If you track seasons by the school calendar, summer is over.
Yesterday was the first day of school at the university where I work in the library part-time. My schedule is back to “normal” (compared to no-student parts of summer) where I work 3 hours per night for five consecutive nights. Most Mondays, I work with the library director, but she decided extra hands would be necessary during the day for new students coming in to find textbooks, pick-up ordered books, and activate student IDs for library use.
For more than two hours last night, the library was relatively quiet. Two female students came in, requested reserved texts then moved to the lobby copier to duplicate the chapters needed. The two talked mostly to each other while I continued my work with my back to them. Some of their words filtered through to my brain – funny how my ears perked up as I was meant to be a part of their conversation.
“What is the oldest building on campus?” reached my ears just as another young lady came to the desk to pick up a book she’d requested.
She handed me her ID card. She wasn’t in my computer. I rectified that then moved to checking the book out to her. The computer program would not allow me to do that. “Do you want to override?”
Well, yes. I filled in all the appropriate boxes. “You are not authorized to override.”
That’s what I thought.
The phone rang. In fact, it didn’t just ring, it screamed, “Answer me. Answer me.”
I excused myself from the student standing in front of me, listened to the request from the student on the other end who, of course, did not realize I had others needing my attention. After a few minutes, I requested her patience while I finished with the person standing in front of me.
Before I pushed the hold button, a daily patron came in to use our computers. This would require me to physically sign him into the exact computer he wished to use. I had him sign in then asked him if he could wait until I was done with the phone caller and the other person waiting to check out her book. He waited on a lobby couch.
I went back to the person in front of me to straighten out dueling ID numbers which turned out to be the cause of the computer keeping me from checking out her book. I made sure that I understood how and why she had two numbers so that I could correctly diminish her account to one number, rather than just dealing with her in the most efficient manner for the moment.
I moved back to the phone caller who had trouble understanding that I couldn’t secure a book for her if she didn’t have an activated ID. In the middle of my explanation, my cell phone in my left hand pocket vibrated followed by the robotic voice, “Call from…” I anticipated my husband’s name who would be communicating about supper when I got home in about a half hour. When I heard my brother’s name instead, I tried not to panic. He never calls me. Something happened to mom.
Still, the job comes first (there’s nothing I can do for or about mom when I’m two and a half hours south of where she was). I pardoned myself from the caller without putting her on hold, answered my cell without a “Hello” and started explaining, “Bob, I’m at work and swamped right now. I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”
Back to the student on the phone. She had a few more requests before capitulating that everything might be easier if she came into the library “tomorrow.” She asked my name, as she might request my help when she arrived. I gave it to her acknowledging that I do not work during the day, only in the evening.
Before I’m off the work call, my cell rings again. Same as before – my brother’s name. “Gees. It must be really bad with mom.”
I do not answer.
I finish the student call. I move to sign the waiting patron onto a computer. As I walk into the wing where most of the computers are housed, another student walks toward me and asks, “Are you leaving now?”
“Good, I need you to get my number so I can request books.”
“Do you have some ID? I can’t give out a number unless I know who you are.”
My cell phone makes the coloratura refrain that lets me know a voice message came in.
I sign in one patron onto a computer while continuing to discuss how I will give out a number to a student I don’t know. (“I’m the only one on campus with the name…”)
Seemingly defeated, that student leaves the library.
I pick up my cell phone to hear the voice message. I anticipate my brother’s baritone but instead hear “Crunch, crunch, crunch.”
“This is like a prank call!”
I put my phone to the ear of one student still using the copy machine (remember them?) and say, “Doesn’t sound like someone running to you?”
The records show that I received two calls from my brother. One from his cell, the second from his home number. “Is he in trouble? Is this a signal?”
All I can do is call him back. I leave a message – on both of his phones.
A few minutes later, my cell rings again. My brother.
He had been out running and evidently he “butt dialed” me. (My first!) I immediately thought of the commercial on TV where a woman’s marriage proposal is interrupted by her brother’s butt dialing during his own proposal.
Everything is okay. Everyone is baffled how such a thing could happen (he hardly has any butt).
Ah, all’s well.
Oh, and to the young ladies copying…
“I think Barclay or Bailey.”
“I think one of those is the oldest building on campus.”
“Oh! I didn’t know you heard us. I thought you were reading.”
“Well, it looked like reading, but it was research.”
It’s going to be a good school year.