I just joined 20Something Bloggers a few weeks ago, and I'm loving it. I found a bunch of great people, some I already knew, some I didn't know, and a bunch of great people found me.
Sometimes I troll around their blogs and their friends' friends' blogs, and sometimes I find neat stuff, like this promotion from Blog Carnival. I don't know about you but I love free ice cream. I even love ice cream I have to pay for (the five packages of ice cream [plus ice cream sandwiches and freezy pops] currently living in my freezer are testament to this).
So here goes: “This post is a part of 20SB’s Looking Back Blog Carnival, and Ben & Jerry’s is awarding free ice cream to lucky bloggers and readers!”
And here you have a post, a blasty from the pasty, about my current job and my (hopeful) future job and how they dovetail quite nicely.
Originally published at beeswaxed on October 2, 2008.
I seem to be getting (a tiny bit) nicer, or at least more forgiving of annoying people/annoying things people do, as I age -- though I don't extend this courtesy to asshole drivers, who still top my "what the hey" list and render me criminally insane for many minutes at a time, many times a day. Is this uncommon? A few years ago I was the very epitome of grandma-chic, from the cardigans and old-lady skirts to the shouting and fist-shaking at hooligans in the streets and around my house. I feel more placid now. Oh, let the ruffians engage in fisticuffs! I don't care! I might even smile and shake my head with an "oh, to be young again!" type of bittersweet regret. Even asshole and otherwise difficult customers at work (and there are plenty, ohhhhh there are plenty; they come in trickles, then spurts, then droves, the closer the holidays get) get the VIP, kid-glove treatment from me (mostly). Children, who used to annoy the everloving poop out of me on the basis that they are small and get in the way and ask too many questions, I now find a little charming. Kids at the barn are especially prone to getting underfoot and asking the most ridiculous questions and now I find myself going just slightly out of my way to help them, to try and come up with kid-friendly answers to those queries.
I have no idea what is going on with me.
I had a thought that maybe it was because some sort of friendly-librarian gene was rearing its amiable head in me, if such a thing exists.
The thing is, I've been following an online community of librarians/media specialists, and it honestly depresses me how many of them seem to hate their jobs and their patrons. Okay, okay, I KNOW it's not all sunshine and roses and great books. I know there are indigent patrons, stinky patrons, frankly and terrifyingly insane patrons, patrons who bring in their 2-year-old children and leave them there unoccupied for hours, patrons who are looking for a book or scholarly article on some obscure topic on which little (or none at all) up-to-date and in-print information exists, and patrons who are looking for a librarian to handhold them through narrowing down an extremely broad subject into one suitable for a school project/paper. I know there are "entitlement" patrons and patrons who look down on those of us who choose to spend roughly a million (or six-ish/seven-ish) years in school only to end up basically serving the public.
I've worked in a bookstore for seven years this fall. I have met and dealt with all of the aforementioned archetypes, repeatedly, in all their various and yet unvaried incarnations. Yes, there is the difference of money being exchanged in the bookstore biz, but the goal is the same: find the book. Obtain the book, if it's not readily available. I'm pretty confident that over a half-decade's (dear god... it's been that long?) worth of dealing with the vast cast of the book-buying public has somewhat prepared me for a life of dealing with the book-borrowing public.
But the posts on this forum for librarians depress me. They're all really snarky, quite bitchy, and have that vaguely superior "I work in the academic arts, and I know the DDS (or LCC) by heart and backwards, so up your uneducated farthole" air about them.
Please, god, don't let me be like that.
It's not just that the posts or posters are whiny and self-indulgent (though they are) - but that's a common occurrence in the blogland or online-forum-world. And why not? Relative anonymity has its perks, not least of which is the ability to gripe about friends, coworkers, clients, etc. with few people knowing about it. Not gonna lie, I've done it all. A while back, I joined an online group of booksellers for the express purpose of bitch-and-moaning about the coworker/client end of the "dudes I have to deal with" spectrum, but it's lost its glitz, the glamour is gone.
My main problem with the whole spectacle is that as a librarian, you work for the public, which includes the dirty, the stinky, the challenged, the bitchy, the culture-addled, and information-befuddled. That is your job. If you have a hard time dealing with the less-desirable members of modern society, then you should probably have a job writing a vitriolic blog about said members of society from the privacy and comfort of your own home, or at least look into some profession where you can inflict the physical pain you dream about inflicting on those unlucky people, like a phlebotomist, or I dunno, dominatrix or something.
I'm no saint. I'm frustrated endlessly by people. I inwardly roll my eyes at stupid questions teenagers ask about Shakespeare or Camus, but I'm still happy to introduce them to the works, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I haven't always dealt well with the stresses, major and minor, of working in a bookstore, but I've come a long way since 2001. I've even come to regard many of our more problematic regulars at the store with a sort of affection. It's so strange.
I don't know. Not really sure how I wanted this blog to go, but kind of wanted to get it off my chest.
One more thing I was thinking about: my company, like many, I'm sure, has an intranetwork. One of the features of this network is a sort of "employee of the month" segment, where via letters from satisfied customers, booksellers and bookstores get the highest praise for doing their job. Maybe I'm just jealous because I've never been commended in there, but every month or week or however often it's updated, it seems that the people mentioned are being lauded for doing things like actually looking for a book in their store, or actually calling a customer back, or actually bothering to ask and find out what book a customer might be looking for. Guess what? This is not extraordinary customer service. This is customer service, period. I do things like this every day I work at the bookstore. It is my job. I have also gone above and beyond (driving 20 miles to hand-deliver a book that a customer desperately needed right away is one example I can think of off the top of my head - and no, I was not reimbursed for mileage, thank you very much - and yes, I was off the clock!)
I dunno, guys. Have the values of customer service gone so far down that now we have to pat heads and give cookies for people merely doing their job?
I'm not implying I'll be some kind of Super Librarian, kind helpful, and gracious to all, whether they deserve it or not. But it could happen. Nor am I implying that I'm currently some kind of Super Bookseller, but I sure do try.
P.S. I still do rock at my job, even though my position now is mostly just shelving.