Morons, your bus is leaving.

I have had trouble with the incompetent clods at my local library before. Several times I have returned items only to have them checked in the day after I returned them and gotten fined for keeping them late. I’ve even had a DVD that I put on hold be recorded as checked out to me when I didn’t actually get it. That was nothing compared to what happened today.

So I went online today prior to visiting the library to see if I could renew some DVDs that I had checked out. Instead of finding out if someone else had them on hold, I was told that my library card was “blocked”. That was it, no explanation, just “blocked”.

When I arrived at the library I went to the desk and inquired, politely, why my card was blocked. I was told that it was because I had never checked out two of the books I had placed on hold, though I had taken them home and so they were now “missing”. I explained that I found this odd, since I most certainly had checked them out and, in fact, returned them a week earlier. The librarian then condescendingly informed me that sometimes the self-checkout at the library didn’t function properly and I probably didn’t notice that they hadn’t been checked out. I swallowed any reply I might have made about how I am not a complete buffoon with technology and asked for the block to be removed from my card. The librarian kindly acceded.

Thinking that this mess, while annoying, was through, I wandered a bit and found some books I wanted to check out, and decided to search for a few more. A book that I thought I would like to re-read was indicated as being on the shelves at that branch. Yet it was not. I looked in several places, the sci-fi/fantasy shelves, regular fiction, etc, but it was nowhere to be found. When I inquired about it, I was told that it was probably missing and did I want to put it on hold. No interest in finding the bloody book supposedly inhabiting their library, nor in changing the status of the book from present to missing (I watched her screen as she checked and then cleared it to deal with another patron).

Right then, I’m already over my quota of incompetence for the day. I’d like to just take my books and go home. But wait! I need to see if my DVDs can be renewed. I log in to a computer, punch in my card number and PIN and… “information is invalid”? I must have mistyped something. I try again. Nothing. I get my card out (despite my confidence in having memorised the number) and carefully type it and my PIN slowly and with deliberation. Same result. So I make my way again, more with anger than with trepidation, to the front desk and inquire why my card no longer seems to exist in their computers? After some footling about the librarian (each encounter has been with a different person) discovers that in removing the block from my card, her colleague has deleted my barcode from the system. Another few minutes of messing about and I can finally check out my books and escape.

As an epilogue, I glance at a scrap of paper I am using as a bookmark when I get home and discover, lo and behold, the receipt clearly stating that I did check out the two books that got my card blocked. And since I know I returned them, whoever was supposed to have checked them in was the one guilty of gumming up the works.

Frustrating, in the extreme. But I have a plan. Both to protect myself from further aspersions on my character and competence, and as a fringe benefit, sure to annoy the self-righteous librarians who have caused such problems for me in the first place. No more self-checkout for me, oh no! Even be it only one paperback, I will wait in line and have them check it out themselves, and of greater effect in both areas of import, I will bring every item in to the desk to be checked in by hand so I can get a receipt for that too. And should they dare to complain, I will be willing, nay, eager to relate this story at length and with flourishes to emphasise my resolution in this matter.

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