Adventures In Customer Service

Names will not be mentioned in this point to protect the identities of the unreasonable.

I work for a small public library branch. I’m not concerned about mentioning this fact, as there are 28 library branches in my county and even if you take out all the branches that are too big to fit the previous description, the odds of guessing which one I work at are very slight. And even if you’re right, it’s not like I’m going to tell you.

For the most part, mine is a wonderful job. I love the duality of my life; I suit up in my motorcycle leathers every day, put on my helmet that’s emblazoned with skulls, climb onto my motorcycle and ride to my job where I then read picture books to children and sing songs with them for story times.

But everyone who has ever worked in public service for more than five minutes knows that sometimes things don’t go smoothly. Sometimes, working with the public is a little, well, . . . strange.

I had a few of those this week. These weren’t the scary kinds of incident, the ones that end with my calling the police. They were just the kinds of things that make you scratch your head and really wonder about people.

First scenario:

A man comes into the library and asks for a study room. We’re a small library, so we only have the one study room and it’s occupied. The man points to a staff work room (which actually happens to be my office).

Man: What about that room? It looks empty.

Me: That’s a staff work room.

Man: So I can use it?

Me: You’re not a staff member.

Man: But nobody else is using it.

Me (thinking about the carefully organized stacks of paperwork, the stacked crafting supplies I’m in the process of organizing, and the calendar with all my various engagements and other business for the month, all neatly organized on the desk): It’s really only for staff use.

Man: I think that’s pretty selfish.

Me: I don’t really know how to answer that.

Second scenario:

A man comes up to the information desk carrying a few pieces of paper. He stops near the same staff office and peers inside for a few seconds.

Me: Is there anything I can help you with?

Man: I noticed you have a paper slicer in that room.

Me (warily): Yeah . . . ?

Man: Can I use it?

Me: I’m afraid not.

Man: Why not?

Me (thinking): Because I don’t know you, I don’t know who you are, I don’t know if you’re a crazy person, so I’m not going to let you near what is basically a scimitar loosely attached to a piece of wood. At best, you’ll manage to cut your own finger off. At worse, you’ll decapitate someone. You’re not getting near this paper slicer.

Me (what I actually say): I think I’d get fired if I let a non-staff member use it.

Man: Why?

Me: Liability.

Man: That doesn’t seem right.

Me: Yeah.

And scene.

I think the lesson here is that I really need to start closing the door to that office.

The Writer’s Desk: Before And After

Yesterday, I talked about my affinity for looking at other writers’ desks. I also worried about the fact that my desk was so very cluttered and messy, and what this said about the state of my brain. I resolved to clean up my work space and photograph the before and after so you can see the improvement. Well, the cleaning is done and the results are in. As promised, I took some before and after shots to chronicle the event. This will be an picture-heavy post so I’m including a page break. More below.

Continue reading “The Writer’s Desk: Before And After”

Writing Spaces

One of my particular interests is looking at pictures of other writers’ desks and offices. I know that it’s a common trait among bookworms to look at pictures of personal libraries; Neil Gaiman’s personal library is epic, in my opinion. I’m not certain whether writers do this as often, though the existence of various blogs and Tumblrs posting pictures of writers’ offices makes me think I’m not alone in my interest.

It doesn’t update very often, but Write Place, Write Time is a great Tumblr page of writer spaces. One thing that’s particular cool is that one of the writers featured on the page, Manuel Munoz, was my writing professor during my undergrad at the University of Arizona. He helped me develop my writing ability more than any other teacher I’ve ever had. It was cool to see what his writing space looks like, especially since it really matches his writing style in my mind.

If one’s desk represents the state of one’s thoughts, however, I am well and truly screwed. My desk is currently a nightmare. Without moving my eyes, I can see a stack of unopened mail, an empty beer bottle, my keys, a WarCraft III cd case, headphones, a coffee mug, a topographical map of the Chiricahua Wilderness, another pair of headphones, a bookmark of a vampire cat, two candles, sticky notes, two boxes of Magic: the Gathering cards, a signed picture of Boba Fett, a cartoon of Medusa blow drying her snake hair, and you know what, I think I’ll stop there. There’s more stuff.

In fact, I think this might be a sign that it’s time to clean my writing space. Maybe I’ll take some before and after photos to show you the horror.