Saturday, November 17, 2012

So I was working the circulation desk...

For a librarian, the phrase, “So I was working the circulation desk…” is the equivalent of “This one time, at band camp…”

Seriously, every work-related story starts that way. We never run out of tales that begin with this scheme.

Sometimes patrons come in one right after the other. Bam! Bam! Bam! We don’t have time to think between crazy patrons and their bizarre demands, and we can tell you such stories about them later. “You’ll never believe the patron I had today,” we’ll say.

Other times, there are no patrons to entertain us. There’s no story time, it’s a school day, and it’s raining. The library is absolutely dead.

Still very much alive, the circulation librarians wait at the desk for something interesting to happen. We process DVDs or put spine labels on new books, working half-heartedly so we won’t finish too soon and run out of things to do.

At times like these, we chat about whatever.


I was working the circulation desk…

Library Shark vs. Crocobeast
“What’s wrong with this chair?” Cathy said, swiveling toward me so I could see the chunk of plastic missing from the armrest. “It looks like someone took a bite out of it,” she said.

“It’s the height,” said Benjamin, getting technical. “If you sit at a certain angle and get up, it catches under the edge of the desk and-”

“Sharks,” I said, cutting him off. “Library sharks.”

Cathy laughed, but Benjamin raised an eyebrow at me. “How do they survive out of water?” Benjamin said.

“They don’t need water,” I said. “They’re library sharks. They survive in the library.”

“So they’re amphibious?” he asked.

“Amphibious library sharks,” I confirmed.

Cathy, running with it, said, “So if someone says a chewed up book was like that when they checked it out, you can blame the amphibious library sharks.”

“They eat books,” I said.

“What eats them?” said Cathy.

Perhaps, someday, we’ll find out.

(To Be Continued?)

The Wrath of Zombie Santa
“No, it’s totally legit! I saw it on a science show,” said Benjamin, telling me about the recipe for napalm he’d heard about. “It's just gasoline and petroleum jelly, but I don't know the ratios.”

“It may call for experimentation,” I said, glancing over at Stephanie and catching her subtle head shake. “Or, maybe not.”

“I should get a flame thrower!” said Benjamin.

“No,” Stephanie and I said together.

Seemingly deflated, Benjamin emptied the return bin, scanned a few books, then said, “Don't you think that would be an awesome weapon to have in the zombie apocalypse?”

“Hrm,” I said, considering, because that’s exactly the sort of direction my imagination goes.

Stephanie, whose imagination runs rather a different direction, said, “What if they were flame retardant?”

Benjamin and I looked at each other, then back at Stephanie. “How many flame retardant zombies do you know?” said Benjamin.

“I don't know any zombies,” she said, looking at us like we were children.

“Zombies are made of people,” I said, patting her shoulder. “Do you know any flame retardant people?”

“Santa,” said Stephanie, imagination running in an altogether different dimension.

“What?” said Benjamin.

“It was in one of those movies! He has a flame retardant suit!” said Stephanie.

“No, it makes sense,” I said. “Because he has to go down chimneys and some of them might be lit.”

“Zombie Santa!” said Stephanie.

“It would be awful!” said Benjamin, but his eyes lit up as he said it. “He'd be able to fly all around the world in the blink of an eye with his zombie reindeer!”

Stephanie and I both looked at him. “What?” I said. “Nobody said anything about zombie reindeer.”

“Yeah,” said Stephanie, “What are you smoking?”

My Blind Doppelganger
The three of us were clustered around a single computer, viewing the headlines with disgust. It was tragic and horrible and a serious matter not to be made fun of.

“What makes somebody do that?” I said, genuinely disturbed.

“He's crazy,” said Carla.

“Well, sure but lots of people are crazy,” such as myself, I thought, “and they're not all like that.”

“Statistically, there must be lots of people like that,” said Carla. “Isn’t that awful?”

“Like I always say,” said Benjamin (who doesn’t always say this, by the way), “If you're one in a million, that means there are seven thousand other people in this world JUST LIKE YOU.”

We let that sink in a moment.

“Wow,” I said.

“Well, that's something to think about,” said Carla.

“They do say everyone has a doppelganger out there. I've never met mine, though,” I said.

“Can you imagine?” said Carla. “That moment when you recognize each other and realize what you're looking at?”

And, of course, because I’m a pessimist, I immediately imagined that when I met my doppelganger she would be blind, so I wouldn't get any reaction from her at all, ruining the whole experience. Maybe if I over-reacted, she could share my excitement? I thought. But what’s to stop me from acting that way in front of any blind person?

“Hey, guys!” I said. “Wouldn't that be the best joke to play on a blind person? To pretend they're your doppelganger? Just walk up to them and be all 'OMG! I look JUST LIKE you! We're doppelgangers! This is amazing! Can we just take a picture together so I can post it on my facebook? No one's ever going to believe this?'”

“It’s brilliant!” said Benjamin.

“It’s terrible!” said Carla. “How do you think of these things? What possesses you to think of these things?”

“Something bad,” I said. “Possession isn't like that Exorcist movie. This, me: that's what it’s like.”

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