Thursday, November 30, 2006

Harassment, Sexual

naughty  naughty!With the holidays upon us, this season of joy, light, and family - it was time for Sexual Harassment training.

Unlike my last job in the Almost Square State™, I now work in and amongst a network of county offices. This meant that my Sexual Harassment training would take place with police detectives, social workers, and forrest rangers. This was going to be interesting. And it was.

The first things that I learned from the dated video follow, in no particular order:

1) If you wear fashions of the 1980's, you will almost inevitably sexually harassed by short, leering men.

2) Most men who sexually harass women have moustaches.

3) Most women who sexually harass women are lesbians.

4) Sexual harassment only happens in poorly furnished offices, with bad lighting.

5) Out of town business men will always sexually harass secretaries who wear low cut blouses.

6) During a 3 hour Sexual Harassment training you get a 20 minute break, cookies and coffee included.

7) Construction workers, while they Sexually Harass lots of people, are apparently not harassed themselves. This job is particularly attractive to Sexual Harassers.

8) If you are alone with a co-worker in a cafeteria, ware house, room with no windows - but lots of fake potted plants, or parking garage you are likely to be sexually harassed.

9) You can not sexually harass inanimate objects, no matter how hard you try.

10) I need to pick up some coffee creamer, saltines, and sugar cubes.

Mind you, these are just a few of the notes I took during the session. Mind you, I might have improvised some of these notes based on what I wanted to hear.

I may have been slightly distracted by the uneven mini-blinds covering the huge windows. Or the odd number of Styrofoam coffee cups on the snack table, or the fact that the cookies were mixed, and not sorted by type.

Or that the paper napkins had pictures of flowers and happy birds on them, even though its not spring.

Overall, it was an enjoyable training. I will not sexually harass any of my coworkers. Not that I would have anyway - it's kinda tacky.

Moral of this blog: If you wouldn't say it to your Grandmother, you shouldn't say it at all.

Friday, November 24, 2006

VI, Thanksgiving

This is so moistAgain, Thanksgiving has arrived. My house is full of sleeping guests. Now that I am More Northern ™ the guests don't just show up on Thanksgiving, eat, and go home. They fly here - and sleep in my beautiful war era 5 bedroom home.

My Mother flew in, and we spent the evening before Thanksgiving making pies, talking, and generally taking too many coffee and cigarette breaks. Though both of us did look tremendous in aprons.

This year, with all the guests sound asleep, I was able to reflect on the fact that this was a great year to be thankful. No nonsense about it - it has been a rough road giving up everything familiar, buying a house in a far away state, starting a new job, trying to convince new people that I really do know what the hell I am talking about - but it all ended up working. And it is fun knowing that my Mother is already up and making coffee - one less thing to do.

Thanksgiving was perfect again this year, down to the vintage table clothes and candlesticks. I used brown and maroon orchids mixed with mums this year for quite a dramatic effect. I wanted this post to be funny, filled with amusing anecdotes - but finally - it was the Thanksgiving that even I couldn't have scripted to be more perfect.

And the wine was good too. All 20 something bottles of it.

Moral of this blog: Thanks.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Quiet, Unnatural

it is too quiet!Today was a relatively quiet day. Most of my coworkers were out of the office today, and I was left in the back with one, quiet librarian-who laughs at my jokes and makes me feel all pretty.

But it wasn't just the office that was quiet today. I was off desk, doing librarian things, when I decided I needed to go out and be with my adoring fans. I straightened my cardigan, and made sure my shirt wasn't untucked in the back.

Funny thing. My shirt always untucks itself in the back. I'm becoming hyper aware of the curve that is forming in my shoulders, and while I used to look forward to the day when I was a bent over old librarian, this is happening too soon for my taste. And I do have impeccable taste.

My office leads to a small room where we administer oaths for passports, and have our "we shouldn't say this on the floor" chats. It was quiet. Really really quiet. 5 users on the internet.

5 USERS ON THE INTERNET? Has there been some sort of virus leaked on the floor? Where my people at?

I knew we were installing it, but the public didn't. We, once again, use timing software.

