We're taking a bit of a breather while the world rearranges its underpants. Meanwhile, the other blog is here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I used to be a babysitter but there's not much call for squashed babies these days

The people counter dash takes me to Noddy, first of four stops for the day. It doesn't go well. To begin with, the equipment for transferring the data from the counter to the staff PC, where it is turned into a useful spreadsheet, is missing. No big deal, the kit was installed in the midst of last autumn's mad extravaganza and like as not has been tidied away somewhere fatal. Happens all the time: the way things drag on around here it's a constant wonder that we ever find anything. As it happened I had another library's kit on me so's I could demonstrate how to do the monthly count. It goes downhill from here...

"Isn't it wireless? What's the point of that? I may as well just make a note of the number on the counter."

is the opening conversational gambit. I tried to explain that the data is a lot more detailed than that and tried to demonstrate this by downloading the data and opening the spreadsheet. My audience wasn't with me. I'm used to having to break off things like this so that staff can deal with customers -- we have to have our priorities right -- but I started to lose patience when the staff clutsered at one end of the counter while I was stood at the other end.

"Have I finished here?"

"Yes, you've finished."

I don't know what I've done to warrant all this, I'm just the guy who's had this dumped on him at the last minute and is wasting time he's not got trying to demonstrate something that's actually extremely important to them. Whatever.

As I'm packing up the caretaker starts up:

"They keep saying they've got no money but they can find it to waste on things like that."

I explain that as she knows fine well there's more goes on in the library than just the issuing of books and it's important that we can demonstrate that the library's earning its keep.

"It's just so that the council can economise isn't it? How come my council tax has gone up so much this year?"

Perhaps because people like you don't like the idea of the council economising love. Like an idiot I try to explain that the Rate Support Grant's not clever to begin with and that the government keeps foisting new services and targets on councils without providing the money to cover them; and that Helminthdale in particular is bad at performance monitoring and so misses out on some additional funding.

"Are you saying that some councils down south get more money than Helminthdale?"


"It snows in Dorset you know. You can't beat me in an argument. You can't win."

"I don't give a stuff. I don't have to win anything. You asked me a question, I gave you an answer."

At which point it occurred to me to wonder what the Hell I thought I was doing wasting my time standing at a public counter having this conversation. Irritated beyond measure and filled with self-disgust at the whole waste of time that was this visit I made my exit.

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