Today, the Library was the nexus of the damned. I had the kind of day, where you’re waiting for the guy with the aluminum foil wrapped around his head to walk right up to you, and ask where the books on UFOs are. The kind of day that I knew we would eventually have since it has been so “normal” lately.
We are totally slammed with work, busy like I’ve never seen before. Adding to the chaos, we’re getting multiple queries from patrons, five or six each instead of the usual one or two. Concurrent with this, every conceivable type of special needs person is waiting their turn or in the middle of their individual quests for who knows what. We have blind people, and deaf people, and people in wheel chairs (some who were also deaf), English as a second language (ESL) people, psychotic people (the, “Books are talking to me” guy was in line — Three times, looking for the Martindale-Hubbell legal directory), and retarded people (including Special Ed) all waiting in line, or requiring some kind of assistance all at once, all day long.
While all of this is going down, the Circulation Department is having a problem with the computer system that I am frantically trying to fix. Interlibrary Loans’s (ILLs) are coming in, the phone is ringing off the hook and all the while, Special Ed is sitting at one of our Internet computers calling my name. He’s not even looking at where I am or what I’m doing, he’s just sitting there staring at the computer screen and crying out:
Ed (who sounds drunk, but is in fact, retarded): The ink is running out! (He turns, once, and asks for my name — This is NEVER a good thing!)
Me: I’m, Woeful. I’ll be there as soon as I can.
(If this were triage, Ed would be slowly bleeding out on a gurney, but not in any real danger).
Ed (Turning back to the screen): The ink is running out, Woeful!
Ed (Urgently): Woeful, the printer needs color ink!
Me (Finishing up whatever I’m doing): I open a new color cartridge, and bring it over to Ed. Ed is printing a document. Ed is printing out page after page from the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) website. It all looks good to me. The color looks okay, and I comment on this. Ed points out that there is some banding happening. We wouldn’t want professional wrestlers to print out all banded, and I’m far too slammed with real work to fuck around with Ed, so I decide to replace the cartridge. However Ed has like three more jobs queued up to print. So, I tell him that when he’s done printing I’ll be back to take care of it… I go back to the reference desk, and return to the Mt. Everest of work before me and before long I hear…
Ed (Not turning to speak): Woeful, the printer light is blinking!
Ed: Woeful, the light is on!
Ed: (Never turning to speak, or waiting for a response): Woeful, I think something is wrong!
Ed: Woeful, what do I do?
Me (Thinking, well you could start by not whining out my name and interrupting the other people I’m trying to help every 10 seconds): I go over to Ed, and fix the malfunction by replacing the cartridge. For some reason, the blinking light does not extinguish and this really, really; REALLY bothers Ed… Even though it’s printing perfectly now. I don’t have time for this, so I insist that Ed ignore the light. I go back to the reference desk to answer the telephone that has been ringing since I walked away.
Ed: Woeful, what’s this?
Ed (Urgently again): Woeful, are you coming!?
Me: I finish my call, and go to see what new malfunction now vexes Ed.
Ed: Woeful, I want to watch this video. But it won’t play… Why?
Me: You need to install that plug-in. Click on install and it should work.
… I head back to the reference desk, thinking that some days I’m sure that I can feel myself growing dumber with the passage of each moment.