I love timing software. 60 minutes after the adoring fan logs in, the computer logs him or her out. They get a heads up at 6 minutes to start saving there work. Only, I'm sure that or doesn't leave much to save.

This bit of technology keeps me from getting up every 5 or 7 minutes to answer the question "Is there a computer free?" to which I always reply - "Lets walk over here (5 feet implied) and look at the (public, highly visible implied) list that is (right here implied) on the podium!"

I say it each time with a big smile. The math, even to me, is quite simple. Look at the time the adoring fan signed up - and add one hour to it. But rather than troubling the customer with this complex mathematical feat, I do it for them.

"Looks like there are no computers free right now. Why don't you wait over here in one of these chairs, and wait for someone to get up."

Those days are gone, gentle reader. Each computer now has a screen that allows the customer to approach, and enter a bar code. The 60 minute time pops up, and off they go to a fantasy cyber world.

They can even sign up on the PACs for a certain time if they'd like. This system is deluxe.

Only it has no loopholes. No loopholes that even the cleverest native can figure out. Without a library card, there is no way to get on - unless we create a guest pass. Most of the people who swear they never had a library card - do.

They have huge heart stopping fines. We still give them their card number. They just can't check any more materials out - I think that is fair.

The technology seems to have scared all the customers away. Either that, or having used their one allotted hour, they have no reason to stay in the library. It makes me realize how much people were abusing this privilege before. There were only 5 users on the floor. Usually , the place is packed, with a line of people waiting to get on.

I asked "Is today a holiday?" My co-workers looked at me like I just pulled a dead rabbit out from behind my back. I thought, hey, it might be now that I'm More Northern ™. Who knows what they celebrate up here. Besides, it is the first day of killing animals season. I thought that might have had something to do with it.

Until I realized most of the users are teen aged girls. Hmmm.

So, my question is this: Has the technology scared them away? or has it temporarily stunned the users? Maybe we should give them more than one hour - maybe two. Is that too much? What does your library do?

I went to the water fountain and let it run for about 45 seconds. When I was little, my Mom told me this cleared the germs off. I don't know if it really does, but I like to believe that, and so I do it each time. I took a sip and walked back though the not so busy floor, through the passport room, and into my office.

The quiet seemed unnatural. Sort of like a forrest before a fire, or a horror film right before the main character gets horribly murdered to death.

And I realized, I like my libraries bustling. Noisy. Lots of kids. Old people talking loudly into cell phones like the are foreigners, Mothers hog calling for their children. But not today. I'd have to live without my guilty pleasure.

Moral of this blog: Let us pause for a moment of silence. Creepy.huh?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Workstudy, Hiring

And you've done this how many times?One of the perks of working at the University, outside of working for the University is hiring workstudy students. I get to hand pick everything in my space, including my new little helpers. Though the process is a bit mind numbing.

First, I have to concoct an ad to place on the student workstudy site. I'm thinking that tons of students are going to apply for this amazing job - so I clean out my in box to make room for the deluge of applications I plan to receive.

Then I have my secretary post the ad.

Then I wait. And wait. Finally. In one day, I receive 3 applications. I ripped open the envelopes eager to see who I'd be hiring to assist me in running the library.

A photoshop pro who studies art & design. Excellent.
An Environmental studies major who was a former class president & year book editor. Excellent.
An English major with great word processing skills. Highly organized. Super.

I'm going to interview all of them. I set up the interviews, and receive enthusiastic replies from all three.

THEN, after the deadline - an application is pushed under my office door one day. Bascially written in crayon. Filled with typos.

"What the hell", I think "I'll interview him too." Afterall, this could be his big break.

So the interviews show up, one after the other - perky, nervous about their first interview. I thought I might have a little fun and ask them a few tough questions, like "Where do you see yourself in 5 years" or "Can I see a writing sample?" or even the "Could you pee in this cup?" but decided it would be much better to just stick to the college issued questions for a workstudy interview.

The first gal, the environmental studies major, had sweaty hands. She was nervous and asked where she could put her coat down. She answered all the questions really well, kept good eye contact, and even sat toward the edge of her chair. Someone listened in her high school advisory class. The low cut blouse was nice, but a wasted detail.

