Friday, November 29, 2013

The seven indicators that your phone call is never going to end

I love working with the public. In the context of helping them as a Library employee I find them entertaining, endearing, and interesting, albeit all in a sort of heartbreaking way. But just because I like helping people generally, or like helping most people, most of the time, doesn't mean that there aren't some people who are absolutely excruciating. The most prominent among this excruciating group are not, to me, the angry, belligerent people, but rather the slow, relentless, gentle people who only want to suck you into their world, in anyway they can, and keep you there until you suffocate or starve to death, at which point they will hang up and call someone else to pursue their never ending quest for destruction.

Because these people are stealthy, and, even at times, friendly seeming, I thought I'd give you some tips so you can spot them in your dealings. As they tend to be heavy phone users I have centered my identifying tips there. Once you have spotted one of these people you must do everything in your power to get away from them. Just how to do this almost impossible task must remain now a discussion for another time. Here we are discussing:

The seven indicators that your phone call is never going to end

1. They start with a pointless, irrelevant or unanswerable question.
You: "Good afternoon, this is the Lilyville Public Library."
Them: "Hello. Good afternoon to you. Is this the Library?"
This is a fine example. Also they may ask "Can you help me?" or "Can I ask you a question?" for an opener.

2. The cadence of their speaking is noticeably slow.
This is to get you to psychically lean towards them. They will then try to exploit this advantage to cause you to topple forward into their pit of endlessness, where you will spend all of eternity. Their slow cadence also makes the call last longer, which is one of their fundamental goals.

3. They act as if they have thoroughly prepared for the phone call, but are actually scrupulously unprepared.
"I have 11 books and two DVDs I'd like you to renew for me as they are due tomorrow...oh, you need my Library card?... Could you read the names of all the items I have out, and I'll tell you which? Some might be on my granddaughter's card. Oh, wait, this is the wrong card. Let's go look for my card."

4. They narrate meaningless details.
"Oh, you need my library card? My library card is very precious to me so I keep it in my special wallet. I am opening the wallet now. It has a red rubber band around it. The red rubber band is very tight and I'm trying to get it off now. I think it is the fifth, no, sixth card here..."  This is an attempt to hypnotize you and to turn a ten second task into a bad, joint reading of James Joyce's Ulysses.

5. They tell you long, irrelevant stories as if they are an intrinsic part of the process.
"Can you renew False Mermaid for me as well? My daughter wanted to read it, but her knee swelled up so badly that we had to go to the urgent care where her cousin Pearl works. Pearl's mother is my sister Cheryl who passed away seven years ago now. God rest her soul. She wasn't a very nice woman. But my daughter would still really like to read it if she could..."

6. They exploit your errors.
It is your job to give complete information. When they ask if there is a way to see a list of all fiction writers of Italian descent who ever published a book, and you say anything other than "No." like "No, I mean, you would have to do searches of Italian authors, come up with multiple lists and then search each of their collections of books. Even then it would be very partial and incredibly incomplete." They will seize any scrap in your comment as a reasonable pursuit in their unreasonable question. "Oh, could you do that then?" Will invariably be their response. Your impulse towards full disclosure will be used against you.

7. They will fake wrap it up, but their last question is never their last question. It is merely a ray of hope that they hold out to squash and darken.
"You have been so kind and helpful. Can I ask just one last question? You've been so patient and kind. Yes? Are you open this Friday? Oh, really? Are you always open Fridays? If I come in Friday could you set aside False Mermaid for me?  My daughter would really like to read it. Can you tell me the due dates for all my items again? No, on the other card. Do you need it again? Oh, I've wrapped it back in its red rubber band. Let's undo it." And so on. And so on. And so on.


  1. Had this one in spades on Saturday.

    1. Really? Awful, huh?

      Oh, and sorry it took me over seven years to get back to you. You would not believe what's happened! No, seriously, if I could go back in time to your comment and tell you, you would not believe it.

      Nevertheless, through it all, this kind of library patron above, remains a constant.


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