Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Areas of expertise

The meeting room here at my library is rigged up with a lot of A/V equipment. There is a powerful wall mounted projector. There are vast assortments of microphones, wireless, podium, clip-on, all of which conflict with each other and produce explosive feedback noises at the slightest provocation. There is a laptop hooked into an array of our broadcasting system like an intensive care patient at a hospital. There are things to hook up, turn off, plug in, log on, turn up and turn down. And, most of all, there are a thousand mysterious dials and buttons, any one of which, misused, can cause any piece of equipment to fail. Everything in the room is a bit complicated like this. Even the lights, with a combination of standard switches and strange, glowy, touch sensitive strips for dimming, regularly baffle people.

And when people are baffled, most of the time, if I'm around, they come get me.

It's not my job, per se. And there are several other people capable of figuring it all out. But somewhere in the history of my library I took a shine to all those dials and knobs. I stuck around to see how a problem was solved, or stuck with it long enough to solve it myself. Then, from there, it was a small step to getting called in to consult on some problems, or inviting myself to the problem out of curiosity and then, from there, to getting called for when someone got stuck. And, through all this exposure and attention, I learned more and more. I got a reputation.  And before I knew it, a lot of people just found it easier to grab me right away when someone needed help in that meeting room.

So a couple times a day I venture off to the meeting room. I make my way through the thick electrical smoke and the piercing wail of feedback screech. I find the small group of frantic, desperate people, cursing and weeping, and I calmly say:

"What's the problem here?"

They tell me. They tell me how they tried everything. I listen. I try this and I try that. They say "I tried that." And I look at them and say "That was a good idea." Then I fiddle for a bit and I say "Aha!"

Then I turn the power on and everything works!

"Thank you masked man."

"Glad to help." I say.

"The tech people always know!" They exclaim in what they think is a compliment.

"I'm not tech person." I say. "The tech people have gone into hiding. I'm just a clerk." 

And I ride off into the sunset.

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