Sunday, July 5, 2020

How to run curbside pickup

The key to running a quality curbside pickup routine at your library comes down to using a clear, concise, and minimalist script. When library patrons call on the phone they may have experienced your curbside pickup dozens of times or be encountering it for the first, bewildering time. Walking them through the process in an understandable and quick manner without wasting time re-informing previous users of things they already know is essential, especially if your curbside pickup is anywhere near as busy as it is at my own enormously popular library.

My library runs close to 300 curbside pickups a day on our busiest days. Peak hours have seen close to a pickup a minute. This is why we have refined and perfected our dialogue with our patrons. Each word is selected for maximum impact and clarity. And every step of our discussion is designed to lead the curbside pickup process along as quickly and uncomplicatedly as possible.

For those of you who are just thinking of designing a new curbside pickup program, or to those of you who merely need a few improvements to the one you are already running, please study our minutely crafted dialogue below. Not every one of our steps or layout will be the same as yours, but as you adapt our script remember to change as little as possible, and when you do always remember: each word should both instruct and move the interaction forward. If it doesn't, like we have, scrap it. Curbside pickup is too labor intensive to allow for the niceties of pre pandemic library work. And patrons tend to be appreciative in this environment of the very fact of curbside delivery, so don't be afraid to move it along.

Below is our curbside delivery script. Study it. Follow it. And stick to it. If you do I guarantee your curbside pickup will run smoothly for as long as it takes: until a vaccine, until millions are dead in this country, or both. 

Probably both.

Staff:  Good afternoon, Happytown Library.

Patron:  Hello Happytown Library. How are you?

Staff: I'm about a seven, but I decline to say out of how many. How may I help you?

Patron:  I would like to pickup some books.

Staff: Great. Are these already being held for you or do you want ones off the shelf?

Patron: Yes.

Staff: They're on hold for you?

Patron: Yes. They're on the shelf.

Staff:  So you'd like someone to pull books off the shelf for you?

Patron:  Yes. I have some books on hold for me on the shelf. Can I come get them today?

Staff:  Yes. I just need your barcode number off your library card so I can check them out to you and prepare them for pickup.

Patron: Yes. I've done this several times already. I understand how it works.

Staff:  Great. So if you'll just read me your library card number...

Patron:  Is this in my computer?

Staff:  No. It is a secured number so generally it will be only on your card.

Patron: I don't have it with me and I'm driving. Is there anything else you can use.

Staff: Unfortunately due to account protection I'll need your card number to check out to you.

Patron:  I don't have that with me. This is most inconvenient!

Staff:  If you call back later when you have it we can set your curbside pickup for you right away.

Patron:  Wait. Let me get it out of my wallet. 

(Extended period of ambient noises)

Patron:  You'd like the number?

Staff:  Yes, please. Go ahead.

Patron:  Are you ready?

Staff:  Yes.

Patron:  (Haltingly reads a 12 digit number)

Staff:  There would be two more digits to that.

Patron:  (Tries again)

Staff:  There would still be two more digits to that.

Patron:  Drat. I thought I had it memorized. I'm so used to typing it in. It's hard when you have to say it instead. I better get my card out of my wallet.

Staff:  Great.

(Extended period of ambient noises)

Patron:  Okay, I've got it. Are you ready?

Staff:  Go ahead.

Patron:  (Reads a 14 digit number).

Staff:  Great. Thank you. But it doesn't look like you have any books on hold for you on your account.

Patron:  That's odd. They called and told me I had books in and that I should call to arrange pickup.

Staff:  That is odd. (Explores record for a bit). It looks like you have had some items checked out to you today. Did you call earlier?

Patron:  Yes I did. They told me to call again when I was here to pick up my books.

Staff:  Ah. So are you here?

Patron:  I wanted to let you know I was on my way. I'll be there in about half an hour.

Staff:  You don't need to do that. Just call us when you're actually here at the blue umbrella pickup spot and tell us your books are already checked out to you. We'll run them outside for you to grab.

Patron: Got it. Understood. I've done this tons of times already. I know how it works.

