Tuesday, May 9, 2017
The civil society
In preparation for a theoretical visit to our library a patron called and wanted to know about the issues and fines on her account. Great, I just needed her library card.
"My library card?" She replied. "I don't know where that is."
"I'm sorry, unfortunately over the phone, due to data privacy rules, I need a library card to give you information about items on your record."
She was exasperated. "Can't I just give you my social or something?"
I then proceeded to give her a long speech explaining data privacy, the limitations of what we can do on the phone without a card, and a brief history and theoretical study of the issues involved. But after a mere five or ten minutes, just when I was getting going, it occurred to me there might be no one on the other end of the line. I was right. I was all alone on the phone. Now that I thought about it I had heard a soft click of disconnection about five minutes ago but had blown past it in my passion for the subject matter.
Ah, it was just as well, all those concluding pleasantries can go on forever.