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I've changed the names of everyone in this article to protect their identities.
I don't really know why I thought working as a waitress in an extremely busy dining hall would work out for a bookish 17-year-old with an anxiety condition, but I did.
After essentially getting fired (completely not my fault, I can assure you) I've now moved on to a new job at the grand old age of 19.
One thing was for sure, I needed a break from hotplates and dinners for 100(+) people at a time. I needed a complete 180 degrees turn around for my small part-time job.
So, where did I pick? A library!! Perfect!
It'd be quiet, calm work with easy hours! I applied with haste.
My New Co-Workers
Poppy (my new boss) explained my hours to me and told me when to start. Now, Poppy's one of those middle-aged women who looks as if they could pass for a nun or some kind of Mormon but is actually a bit of a potty mouth with a chip well and truly set on their shoulder. A lesson I learned from my very first shift...
That day started with me meeting my co-workers; there's Kevin (he's a scouser), Lucy (a girl around my age) and Marge (my other boss), who appeared to be occupying her valuable time violently polishing a DVD rack with a rainbow feather duster.
After shaking (sweaty) hands with the three, I headed to the office with Poppy.
The sound of falling DVD's hitting the floor rang out before I shut the door behind us... poor Marge.
Poppy explained how the computer system works and how it takes "absolutely f***ing ages to load" but I already knew. I can smell Windows Vista like a technological bloodhound.
Stories of the Day
It was then time for me to christen myself with some shelf work and no, it's less exciting than it sounds! Saying the alphabet 30 times under my breath to see where a certain letter is placed isn't anyone's idea of fun but hey, it's better than getting my neck snapped in two by my old boss.
It was also, thankfully, nice and quiet. Just what I was hoping for this job!
Before I knew it, it was the afternoon and Lucy and I were on a lunch break. We had a nice chat about each other's work lives (I left out me getting fired) when she explained to me that she doesn't actually like libraries but has spent most of her life in them. It seemed a little strange but hey, I spent a year doing a job I didn't like. I guess we're as bad as each other, though I doubt she'd be forced into a career change by a mad boss and a quick sacking. She's a timid girl, it seems.
The afternoon work was... interesting, to say the least. I met several kooky customers. An American with five children, a man who doesn't appear to wash, and another man with a bit of a volume issue but these folks didn't hold a candle to this one lady. Let's call her Sue.
Sue had come to the library seeking some books advising on how to manage business social media accounts. So, now that I knew my way around the shelves, I showed her to the "internet for dummies" section. While we were there, discussing what book she would like, she proudly proclaimed to me, "I'm an author, you see" showing me a cover of her book on her phone. It was turquoise, so I didn't trust her at all but I helped her find the books nevertheless.
I returned to the front desk to order some new books from other libraries for her while she went to pick out some DVD's to rent from Marge's dust-free rack.
She then bought the large pile of books and DVD's to me to be signed out, which I did with the same staggering difficulty I had been displaying all day but I was proud. I was proud that I was about to complete my very first independent customer service.
Before I could finish with the books, Sue lifted up one of the DVDs she wanted to rent so I could see the front. There were two young boys who were embracing on the front.
She asked me, “Is this a gay's film?”
“I honestly couldn’t tell you.” I frowned
“Well I won’t get it, just in case.”
Riiight. I returned my attention to the computer to print her book receipt when Marge came to help me by signing out her DVDs. She was about to pick up the film with the two boys, which Sue hadn’t put back, when she piped up.
“Oh no, not that one. I don’t want people thinking I like gayboy films.”
“Okay then,” said Marge. She sounded very bored of this woman already, and she handed back the DVD to Sue to put back. She didn’t take it though.
She hastily took her books and left, leaving the DVD on the desk for me to put back, which I did.
Not having the basic human decency to put something you’ve used back really grinds my gears, especially after all the hard work poor Marge had put into dusting and re-ordering those DVDs....
I was ensuring that it made it’s way into the correct section (it’s a colored sticker system… very high tech) when I realized why Sue didn’t put it back herself; she hadn’t touched the movie since she’d decided it was a "gay" production. To her, the DVD was contaminated with "the homo" because two boys were hugging on the front of the case.
I laughed out loud, breaking the silence in the library; I’m glad I didn’t tell her I’m queer!