Sunday, September 09, 2007

Weirdos Come to the Library

Technically only one came to the library; the other was a call.

However, I had TWO winners for Idiotic Patron today at work! One was a classic Little Old Lady (LOL, oldstyle), one of our regulars. She always needs to talk nonstop about everything in detail. I fear becoming her...

She first wanted to know about cellulitis. Then she had to tell me how she got it, when, where, how it was treated, and ask me why we don't have more information in the building on it (in a nice way). THEN, while people piled up in line at the Reference Desk, she wanted to know how much her 1922 silver Peace dollar is worth. Then I had to check another website because it HAD to be worth more than that!


Then, just as we were facing the beginning of the Closing Routine, which always involves lots of (mostly quick) stuff at the Reference Desk, a call came through. I will quote the conversation as closely as I can:
ME: Reference, may I help you?
DUDE: [terribly obnoxious Big City to Our East accent] I hope you can answer a question for me....
ME: ...?
DUDE: If someone types my name into the Internet to look for me, what can they find out about me? Anything? Everything?
ME: You mean if they Googled you?
DUDE: Is that what it's called? Would they be able to find my credit score, or anything?
ME: They'd only be able to find anything on a public website. Like, if your name is listed at your company, or if you'd been quot...
DUDE: My company isn't on the internet.
ME: ...ed for something. Or if, for instance, you commented on another public website....
DUDE: I've never done that! So no one could find me on the internet?
ME: Well, for instance, phone books are online, so if you have....
DUDE: I don't.
ME: ...a listed phone number....
DUDE: What about someone who has been in the newspaper?
ME: Could you find information on them? Yes.
DUDE: So if I gave you someone's name--not my name, someone else who has been in the paper--it would be online?
ME: Probably yes. Is it someone famous?
DUDE: More like infamous. Someone who has been arrested.
ME: O-kay... [there are people in front of me who need help--I gesture that I'm trying to hurry him along]
DUDE: (gives me name, spelling the last name*)
ME: Yes, when I searched that, in quotes, on Google, I have 57 hits.
DUDE: Really. That's not me.
ME: OK. [I roll my eyes at the people in front of me, one of whom smiles]
DUDE: But you found 57 things about him?
ME: Yes.
DUDE: Can you read them to me?
ME: Uh, read them...? Sir, there are 57; I can't read them all to you, no. Do you have a computer at home?
DUDE: No, no, nothing like that (chuckles). We could narrow it down a little...
ME: Sir, have you ever used Google? Or been online?
ME: The best thing for you to do would be to come in and do this yourself on our computers. And, 57 isn't too bad, actually, but I can't read them to you. I have people standing here waiting who need my help here in person.
DUDE: Oh! So I could do that? Come in? And use the computer?
ME: Yes.
DUDE: But, would someone be able to see what had looked for on your computers?
ME: I'm sure all the searches are logged, maybe using our firewall technol...
DUDE: Firewall? Isn't a firewall what separates your car engine from the inside of the car?
ME: ....ogy....what? No, well, yeah, but no this kind of firewall keeps the computer from downloading bad stuff...
DUDE: ...oh, viruses, right?
ME: OK, so the searches are logged, I'm sure, but a subpoena would be required for anyone to...
DUDE: But you don't let anyone do illicit stuff on the computers, right?
ME: ...take a look... "Illicit?" What do you mean by illicit? [patrons in the area are now snickering. With the word "illicit" one woman starts giggling]
DUDE: Like, uh, chat place...rooms?
ME: Yes, we allow people to use chat rooms. Sir, really, I have a lot of people here who need help. I really think you need to come in and we'll be happy to talk to you about all of this, and get you set up to use the computers.
DUDE: I can do that, and you don't track the searches? OK, thank you for your time, (blah blah blah....blather)
At least the in-house patrons were amused by it all.
* The short description on Google of this person indicated that he was arrested for some sort of s#xu@l offense in the Big City to Our East several years ago. I'm sure it wasn't the guy on the phone. Positive. Really. Right?

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