We have a policy at the library, that if someone prints something out and comes to pick it up/pay for it, that we ask the patron what they printed. This helps us to not give the wrong printout to the wrong patron. Many patrons print out bank statements, tax records, and other sensitive information.
So when I ask people what they printed, and they get defensive and confused, I try to be as kind as I can and explain why we do what we do.
This afternoon I asked a patron what he printed, and he was astounded and incredulous, but told me what he printed and I gave it to him. He couldn't help coming back five minutes later to say, "I was just wondering what the reason was that you ask what the patrons print." And I told him and he responded, "Oh, wow, it's just a straightforward answer. I was expecting something weird. That makes sense, though."
I was inspired. He had a totally rational and reasonable response. So I pulled out a sticky note and wrote this down:
People are good.
People can be reasonable.
People have off days.
Everyone is doing the best that they can.
Ok, there are obvious exceptions to this, but if I can give people the benefit of the doubt right off, then I'm doing them a favor and will be more patient myself.
So the next time a patron came to get a printout, he had the look. The look is that impatient, hurry-up-already look.
So he said, "I printed something."
And I said, "Ok, what was it that you printed?"
And he gave me an incredulous look and said, "It's a paper, it's probably the only thing on there. How much is it to print?"
And I said, "It's a dime."
And as I said that he held up a dime in the air for me to see, and then threw it across the counter at me, in a "Now get my printout" sort of way.
Now people, the moral of this blog post is: you may think that being huffy and acting stressed out may work with some on-the-phone customer service people, but my belief is that 90% of the time, if you are patient and kind, you'll get more results.
I know this because it works with me. If he had been kind and patient with me, I would have worked with him. But throwing money at me across the desk isn't going to help anyone, especially you.
So I said, "They ask us to ask what people print out just to make sure that we don't give the wrong thing to the wrong people. Some people print out confidential information."
He got frustrated and said, "It has ____ name across the top."
So I picked it up and gave it to him, and he turned to walk away and ranted so I could hear, "There was only one printout! Of course it would be mine. There's no need to ask, grumble grumble..."
First, the logical argument.
Actually, no. Someone else could have printed one page and your print could be pending. Some documents don't print out for several minutes once someone sends them to the printer. We also periodically pull things off of the printer and set them on the counter, so his could have been just pulled off and someone else printed one page in the meantime. There are lots of things that could have happened.
Second: Come on.
Harassing a librarian? Really? I don't deserve this. I'm doing what has been asked of me and trying to protect your information at the same time. I don't deserve the verbal abuse that patrons can give. It's not really worth anyone's time to sit and take lip from you, and it didn't even get you anywhere.
I might have to throw away my sticky note.