At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

@ our rinky-dink library

I suppose most libraries have a Grumpy Old Man among their habitués. Ours comes in most afternoons to check his Yahoo email and look at the websites of various National Geographic-type organizations. He marches in with a serious mein, trim and erect, looking like a superannuated boy scout with club patches sewn on satchel and cap. Within minutes of sitting down at a computer he will upbraid a staff member in his warbly voice about some problem he's having using the internet. In my experience the problem has always arisen from some basic blunder on his part--e.g. typing in his password incorrectly, trying to check his Yahoo mail by clicking on the IE mail icon, that sort of thing. Once the boss had to call in her husband to help calm him down after he started beating on the keyboard in frustration. Our tech guy is worried that our upcoming switch to XP is going to pique his wrath even further. The Boss says he is reputed to be, or to have been, a "brilliant scientist," yet he doesn't understand the most elementary facts about the internet. Not that I find the combination of theoretical smarts and technological cluelessness to be implausible--my dissertation advisor at ND didn't have an email account, and another of my professors was still using a manual typewriter.

For some reason, our G.O.M. came in the other day with what I can only describe as a Monkees wig à la Davy Jones, a tousled mop of fake brown hair. A less subtle hairpiece on the head of a man in his seventies cannot be imagined. He never wore it before that day, and hasn't since. Perhaps he had a date?

Being a Christian librarian, I have to serve even annoying patrons like this with the same dedication I would anyone else. But it's tough giving aid to the ungrateful.


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