Monday, February 21, 2005
Aaack! Library emergency!
OK, so I'm working at the Reference Desk. I'm filling in for Nancy, who's a fulltime librarian here who's away for a week having surgery. I'm supposed to work alongside an undergraduate student, but since today's a holiday, I guess everything's messed up, and no one has shown up to work with me. I've been here since noon, and will be here for another hour and a quarter, and haven't even left to go to the bathroom, much less lunch.
Let's just say I'm a little tired, and a little frazzled, since there've been a number of questions that I haven't been able to answer, since hey -- I only fill in every couple months, and haven't worked here regularly since the summer. Like trying to track down a dissertation from 1932 for which the person on the phone wasn't sure of the correct author, title, or department. (Dissertations prior to 1975 or so aren't indexed online; you have to flip through the ancient card catalogue in one corner of the room - so I had to go back & forth between the phone at the desk and the catalogue, trying to get a better idea of what she was trying to find). And of course questions all come together -- half an hour when I'm sittin' around browsing the internet or trying to grade papers, and suddenly three in-depth questions all in a row. (Or even a bunch of stupid questions).
Anyway, the phone rings. I kind of hope that it's someone saying that they'll be here soon to work with me (even when the undergrad student workers don't necessarily know everything, from working here more regularly than I do they at least know a fair amount that I don't, and at least can help figure out what to do). The caller has a thick, thick New York accent, and I can't really figure out what he's saying.
Caller: Is this the Walsh Library Reference Librarian?
Me: Yes, can I help you?
Caller: I need a priest... can you find me a priest?
Caller: It's an emergency -- I need a priest -- can you get one?
Me: Uh... there's... uh... pardon?
Caller: It's an emergency - I need a priest - it's Last Rites -- is there a priest around?
Me: (thinking maybe there's a fulltime staffer over in Circulation who'd have a vague clue what to do) Could you try calling Circulation?
Caller: I don't have any more quarters -- look, can you just get me a priest?
Me: I can ask Circulation...
Caller: Look, I want you to do it, so I know it's done, otherwise how will I know?
Can you get me a priest?
Caller: OK, I'll wait while you go ask Circulation.
(I go to Circulation. There's only a couple student staffers. They say that Stewart, one of the fulltime librarians, would know, but he's already left. They don't know what to do.)
(I return to Reference. Before I pick up the phone, I look through the directory for the Jesuit Residences, and find them)
Me: OK, I can give you the phone number for one of the Jesuit residences.
Caller: I don't have any more quarters... ok, just give me the number.
(Note that while I recognize he doesn't have any more quarters, I don't have another line, and since I'm alone, can't really leave the desk to go hunt down a priest somewhere on Fordham's campus)
Me: I have the phone number for Spellman or Loyola... which do you want?
Caller: Whatever the main one is, with a priest.
Me: They're both residences... I think Spellman is the main one...
Caller: Is that where they live? The priests?
Me: Yes. Here's the number. (I give him the number)
Caller: Just in case your guys don't work out, can you give me the number of lkasjrdl?
Caller: Kyeskasjdflajsdf -- you know, they do the (totally indecipherable) every year? With the prayers?
Me: What do you want? Pardon?
Caller: You know... just dial information on your other line... Christopher's.
Me: (looking "Christopher's nyc" up on google) Uh... is it a church?
Caller: No, Christopher's, just ask information, there's only one, or look in the Manhattan white pages.
Me: (look it up) Oh... Christophers... on E48th? Is that it? (I give him the number)
Caller: OK, thanks.
Me: Good luck...
So, someone needs last rites (i.e., is dying), this guy only has enough quarters for one call, and I'm the person he reaches. I feel awful -- god... I wish I knew how to summon a priest. Insta-Priest! But sometimes I just have no idea what to do....
I'd like to go home now. One hour left. I have no idea if anyone's even coming to relieve me. What the hell. I'm leaving anyway, at 8pm, no matter what. Besides, I'm meeting up with Ariane at Arthur Avenue Cafe to eat, drink wine, and talk about stuff. (like my third date with James).
Oh yeah, and while I was typing this, another call came in -- first the guy wanted to know when the library closes tonight (easy, midnight), then he wanted to know where some special accounting thing was (???), and then asked to be transferred to Circulation. I have no idea how to make the transfer thing work on these phones. And of course no helpful undergrad to tell me (they know that sort of thing). I think I hung up on him.
Argh. and Ack.
jane 6:46 PM [+]