Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | May 30, 2009

People I May Heinously Murder: Random Nerdy Dude

StackOfBooksThe end of the semester is a rough time when you work at a collegiate library.

All of the out-going seniors and/or grad students come in and go all Perry Mason on your ass to check the status of the books they’ve returned.

If just one book that they think they returned in a book drop forty-five minutes earlier, in a different library, way across campus, that doesn’t even belong in this library isn’t checked in yet…we get reamed about it.

They freak out and turn all-kinds of deep, nerdy-shades of red because that one book that they returned in a book drop forty-five minutes earlier, in a different library, way across campus, that doesn’t even belong in this library could keep them from graduating if it’s not returned.

Now where I come from if it’s that important you just take it directly to the desk, in the library from which it was checked out and hand it to someone. They make it go *BEEP* under the scanner and you walk away knowing all is well.

Apparently that type of simple logic is a bit much for this future MIT Grad that I encountered today…

He runs into the library in a huff…nothing good ever happens when someone runs into a library or comes to the library in a huff. When you combine the two, all hell is certain to break loose.

Worried and Nerdy: “Hi, hello…hello, Sir.”
Annoyed and Goony: “Um…hi.”
Worried and Nerdy: “I returned a book.”
Annoyed and Goony: “…okay?!”

He then just sorta stares at me. As if those four words were supposed to trigger some response beyond my befuddled stare and meek verbal response; following about thirty seconds of awkward, prolonged silence and quasi-eye contact as I opened up this Word document…I finally interjected.

Annoyed and Goony: “…and?!”
Worried and Nerdy: “It’s still checked out. I looked up my record online and it’s still on there, but I returned it!!”
Annoyed and Goony: “Okay, did you return it here?!”
Worried and Nerdy: “No.”
Annoyed and Goony: “Okay, did you check it out from here?!”
Worried and Nerdy: “No.”
Annoyed and Goony: “Okay, when did you return it?!”

He goes all weird and silent again. I assume he was either trying to wrap his mind around the depth and complexities of my Woodward and Bernstein-style questioning or he simply didn’t have a freakin’ clue when he’d returned the book.

Worried and Nerdy: “Can’t you check in the computer?!”
Annoyed and Goony: “…you want me to check the computer to see what time you returned a book.”

He Nods.

Annoyed and Goony: “…a book that HASN’T been returned. That’s what you want me to look up the return time on?!”
Worried and Nerdy: “Is that a problem?!”
Annoyed and Goony: “Yes…yes it is. If it hasn’t been returned, there’s not going to be any information saying when you returned it…because it hasn’t been returned.”
Worried and Nerdy: “…but I returned it.”
Annoyed and Goony: “Okay, I get that…I really do. The thing is if it hasn’t been checked in ye—”
Worried and Nerdy: “…but I returned it!!”

I take a minute and just sorta stare at him. He seems confused, but not nearly as confused as I am knowing that this dude—who can’t understand why there’s no record of him returning a book that hasn’t been returned—will be leaving MIT, one of the most prestigious institutions in the entire world, with a degree and will ultimately go on to make more money in a few months than I make in an entire year.

I let out a deep, saddened sigh and try again…

Annoyed and Goony: “Okay, I totally believe that you returned it.”
Worried and Nerdy: “That’s good, because I did return it!”
Annoyed and Goony: “OKAY!! I get that. You. Returned. The. Book.”
Worried and Nerdy: “Yes. Can you clear it from my record?”
Annoyed and Goony: “Hold on. Let’s figure out where it is.”
Worried and Nerdy: “I don’t have it, I returned it.”

I then responded in a way I’ve never done with a library patron, or at least not mid-conversation…

Annoyed and Goony: “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….”

Why I shushed him, I don’t really know. It isn’t even remotely a logical response. It wasn’t going to get to the root of the problem any faster, yet somehow it felt like the only proper way to handle the situation…well other than beating him into a bloody pulp with the receipt printer, that is.

Worried and Nerdy: “…”
Annoyed and Goony: “Okay. You returned the book. That much we know.”
Worried and Nerdy: “Yes.”
Annoyed and Goony: “WHERE did you return it?!”
Worried and Nerdy: “The book drop.”
Annoyed and Goony: “…the book drop?!”
Worried and Nerdy: “Yes, the book drop.”
Annoyed and Goony: “The book drop downstairs for Barker Library?!”
Worried and Nerdy: “No.”
Annoyed and Goony: “…okay, WHICH book drop.”
Worried and Nerdy: “The one in the Stata center.”
Annoyed and Goony: “Okay and when did you do that?!”

He goes odd and quiet again and stares at his watch some more. In the midst of this lengthy silence, I take a quick glance around the library and realize that the only people here are me, this dude and about three construction workers on what appears to be their sixth or seventh coffee break.

I could logically return to my aforementioned bludgeoning via receipt printer plan and send his body out in a pile of debris with the construction workers. No one would be the wiser and the only thing linking him back to me would be this lengthy blog post, which unfortunately would later serve as a confession in a court of law and I would once again wonder if blogging was good or bad for me.

…anyway, after clearing his throat three times he began to talk.

Worried and Nerdy: “I think it was at like 3:30.”
Annoyed and Goony: “…3:30…today?!”
Worried and Nerdy: “Yes.”
Annoyed and Goony: “…like half an hour ago?!”
Worried and Nerdy: “…yes?!”


Annoyed and Goony: “Okay…for starters, WE don’t empty that book drop, that’s done by another library. Secondly, it isn’t emptied every hour. Wait a few days and then check your account.”
Worried and Nerdy: “But I want it returned now…”
Annoyed and Goony: “Well unless you’re going to go back in time and return it to an actual service desk, that ain’t gonna happen. Wait a few days. Check again.”
Worried and Nerdy: “You’re not going to go empty that book drop?!”
Annoyed and Goony: “No. No I am not.”

He then left, mumbling under his breath. There is an 80% chance that he put some sort of voodoo hex on me as he turned back and sorta did this weird hand-cross thing at me on his way out the door. I’m not really sure what all that was about.

I realize that in the end it may not have been the friendliest service, but I think you can only let a dude talk you in circles so many times before you just have to lay it out there the way it is. The book is on a different part of campus sitting in a big bin where it’s going to stay sitting until some of the fine folks over at Hayden go and empty it. Period.

Now I guess I’ll spend the rest of my day worried about a voodoo curse and he’ll spend the rest of his worried about his book. I think that makes us even.



  1. […] from the battlefields. I’ve written some open letters. I’ve compared them to zombies. I’ve threatened their lives. I’ve included some of my equally crazy/annoying co-workers in on the fun. I’ve attempted to […]


  2. […] It’s not like shoveling a dozen Doritos Locos Tacos in my face is going to have an impact on my ability to deal with difficult library patrons. […]


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