Thursday, August 24, 2023



I work in a lot of different places and in an assortment of capacities at my library. But the cherry on top assignment for me, and probably for most of my co-workers, is known as "Phones". At this station, one answers the incoming calls for the library, which varies these days from a few calls to none at all depending on the hour, though the main job is processing requested books, which means generating a slip for each book in a large bin and putting it alphabetically on a cart. Depending on the hour there can be plenty of these requests to process or none at all, but either way, it is pleasant, mindless work that can be done while watching YouTube videos, which is how I like to do it.

Because this is such a plum position I have begun to wonder about the frequency with which people graciously come to replace me five minutes early.

If one is working the front desk of the library and a replacement comes a minute or two early it is always understood as a rather gracious gift, and though it is not rare for this to happen, it is certainly uncommon. People at the front desk start checking the schedule a few minutes before the hour just to size up who they might soon have to resent. Perhaps cynically we expect nothing better than co-workers at best being strictly on time and consider a mere minute late to be a gross abuse of the schedule. The number of times someone has come to replace me at the front desk five minutes early because they figure, why not, can be counted on one hand for all the past ten years of my working here, whereas the number of times someone has wandered over to take over my precious phones five minutes ahead of time since they just happened to be in the area, or simply decided it's close enough to time, can also be counted on one hand, but this for any average week!

So what am I saying here? Am I saying that my co-workers are self-interested, selfish, and deceptive?

No, they're mostly fine, it's just our clocks here are all kind of messed up.

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