The art & design major wanted to work closer to campus. His current job included a massive amount of manual labor. The boy looks like he needs a sandwhich, but I haven't got one to offer. Besides, I have to finish this interview. I only blocked them off in 30 minute increments.

#3 was taller than me, and very well spoken. She was professional, and kept her hands on her lap during the whole interview. In my imagination, she would talk with her hands and laugh unexpectedly - but she didn't.

I hired them all, and sent a letter to my secretary asking her to arrange the final details and get them each a set of keys to the library.

Then #4 showed up. Unannouced, while I was busily typing up their work schedules. I guessed right away it was him. His winter coat was zipped up under his chin, and he left it that way during the entire interview. One of my stock questions was "What is your greatest weakness?" To which most of the other students admitted to "staying up too late" or "losing focus during big assignments."

He surprised me by telling me that he was usually not on time, but was thinking about buying an alarm clock. I can't make this stuff up people. As if that weren't a good enough confession, he admitted that he knew nothing about libraries, but was eager to get a job. Well, honestly, I didn't know how to respond, so I nodded, and pretended to make a note on his application that I had fixed to a clipboard infront of me.

He actually looked at his watch at least 3 times during the 15 minute interview. I decided to ask him "If I gave you a call number, would you be able to retrieve the book from the library next door?" He said he probably couldn't - but would look for something that I might like if he found nothing.

That is nice of him, I have to admit. I shook his hand that had been shoved into the front pocket of his jacket during the entire interview. He said he hoped to hear from me soon, and I assured him he would.

I sent him a note the next morning telling him that several other applicants had applied, and that he was no longer being considered for the position.

I actually wrote it when he left, and put a time delay on the message so he'd get it at breakfast time the next day.

I do have a heart.

When hiring, think of a few things:

Would I want to be trapped in a room with this person, if some how the door got locked from the outside?
Is this person going to go through my purse when I'm not in the room?
Was the eye contact good? This can be tricky if the interviewee has a wandering eye.
Is their class load too much for this job?
Will this person hurt me if I have to fire them?
Did I laugh during the interview? At them? or with them? or silently inside?
Did they come with questions? Or did I have to do all the asking?
Did they ever say, at any point, LIBERRY? or was it a consistant library?
How neat was the application? Was it typed? Typos?
Could I leave this person in charge if I had to go away to a conference? Or at least would they follow loose directions left behind in a notebook?
How quickly did they respond to the ad? Did it sound desperate?
Will this job allow them to quit working in a diner? or laundrymat?
Did they have on clean shoes?

Of course, this is not stuff they teach you in Library School™. These are all things I was forced to think before the interview, during the interview, and after when I was assessing the interviewees.

And of course, these aren't things they'd teach you in HR school either. Probably because they are illegal.

At anyrate, it was fun hiring new work study students to work in my newly created University Art History library. I look forward to working on projects with each of them. For now, I can sit back and enjoy the show.

Moral of this blog: Libraries rock.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Advice, Motherly

Refreshingly UglySometimes, a boy is just at a loss. There comes a time when one must admit defeat, and call ones mother. A recent phone call recounted for your pleasure.

WDL: "So how do you do it?"
Mom: "Well, I just take it off slowly, a little at a time."
WDL: "Do you ever have problems?"
Mom: "Well, you just have to keep it wet."
WDL: "How wet? Really wet? Or just kind of wet?"
Mom: "Well, do you want it to come off easily? Or do you want to work on it all night?"
WDL: "I'd work on it all night if I had to, but my fingers are getting sore - I must be doing it wrong."
Mom: "Have you tried rubbing it with fabric softner?"
WDL: "Lady, at this point, I've tried everything. I'm ready to hire a professional, and watch him do it 'til I figure it out."
Mom: "That's a waste of money. Listen to me, I've been stripping for longer than you've been alive. Keep it wet, and you'll have it taken care of in a few hours."
WDL: "I'm ready to give up."
Mom: "Well, maybe you should run a knife over it a few times. I've done that - it seems to help..."
WDL: "HEY! It is working! I have to put the phone down, I think this is going to be a big piece - YEAH! It's HUGE!!"

Moral of this blog: I hate removing wallpaper.