"When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect – but do not believe him. Never put your trust in anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel Laureate, may be wrong... So you must always be skeptical – always think for yourself." --Linus Pauling


Comfortable hell with extra throw pillows.

I work as a clerk at the Los Angeles Public Library. To be more precise, I work in the circulation department (called Access Services) and have since June 2000.

The library is the best job I've ever had: Insurance, dental, good pay, much difficulty in order to get fired. Plus: BOOKS, eh? Big plus there.

The circulation department is the busiest one in the library. No, really. People who work in other departments talk about how busy they are but one thing they all have in common is that they don't want to work in Access Services. That's because despite protestations to the contrary, they know.

In other departments like Science, or Literature there is time to slack. My friend Randall just transferred to Science and when he talks about his mornings now, they all sound like short vacations punctuated with lots of e-mail and the occasional burst of filing. "I got so much read this morning." I could kill him, but then who would I eat lunch with?

Working in circulation, interacting with the public as I do, you might think: I bet Jack has amassed a few pet peeves. You are so right, Gentle Reader. So. RIGHT. Here are a few, in no particular order:

1. People who bitch about miniscule fines. The poor jerks who owe fifty dollars or much, much more in library fines usually don't complain that much. They know why they owe so much, you know? If they do complain, well they sort of earned the right to be upset in a roundabout fashion. More often than not it seems the less someone owes the more nuts they go in response to it. I'm sorry, but if you have time to bitch about two dollars to a city employee, then no amount of telling me how important you are is going to convince.

2. People who are obsessive/compulsive about paying their fines. Then there's the ones who spaz out and slow the check out line down for infinite moments looking for that last quarter. Because they "don't want it hanging over their heads. "As if somehow, owing that last twenty-five cents could spell out karmic disaster for them. Please. No one cares. That line of people that stretches off behind you to the bad part of town in Mordor really doesn't care. Oh, and I couldn't raise my care level above NIL if I was to paid to, which in fact I am. Your fines are under five dollars and you can still check stuff out. So piss off, already.

3. People who return items that are wet. I shouldn't even have to explain this really. When you hand me something that is recommended to be stored in a cool dry place like oh, virtually anything you could possibly want to check out from the library --it shouldn't be wet. EVER. I don't mean you shouldn't have left that copy of The Great Gatsby out in the rain or dropped it in the tub. That goes without saying. I mean I don't want you handing me a book or video that is mostly dry (as it should be) but oddly wet in places. Because it sets me to wondering how this intrinsically dry object got patina of wet about it. Did you place it in next to the water bottle in your bag? Did your hands sweat from the activity of holding it on the bus? Did something more outre happen between you and this book? I have no way of knowing. If you're one of our filthier patrons (jerks who return videos with cockroaches in them represent), I really have NO WAY OF KNOWING.

4. Why is it that people who smell bad need to lean over the counter as far as they can? Well, Brainiac? Why? Incidentally, oftentimes women with flattering cleavage and large... fines also have on occasion been known to lean over the counter. That's not a pet peeve though. I just wanted to mention it.

5. People who cannot alphabetize. This one is actually directed at co-workers of mine. We have a big shelf where we keep the holds and several times a week (or even several times a day) I can't find the item a patron wants to pick up because Helen Keller decided to drop by for a spot of shelving. This really pisses me off because when I'm fantasizing about all the rocket science jobs I'm capable of, it strikes me that this one is so easy to get right. It's only the alphabet we Use Every Day.

6. Bureaucratic horseshit. This job could be so easy, I shouldn't have to put up with any of it. The soccer moms that are my bosses think otherwise. You know, one does the right thing because it's the right thing to do --not because it's in a manual. There's actually too much to write about on this subject. So particular explanations will have to wait.

But not long.

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