Friday, July 29, 2011

Growing pains

A patron came up to me yesterday, a girl who was maybe sixteen or seventeen years old.  The first thing I noticed about her was her glaringly white shorter-than-hot-pants.  Startled, and trying to avert my eyes, I asked her what she needed.

Girl: "There's a book that came in on hold for me."

Me: "Oh, did you get an email or an automated message about it?"

Girl, now glaring at me: "An automated message."

This meant that her book was on our hold wall, and we will usually walk first-time patrons over and show them where it is and how to find their book.  That is, patrons that are nice.  Not sassy patrons who glare at me, especially when wearing underwear-for-pants.

Me: "Great! All you need to do is just head right over there and the books are shelved alphabetically by your last name." (friendly smile)

The girl then jutted one hip out and let her head drop to one side while saying, "Ugh.  I hate doing that.  Can't you get it for me?"

(I'm not exaggerating.  If I was exaggerating I would tell you.  I just wanted to make that clear.)

After weighing some options (telling her she has to grow up and do it herself, giving in and teaching her that she IS entitled and can make people do anything she wants, or punching her in the face), I said, "Okay, why don't you come with me?" and headed over to the shelf.

On the way there I tried to gain some perspective.  "So, what's the problem?  Do you feel overwhelmed by how many books there are and having to look through all of them?"

Girl: "Yeah, well, every time I look myself I can never find it and I end up having to come ask you guys for help anyway."

Alright.  That's understandable... she's frustrated from that, I can get that.  So I found her book (took approx. 4 seconds), and as I hand it to her I'm noticing that she's... rather energetically eating some candy.  Candy that looks an awful lot like the kind we give out to people who turn in Summer Reading reviews.  I decided to turn a blind eye until she said, "Oh, by the way, can I get some more candy from you guys?"

Me: "Sorry, we can only give you candy for turning in book reviews."

Girl, looking at me incredulously: "What reviews?"

Me: "Book reviews for the Summer Reading Program..."  - blank stare from girl - "Did you sign up for the Summer Reading Program?"

Girl: "No."

Me: "Then I can't give you any candy, sorry."

Maybe that sounds stingy?  Grabbling over candy?  But we librarians are a bit protective of our dwindling candy resources... it's a public library for pete's sake.  We're not made of skittles and kit kats.  And it's not just me, each summer we usually get a threatening "keep your grubby hands out of the patron's candy bucket" email (AJ, I'm saying 'threatening' in the nicest, most sweetest possible way *friendly smile*).  We've countered this problem by having staff members bring in their own candy which we keep in a separate bucket to avoid temptation.  And we have a large, ill-tempered woman standing nearby with a firm ruler in hand in case there are any wandering eyes.

Anyway, the girl relented and went on her way, and after I got back to the desk I asked my co-worker if that was, indeed, our book review candy.  She said, "Yes, actually, I had just given a patron their piece of candy for turning in a review, and before I could take it off the desk that girl came up and grabbed a whole handful, even as I was sliding it back across the desk towards me."


Dear teen patrons: Learn from this cautionary tale.  There will be people in your life that want to help you, but we won't if you act like you're entitled to it.  Earn the things you want.  Be gracious for the things you get.  Try to keep the glares to a minimum.

All other patrons: I know it's summer and it's hot, but could you keep your shoes on?


Ross and Kathy said...

But I really like walking around bare foot until my feet are black. Makes me feel like a weekly bath is a useful activity. BTW I thought only California teens acted that way.

Erika said...

Love it. Doug and I loved watching all the teens on our Mexico trip. There we are-at a really expensive resort in Cancun--with a million fun things all around us to do, and we were surrounded by families who had mistakenly brought their children with them--and those children were constantly mad at their parents,...they were always rolling their eyes, storming away and looking like their parents were the worst humans on the planet, arguing urgently in their parents faces while said parents were trying to eat--after having brought them on vacation!!!! I told Doug that there was a lot of comfort in observing that teenagers everywhere are exactly the same! (Except mine, of course, mine will be perfect!)

Kylen and Adrienne said...

wow...way to stay calm about it. I'm not sure what I would have done...probably the same as you, but with rude facial expressions and not as nice of a tone of voice. Sometimes I think our society is in such big trouble with how entitled people think they are.