I don’t usually get upset by library patrons. I can handle pretty much whatever weird questions, comments, or attitudes they throw my way. There are plenty of patrons who want to talk about really inappropriate and/or personal topics and patrons who are just having a bad day. My job is kind of like being a bartender in that people feel very open about sharing life with you if you’re behind the reference desk. That’s fine.
There are a few patron habits that I have a hard time with, however. Pet peeve number one is beckoners. I’ve been beckoned twice in the last half hour (same culprit), and the façade of nice Hannah will be a bit thinner if he does it again. I don’t have a problem helping people, which is fortunate since that’s what I do most of the day. There’s something particular in the gesture of beckoners that changes it from a request for help to a demanding, “Get over here now!” thing. That difference brings out the 12 year-old in me who wants to ignore them for a few extra seconds and see if smoke really will come out of their ears.
It’s almost always computer users who beckon. They are seated a few feet away from the reference desk, right out of polite conversational voice range. In what I’m pretty sure is an attempt to avoid yelling (or heaven forbid, standing up and walking five feet to the desk), they raise their hands and wave insistently until they catch my eye. Then they immediately look back at their screens and wave with even less patience at about 5 second intervals. If I’m not there within 15 seconds, their faces go from slightly upset to downright angry. Then they ask their computer question, I answer, and they’re instantly nice people again. It’s kind of bizarre.
In totally unrelated librarian news, I attended an event called “Librarians on Ice” this past weekend. I really wish there were sparkly skating costumes or Ice Capades tickets to go along with that title, but there weren’t. It was pretty fun despite the lack of sparkle.