Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A New Low

Today I was sent over the proverbial edge; whether I was pushed or jumped of my own free will is still up for debate. So just who did I unleash my fury upon? - the librarian of course. . I know, sad but true; it's definitely a new low for me.

It all began last Thursday. Everyone was sick, so in order just to have something fun to look forward to, we planned a little library trip. I gathered up all the old library books from our house, and dropped them on the counter when we got there. Little Jimmy and I then proceeded with the fun part: picking out the books. This time, we had a theme: books about dogs. We found a number of fun stories with dogs in them, and nonfictions actually about dogs. When we got to the checkout counter, we probably had ten to twelve books including a couple of books on tape.

The librarian scanned our card and after a few seconds commented, "OK, you've got an $11.40 fine on here and a number of books checked out. I can't let you check out any items until this fine is paid." I felt sort of like a criminal being handcuffed. "Em. . . I just returned a bunch of books, so I'd assume those are the books you're missing." I answered as calmly as possible. After some research, the woman concluded that all the books had been returned with the exception of one. "We're still missing 'Stagestruck.'" she noted. "Ya, they rechecked that one out for me last time in the hopes that I could find it, but it seems to be lost." (In all reality I kind of think I accidentally returned that book to a library in the county we just moved from. )"Can you just note that in the file? the book is lost and I'll replace it, but I'd like to not keep incurring late fees on it." I asked.

The librarian then requested a form of payment. "All of our books are overdue because we've been gone for the last couple of weeks with a death in the immediate family" I shared. The librarian nodded as she began writing in their ledger and processing my debit card payment; obviously she could care less as to why the books were late. At that point, Kyla had already tried to throw herself from her stroller at least a dozen times, and I was rather flustered. As soon as she handed my debit card back to me, I just decided it was time to go, and we wouldn't be checking out any books. I then left the building, little Jimmy screaming the whole way out "I wanted those books!".

You can imagine my disgust when yesterday, I received a letter in the mail stating that I needed to return the book "Stagestruck" as it was incurring a late fee. Just wanting to set the record straight I called the library today and explained how the book had been lost, and how I just needed them to note that the book would be replaced, but to please quit charging the late fee. The woman agreed up to the point that I said I'd be replacing the book; it was then that she transferred me to someone whom she claimed was a little more experienced.

"How can I help you?" the second woman asked, pretending she hadn't been standing there coaching the newbie librarian on how to handle my request. I repeated the whole story again to which she responded, "We can mark the book as missing, but it'll be a $20 fee to replace it."
"Oh, I'll be replacing it myself."
"The book needs to be in excellent condition, and the exact same book - you know, right?" she questioned with a hint of annoyance.
"Ya, it was the hardback version, wasn't it?" I asked accommodating her.
"Yes, and there's also a $6 restocking fee." she said poignantly.
And that was it. . . That was the point where I was thrown over the edge. . or where I jumped over the edge. It was almost like my brain was on overload. Here I was doing all I could to work with them and keep my cool, and then she had to throw that out there. Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind there was a short circuit and then a full on power outage; Danielle had left the building, and the new commander and chief was not nearly so nice.

After a lengthy pause I threw out there, "You all don't have too many Friends of the Library do you?"
"Excuse me?" the librarian questioned, probably not believing her ears.
"Ya," I said, "you all probably don't have too many Friends of the Library, do you? Because this just doesn't seem to be very friendly. Here we've just moved to the area, and I really am getting the sense that I'm being nickeled and dimed - oh, but I guess that's how you're paying for that nice new library that's being built."
"No, ma'am. That's not how it works." the woman answered quickly.
"Are you kidding me about that $6 restocking fee? I mean, that's almost an hour of work at minimum wage. Are you telling me that it'll take an entire hour for someone to label and stock a brand new book? Cause that's really hard to believe. I've donated lots of books to the library, but if I'd known it was costing them that kind of money just to get the books on the shelf, I wouldn't have bothered. You know, we've always been people to frequent the library; we've loved our libraries, but then again, our libraries would actually send us a notice either before we incurred a late fee or not long thereafter just to remind us to get the books in - and here I was charged $11.40 in late fees? Further, the books were returned late because of a death in the family - it wasn't my plan to get them back late. We just moved here, remember? And these are our first experiences with your library. It's almost doesn't even seem worth it."
"What do you want us to do, ma'am?" the librarian asked evenly, despite my tirade.
"Well, for starters, I don't feel that was right that I was charged that $11.40."
"I see on our records that you've already paid that. I'm going to cancel the fee for the other book."
"Oh, OK. Thank you. . . Thank you." I responded, completely shocked.

And then we hung up. And then I cried. Really, who reams out a librarian. WHO? Me. (On par with "Who throws a shoe????") I've definitely reached a new low in life. But further, why was I even ever brought to that point where I lost my cool. I know the last few weeks have been stressful, and I know I'm on edge, but shouldn't the library be something of a respite? A community service? Something to help educate and enlighten those seeking knowledge?

Now I'm embarrassed to even go back there. Who knows what sorts of comments are written up under my name (probably something like: "Look out for this one!" or "Don't let this girl's temper intimidate you!"). Oh well, just add the library people to my running list of persons whom I've recently incriminated myself in front of.


carol said...

You don't know what it's like to work for a big company!!! Your responses to the librarian would be used by HR to teach employees how to keep the upper hand in a situation and not lose money. You could be a CEO! You go girl! And save the tears for something really important!!! :)

mokidoku said...

I'm just chuckling over here - the 'new commander and chief was not nearly so nice'! I think I've met this individual before and WOAH NELLIE, look out! Whoever is on the receiving end of the tirade to comes needs to probably just step aside! ;) Well, don't be too hard on your sleep-deprived self b/c you lost your cool at the librarian - they were asking for it in my book [no pun intended] - late fees out the wazoo, $20 replacement fee, and on top of that an additional $6 restocking fee. RU KIDDING ME! Your rationale that it cost them an hour of work at minimum wage to sticker and put a book on a shelf was actually quite lucid - maybe they'll actually re-think their handling of late fees and lost books (well, probably not, but still). You might want to consider wearing some big sunglasses the next time you go in or not.. ;) Sincerely, your Friend of the Library.

Cindy Lynn said...

Dear Local Librarians in a 50 mile radius of Ocala,
Be on the look out for one very outraged woman with a wild look in her eye. If she attempts to talk with you, GIVE HER WHAT SHE WANTS. She will probably have a little boy and girl in tow. They seem very mild-mannered and sweet. We wonder if they are hers.
Ocala Citizens on Patrol

Judith said...

OMG! Danielle the things that happen to you are hysterical! Can I link you on my page?

Danielle said...

I'd love to be linked!