Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sometimes you forget...

...that your average customer isn't insane and self-absorbed. I think this is true not just in libraries but in most service jobs. I was recently at a fast-food restaurant with my boyfriend, and it turned out they were out of something he wanted. The cashier apologized profusely and clearly expected us to get very upset. She was shocked when we said, "No problem, it's not a big deal, and even if it were, it's not your fault." My boyfriend, who is a teacher and has never worked a service job, was baffled by her behavior, but it wasn't really a surprise to me. People flip out about things I can't control at the library all the time. Or, at least, it feels like all the time, because the one person who has a meltdown over the same policy fifteen others have accepted with equinamity sticks in your mind a lot more than the others.

Sometimes this leads you to behave strangely, just like the very nervous cashier at the fast food restaurant. Today I was sitting at the desk and noticed that there was no chair in front of one of the library catalog computer stations, but there was an extra one over by the internet computers. I walked over to the man whose computer it was sitting by and proceeded to scare the heck out of him by whispering, "Excuse me, sir, are you using this chair?"

He jumped about half a foot in the air and then said crossly "No. This is the one I'm sitting in." He was clearly upset to have been surprised and disturbed, but what I had been trying to do was prevent a meltdown--"My husband was sitting here, he leaves for just a minute and you take his chair away?! What kind of bull---- is this!?" or "Can't you see my [invisible] friend is sitting right there!?" Instead, my attempt to avoid a really bad customer interaction produced a moderately bad one.

Well, you can't win 'em all, I guess.

1 comment:

  1. I swear, in law libraries, you *can* safely assume that your average patron is completely self-absorbed. I err on the side of anticipating tantrums and am rarely surprised.