Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | September 5, 2009

Riddle Me This: 21 Questions


When a new semester begins we generally receive a slew of ridiculous questions from befuddled freshmen, new graduate students and (my personal favorite) parents with separation anxiety issues.

As such, I’ve decided to make a quick list of the first 21 random/ridiculous/blatantly obvious questions I’ve been asked in the first two and a half hours of my shift today.

Does your library have computers??

No we don’t. We figure if you’re attending MIT you are so far beyond standard computers that you’ve probably got chips and microprocessors installed in your brain already and the computers used by the rest of us simpletons are of no use to you.

Do you have databases??

Oh come on now, Newbie, what do you need a database for? This is MIT baby, it’s a party school. Why even pretend you’re going to be doing any real “work” while you’re here. Don’t be ridiculous. Why would we waste our money on databases when we can purchase lawn chairs for tailgating. In fact, it’s a Saturday, I need to go drink some PBR and paint my face for today’s big game. Go Engineers!!

Are these books free??

Well, technically yes. This is a library after-all. I guess if you can get past the price tag on your admission to the university, then sure…they’re free. You know, except that you have to bring ‘em back.

Do your computers have USB drives??

Oh come on now. What do you think this is, Harvard?! We can’t be chucking out the big bucks it takes to get computers with USB drives. We just got new computers with floppy disk drives. Pretty cool stuff. Heck, you can even play Oregon Trail on ‘em…WITH SOUND!!

Will you buy me a copy card??

Ah so that you can print that 115 page PDF that you’re too lazy to find in print and/or save and take home. Sure, I’d LOVE to fork over my money to encourage your laziness. It’s especially gratifying knowing that we can waste a tree together for something you’re probably going to look at once.

How did you get this job??

I have a lot of dirt on some higher ups. That is all.

If I don’t go to MIT can I take these books??

Okay, this question isn’t so much ridiculous as it is annoying. I believe I’ve answered this particular question about 48,000 times in the three years I’ve worked here and every single time it ends with the person getting all pissed off that they can’t take the books with ‘em that day.

Can I work here to keep an eye on my son??

Yes. Yes you can. We’ll go ahead and ignore the fact that we’re in the middle of a recession and that the libraries are going through a transition period in which all jobs are technically in danger and all potential jobs need to be reexamined for importance but what the hell, dude…if you wanna spy on your son like some kind of psychotic freak, by all means…let’s get you hooked up with a job.

Can I buy these books??

Of course you can. Everyone knows that “Library” is just Latin for “Barnes and Noble.” All sales are final, I only accept cash and there will be no receipts.

What’s your major??

Again, not a ridiculous question, but one that I still get asked far more frequently than a rather adult-looking 25-year old should. After pondering this question with The Peter Norman, I’ve determined I’m going to start telling people I’m in “Course Q” and see how many of them pretend to know what I’m talking about.

Do you have change for a $100 bill??

Well of course I do. I mean I’m sitting behind a circulation desk on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon during Labor Day weekend. Clearly I’m rolling in the dough and have hundreds of dollars worth of small bills on my person. Would you like $20s or something smaller?

What the hell are you doing here??

This came from campus security who seemed confused that the library was open today. Needless to say I wasn’t exactly shocked.

Is the library open today??

No, my friend I’m sorry. Sure you walked past two different signs with the hours on them and you’re actually standing INSIDE the library talking to me. We’ll ignore the fact that all the lights are on and other people are in here on the computers. No, no…we’re closed. Mosey along, little guy.

Do you go to a psychiatrist??

Um…no, but thanks?!

Can I stay here after you close??

Ah yes. One of the many perks of being a graduate student here is that we pretty much let you do whatever you want. In addition to staying here after closing you’re also allowed to use the entire building a restroom and the Great Dome can serve as a good location for a rave. Lemme get you a copy of the front-door keys.

Can you see what I’m looking at on the computers??

No and had you kept your mouth shut I wouldn’t find it necessary to pace around behind you four times an hour for the rest of the day. Well-played, Slick.

How fast do the police on campus respond to calls??

Um…being that you’re a much larger dude than me, I’m simply going to say they are fast. SUPER FAST. Heck, they’ll probably be here before you can finish stabbing me in the spleen. Perhaps you just wanna go now, odds are they’re coming up the elevator. You’ve seen Minority Report, right?! Just like that, but no Colin Farrell to muck it all up.

Will you do my research for me??

Let’s be real here, if you’ll do my laundry for me, we could probably work something out.

Do I have to pay my fines??

Pay your fines? Don’t be silly. Sure you had this book for the last two years and have racked up massive amounts of fines and ignore the numerous emails that were sent your way requesting the book to be returned for other patrons who had requested it, but clearly you needed it more than they did. I mean otherwise you’d have held up your end of the bargain and returned it at the time it was due, you know…like a responsible adult. No fines for you, friend. Hell, why not take the book home for another two years. The other people who needed it have already failed out of school anyway and don’t need it anymore. Enjoy!

Is there a student discount on library fines??

Do we look like Blockbuster or McDonalds?! We don’t offer 10% off for being a student. Just like the fine folks who take your tuition don’t offer 10% off for being a student or the Nazis at the bookstore don’t offer 10% off on your overpriced books. How about I make you a deal, next time you bring the book back ON TIME and I’ll go ahead and knock 100% off that fine, how’s about that?!

Can I get a dollar for the bus??




  1. Course Q…. I like that. Would you mind if I tried it out on the Sloanies?

    And do people really ask you to do their research for them?! Are these the ones who made it into MIT because they know the right people and haven’t worked their asses off for years?


    • Course Q is totally fair game. I recommend using it at every turn.

      Yes, TONS of people coming in basically operating under the assumption that everyone behind the desk is here to do their research for them, you know, as opposed to simply pointing them in the right direction.


  2. Loved your response to this one: Will you do my research for me??

    I think I might respond this way next time I get asked.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: