Still so much better than working in retail

Posted by September Blue Saturday, 16 February 2008

My Saturday library shifts now start before 9am, because what else was I going to do with the morning, sleep? Well, yes, to be honest. But sleep will not get me any money. So I go to the library first thing in the morning, and because the students don't, I get to spend the first few hours of my shift at the lending desk working on my own stuff, which works out all right.

The library is a better place to be on Saturdays. The senior people, the well-paid people, and anyone who's been there long enough to demand and get double time for working on weekends, all work on weekdays only, leaving the weekend to the gaggle of part-timers, students, recipients of please-give-my-boyfriend-a-job-boss negotiations, and broke PhDs with no academic jobs. Thus, the library on a Saturday is, let's say, not exactly the model of bureaucratic efficiency it aspires to be during the week. Last time my boss turned up on a Saturday afternoon, I was sitting with my feet up on the demagnetising machine and a scrambled egg roll in one hand playing Minesweeper, while Dr K, the Amazing D and some passing minion from IT crowded round another computer watching the rugby. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys. We're here, aren't we?

Anyway, so. This was my first Saturday shift that included the morning, and bear in mind for the following that my boss explained to me with all earnestness that Saturday mornings - I quote directly - "can get busier than you think, you know!". Here's the sum total of my interaction with the students and staff of my fine university this morning:

- Two of my former students came over to comment on my newly-dyed hair. The verdict is guardedly positive. Another former student wanted to know if I knew anything about medieval dream poetry, and was sadly disappointed, and thus refused to say "anything nice" about the hair, since "I thought you knew stuff!".

- A very angry student wanted to know why a certain book was not on a certain shelf. There are only two circumstances which will persuade desk staff to run up two flights of stairs and search for a book for you, and most students have not yet cracked the first one, viz. as with most low-paid service jobs, people will often go out of their way to help friendly, polite customers. Luckily, the second one - being so damn irritating that nobody can resist going to see if the book's there just to interrupt you mid-ranting at a colleague with the "you mean this book?" line - can happen entirely by accident. And lo, the book was indeed on the shelf where it was supposed to be. As it is nine times out of ten in such cases, by the way. I have no idea why our classmark system sends so many students spiralling off into confused fury, and brings so many people down to the desk with despairing cries of having looked everywhere for hours and still not found the History journals because how are you supposed to find anything in this place - we have maps! we have leaflets! We have great big signs saying what's on which floor! We have library induction sessions! It's hardly The Name of the Rose in here!

- Me, Dr K and two Film & Media students had a short but productive discussion on the merits of My Own Private Idaho. (How depressing is it to hear a teenage girl saying "River who?", to someone of my generation? Very, is the answer. Very, indeed.)

- Two students brought their own (combined) weight in Management books up to the desk, looking like they hadn't slept for a week. I pity the MBA students sometimes, and will continue to do so until they graduate and start earning more than I ever will.

- An academic from Dr K's department dropped by to bitch about one of his students, a former student of Dr K's, who'd left the university under somewhat-less-than-optional conditions (I really don't know what the story is here, but Lord he was angry about it). "How the hell did he even get into the department?" "I think I wrote him a reference, actually." "WELL FOR FUCK'S SAKE, K."

- A bunch of us watched the trailer for the new Indiana Jones film and spent the rest of the time until lunch speculating on how well Indy would fit into the academic system as we know it. "Indiana Jones and the Archival Research"? "Indiana Jones and the RAE"? "Indiana Jones and the Poorly-Attended Conference Panel"? "Indiana Jones and the Wikipedia Plagiarist"? You can do this for hours, seriously.

- And I wrote five hundred words of an article. Clearly, there's something in that atmosphere that does my productivity good.


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. newly-dyed hair?!?!?!


    Yours truly, F. Duddy

  3. Laz Says:
  4. So much better than my job too, apparently. Amongst other things on Friday, I had to sit in the boss's office and retrieve archive information from our old server in an incredibly tedious and time consuming operation. So far, so what, you think, right? Wrong. I spent the entire half an hour nodding off in front off the boss and I couldn't stop myself. Luckily, I think he was distracted by the sales manager and their guest. I hope.

    So what colour is your hair now?

  5. Anonymous Says:
  6. I picked up "for fuck's sake" when I was in England for some months a few years back, and have loved it ever since. So expressive.

    I think "Indiana Jones and the IRB"--Indy attempts to get his research process approved by the Institutional Review Board that has to approve all planned interactions with human subjects--might fit here?

  7. Laz, and Anonymous who I'm guessing is Francofou - it's bright red (at least, a bit of it at the front is; this is less drastic than it sounds). I have my reasons.

    Dance - "Indiana Jones and the IRB" is genius! "Well, yes, there were a FEW deaths on my last project, but it wasn't - look, that was in self-defence, okay? And I GUARANTEE you that the human sacrifices were NOT MY IDEA!"

  8. Anonymous Says:
  9. Which reason knows not.

    F. Duddy

  10. Laz Says:
  11. Bright red? How bright red? On the scale of red-headed people we know, how bright red is bright red?

    Reasons? Elaborate, please.

    Should I be dropping all my weekend plans to make sure I get to see this?