Thursday, September 30, 2010

OTHER RELATED DUTIES: Lockers

            In case you don’t know, I work in the library at a college prep academy, grades 7 through 12.  I’m the ONLY library technician in our school district that also has to be in charge of lockers.  It sucks, but I try to take it like a man because overall this is the best school in the district, the kids are super-smart and respectful, and I would die if I had to go back to working at some ghetto-ass gangbanger school. 
            But dealing with locker issues and complaints really sucks.  Primarily because I am a total book person, my head is 100% in the library, and I don’t give a monkey’s left nut about anybody’s stupid locker. 
            I don’t care if a 4-foot tall 7th grader can’t reach the top locker they were assigned, I don’t care if someone’s locker is infested with fire ants, I don’t care if some rogue student put their lock on someone else’s locker, etc. 
            I.  Do.  Not.  Care.
            Just to give you a little idea of what it’s like, I’ll cite a few recent examples of locker issues:

Example 1)  Numerological Complaint
            A concerned and visibly nervous mother came in shortly after 7th grade registration was over.  She asked if she could exchange her daughter’s combination lock for a different one.  I asked her why, and she said the combination “wasn’t good.”
            I was a little perplexed, but since I mostly don’t care I just handed her a new lock and took the original one back.  She proceeded to take the new lock out of its box and check the little card with the combo.  She frowned.
            “Um...  This one seems bad, too.  I’m so sorry, but may I have a different one?”
            Warily, catching a whiff of neurosis in the air, I handed her a different lock.
            “What... exactly... is wrong with the numbers?” I asked tentatively.  “Is it that you think they won’t be easy for your daughter to remember?  You want simpler numbers?”
            “Oh, no—it’s not that.  It’s just... well, these numbers just seem bad.  I’m so sorry!  I know it sounds crazy!” she apologized, handing me back the newest lock, which was obviously very bad, perhaps even worse than the first couple, judging by her  discomfort.
            At that point I got it.  Realizing the particular type of freak this woman was, I hefted the whole box of almost 100 combination locks onto the counter, and told her to have at it.
            “Here, you can go through as many of these as you’d like, and find one that feels right to you,” I said, as nicely as I could manage, watching her in fascination.  I was very aware of the fact that I had already been at work for almost 8 hours, my feet hurt, and I’d spent about 4 hours straight doing registration, which is grueling. 
            She rifled through the box, opening locks and checking the numbers, frowning, moving on to the next.  If I could have handed her a lock with the combination “6-6-6,” I totally would have, just to observe her reaction.
            Finally she succumbed to my clock-checking finger-tapping hints, and just settled on a lock with a combination that apparently wasn’t completely Satanic.  As soon as she walked out I looked up her daughter’s name in my library checkout system, and tried to memorize the girl’s face.  I thought, “I’d better look out for that poor girl.  If she isn’t totally F’ed up, it’ll be a miracle.”

Example 2)  Permanent Brain Damage
            One afternoon shortly after school began in September, a 7th grade girl and her very intense mother (it’s always those 7th grade parents...) came bursting in the library door, arguing.
            GIRL:  Mom, stop it!  It’s no big deal!
            MOM:  Yes it is, and I’m sure he will understand how important this is!
            GIRL:  Mom, I don’t wanna—
            MOM:  TELL HIM!  Tell him about getting hit in the head!
            MOM (stabbing me with her scary Helicopter Mom eyes):  Are you the one we come to with locker problems?
            ME:  (Pause, looking around for some excuse, anything, maybe a tidal wave)  Actually, I’m the LIBRARY TECHNICIAN, but...  Yeah.  (Sigh)  Yeah, I do lockers.
            The embarrassed girl explained that she has a bottom locker, and since she happens to be tall for her age, sometimes the boy with the locker above hers accidentally hits her head with the door of his locker.
            The mother jumped in, insisting that of course I must know how much DAMAGE that could do, and that I need to give her daughter a top locker instead.  I explained that there are no extra lockers, in fact we have a SHORTAGE of lockers, so I can’t just give her a top locker.  They’re all taken.  I suggested she find some shrimpy kid with a top locker to trade with.
            The mother then launched into a tirade that was baffling and convoluted and seemed to center around her working in the medical profession in India, before she moved to this country, so she’s an expert on medical matters and has seen many things.  I believe that was the gist of it, but she was sort of babbling in an agitated endless loop, and all I could do was stare and try to figure out if she was mad at ME, or what.
            When she finally wore herself out, she thanked me (for what?) and started to hustle her daughter out of the library. 
            The daughter broke free of her, and surged toward my desk.
            GIRL:  I won’t really have brain damage will I? 
            ME:  What?  You mean from getting hit in the head with the locker door?
            GIRL:  Yes!  Because my mother said I could have PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE from it, and I told her that’s stupid, but she keeps insisting!
             ME (glaring at the mother):  Did you really tell her that?!  Why are you telling your daughter that?!
            ME (turning back to the poor kid):  NO, you will NOT have permanent brain damage from getting hit in the head with the locker door a few times.  But I’ll try to find a top locker you can use as soon as possible.
            GIRL:  Thank you!
            Why do these things always happen at the ass-end of a long day?  After they left I locked the door, shut off the lights, and got the hell outta there.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say that I really enjoyed reading about your trials and tribulations with lockers - because I myself used to be in charge of my school's 40 thousand textbooks - and I work at a semi ghetto-ass gang banger school. I am just thankful the textbook are back in the hands of the teachers and I get to spend 75% of my time in library mode.

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