Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | February 8, 2012


I like to think I’m pretty helpful at my job, but sometimes people come at me with such nonsensical complaints or arguments or whatever that I just let ’em do their thing and burn it all out rather than even attempt to help them.

This is an example of one of those times.

This gal walks into the library today to pick up a book she’s got waiting for her on the hold shelf. Nothing out of the ordinary, this is kinda how libraries work.

The book in question was How to Become a Straight-A Student which is by Cal Newport, the author of such illustrious books as How to Win at College and How to Be a High School Superstar.

How she didn’t see this as being one of those written-in-a-weekend, cash-grab, self-help books is beyond me, but I’m not an MIT student, so I probably shouldn’t judge.

(Blogger’s Note: I judge anyway.)

The book contains such insightful, groundbreaking advice as “don’t procrastinate,” “study,” and “take notes.”

Again…how she didn’t glean the un-goodness of this book in advance is beyond me, but I digress.

So she checked out the book. Looked at it as though she was disappointed in its lack of size—it clocks in at just over 200 pages—and sauntered off to learn all the tricks of the trade.

Roughly three minutes—roughly enough time to gloss over the table of contents and skim part of a chapter—later she came waltzing back to the desk and slammed the book down in front of me.

Anna Annoyah: “This book wasn’t helpful.”
Cap’n Charisma: “…okay.”
Anna Annoyah: “…like, at all!”
Cap’n Charisma: “…okay.”
Anna Annoyah: “I don’t even know why you bought it. It’s just stupid.”
Cap’n Charisma: “…okay.”
Anna Annoyah: “I think you should just get rid of it.”
Cap’n Charisma: “….okay.”
Anna Annoyah: “Seriously, it was, like, a total waste of my time.”
Cap’n Charisma: “…okay.”

At this she stomped out all pissy because the book wasn’t up to her lofty standards and, seemingly, because we made the mistake of purchasing such a shitty book; thus inconveniencing her in every conceivable way.

Honestly, I don’t really know what else I could have said here, she was on a pretty good roll and had quite the head of steam built up.

I could have let her know that I didn’t write the book, so I had very little impact on how unhelpful it was.

I could have told her that we likely bought it because another student recommended the purchase and we’re pretty good about hooking students up with what they want around here.

I could have let her know that we don’t usually just toss books out because one person doesn’t like them and there’s already a lengthy weeding process in place.

I could have done a lot of things to try and talk her down, but it really didn’t seem worth it.

I shouldn’t feel guilty for my failure to offer up meaningless platitudes and apologies, right?

She requested a shitty book. She didn’t like the shitty book. She bitched about the shitty book.

I feel like that’s where the life cycle on something like this ends, right?

(Fun Fact: The dude who wrote the book that “Anna” hated with some much vitriol is actually an MIT graduate.)



  1. Wow and there is one thing the book doesn’t tell her probably. School is partially about getting your work done, and the rest is social engineering your prof. Fun fact, get to know the teacher, the less likely they will be to flunk your ass :P, and more likely to stretch your grade a couple of points ;).


    • Spoken like a man who clearly bought hookers and cocaine for all of his teachers.


  2. How to be a straight-A student? Well, actually studying rather than pissing and moaning all the time is a good start. Be grateful you didn’t have the patron I had today who was asking for books on erotic toys. Yes, I actually had to say that with a straight face.


    • You win this round…I’ve yet to receive a question with the word “erotic” in it. I shall be gratefully of this for many moons.


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