Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The scale of things

In our world of so many billions of people, it is easy to misjudge the scale of things. 

I merely work at a modestly busy, near urban library of a vaguely largish American Urban area (the hundredth largest in the world actually- higher than I thought!). But people still regularly misjudge the scale of their interaction with us. Just minutes ago a man bypassed our efficient and easy to use automated return slot, and large check in machine, through which our team of people processes many many thousands of transactions of a great variety every day, all to come to manually hand me a book return at the front desk at the library. 

"I couldn't renew this." He said. "So someone is waiting for it and I wanted to get it right to them."


"Oh no!" I cried. "I will call them immediately! Thank you so much! This will be our highest priority! Can you just do me one favor?"

"What's that?" The patron asks suspiciously.

"Will you hang this "Library Closed" sign on our front doors so that we can focus all our attention on getting this book over to the person waiting for it?" 

Then I pull our fire alarm.

Actually, I don't do any of that. One reason is that I simply try not to be a sarcastic asshole. But more importantly, to our discussion here today, I don't do that because, statistically speaking, three institutions will have already been an asshole to that guy already today.

In the scale of things four is just too many.

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