Staff:  Splendid. See you soon.

Patron:  Can I just say that I so appreciate this. None of this is easy for anyone and it means so much to me to be able to still get books. You people are real heroes. I swear this is saving my life still having the library to use. Thank you! 

Staff:  You're very welcome.

Patron:  Can I see about getting two more things?

Staff:  I'll transfer you to reference. Hold on.

Patron:  Thanks, I was hoping to...

(Transfer kicks in. End of interaction)

Will all of your interactions go as perfectly as this? No, of course not. But if you aim for this and stick with it I guarantee your curbside pickup will only grow quicker and more productive.

Good luck.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Little fireworks

Yesterday we answered the first and second most common questions we receive here at clerkmanifesto. But what's the third most common question?

The third most common question is "What's your favorite bee?"

To be honest we don't get a lot of questions here at clerkmanifesto.

Anyway, thanks so much for asking. I like all bees equally. They're such great pollinators. Honey is delicious. And it's really fun how they fly around and land on flowers.

Just kidding. My favorite bee is the green bee!


What's yours?


No, no, I'm very fond of them too. Just, I'm not a hundred percent sure they're actually, technically, a bee.

They're very little and sometimes they seem like little flies the way they group up.

But yeah. They're great.


did you see the green bees?

So let's say for the sake of argument that you're out there taking pictures of some pretty flower, like this:

And then you zoom out and take another one.

And you think, these are interesting flowers. 

And you're about to move on. 

And then a bee decides to drop in on your flower. Not just any bee. And bees are pretty great to begin with. 

But a green bee!

So you say,

Let's take a closer look.

It kind of livens everything up, don't you think?

It's not just that these green bees, like other bees, have that black and yellow stripe thing on their bottom half. Or that they hang out with flowers, which makes for extremely lovely settings. Or that they have wings and fly. All of which is pretty amazing. Or that they pollinate, which means a lot to me not just because I like flowers, but also because I... eat... food.

I eat food.

I want to live.

I know other people that I want to live too.

Like you!

And the green bees help with this!

But also, and this is uniquely important, 

they are green.


And not just any green. 

Metallic green!

Check this out:

And then look at those chubby legs, and the way they're all covered with pollen.

And the great thing is that we actually can look! These bees hang around for a long time. They aren't particularly shy. And they take their time, going about their... stuff.

Do you remember how maybe I've mentioned that with all my close up photography most of my pictures come out blurry? Well they do. But these friendly bees let me take so many pictures of them that a few of them inevitably turn out okay. This is great. I can even try the nearly impossible super zooming in and have a few turn out. 

Look at all the pollen stuck to the little bee hairs here:

In the above picture the pollen is a pretty evident dusting all over the bee. But one thing I love with the green bee is how the pollen gets so thick you can hardly tell where the pollen leaves off and the bee begins.

Or, is it, rather, where the bee leaves off and the pollen begins.

Keep that one in mind with the last picture.

You see, as I was taking all these pictures of the green bee, in a neighbor's flower bed, I started thinking about writing a blog post about this bee. And I decided I wanted a good portrait picture of him. But bees can be very different than you or I. I mean their faces are... different. And so are their eyes.

So I tried a lot of different approaches.

In the end this one was the best. It's more of a candid sort of portrait than a formal one.

It looks like he's smiling.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Our cast of characters

The most common question people ask me at clerkmanifesto is "What's the most common question that people ask you at clerkmanifesto?"

But the second most common question people ask me at clerkmanifesto is "How's your blog?"

"Oh. That's odd." You reply. "I would have thought the second most common question people asked you at clerkmanifesto was "What's the second most common question people ask you at clerkmanifesto?".

No, that wouldn't have been so funny since we already sort of did that joke with the first question and people were maybe expecting it again, but not really looking forward to it.

"Oh. So did I ruin it by asking. Was I...

not funny?"

No. You were just great, see, because everyone was relieved that the joke was all over, and then you came up and reminded everyone of what everyone was thinking and wasn't going to say, and so it was funny and nice and everyone liked you a lot.

"They liked me?"

