Sometimes it’s not just the patrons

When I tell stories about work, whether it’s here or to my friends and relatives, I’m usually talking about patrons. They’re a constant source for material and endlessly entertaining (or infuritating). It just follows that I happen to have a lot of stories about them.

As much as I would love to say that the library only employs the most mentally balanced, socially adept people they can find – that would be lie. A really big lie.

Hell, I work there.

Most days trying to decide who’s worse is a pretty big toss up. Really, it could go either way. I think it has a lot to do with the kind of work in general. It’s easy and relatively stress free. But being only human, most of them aren’t content to just enjoy that and go out of their way to create problems and stress where ever possible.

So in the interest of being fair, I’ll try to toss in a story about us once and a while.

Library Cogs: Super Mom

There are a lot of places I could start when I think about the people I’ve worked with at the library. Lots of crazy places. But when I think about the ones who have given me the most stories to tell over the years Super Mom comes to mind first. Despite not working directly with her for very long.

When she started at the library I’d been there going on four years. At the library (like many other places) that’s a fairly long time. Long enough to have secured my place in the pecking order and to have the seniority to back it up.

Not that this meant a thing to Super Mom.

No, she’s one of those people who had been out of the work force for a long time. She’d been a stay at home mom (which I’m not knocking, my mom was too) and had spent years being in control of everything. After spending only a few days listening to her prattling on about her family and her handling of them, I was certain that she was someone who spent a lot of time in la-la land.

I grew up with a few kids who had parents like her. Those parents had no idea what their children were up to. I would put money on it that she had even less of a clue.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

It became immediately apparent that she saw anyone younger than her as a child and treated them thus. Including yours truely (For the record, my own mother doesn’t even speak to me that way. Actually, I don’t think she ever has.) as well as my friend and co-worker who has two children of her own.

Just to make this perfectly clear, I had been working there three and a half years. After three and a half weeks, she was trying to order me around.

She quickly turned from being a minor irritant to being someone who had to go. Luckily for us, she did. Not quickly enough for my liking but it was less than a year. She moved to another library and another job.

Oddly enough, it was there I finally had enough.

I was doing some call-in at her branch one weekend and, lucky me, she was working. She spent most of the morning barking orders at me, talking down to me and cutting me off when people asked me questions (usually giving them answers that I either knew or answers that were incorrect). It was wearing pretty thin by coffee time.

When you’re working the desk at the library the breaks aren’t really scheduled in any serious way. There’s a general “coffee time” and “lunch hour” but nothing is set in stone. One person goes at a time so there’s always someone on desk so the staff sorts it out between then who is going at what time.

“I’m going to go for lunch at noon, if that’s okay.” The other lady working announced. “Who’s going at 12.30?”

My mother was going to be near the library around then and I had already talked to her about having lunch. “Well, if no one minds, I’ll go.” And I meant it. I didn’t mind going later, but as no one was speaking up I thought why not?

Someone did mind. I’ll give you three guesses who.

“No!” She snapped. “No! You started at 9.30 and I started at 9, so I get to go first! You have to wait until 1!”

I was more than a little confused at her reaction and judging from the faces of the people around us, I wasn’t the only one. I just shrugged. “Fine, go at 12.30. It really doesn’t matter to me.”

“I will! You have to wait until 1!” She stomped off to the back.

It was a little more than childish, really, but I was mad. After all of her crazy antics, her condicending nonsense, her holier than thou attitude – to snap at me in such a ridiculous way was just more than I was willing to put up with. They just don’t pay me enough to take abuse from the patrons and the staff.

When she came back I had made up my mind to say something. Enough is enough and it was time something was said.

Super Mom, from now on if you can’t speak to me like I’m an adult and a co-worker, I would appreciate it if you don’t speak to me at all.” It wasn’t a threat and I said it as politely as I could.

She made a face and a few clucking sounds I took to mean “How dare you?” before she stomped off again.

It’s been two years and she still hasn’t said a word to me. What’s strange is, she seems to think she’s punishing me.

To be honest, if I’d known that was all it would take to shut her up, I’d have said it about three days after she join the library.


-Late Fines

Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You were far, far too nice.
    She needs to be smacked.

    Dare: print out this post and give it to her.

    Wow, I love how I’m getting in touch with my inner bitch today. This is very freeing.

    • In most cases I would have ripped her a new one. This, however, was a move that allowed me to piss her off completely without giving her anything to take to a supervisor and got her to shut the fuck up.
      See? Every once and a while I can exhibit some restraint.

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