Monthly Archives: February 2014

On Sundays at the Library

Busier day today with a lot of traffic and some issues with the front door coming off the rails a little, after being pushed by customers. More people than usual waiting on computer time, and some are getting ready for the holiday tomorrow. Everyone is working steadily, people are behaving, mostly. 


On Learning Deeper Truths

Someone scheduled doesn’t show up, you are mildly inconvenienced. Learning that the absence was due to the near fatality of a family member, and even in the face of it, made provision for missing his job, leaves me a little in awe. The deeper truth here is that some people are supremely dedicated to their job, and will be extraordinary in the pursuit of excellence, even in the face of crippling fear and anxiety.

Some days I count myself lucky to be served by such dedicated people, and am reminded that the stories go deeper than we ever know in the moment.

Be patient with people, because there are depths that drive us, that sometimes make the surface stormy and annoying, but are fundamentally changing a person’s life. 

That’s really what amazes me about life. How much we don’t show to the world, and how it shapes what we do show.

On the Quiet Indignities

What is the cost of getting along? What is the sacrifice for harmony, or at least the absence of conflict? What is the price of silence in the face of injustice?

Listening to a radio show on a contested adoption, I am reminded how complicated life can get, and how self-image can be stronger than the labels that others try to apply to make you fit their world view.

I sometimes think that the human life is lost in the mechanics of law and justice. What is that child thinking as she is fought over in the legal system. What do kids in an orphanage think seeing so much effort expended on one kid, when they have been living there for years.

What does the adult think with that in their past?

Since my mom told me about the circumstances surrounding my birth, I realized that the not-knowing privilege I had over my other siblings made for a very different life. I always strove for difference.

In customer service, the goal is to have a successful transaction every single time. When it requires a simple apology in order to make someone feel better, does not the apology diminish the caring of the individual? I don’t think so, because successful customer service requires empathy with your customers, treating them as people with needs rather than tasks to accomplish and get out of the way.

Most people’s needs in the library are modest in comparison to the rest of their lives. Why not be the best that you can be to make their day a bit brighter.


On the Gatekeeping of Public Spaces

So, I’m a librarian. Among my many duties includes the policing of the public space of the library in an effort to make sure everyone has equitable access to the space and facilities. That is sometimes harder to accomplish when personal likes and dislikes come into play.

We are all human, we all have preferences, and many of us go to some lengths to keep our surroundings harmonious with our expectations. Thus, there is the perennial “Teens are too loud”, “Young people dress badly”, “Kids should stop playing on computers so I can get some work done.” One man lost his shit over a perceived jumping of the line to the network printer.

Expectations differ so, that libraries often have codes of conduct that lay out the MINIMUM acceptable behaviors that are to be followed while in the library.

I was listening to a podcast of a security operator for a large social network, and how he took it in his own hands to delete accounts of the people he thought were being bad on the internet. And while he might have been correct, it is that same kind of “I know better than anybody” attitude that I have to guard against all the time. We never know the whole story, we never see the circumstances that led to the decisions that prompted the behavior. I see family power struggles play out in public, I see grudges being settled, I see people getting on each other’s nerves because for that brief moment, they were seen, they mattered and they had to be responded to.

I don’t live in the district my library serves, sometimes I feel I have less call to referee public situations, but it is part of my job, to settle the disturbed, to listen to the slighted and the wronged and to apologize for life not working out to people’s expectations, no matter how high and unrealistic those expectations were.

I guess the short answer is, people can really tire me out.

On Getting Back to Sharing

I am just a bad blogger, I need to admit that up-front again. There is always the desire, but the follow through is the difficult part, because I lose track, get caught up in the day to day, lose the signal in the noise.
I read an interesting story about the human frequency, and how it can be measured. I have been trying and failing to quantify myself. It’s like I don’t want to know what I might be doing wrong. And that’s the point isn’t it? When I take the time to think, like when I write, I can order the thoughts, cut through the noise of justification and see what I should be doing.
So, re-commitment is the process of knowing you should be processing, and realizing that you have fallen off somewhere. Time to shake the dusty pixels off, and sharpening my desire. Change happens, we can only choose the form, and I don’t want no Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man following me.