I mean, who wouldn't?



"So, how's your blog?"

It's exactly the same as how you are at every moment.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Death's respectful distance

I believe we can all learn to accept death, provided it keeps a polite distance.

I walked through my neighborhood. I was taking pictures of fallen flowers soaking in gutter water, of tiny bees and of old, patient cats. I took sewer grates and strange, secret worlds inside of plants. I took pictures of all these pretty things until I came to where I had last seen my local turkey flock, back between two backyards that bordered on a small patch of wild woods. I looked up there with a hopeful expectancy. There were no turkeys to be seen.

But something inert was on the grass, a hundred feet away. Lumpen and inert and tragic. I had my suspicions.

I raised my camera and zoomed in all the way.

It was a dead turkey.

I didn't take a picture.

It wasn't pretty.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Product review: EO hand soap, french lavender

To my new readers, welcome to the number one product review site on the Internet. With an unbelievably tiny staff of one, we have now reviewed just over 137 million distinct products! And while we do regularly accept bribes, or "payola", as we in the business like to call it, from, well, anyone who cares enough, we still try to insert our real opinion in between the lines. You just have to pay close attention. For subscribers we always include our genuine opinion in code. And Patreon supporters all receive the unexpurgated text with my honest opinions, including how much money a company was willing to pay me for a good review, which can be quite telling.

So hit that subscribe button on the right panel or I could easily convince you to buy the most worthless junk you ever set your eyes on!

To my returning readers, thank you for your support and remember: There is no place else on the Internet to find product reviews. Don't even try looking. This is the only place. 

Today we are reviewing:

EO Hand Soap

French Lavender

This is a hand soap. It works! No one in my house appears to have gotten Coronavirus, and my hands are generally clean after I use the product, though they are invariably wet, so I should note this product generally requires the use of a towel. 

See my towel reviews in the following post numbers:









11,882,976 and etc...

My favorite hand soap smell is what I'd call "lemon candy", but this lavender smell is a great, clean scent. The soap has a pure, dense feel to it. In presentation and scent EO hand soap is keen to portray itself as "Natural". I don't even know what that means looking at their ingredient list, which has its share of... stuff. Nevertheless, I'm pretty much sold on its natural bona fides, being a bit of sucker for that sort of thing. 

This is by no means a "cheap" hand soap, but I am willing to say with this product "You get what you pay for". The EO Company understands this pretty well (wink wink, see: this review). I do recommend this fresh and appealing smelling soap with one quite serious caveat:

There is a terrible flaw on the packaging!

I'll let you take a look:

You surely see it, right?

Natural beauty begins with be?

Unh-uh, EO. Natural beauty begins with Na.


So, anyway, good soap:



Subscribe to find out how many stars that's out of.

If you liked my review subscribe and share.

If you shared and subscribed send me ten dollars.

If you sent me ten dollars and loved my review write to EO and tell them my review made you a huge EO Hand Soap user and that their review bribe was totally worth it.

Thank you. Come tomorrow when we review something else because, jesus, we are just drowning in... stuff, and there's only me to review it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The cure

I'm trying to have a better attitude toward our very challenging curbside pickup routine at my library. But there is no getting around the fact that it can be brutal work. Relentless, repetitive calls with phones ringing all the time and the same simple things to communicate to people that it is mysteriously difficult for them to properly understand. It's all okay. Really. You can almost believe me. But it's exhausting.

So it might have been a mistake to use my precious dinner hour, designed carefully for rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, and blogging, to instead make use of an opportunity to tie dye my extensive series of white, County issued face masks. I just wasn't feeling very white. So I busied myself during my break like I was 16 and preparing for a Grateful Dead concert, and then I went to work.

Uh oh.

When I went back to work I was so tired I only wanted to curl into a ball on the floor. I could hardly keep my eyes open. Making it through the rest of the night seemed less of a problem than making it through the next five minutes. I was beat. I was shot. I was done.

And then it struck me: 

I hadn't had my afternoon coffee.


With my dying strength I drank up my prepared cold pressed coffee, and in mere moments I had so much energy I could write this!

