Saturday, March 24, 2012

Can I go home now? - Deluxe Edition

I'll try to tell this story coherently...but if I start to blather, be kind. Mercury is retrograde and the Moon is in caacaa.

First, you have to understand that this is not actually my sixth day in a row at work.

For "human resources" reasons which have to do mainly with denying weekend workers overtime, our municipal payroll week runs from Saturday to Friday. Probably works okay for most Monday to Friday city employees, but the library opens seven days a week. That means we all have to alternate working Saturdays, and once every eight weeks we have to work a Sunday.

Long story short, according to HR, I am not working six days in a row this week. I am working Monday to Friday in one pay week...and Saturday in the next pay week.

Never mind that my body has to get up and drive here six days in a row.

Hour One. So anyway, here I am, a supervisor, preparing for opening hour at a public service desk. I notice that we can't log into the network which controls the public access computers. I call City IT. They say, "Yeah, we downloaded patches to all our servers last night, so it's taking a while to get them working."

[I've always loved this explanation. It worked okay before the patches, but now....]

Internet Kill Switch
I'm trying to print an OUT OF ORDER sign, while explaining to impatient customers what a server is and why I can't fix it right away, when one of our librarians calls out sick.

Saturdays are short-staffed, with everyone working five to six hours out of eight on desk, so this means a complicated scheduling fix...which I can't do here at the desk while I'm also explaining the esoterica of the Internet to a persistant young man and trying to get the desk computer...which is unconscionably bring up Word so that I can print a sign....

Hour Two. Now I'm on the out-of-the-way third floor lobby desk, where for some reason computer customers line up in droves, even when all the machines are obviously in use.

My colleague from the previous hour hands me the phone customer he's been trying to help for the last ten minutes and rushes off to relieve someone else in our call center.

I'm not logged into our customer accounts app or anything else yet, so I ask the caller to hold on. Once I'm ready, I learn that he cannot log into his account remotely through our website, because "every PIN you people give me doesn't work!"

[Why, oh why, did folks back in the 20th century claim that machines—computers in particular—would be "labor-saving devices"? Surely it was only so they could sell them to us.]

I open the caller's account, change the PIN, and try accessing his account through our website myself. No go. I change the PIN again. This time it works, so I give it to him and tell him to try it.

"It doesn't work."

We go in circles for several minutes, until I discover that the caller has bookmarked the login page...which, of course, "saves" PINs. I walk him through closing the browser, reopening it, going to our home page, Clicking on MY LIBRARY ACCOUNT...which he cannot get back to a fresh login page....

While this is all going on, three customers have accumulated around the public access sign-in scanner, and a fourth is standing at my desk, waiting to ask for help, and...

...up walks our resident third floor lobby schizophrenic, the one who ritualistically purifies the whole area before logging into a computer.

In an angry voice she announces, "I was the one who resurrected Jesus Christ last night! Not YOU!"

Three customers walk away briskly.

Raving Street Nuts, by John Callahan

Can I please go with them?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like my librarian daughter's day—3000 miles away in Seattle.... 6-days / 4-hour spurts— 1-hour drives—right use of world resources? of human time?
Oh Glory be!

Kaylin said...

Just keep thinking 'at least I'm not in retail' :D Hope it goes fast for you.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you and your unsung hero co-workers. The only thing missing from this scenerio are the inadequate lighting and dank atmosphere of mold and mildewing materials of being in the basement of the old Main Library (which was meant for storage and not public, much less human--library staff--existence); where you never knew if it was day or night or if the outside world still existed or had already dealt with Armageddon. The only thing it had going for it were the wire cages they kept the staff in for protection from the public, when they were off the desk. Ha, ha. And people ask me if I am glad that I retired. Just remember, next year and yet another budget lurks, not far ahead. That should take care of those one or two hours (called lunch and breaks) which you luxuriate in now. My sympathies to you and those who show up to face this situation!

Anonymous said...

Sunday work made last Thursday my 11th consecutive day at work. Luckily the Sunday work required me to take part of the day off. It wasn't the customers who were damaging my calm. It was staffers who were supposed to be having my back who were too busy finding ways to make my and close colleagues' lives more difficult.

Traci said...

Very funny, Mike! Thanks for the laugh.

Mike Shell said...

@ Kaylin: LOL!

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

As a former JPL employee, I see what I'm missing! In my day, we knew who the crazies were because they were standing in the stacks talking to themselves. These days, you don't know whether it's really a crazy talking to him or herself, or someone with Bluetooth!