Monday, April 21, 2014

The paper towel process

I'm on my way downstairs after shelving a cart of Genre Fiction. I stop to talk to Dave for a bit, and a man approaches to inform us that the Men's Room is out of towels. I assure the man that I will begin the exhaustive process to replace towels in the towel dispenser. The man departs. You, however, are still here.

"A process?" You ask. "What is this exhaustive process?"

It is generally speaking a 17 step process to replace paper towels during non janitorial coverage times. It is an optional task (come to think of it, I think all tasks might be optional around my library). But I'm a giver. So I will replace the towels, and I will carefully detail the 17 steps for you in case you ever need to replace paper towel rolls in an institutional building.

But before I start I want to say that I would love to answer the burning question: "Why does it take so many procedural steps to replace a roll of towels?" Unfortunately this is too big, strange, and complicated a question for this post, so we must stick with our tale of the 17 steps, which are as follows:

1. Find a knowledgeable co-worker or manager who is up on the current (always slightly transgressive) schemes for towel replacement. You can skip this step if you've replaced towels in the past few days, but beware of any more days having gone by than that, as the towel replacement scheme changes without notice, roughly once a week.

2. Remove the towel dispenser key from its current hiding place (learned in step one).

3. Get the master key ring from the cash register. It has the downstairs janitor closet key. The janitor closet is now, according to step one, stocking a small supply of towel rolls.

4. When the master key ring turns out not to be in the cash register where it's supposed to be, go to the meeting room where a librarian is using the master key ring.

5. Do a small task for the librarian in trade for possession of the master key ring.

6. Open the janitor closet and search for the towel rolls. There won't be any. Don't panic. It wouldn't be much of a 17 step process if you obtained a towel roll in step six.

7. Go back to your consultant from step one. They will be only momentarily disheartened at your news. They advise going to the upstairs janitor closet.

8. Report to front desk that you have the master key ring so they won't panic when you disappear in to distant lands with it.

9. Go upstairs and attempt to unlock upstairs janitor closet with your janitor closet key. It will not work.

10. Go to the important nearby manager who has The Knowledge. He will explain, like it's the most natural, sensible thing in the world, that the upstairs janitor closet uses a different key than the downstairs janitor closet. The upstairs key is held at the reference desk.

11. Acquire the upstairs janitor closet key from the reference desk.

12. Open the janitor closet door and break the mysterious emergency supplies seal to take one roll of paper towels.

13. Go into the bathroom, unlock the paper towel dispenser, and, following diagrams, insert the new paper towel roll.

14. Return the upstairs janitor closet key to the reference desk.

15. Return the master key ring (with the downstairs janitor closet key) to its standard location.

16. Return the towel dispenser key to its secret hiding place.

17 Go tell everyone that you're going to write a blog post about your adventures.

And that's it. If you follow all the steps carefully it's a lot simpler than it seems.

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