Which, admittedly, isn't much. 

But it probably beats drooling on an infected library counter, unconscious, while desperate, unanswered calls ring out endlessly through the library.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Tools of flowers

Here is a flower:

Here is a bee on a flower:

Now a bee may think he is up to all kinds of things. He may think he is gathering nectar. He may think he is providing for his hive. He may even think he is enjoying a lovely morning out among his beloved flowers in the sparkling sun.

But deep down the flower knows he is pollinating. The flower has brought him in, smeared him in a fine and delicious pollen, and sent him on to another flower.

How do I know?

I am the same.

I may think I am taking pictures of the beautiful flowers. I may be drawn with my camera to their dramatic, exotic interiors, to the morning air, and to the secret worlds in the flower beds, but the flowers know.

I poke my camera into their heart. Click. I rotate around. Click. Click. I think I might have gotten a good picture. I take my camera out. My lens is covered in pollen.

And I go to the next flower.

I'm just another bee.

This is my honey, such as it is...

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Portents: An illustrated story

This account comes with pictures, but a lot of them won't be very good pictures.

They were taken when, on this warm Summer morning, I went out for my regular, hour-long picture taking neighborhood journey. I warmed myself up photographing some lilies that were blooming profusely along a sidewalk running down towards the river. I soon found that I had accidentally set my camera to a mode where instead of taking one picture it takes 32 pictures over the course of two seconds. 

That's a lot of pictures to delete! 

It's not my favorite thing to do as a photographer, but it might be what I do the most: delete, delete, delete, delete, delete.

So I deleted the 32 pictures. Well, I took two unsatisfactory pictures of the lilies, so there were 64 pictures to delete. 

That's why I don't have any pictures of lilies to show you. Although yesterday I took a picture of a lily that had just been watered. 

I'll show you that:

Not too bad, huh? I mean it's pretty and more or less in focus. That's because I deleted the other 72 I took that didn't turn out... quite... so... right.

Anyway, I stopped in the shade, and I figured out how to get my camera back to its normal one-picture-at-a-time picture taking.

I now had zero pictures on my camera, of which I have managed to show you one, which isn't too bad a trick if I say so myself.

And then I saw a bunny. 

But not just any bunny, a little bunny! A cute bunny.

You might be surprised how rare that really is. They can get a little... rodenty. So I was excited. I have found everyone likes a good bunny picture. Me included. Maybe even especially me included.

In a minute I am going to show you the one not very good bunny picture I took.

I took off my lens cap and crouched in the grass off the sidewalk. The bunny let me come super close. I moved slowly and carefully. And before zooming in much, or steadying as I need to for zoom focusing, or properly setting up, I took an establishing shot, an orientation shot so to speak. Here it is:

I had no illusions this would turn into a particularly good picture. It didn't. But what with the babyness of the bunny, and his stillness, I was having a very good feeling. "I am going to get some really nice bunny pictures!" I thought very excitedly. 

So I perfected my zoom, adjusted my angle, held the lens for stability, and


The bunny got scared and ran into the deep bushes.

I sighed.

"I don't think this is going to be a very good day." I thought sadly. 

It was a portent.

I can recognize a portent when it comes along. 

This was a portent.

But I had nothing else to do but meet my fate. So I did. 

I took a right at the corner and headed up the hill towards the fairy houses and the fulfillment of my doom.

Halfway up the hill was a cat. He came running to meet me. 

He was friendly!

As you can see I did take some pictures of him, but mostly I petted him and hung out with him. 

Here is a distinguished portrait of him so you will know his true, noble nature:

Maybe all that with the bunny wasn't a portent after all?

Maybe everything is a portent?

I thought about it while I took pictures of flowers.

Then it was time to head home.

I thought some more about portents until I had worked out a blog post about them. At which point...

There were turkeys...

They were in someone's backyard where I couldn't go, and so I didn't get the best pictures of them, but that really isn't the point, is it?

The point is:

Of course there are portents!

There are almost too many portents!

So if you get a dark portent, hold on. 

Hold on. A brand new portent should be coming along just about...