Rudeness and gratitude


Anyone who works in any kind of service industry, or indeed any public-facing job, will know that people can be unutterably rude sometimes.  And anyone who knows a librarian, or who reads the very funny webcomic Unshelved will know that libraries can attract some of the rudest (and some of the most implausibly stupid) people out there.  Some recent examples…

The student/staff member (not library!) who is rapidly becoming one of my least favourite patrons.  She likes to wander into my office unannounced.  An office with a closed door.  Which has a big sign saying ‘Library Staff Only’ on it.  But this sign evidently doesn’t apply to her, as she will merrily waltz in whenever it pleases her.  It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to a colleague, or on the telephone, or doing some thrilling data entry.  She will walk straight in and loom over my desk, tutting impatiently until I speak to her.  If the door is locked (many of our office doors have a number-pad entry system for lone worker security purposes), she doesn’t knock.  She rattles the doorknob.  She tuts.  She slips notes under the door.  Mysteriously, her requests tend to slip to the bottom of the pile.  Most odd.

Or there are the people at the issue desk, who will lean over and wave their library cards at you to get your attention instead of waiting their turn.  This can happen while I’m cashing up, dealing with someone else, filling in a form or (more than likely) having a heart attack. 

I have, of course, already mentioned the charming people who tell us that they pay our wages.  Then there are the people who think it’s acceptable to refer to a colleague as a ‘stupid cow’.  Actually, dear, both she and I have two degrees, while you have none.  And you clearly don’t appreciate how stupid it is to wind library staff up.  We may be unfailingly polite to you, but we have power…

But on the other hand, you meet some wonderful people. The ones who’ll ask your opinion on anything and everything and have a fascinating conversation about it.  The ones (very, very rare) who present library staff with a box of chocolates when they graduate.  The ones who’ll take the rude people to task.  This week, someone said something so encouraging that it inspired me to write this post (although, I admit that the majority of it has been a rant).  “You are the heart of things, and you do a great job.  Without you guys, we can’t learn anything.”  He’ll go far.  He’s polite, he knows how to stroke our collective ego, and he clearly appreciates the awesome power of library staff.  And most important of all, he makes up for all the rude people and makes us realise that it really is worth doing what we do.

  1. What is all this regular posting you are shaming me most shamingly with? Where shall I hide my face?

    Thank you for introducing me to ‘Unshelved’, BTW.

  2. Worry not, it won't last. The regular posting, that is, not Unshelved. I dearly hope that Unshelved will last forever. 🙂  No need for hiding of faces.

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