Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Banality of Evil 

Image hosted by Photobucket.com “Library information, may I help you?”

“Girl, NO WAY! What a ho!”

“Information, how may I help you?”

“Wait a minute. I’m on a bus. Can you hear me?”

“Just barely.”

“Just wait a minute and the people next to me should quiet down”

More screaming and laughing.

“Perhaps this isn’t a good time. Why don’t you call me back when you’re somewhere I can hear you.”

“NOOO! I need to know if you have the following books and it’s really important!”

“What are they?”

“Introduction to Economics: Principles, Problems and Philosophies, Understanding Psychology, Que Tal, a Basic Introduction to Spanish…

“These are textbooks, aren’t they?”


“I’m going to be honest with you. We usually don’t carry them, especially the most current edition that your teacher will require, but I’ll be happy to go ahead and check the catalog.”

Not surprisingly, we didn’t have any on his long list.

“Couldn’t I get them through interlibrary loan?” he asked in a pouty, put out tone.

“You could try, but know that interlibrary loan books can take 4-6 weeks. Books also have to be over a year old to be eligible for interlibrary loan."

“But all these text books are really expensive and I don’t have any money. What am I supposed to do? Why don’t you check all of the surrounding library systems?”

“I’ve already been on the phone with you for five minutes and I need to take other calls. Those catalogs are on-line and you can check that way or call them yourself. Usually they don’t carry current edition of textbooks either.”

“But they’re too much money!”

“Believe me, I sympathize. Textbooks are a racket. Try getting them used off of Amazon or –"A deafening howl of pain interrupted me.

“OOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!! Why did you close the back door on me?”

Muffled sound, I assume from the bus driver, loud laughter from the other passengers.

“What do you mean, I should have gotten out of bed earlier? That really hurt! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.”

As much as I was enjoying hearing the exchange betwhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifeen the bus driver and my phone patron, I had to end the phone call because I was laughing so hard. I'm helpless against slapstick and pain inflicting pratfalls. The idiot thought he was going to be so clever and get a jump on his classmates by reserving all of his textbooks before his classmates that he was not paying attention to what he was doing and got the back doors on the bus slammed on him. The doors are fairly light so I suspect only his dignity was wounded.

I felt remorse for laughing but hearing a college aged man whine and pule about the cost of his textbooks really stirred the civil service sadist in me. I enjoyed, God help me, bearing the bad news that we simply don’t have what he needs. I’m always careful to watch myself for this sort of behavior, that petty, banal type of evil that seems to flower and flourish under civil service, the kind perfected by fonctionnaires. Many libraries are plagued with battle weary, burnt out monsters, the type who take such delight in crushing the joie de vivre out of little children, the ones whose little mean smile reveal the utter delight they feel when they tell a patron, “No, I cannot extend the time on your book.” Or, “The computer timed out and there is simply no way to retrieve your work. It’s lost FOREVER.”

I don’t know what it is about civil service that seems to produce so many on the job tipplers, hoarders and burnt outs, but please don’t let me become one of them. It must be not having the imminent threat of having your ass shown to the door like in non unionized jobs in the private sector. Maybe the fear of being fired is a good thing. Keeps you nice.

I, too, am really afraid of turning into this kind of worker. I'm now on Prozac and am MUCH better now. :)
Don't give in to the dark side of civil service, not completely anyway... Muahahaha!
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It's because people see you behind the desk and they think they are at McDonalds dealing with a minimum wage worker, not a professional - the treatment they extend to you eventually wears you down.
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