Some days you have very pleasant people come into the library. Like today, when a young woman wanted to catch up on some classics. We had a good chat and I got to recommend Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, which I never get to do. She was interested in the idea of paradox being at the centre of a novel, and I had difficulties deciphering what she meant by that. So it was intellectually stimulating and fun all around. The fact that I completely took over the referencing from my coworker who was slower on the draw only dampened my enjoyment a little bit.
And some days you have very unpleasant people come into the library. Like today, when a man was using the computers with grunts and groans of distress before finally coming to the Info Desk to ask my coworker what was wrong with his computer. Now, I was working with a couple of people tonight. One of them is new(ish) and we’re trying to force him into handling more things on his own. I could tell from the patron’s tone of voice that expecting the patron to be patient was not feasible, so I leapt into the breach.
“I’m trying to open an Excel file. The simplest kind of file in the world and this stupid computer won’t let me. This always happens! These computers are horrible! I’ve been on the phone with the guys down town and got them to change things five times, but whenever I come here or to [a nearby branch] they’re all pieces of crap!”
While the patron is loudly complaining about his lot in life being solely to have his will to live tested by the computers of our branch, I test the file. There is an error message coming up when we try to open the file, so I save it to a temporary directory and attempt to open it a different way, explaining as I go. He’s not really listening but it works and I have his file up on the screen. “Is this the right file?” I ask.
“Yes it is, but why couldn’t it open up like that the first time?”
“I’m not sure, sometimes we have prob-“
“It’s all fine for you to come in and do your secret little ways, but I have a bad back and don’t have time for this! When I click on it it should just open up, shouldn’t it?”
“Well, in a perfect wor-“
“Yes or no?” He’s kind of getting in my face at this point.
“That’s what I keep on telling them downtown! Why haven’t they upgraded these computers?!”
“I really don’t know. I’m sorry. But your file is there now.”
“But it’s too big! I need to zoom out or something.”
“There are options to change the view if you’d like…” and he’s muscled me away.
I head back to the desk and he gives me a sullen “Thanks.” When he was done with the computer he left and did apologize for getting so angry, so that was all right.
And the rest of the evening was dominated by the third kind of people: the silent ones, who are very easy to deal with.classic complaining computers excel house of leaves mark z danielewski paradox rant refdesk