk.  I do more than just check materials in and out, though.  It was best said by @sglassmeyer: “The circ desk worker in a law library is sort of like the law school bartender.” But like any bartender, I have down-times, occasionally, during which I do other work (or–sshh!–blog).  And I don’t necessarily always want any random person creeping up on my computer.

So I’ve adapted.

The way a person walks is quite possibly almost as unique as a fingerprint.  And if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the subtle differences.  One woman here wears heels that, even on carpet, are loud.  She always walks with quick, short steps, as if she’s the CEO of a multimillion dollar company and has places to go, people to see… There is another woman who is old and arthritic–I don’t say that to be mean; it’s the truth–so she walks slowly and with a little bit of a drag of her feet.  Another woman…well, I’m not sure what exactly her deal is but I know that every time I hear her coming, I expect to hear a thump as she hits the floor–I swear, it sounds like she doesn’t pick up her feet at all…just dragging them along like a pissed off three-year-old.

Unfortunately, the person I most need to be listening for–BigBossLady–is a sneaky one.  I haven’t picked up on her footsteps yet, but I’m working on it.

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I have a theory.

When someone is at a place in life where their work is their career (as opposed to just a job), said person has a need to feel fulfilled.  For most people, part of their fulfillment, I believe, comes from a feeling that their work is important.  Now, don’t get me wrong–I think that pretty much every job out there has worth.  If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be a need for it.  The importance is more related to the individual’s perception of it.  But when a person does not necessarily feel that their work is important, or if they even simply fear that others do not recognize it as important, they may need to create “importance” by turning even the most minute details into something more than necessary.

Imagine working in a library full of this kind of people.

Before I go any further, I want to emphasize that I am not suggesting that work done in a library is not important.  Quite the opposite, I think.  A library is  a great tool.  It is an essential tool, even, for many.  Now, there are many things that go on behind the scenes, so to speak, in a library.  All of which are important–they combine to make a library a library, after all.  But I SWEAR the world will not come to an end if we get the wrong kind of packing tape.  And I really, truly believe that we will all survive if one of the drinking fountains is out of order for a few days.  Also, I understand that students may require a paper shredder from time to time but a library cannot be all things to all people–get your own damn shredder.

We can’t just ignore an issue that presents itself, of course.  We will address the issue, fix anything that needs to be fixed, and then move on.  But there is no need–I repeat, NO NEED–to freak out.  And it only takes one person, freaking out, to draw everyone else in.  We might not all freak out–because we’re not all crazy–but it does drag the rest of us down.  It gets quite tiring to go through one crisis after another in a library.

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One of the latest on-going crises concerns the laptops that we checkout to students.  Without going into too many details… The loan period is 8 hours which is more than enough time for the average bear.  One student, however, consistently checks out a laptop and keeps it for days at a time.  Well, this time around, she’s had it for 12 days and counting.  She’s received a number of emails both automated and personalized.  She was even handed a notice in class.  And still, she keeps the laptop.

Now, personally, I think she’s pretty stupid.  First of all, the laptop has been billed to her account and assuming she returns it at some point, she will still have a fairly hefty fine.  Second, despite what the world at large might assume, law schools–at least this one–is all about the honor code.  They encourage and require honesty.  Honorable behavior is not just a suggestion; it’s an expectation.

I’ve gotta say, essentially stealing a school library laptop…?  Not honest.  Not honorable.  Excellent lawyer in the making here, right?

All of that being said, when one of my student assistants thought she spotted the Laptop Thief, everyone went in to crisis-mode.

The librarian at the reference desk went back to get BigBossMan, who, by the way, is King of Crisis.  BigBossMan wants to talk to the Laptop Thief and since she’s avoiding the emails & notices, he figured he’d just track her down at first sighting.  So he came stomping down the hallway.  At the circulation desk, he asked my student assistant and I where the Laptop Thief was sitting.  My student assistant pointed her out.  Then he turned to me and said, ” Let’s go.”

Oh crap.

I followed him over to  the suspected Laptop Thief and as we approached, BigBossMan standing tall, asked authoritatively,  “Miss. X?”  She looked over at us, raising her eyebrows.  He said it again, “Miss. X?”  She looked confused and said, “I’m not Miss. X.”

Oy.

So did we really need to immediately jump into crisis mode?  Laptop Thief is an adult.  If she wants to pay for the laptop, let her.  If she wants to rack up a ridiculous fine, let her.  If she wants to keep the laptop & simply avoid the library until graduation?  Let her…because she won’t be able to graduate until she drops the money for the fines/cost of laptop.  She’s only hurting herself.  We have other laptops and we can replace the one she has if it becomes absolutely necessary.

A laptop costs a little more than packing tape, a paper shredder or the repair of a drinking fountain…But still, this is not life and death, people.  We don’t need to stomp around or rush across the library like a SWAT team, tackling a high risk operation.

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Via GoogleChat…

me: bitter people irritate me. this place irritates me. i need to get out of here. i wanna run away.

seriously. running away.

[10 minutes passed]

J: sorry had to go on a mission lol

whos irritating u?

[10 minutes or so passed]

J: wake up lol

me: was my turn to go on mission. went on mission to kill.

J: oh dear lol. who u kill?

me: it was a spree

J: oh shit… hope u didnt get blood on the blackberry

me: nope. blackberry was tucked away. came away clean & pretty.

I’ve seriously questioned my sanity today.

This morning I was working at the circulation desk and I checked out a book to one of the professors–Professor R.  Gave her the due date.  All was well in the world.

Photo by Lin Pernille ♥ Photography

Then.  About an hour ago, one of the librarians came up to me and handed that same book back to me.  He said a different professor–Professor M–was returning the book because it wasn’t what she wanted.  I confirmed the name.  Not once, but twice.  Different professor…hmmm….

The wheels started to turn.  The two professors are approximately the same age.  Both have light-ish hair–light brown to blonde, I’d say.  One major difference though.  Professor R is currently quite pregnant.  Professor M is not.  Not even a little.  I went over it repeatedly in my head until I started to really wonder whether I’d somehow mistaken the two–If a woman, clearly not pregnant, had somehow registered in my head as one who clearly is pregnant.

Or if I hadn’t, was it possible that the librarian had made the mistake and confused the two?

I explained to the librarian that the book was checked out on Professor R’s account and then double & triple checked–Professor M didn’t have any holds waiting for her here, nor did she have any holds linked to her library account.  It didn’t make sense.  The librarian said he’d check to see what Professor M was actually waiting for and told me that I should check with Professor R about the book situation.

Venting to a friend, I said,

Someone is going crazy.  It’s either me, the librarian, or Professor R.  I hope it’s not me…but I fear that it is.

So, with what I hoped was a light and joking tone, I emailed Professor R.  It started like this:

Please forgive me, as it is very possible that I’m losing my mind, but I believe I checked a book out to you this morning at the library circulation desk…

And it ended like this:

…I’m hoping that you can shed some light on the situation–either by telling me that I am, in fact, losing my mind, and I didn’t not check the book out to you, or that perhaps the book was set down and then placed in Professor M’s mailbox by someone else.  Regardless, I appreciate your time.

In the end, it turned out that one of the secretaries in the Dean’s office must have put it in the wrong mailbox.

I guess I’m not crazy.  At least, not yet.

…But I still don’t know what the heck Professor M was talking about.