Thursday, July 19, 2018
Making sad songs better
I work with the public at a library. This often includes registering people for library cards which introduces me to various basic facts about them like their full name, address, and birth date. And I have learned that it is okay to comment on these things as long as it is not something these innocent people will have heard all too often in the past. So when Jeff Goldblum comes to the front desk, or Michael Caine, I scrupulously avoid any reference to their more famous counterparts, sure that they will have had more than enough of all that in their lifetimes.
So when I registered a ten year old by the name of Jude, I knew not to start singing. Or to talk about sad songs. I didn't show him how to use our clickable sharpies to sign his library card ("You click here to let it out and let it in"). When I asked him for a 4-digit pin number and he struggled with it I didn't say encouragingly "It's just you, Jude, you'll do."
I only did one tiny thing. Every time I had to ask him for information I used his name, and I always said "Hey" to gently get his attention.
"Hey, Jude, what's your middle initial?"
"Hey, Jude, what year were you born?"
"Hey Jude, I need a four digit number you'll remember for a pin."
I don't think he noticed.
Nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah.