Monday, April 25, 2022

The price of doing the right thing


Once upon a time here at my library, I developed a fascination with doorbells. So I acquired one for our front desk. This allowed people working at the front desk of the library an opportunity to call for help from the backroom when their lines grew too long.

But so many things darken with time.

And what I once pictured sunnily as a way for responsible, overworked co-workers to have a way to call for help, slowly changed. Now there are people who ring that bell when a single person is waiting in line. 

I have regularly dropped some bit of work in the backroom to dash out to the front desk of the library to answer a question like "Are you open tomorrow?"

"Yes." I say.

Thank god that person didn't have to wait an extra ten seconds!

And, okay, maybe it's a good thing no one had to wait an extra ten seconds. As many as 15 percent of our library patrons are busy people who do not have time to kill! But I have nevertheless come to feel as if ringing that doorbell is a signal of defeat or failure. While sometimes I recognize that it is unavoidable, I loathe disturbing my co-workers in the back room and feel that outside of rare circumstances, if I work carefully, efficiently, and with speed, wisdom, and alacrity, I usually shouldn't have to.

I believe this reaction comes from the fact that I have become certain that some of my co-workers adore that doorbell, with an unholy fervor, and seek every opportunity to ring it. Today my library has been open for four busy afternoon hours. I have been alone at the desk for two of those. The doorbell has been rung about 15 times now.

I, who have covered the desk for 50 percent of the time, have rung it once. Once!

Was there a second time I should have rung it? Should I have rung it earlier the one time I did ring it?


But did I need to abandon the transit bin I was unloading to race breathlessly to the front desk so that the man who hung out in the parking lot for two hours waiting for us to open didn't have to wait an extra minute to find out the copy machine he used yesterday was still in the same place?

Yeah, probably. Who am I to judge? 

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