War Stories Page 01


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  • I was at the Circ desk and answered the phone. We have an automated computer line that calls people and tells them of overdue books, etc. and this woman had just received a call. She told me she was hard of hearing and couldn’t understand what had been said, would I please tell her what books she had checked out. So I look at her record, and my heart sank. The book was “As Merry as Hell.” Of course. (And while yes, I live in New Orleans, the seat of sin; I work in a very quiet neighborhood with a fairly reserved and quite religious patronage.)

    To set the scene: I work in a branch library, and while it’s not tiny, it is small enough to hear people at the desk from any point in the stacks. I am fairly soft spoken, but can usually get heard quite well. So I tell her the title in my loud voice. And she says WHAT? (Repeat three times). As the frustration starts to set in for both of us, I decide to break it down into separate words.

    “OK, first word is As — A. S. As. Ok, got that.

    “Next word merry, as in Merry Christmas.” No problem.

    “As again.” Got it. Deep breath…

    “The last word is hell.”

    What? Hell.

    WHAT? HELL.

    WHAT? HELL!

    Over and over and over…

    I must have said/shouted it at least 35 times. My boss is laughing hysterically at me, a crowd has gathered, and I’m aghast that I am now screaming off-color words at the library while I am working, with my boss two feet away from me, falling out of his chair….

    So I finally spell it, screaming “H. E. L. L.

    “No, L! L! HELL!!!” finally… I hear,

    “Hell? As Merry as Hell?” whew.

    “Yes Ma’am.” then the kicker:

    “Well, why would I want to read that????

    No lie.

  • I was working in Children’s one fine Saturday when a sweet little old lady came in. She handed me a piece of paper with a book title on it and asked me, “Would this be appropriate for an eight-year-old? My grandsons are coming to visit me.” The title was Albert Camus’ THE STRANGER. Let’s just say that I sent her home with some RICKY RICOTTA books.
  • Just now we had 2 scooter riding youths ride into the library, drop off some books, hop back on their scooters & proceed to execute several 180’s in the elevator lobby before leaving.

    No, we don’t have a policy for that. We’re the third floor of an 8 story building so the whole ‘no bikes, skateboards or roller blades’ rule usually doesn’t apply.

  • So I’d been working at a public library for a few months, and a youngish (mid-30s) guy comes to the counter to get a card. He’s got his left hand/forearm in some sort of sling, so I asked if he was right-handed (so he could sign his card). He says “yes I am, and good thing too!” – and rotates the arm-in-a-sling so I can see that he’s missing two fingers and the other two have VERY obviously just been sewn back on – stitches, puffiness, etc. EWWW. He said he was working with some sort of saw in his back yard and cut off all 4 fingers. Two they could find, and the other two, he said, “must have landed somewhere on the roof.” Who wants to clean those gutters?

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