Monday, March 7, 2016


Unlike politics, smoke doesn't come out of my ears when I start talking about soccer. Nevertheless it is one of the subjects wherein I try to moderate my passion as I discuss it, except maybe with the teen librarian Marcus, who is in such a fever before any Barcelona soccer game (and it is always before a Barcelona game) that whatever I say is likely a blur to him anyway. Being, as I am, on a mission from the gods here, I feel a responsibility to illuminate things if I can, as opposed to merely giving voice to my obsessions.

But I have found if one looks at a subject fervently enough it is capable of bleeding out of it's borders. It mixes with other elements and creates complex structures. It begins to inform other aspects of life. And so it is with soccer. The other day I was able to tell you how I clerk at the library by making a comparison with how the great Messi plays soccer. And then this morning, as I mulled over how to tell you about a certain facet of front desk support at the library, the example of a slightly less famous Barcelona soccer player came into my mind as a perfect example.

Sergio Busquets is a defensive midfielder for the Barcelona team. He does not score goals. And though he is very well regarded in his field he is not a player who attracts wild international enthusiasms. He is not about dazzling tricks, beautiful shots, and astonishing dribbles. Rather he is the one dispensing the ball off to the people inclined to do those things. He is the person who mysteriously seems to know everything that is going on in the game, down to its finest nuance, and he sometimes even seems to somehow know what will happen next. With a subtle, largely unnoticed pass here or there, he guides the action forward, develops the lines of attack, and adjusts the very flow of the game.

He will not show up in most of the highlight films of the game, but if you pay careful attention to the game itself you will see that he was quietly at the back, setting those highlights up.

And so to the front desk of my library.

You are keen to check out a copy of that charming movie The Intern. You inquire about this movie with one of the people sitting there at that front desk. Let us call this person Louis. I will now tell you in advance that Louis is going to end up turning the library upside down for you to find this movie. And why not. What are we there for? Louis will enlist help and travel to every corner of our library. Louis will die before he gives up on finding you the DVD. Louis is totally your guy.

But Louis, just for today, is not our hero. 

I'll be playing that part while wearing my Sergio Busquets jersey that it would be nice to have.

So Louis then is in the back room tearing through recent bins of returned materials looking for that DVD you wanted. One of our co-workers has joined the hunt with Louis back there. Exception bins are checked, unordered carts are minutely examined, theories are proposed, and vast piles of items are emptied onto tables. The longer they look the more they want to find that DVD for you. It is a long and exhaustive search.

And while it is happening I am taking care of everything at the front desk. The security gates go off, someone needs a card, the copier is out of paper, a self check out station has stopped working, a patron wants to know if we have their hat in the lost and found. What color is their hat? It is like black or blue or brown, made out of a kind of material. It could be one of these 43 hats.

While Louis and his team are conducting DNA sampling in pursuit of your DVD there is a break in the front desk action. I check to make sure you are okay waiting. You really want this DVD and have the whole afternoon free. I commend your good taste.

Then, as I am providing directions to another patron, Louis and the manager who has joined the good fight with Louis, comes by the front desk following another lead.

"Did you check around the table where Andrea was working?" I ask quietly. "I think she was emptying a bin."

A few minutes later Louis emerges with the glorious DVD.  Everyone rejoices. You thank everyone in sight, other than me, because I am busy with a long line now and didn't really have much to do with it anyway. I just covered all of Louis's work for 20 minutes as well as my own, reassured you, and gave the small tip that unlocked the location of the much sought item. 

So that's playing it Sergio Busquets style. You don't have to know what happened. Louis knows. That's good enough.

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