Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | December 5, 2009

Reeking of Patron Repellent?!

Why do patrons want to do everything in their power to avoid interaction with me at the circulation desk?

I realize that sometimes I can smell a little too Axe-y and sometimes I can appear too much like some sort of militant gangster (or “gangsta” as the kids say), but come on, I’m pretty freakin’ approachable.

I’m generally quite smiley and friendly, even to the douchebags.

Perhaps it’s some sort of innate sense they get that when they get near me, kind of like Johnny Smith in “The Dead Zone.”

Yeah, maybe that’s it, they can just sense that if the interaction with me goes awry, they’ll be end up on my blog, sitting as a shining beacon of d-baggery for all of eternity (or at least until the interwebs are destroyed during the impending zombie apocalypse).

I don’t blame ‘em for that one part, I guess.

Although, in my defense, the only people whose stories ever find their way to my blog, are people who have earned the “privilege” of having their tales immortalized in print (or, um, pixels?!).

Also I’ve never mentioned a patron by name, so even if—by some complete fluke chance—they’d ever stumble upon my blog, they probably wouldn’t even realize I’m talking about them; unless of course their douchey behavior is habitual, in which case, f*ck ‘em, they deserve it!

Additionally, since taking up the task of documenting my interactions with the worst of the worst, I’ve found hordes of fellow library peeps who appreciate having these stories told, if for no better reason than to not feel like they’re alone in the world of serving what is generally (but certainly not always) the most unappreciative clientele in the solar system.

Anyway, where was I going with this?! Ah yes, people avoiding me.

Okay, so I get that if someone does have some sort of extrasensory perception and they can tell that I’m going to write about them for their forthcoming douchebaggery, well then by all means, avoid me.

Avoid me just like you’d attempt to avoid the swine flu, MGD 64, turtleneck sweaters, Jay Leno’s new show, McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sammitch, cafeteria food, Dane Cook movies, Detroit Lions games on television, gonnorrhea, layoffs, Freddy Krueger, wearing white after Labor Day, that awkward uncle who always shows up to Christmas hammered, empty-calories, zombies, Twilight fan-fiction, the movie Corky Romano, black cats, Star Trek conventions, and/or a night of stand-up “comedy” featuring Larry the Cable Guy.

Seriously, if you’ve got ESP and a propensity for being a huge pain in the ass, it’s in your best interest to ask the person beside me for help or to avoid the desk altogether and make a beeline for the self-checkout machine.

On the other hand, if you’re a pleasant human-being; the type that says hello and please and thank you, you can probably just go ahead and come straight to me for assistance and everything will be a-okay.

For every one person I do write about there are about 10,000 that I don’t write anything about; people who were nice and friendly and received wonderful, polite, Midwestern-esque service from me.

It’s a two-way street, folks.

If you don’t suck at life, neither will I.

As such, I fail to understand why so many people—even the nice ones—tend to avoid me like the plague.

Whenever I’m on the desk with someone else, people blow past me to have the other person help them and/or when I’m on the desk alone, they’ll go straight to the self-checkout machine.

Today this dude—who is always quite friendly and, as such, receives wonderful service from me—avoided me to spend nearly fifteen minutes messing around with the self-checkout machine to renew some books.

I offered to help him at the desk three times and he turned me down thrice.

After his fifteen minutes of failed attempts he came to the desk and it took me all of 30 seconds to get his books renewed and send him on his way.

I’ve had nearly half a dozen other people do the same thing this week, I’m a little confused.

Is my previously friendly, Iowan demeanor getting replaced with surly city scowl?

Am I legitimately wearing so much douchey, frat-boy body spray that people can’t stand to be within a three foot radius?

Is all of the caffeine in my energy drinks forcing my eyeballs to bulge out of my head in a way that is more frightening than inviting?

Whatever it is, it’s leaving me very confused.

If anyone out there has an answer to why patrons are avoiding me, I’d love to hear it.

Until then I’ll just sit here, grinning awkwardly at everyone who walks and hoping that they’ll choose me over that damned self-checkout machine.

I’m not gonna like, folks it’s a pretty big blow to the ego to watch people consciously choose a machine over the once-assumed-to-be-friendly Iowan.

It’s an even bigger blow when you realize that I can check out a dozen books, whilst blindfolded; faster than the machine (sans blindfold) can checkout three books.

Now I realize that this post has degenerated into some odd combination of the Matrix and that old John Henry song, so I’m going to revert back to my main point and hope I get some answer from y’all.

Why do patrons avoid me?!



  1. Potential explanations:

    1) You may be friendly, but your patrons may not be. This *IS* MIT we’re talking about, and the engineering library to boot! The vast majority of students get here from a life of getting along better with machines than they do with people.

    2) Maybe patrons (particularly the one who’s been friendly before, but opted for the machine today) have had a bad experience with ANOTHER circ staff worker giving them the eye rolls when asked for help, and are now hesitant to ask?


  2. Thanks for the informative information – I enjoyed reading it! I always enjoy this blog. 🙂 Cheers


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