Sunday, May 02, 2004

You know it's your birthday

when the first call at work is a patron who refuses to believe you know what you're talking about. I just spent the better part of ten minutes on the phone with the wife of a Harvard grad student who wanted to know if she could use her husband's I.D. to get into the stacks and borrow a book that she needs for a paper she's working on. As Harvard I.D. cards are non-transferable (it says as much on the back), I said as much.

"Even if I'm his wife?" Even if you're his wife.

"Even if he writes a note?" Even if he writes I note.

"Even if I had a special borrower's card of my own that's expired?" Yes. Even if.

"That doesn't seem fair," she pronounced. I agreed with her.

"Can I talk to your supervisor?" I informed her that I was the supervisor; and even if I had the power to make an exception on this matter, the guy at the front door and the staff person at the Stacks entrance would not allow her in with someone else's I.D. anyway.

"Isn't there any way I can get this book?" Well, yes. Since she was the spouse of a graduate student, I told she was eligible to renew her special borrower's privileges, which she could do on Monday.

"Monday's too late. I need the book today." As she was a grad student herself, I could write her out a Reading Room pass and she could use the book here, but she wasn't too keen on the option.

"I don't want to have to read it at Widener." Um, okay. Then your husband will have to come in and check it out for you, I said.

"He's in the middle of exams. He would have to interrupt his studies to come get the book for me." I want to tell this woman that it's still a nice day, and he could probably use the study break anyhow; and besides, if she really needs the book and he's the only way she can get it, well then isn't that the sort of thing a husband just does out of the goodness of his heart? But I don't. I tell her that I appreciate her position, but the only way I can circulate the book is to check it out to someone who has a valid Harvard I.D..

"But I have a Harvard I.D. - his Harvard I.D." Did I mention that these things were non-transferable?

"So you're telling me that there's no way I can have this book?" Actually that's not what I said at all. I gave her two distinct options - one that even didn't involve tearing her husband away from his studies - neither of which were acceptable to her. Again I hold my tongue, however, and voice my sympathy as far as the inflexibility of our I.D. policy is concerned. It does kind of suck that even spouses can't use the I.D. of their husband or wife in a pinch, but that's way above being my call to make (I even would have had to bend the rules to write the woman out a Reading Room pass on the fly, since technically she would have required a letter from her academic advisor or university librarian).

"Well thanks for your help," she says in a sarcastic tone of voice, and hangs up.

And happy freaking birthday!

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