Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Duke of Hazard

Sometimes it's a sheer pleasure when things work in America, more specifically, at the Hazard Branch Library, on Syracuse's West Side. (However, it decidedly is
not a pleasure when things work all too well, as they did under the East German secret police, the Stasi. Turns out I could've visited the Stasi museum, on the U5, in Berlin. Now that would've been a hofbrau barrel of belly laughs.)

I had twice received automated calls to my cellphone, informing me, very erroneously, that I had a book (or books) overdue, return it or face fines, etc., etc.

I explain this to the librarian. She listens. I fully expect this will have to be resolved down at the Central branch, and we'll blame it all on computers and modern life and transistors and sun spots and rising fundamentalism ad nauseam.

But she listens. She seems to actually understand. She seems not to mind the preceding split infinitive.

"Maybe you can check your database or something and you can fix it. Someone obviously entered the wrong information. A typo or something. As you just confirmed, I have no books overdue."

"Let me see."

So far, this is the quintessential opposite from what you'd get at, say, the DMV.

She finds a screen on her computer, enters my cellphone number, and up pops someone else's name, just as I had expected. She discreetly shows me the screen.

"That's my number, all right, but I'm not that person."

She fixes the database, right then and there. . . . just as I had not expected.

Presto. Simple. She even thwarted and arrested my incipient combative demeanor or my full-throttle, laying-it-on-with-a-trowel kindliness when dealing with Official Rulebook Officious Officials. (Herr Doktor, I seem to have this running theme: a problem with authority figures, or figurines.)

Done. Beautiful, with the panache of knowing the other person won't even know of the correction (because that person didn't even know of the problem). A certain symmetrical anonymity.

I am the Duke of Hazard.

(It's been said libraries are the bastion of civilization. So true. So true.)


Patti said...

Librarians...gotta love 'em.

Who knew they were so efficient?

Mark Murphy said...

About 30 years ago I had a similar but less pleasant experience with the downtown library.

After receiving a notice saying my borrowed copy of "Japanese Decorative Art" (?) was overdue, I went down, explained I didn't have the book and suggested that perhaps the book had been borrowed by a person ahead of me in line and that it was somehow mistakenly attributed to me. The chirpy computers-are-perfect librarian said that was possible (in a tone that implied that it was equally possible that a meteor shower would occur outside the building within the next three seconds) but not likely. (Ellen R., our mutual librarian friend, later told me it was quite possible -- the error, not the meteor shower.)

After the book was found to not be on the shelves, the librarian agreed to wipe it off my record but added that I could bring it back if I happened to remember that I "had lent it to my Aunt Minnie."

Glad your experience was happier. (Though I do occasionally fear that I do have an Aunt Minnie somewhere, and she'll call me saying she has just come across this book....)

azgoddess said...

this was a great read....duke of hazard eh? got a pair of the daisy duke shorts?? lol