(I dream that I am in a kind of ice cave, up to my chest in sea water. I am on the coast of Tierra Del Fuego. Behind me the cave opens onto darkness, and the thundering, freezing, southern ocean. On a little shelf of ice I am counting change. The coins keep getting mixed together. I am afraid that I will be swept away into the deep before I can sort them out.)
I make myself wake up. Coffee and a smoke, make my morning offering to the Most Holy Trinity.
The Vespa won't crank. Battery's weak after days away in Tampa to see U2. I manage to kick-start it, and shove off under a low, grey sky that augurs rain.
Feeling more than usually desolate, I say a Hail Holy Queen over the sound of the engine. "To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears." It helps.
Why so down? Must be The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty, Sebastian Barry's spellbinding novel of a man who finds himself, "lacking all conviction", as Yeats would say, on the wrong side of the Irish troubles. It comes to me that I've been in a dark, Irish space, with U2 and their Bloody Sundays as well. Weird.
No matter, onward. I must open up on my own. D. is on leave. Newspapers, change drawer, empty pencil sharpener, refill staplers, printers, open restrooms, start 50+ PC's.
T. is hunkered down at a virus-stricken PC at the reference desk, trying to root out the virus. She finds a coupon executable, likely dating from the Oprah/KFC fiasco earlier this year, but it is not the virus, "Antivirus Pro", contracted when I visited the Miss Black Florida USA site last Wednesday, trying to find the name of a Miss Black Florida back in the '90's for a caller. She finally gives up. She must rebuild the PC, and she takes the box with her, leaving the LCD and a tangle of cables.
The second floor landing presents a tableau of motionless unfortunates, waiting for the library to open. They sit or stand suspended in the humid outdoors, as condensation rolls down the great glass windows. Their relief is tangible when I open the doors and they press into the cool, dry library.
M. is here now, and I am glad for the company. After the initial flurry of assigning PC's to non-cardholders, it is quiet for a Monday. She was off last week, and she has a stack of paperwork to sort out. It is my turn to fill the non-fiction send-item list, one of several lists that we print out daily of items that have been requested the day before. Shelvers used to do these before the hiring freeze of '07', (goodness, has it been that long?), but I actually enjoy it. I pull the easy ones, checking back often at the desk, and trundle them down to Circulation just before my lunch at noon.
We had expected 70 or so Leon High students to come in to work on their history fair projects between 11 and 12, but as I step out to the landing for a smoke, I see them finishing their lunches in the gazebo down in the park and trooping our way. If I eat at my desk, I will surely be called out by the workroom bell and lose my lunch hour. I make myself scarce, taking my sandwich up to the staff lounge instead.
Back at 1:00. Lo and behold, I have an hour off the desk. Check the Answer Squad mailbox for reference questions. Can she check out books with a fine on her card? Forward to Circulation. She mistakenly included her own children's book with returns to our Northeast Branch. Forward to NEB staff and tell her so.
I try to ferret out remaining send-item reserves. The Dracula Scrapbook, Peter Haining, ed. hasn't moved in years, as well as From Julia Child's Kitchen. They will be marked missing. A couple of titles on anatomical drawing in the 643's are just plain not there. Now I must try to imagine where some bleary-eyed shelver might have mis-shelved the remaining titles. The Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook I find at 613.8521 rather than its correct location of 616.8521. Clear the Bridge! : the war patrols of the U.S.S. Tang I find at 940.5421 rather than 940.9451. Architectural Presentation Techniques has 720.28 on its spine label, rather than 720, as the title record has it.
Back out to the desk at 2:00, and soon it's after-school time. Gaggles of cheery black teens drift in, happy to be out of school for the day. I see a couple leaning together at a table, and not long after, Anthony, our 2nd floor security guard, asks me to call DS, the supervisor of the day. She tells me that they are lying on the carpet at the back of non-fiction, and asks me to keep an eye on them.
Mr. L., the church furnishings salesman calls, wanting the number of London Church Furniture in Kentucky. Where are they in Kentucky? They are in London, Kentucky, and he laughs. Another man calls. He used to look up business addresses with a database we had. Sorry, I tell him, we can't afford ReferenceUSA anymore, but try Switchboard.com, a free site run by the same company.
I walk back to the end of non-fiction. There is a hidden nook by the fire-escape door that invites indiscretion, and sure enough, they are kissing there, though they are standing up. Tut-tut, they must cut it out, I tell them. No Kissing Allowed. She protests that she told him they must not behave so. He is abashed, and says nothing. They clear out. Oh dear, puppy love.
Another hour off the desk. I am fading, and I occupy myself with donations.
Back out to the desk at 4:00. C. is here. His favorite station is at the PC with the virus, so he manfully sits himself down at the Internet guest reservation PC instead. I decide to cull the new non-fiction books, which are getting tight. We keep new non-fiction on the new shelves for six months. I find many titles needing their red dots removed, and to be shifted to the regular non-fiction shelves.
A cute young guy with a mane of braided locks wants whatever we have on medical marijuana and on Mendocino. Wouldn't you know, all our books on medical marijuana are lost or missing. Fortunately, I can show him our Opposing Viewpoints database, which has many articles on the subject. I could tell him a lot about Mendocino, but I don't. He and his girlfriend drill down into Opposing Viewpoints.
MD, our Youth Services coordinator, shows up at 5:00 to help out. I continue culling and shelving the new non-fiction while keeping an eye on her.
And then it's 6:00 pm. I made it.