Sunday, December 29, 2019

Just need

Among the many insignificant but excruciating annoyances of working the front desk of a library, there is none that drives me to such tiny agony as the following issue.

But first, as little background as we can get away with here:

At the front desk of the library the most quietly irritating, weirdly protracted, and most time consuming thing we commonly do is the library card registration. There are uncommon things we do that are far more time consuming and complicated, and there are many less pleasant endeavors at the front desk that can get dicey pretty quickly. But a simple card registration always takes a fair chunk of time, involves boring data entry, and calls for a share of rudimentary, repetitive, and sometimes wordy explanation. And I say this all as someone who quite likes, even loves working the front desk of the library. It's just, library card registrations are always a little bit of a drag.

And so here's the thing:

Library patrons can be genuinely contrite and apologetic about all kinds of needs. They might ask to borrow a pen like it's the biggest favor in the world. Checking out without a library card will be treated as if I am making the most magnanimous gesture in the history of public libraries. They regularly apologize for disturbing me at a desk where I am sitting there for the express reason of helping them. They might even express guilt at making me take time to receive their overdue charges money. But the one time library patrons approach me like they're asking for pretty much nothing is when they want a library card.

"I just need to..." They start to breezily announce.

And before they finish I know what they'll say.

"I just need to get a library card."

There's nothing "just" about it. It's unjust.

But fine. Okay.

Just this once.

Don't make a habit of it.

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