Sunday, October 18, 2015


Sometimes when a patron approaches me at the library they start with a telling introductory comment. Many of these introductory comments indicate something at profound odds with what they're saying. Indeed, they are reliable in their inaccuracy.


If a patron approaches me and says "I would just like..." I know with an astonishing amount of surety that what they are going to say is "I would just like to get a library card." This one is annoying because registering a library card is pretty far over on the more irksome side of my job tasks. It's also full of steps. There's no "just" about it. Your car is fine. We just need to rebuild the engine.

Similar to the "just" issue is an interaction I had on the phone a couple hours ago. The patron introduced her needs by saying "I have a really weird request." I have learned from long experience that, sadly, there is never anything weird about a request prefaced this way. They are invariably commonplace, generally annoying, and then made more annoying by the disappointment of their not being weird after all. It turned out she had an item on hold that was expiring and she wanted to know if she could be put back on the list for the item. I guess that would be weird if she wanted to do that every ten days for all eternity and change her name to Dracula, but she didn't.

On the other hand when people ask me for a "really big favor" at the library I am home free. "I have a really big favor to ask." They say. "Do you have a scrap of paper?"

Why, yes, I do. Here, but you owe me.


  1. So...I heard a great little radio piece about the use of the word 'so' in contemporary times. Grammarians don't like it because it's used to sort of qualify what's next or as a declarative statement: "So...the economy is worth talking about." But it *starts* the conversation--instead of something being "so hot" or saying, "this happened, *so* that happened."

    The commentator was not displeased, however, at the use of so; he felt it was an example of an evolved use of the word, used elliptically to say, "I have already thought what I'm going to say, and it came from somewhere, which merits the use of *so* in a new, fresh way.

    I was hoping for now on when you get requests from patrons that you will perhaps keep a scorecard on the so, weird questions, etc.


  2. Plus, without it, tailors and seamstresses would be out of work!


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