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Friday, May 13, 2005

A Nice Chianti 

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Part of my new job territory is spending a couple of hours a day answering the main information telephone line. Often I will hear background noises during the calls. The sounds can be distracting, like when someone calls from a cell phone on a street and 5 fire trucks and ambulances go by, or disgusting, like when patrons smack their gum or enjoy their lunch while they’re talking to me. Other times the noises are extremely intriguing and leave a lot to the imagination. Since I’m on the phone and I don’t have a visual, my mind will often produce one. Sometimes,.especially late in the evening when the library is quiet and creepy, the visuals and scenarios that my mind produces for me are extremely unwelcome. One night a male patron with an extremely silky, patrician voice called with a question about the history of a particular vineyard. Classical music was playing softly in the background and all I could think about was the scene in Silence of the Lambs when Hannibal Lecter is preparing to create his gore masterpiece art project out of the two Tennessee policemen. I wondered if the patron was asking about the vineyard because he was trying to pair the exact right wine with the sweetbreads of his victim, who was sitting tied up and gagged 10 feet from the phone. OK, I need to quit watching so many horror movies.

The other day an ancient, hard of hearing woman called, or I guess I should say she had her equally ancient, hard of hearing African American maid call for her. The woman would scream her question and then the maid would communicate the question to me through the phone, even though I heard it perfectly the first time.

“Tell the librarian I need a detective agency! I need the number to the Pinkerton Detective agency!”

“Hello, Ma’am. Good day. Yes. My employer needs the number to the Pinkerton Detective Agency.”

I asked, “May I ask what you need the agency for? Maybe I can help you.”

"The librarian needs to know why you need the information because maybe she can help you!"

“I need to find the whereabouts and the telephone number of a person who might be living in the next county!”

“Yes, she needs to find the whereabouts and telephone number of a person in the next county.”

I asked for the name and found the person immediately using http://www.whitepages.com.

“That’s him! Tell the librarian thank you very much!”

“Thank you very much.”

“And to have a good day!”

“And you have a good day.”

I’m always fascinated by the interaction between women of a certain Driving Miss Daisy age and their maids. I recently learned that my grandmother, whose eyesight is beginning to fail, is having her African American maid read her the Wall Street Journal every morning. I can hear it now.

“Look here, Miz Ferrell. The price of Genentech went up!”

Often when I'm on the phone senior citizen shut-ins who are lonely and want to talk will call. It makes me sick with guilt to have to give them rush, but there is usually a queue of callers and my colleagues give me the stink eye if I’m on the phone too long exchanging pleasantries. I have a problem cutting lonely people off at the desk as well. The intensity of their loneliness is hard to bear, and often while I'm at work the song Eleanor Rigby plays on an endless loop in my head.

Comments:
you should write a book on your experiences, if you aren't already doing so. and i'm sure it would have a lot of support from your fellow librarians!
 
Once again, I agree wtih Topanga -- write it all down, Foxy. What I enjoy about your blog are the nuances -- you're not a person who takes expereinces at face value. Cuase you are sharp, you're able to find nuances and the like.

This post resonated with me, being from the south, and knowing that Southern families (my own included)in ages past employed an assitant of some sort to run interference.

The entry also remindes me of the book "Misery" -- though the woman who called you to run interference sounds like she's playing with a full deck, unlke Kathy Bates' character in the movie. Who was much less nefarious than the character in the book.
 
And because I can't edit a comment and my fingers got ahead of my brain, I want you to know that I really can spell, Foxy.
 
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