When Printers Go to Die (or at least try) — Library Shenanigans

First off, I love technology. It usually makes our lives easier. Except when it doesn’t. And for some reason it is printers in particular these past few months that are out to get me. I swear, anytime it’s just two people staffing the library the printer decides to go and be chaotic.

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Library Shenanigans #1

Hi! Happy Friday!! (And it’s the thirteenth! SPOOOOKYYYYYYYY) Anyways, welcome to Library Shenanigans! A blog post in which I talk about the crazy things that happen at my local branch! (Let me tell you, lots of crazy things happen at my local branch…lots and lots and lots.)

A little background, I work in a rural, economically deprived area. I love what I do, and I find it really rewarding. I love my coworkers, and I love most of our patrons. 90% of the time at least.

For my first shenanigan, let me tell you about one of our super rude patrons.

The setting: 9:50am. Bright sunny day, we open in 10 minutes. We’re turning all the public computers on and doing a little clean up before we open.

The story: We don’t open until 10 Mondays-Thursdays. This is written in big font on our doors. For some reason, people never seem to read it! Or they just stare at us. And it is the same people CONSISTENTLY all the time that do this.

There’s an older man at the doors. They’re locked and he repeatedly yanks on them. Over. And over. And over again. We’ve told him twice now through the door that we’re not open yet. He doesn’t seem to care.

Ten minutes pass, and we open the door. He charges in and slaps several papers on the counter in front of us. I, the one in charge that morning, smiled at him and said, “Good morning, sir, how can I help you?”

“I need you to print something for me.”

“Okay. We can put you on a computer.”

“No, you print it for me.”

In the meantime another patron walks in and goes to the computers.

“Sir, we can put you on the computer so you can print what you need.”

(Side note: we are not allowed to plug in patrons USBs to our computers/let them open e-mail on ours. We also aren’t supposed to print for patrons from them because it messes up our stats for the printers. Most people understand this.)

“Fine.”

“Do you have a library card?”

More patrons are up at the desk now, asking for help, returning books, renewing them and so on at this point. We are often busy some mornings at the front desk, and when we run on a staff of two, we don’t always have a lot of time to sit down and help people for hours on end on the computers.

“Yes. Okay. I can take you over to the computers and show you how to do it.”

We walk over to the computers. As we pass the other patron on the computer, this man stops and says, “Can you print something for me?”

I stood there flabbergasted. What on earth? The other man is just staring at him.

“Sir, I can put you on this computer right here.”

He spends ten minutes digging through his wallet and goes, “Oh. Yeah, I forgot, I didn’t bring it with me. Now you HAVE to print it for me, right? You young people…you young people are always such smart alecks.” He has muttered “young people” over and over a couple times in the time I’ve been trying to help him.

He turns to the man next to me and says, “You see? Young people!”

I stare at him for a minute, “Would you like me to help you with this, sir?” I ask him.

“I’m short on time here, you know. You could have just printed from your computers.”

The front counter still has a lot of people at it, and our director is always saying, “if a patron is starting to get to the point where they’re causing more grief/backup than anything else, do what you can to help them”.

I said, “No, sir. We’re not supposed to print from those computers –“

He interrupts me, “The other lady used to do it all the time for me. You young people don’t know anything.”

“But, I was going to say for today since we’re busy, I’ll do it as a one time thing.”

He stomps to the front and I print out what it was he wanted (in this case, google map directions). It’s two pages and I say, that’ll be 20cents.

“I have to pay for it?!” he shouts. The patrons and the staff are now all staring at him.

“Yes, sir…you do.”

“The other lady never made me pay!”

“Sir, it’s the rules. You have to pay for your prints. I didn’t print them though!”

When it looked like he was about to throw a tantrum another patron stepped forward and handed me 20cents. “I’ll be happy to pay for his prints.”

We get him his prints and he stomps out.

Afterwards, I learned he’d done this before to other staff members. Apparently the old person who held my position was his cousin and routinely printed for him and never charged. Not only was it against our regulations, she trained him in a bad habit that we are now paying for. Instead of letting us teach him how to print things himself, he expects us to do it for him and not charge him.

I’m still flabbergasted to this day by this man. I don’t mind helping people, but at a certain point we can’t. We can’t always be there to do copies (this one we get a lot. We’re in the middle of helping customers and we have other patrons come up and demand we make copies for them right that second) and we can’t always be there to spend two hours helping someone on the computer. I am more than happy to help teach people how to use the computers, how to print. But things I will not do:

  • your class assignment. No. Way.
  • Filling out job applications. Personal information, we’re not allowed to.
  • Fax Machine. It’s independent, we lease it. We cannot type in your card number for you!
  • Writing your resume. Again, we can’t do that for you. We can show you how to set one up or fill one out, but we can’t do it for you.
  • notarizing. We aren’t notaries here! Sorry! I cannot just sign it for you!
  • remember your passwords! WHY? I see hundreds of people a day, why do you think I’m going to remember your password for you!
  • I cannot help you get into your locked google account if you changed your phone number and did not do another recovery option. I am not google! I cannot fix that!

I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones I get the most. 90% of the time we run on a two person staff. We see hundreds of people a day, so as much as we’d like to, we’re not always able to spend two hours helping on the computers. I’m SORRY!

Okay, that’s all for this episode!