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Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Presumptuousness of Memory 

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A young man called the other day.

Hello, I’m trying to use the library’s databases to access the Wall Street Journal but the system won’t accept my library card.

All right, let’s try to see what's going. Please read me your library card’s barcode.

He rattled off a long number that wasn't even in the ballpark of one of my system's cards.

Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like one of ours. What you gave me has about 5 more digits than what ours have. Are you sure that the card is from our system? Did you ever lose your card and have it replaced?

No, this is definitely the card for your system. It even had expired and I had it renewed about 2 weeks ago.

Let me look you up by name. Well, you’re in the system, but that’s definitely not your card number. How odd. Let me read you your card number we have for you in our system.

That's definitely not my card number for your system. I couldn't be more sure.

How mysterious. What color is your card? Perhaps it’s some really old card and we’ve changed the system of barcodes to a shorter sequence.

Oh, I don’t know. I don’t have the card in front of me. It’s at home and I’m calling from work so I’m reading the barcode from my memory. I'm sure. I have a photogenic memory.

Photogenic memory? Well, I think we’ve found the problem. (heavy sigh)

Wow. Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m working through my brain’s little troubleshooting flowchart, I at least try to see what I might be doing wrong on my end BEFORE I WASTE SOMEONE’S TIME AND MAKE MYSELF LOOK LIKE A TOTAL JACKASS.

Comments:
It almost sounds like he has a bonafide neurological dysfunction. Unless that number you gave was one you made up because you couldn't remember the one he really gave?
 
Sounds more like he was an arrogant jackass who was too full of himself for the concept of "user error" to occur to him and he thought nothing of wasting another person's time. Not much neurological about that- just your every day, run of the mill, inconsiderate, full of himself asshole.
 
I actually have a photovoltaic memory, which is extremely inconvenient, let me tell you.
 
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