Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A minor incident at closing

I was on the periphery of the events. On a busy Saturday, at closing time at my library, I was taking the mighty check in machine to its nighttime mode, a not entirely uncomplicated process. I was also assigned as the late person, meaning that I had to get out to the front desk and deal with shutting down the library for the night.

My first indication of the incident was as I was turning off computers in the back room. One of my colleagues came through from the front desk, looking for the circulation manager. She said "I should get hazard pay at this job!"

I said "It's all hazard pay. Everything else we do is for free." Because I say things like that.

I made it out to the front desk to get the money and shut down computers and deal with stragglers and relieve my co-workers so they could go home. The hazard pay person was whirring around still looking for the manager who I was closing with. He was off locking doors. A last patron was standing at the main checkout desk. He was stalled in the middle of some problem and looked pretty irritated.  I pointed out the location of my manager to my colleague, and as I started various minor closing tasks said manager was introduced to the unhappy patron. 

I was busy and not following all of this closely, but it was hard to miss. The library was mostly emptied out and the patron's voice was loud and mad. The man was furious that he owed the library money. As far as I could tell he was furious because the fines were from a few years ago. When it was explained that fines don't go away via the process of not paying them he was angry because the books were returned, but he still owed fines! When it was explained that these were late charges for returning the books late he insisted the fines be waived so he could check out. He needed his book. The manager said he couldn't or wouldn't do that, but as the patron was just over the limit of allowable fines he could pay 60 cents whereupon he would only owe $10 and thus could check out.

The patron handed over the change and then bitterly said "I will never, ever pay that $10!"

The manager replied "I believe you." 

The patron stormed off toward an already locked door, was corrected, and managed to leave the library in a huff.

I collected the day's money, now fattened by an extra 60 cents, and went to turn off our last computer where that final transaction of the day had taken place. The patron's record was still up and a single item was checked out on his record: 

Anger-free: Ten Basic Steps To Managing Your Anger

All of us at the library wish him godspeed.

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