“Thank You Jesus!”

It’s semester two and deadlines are looming. The building is full of stressed students and things are going wrong, things which it is my job to fix. Printers jamming or print queues freezing, confusing binding machines, corrupted USB sticks and lost essays. It’s not so long ago that I was trying to hand in coursework or prepare for exams, so I have lots of empathy for our student body and always go out of my way to help. I have sat with my head inside a printer for 15 minutes, pulling out paper jams* until the blasted things starts printing again. I have stood by the binding machine and helped student after student bind their work**. I have printed off work on my own PC when a usb stick won’t open on a student PC. I have sat with countless mature students and helped them re-organise their slides in Powerpoint, or taught them how to insert page numbers in Word.

And I don’t mind doing any of this; I enjoy helping, it’s what I’m here to do. But I do get annoyed when after running around like a maniac and solving a problem for someone, I am met with nothing but a “THANK YOU JESUS!” Erm, excuse me, it wasn’t Jesus that unjammed that printer, it was me! It wasn’t Jesus that rescued your presentation from the recycle bin, it was me! And it certainly wasn’t Jesus who has sat with you for 15 minutes trying to work out why your printing wasn’t showing up at the print release station, only to then discover that you’d just sat down at an already logged on but abandoned PC and were merrily using someone else’s account, because I sincerely doubt he’d have the patience! I am standing in front of you having saved your arse and what do I get? “THANK YOU JESUS!” And in my experience, that exclamation is rarely followed up by a personal thank you to me as well. I don’t really mind when it’s the Library that’s messed up, or when it’s Library equipment that has gone wrong, but when I’ve gone out of my way to help solve a problem that was the student’s fault in the first place and Jesus is thanked instead of me, then I do get a bit hacked off, to be honest.

Plus, it may have been a while since I’ve been to church but I was raised methodist and I rather understood that the whole point of being a Christian was that you lived a good and moral life on earth in order to ensure that you went to heaven. I’m not sure that any part of the deal was that Jesus would personally intervene in every Christians life any time they were having a bad day and would happily use his power to unjam printers and rescue corrupted files. I’m reasonably sure there would have been some mention of that in the Bible at some point.***

I’d like to conclude this post with some sort of constructive point or suggestion, but I don’t actually have one. So I shall file this in the ‘Rant’ category and leave you with the knowledge that should you ever see me tweeting in ALL CAPS with too many exclamation points in April or May, it is likely to be for this reason and you should probably send me cake.

*And usually burning my fingers on the fuser as well, because it’s quicker for me to burn myself than it is to remove the whole fuser unit and carry it over to IT and ask them for their tweezers; SEE HOW I CARE?!?!?!
**It can be difficult to maintain the distinction between ‘showing them’ and ‘doing it for them’, if you get distracted you can find yourself with a pile of dissertations and no students…

***”And lo, the clouds parted and a light shone down and a voice was heard to say “Look, have you tried turning it off and on again?””

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In Honour of Cleaners

Retirement Do

Librarians; always seeking an excuse to extend our lunch hour

Today’s post is in honour of Rachel, one of our cleaning staff who retired today after twenty-one years working at the University (and sixteen of those in the Library) Rachel is a tiny but fiery Italian lady, and once told me a story about when she first started working in the Library. She’d been warned by the other cleaners that the Library staff were very unfriendly and it wasn’t a nice place to work and once she started, she agreed. So one day she door stepped the then-Library Manager (who’s still here, in another role) and asked her “do you have a degree?” to which the Manager replied “well, umm, yes.” Rachel then said “well if you are so smart, so educated, then why do you not say Hello to me in the mornings, hmm? Why do none of you speak to me, hmm?” And after that, every member of Library staff always said hello to her and her fellow cleaners. Since that day, sixteen years ago, a great friendship has built up between staff and cleaners and today we threw a retirement celebration for Rachel at lunchtime complete with flowers, gifts and cake* because we’re all going to miss her very much.

I tell this story to illustrate a point that I think is very important in libraries (and indeed, in all places of work!) – always be nice to the cleaners, caretakers, postal workers, security and anyone else who works in your building. Don’t ignore them when they walk by. Find out their names and say hello. Ask how things are going for them. These are the people do the really hard work and if they didn’t do it, our library users would notice it straight off. Who do you call when someone has done something awful in the toilets? The cleaners. Who comes to help when the ceiling over the music collection starts leaking? The caretakers. Who hunts down that box of missing books? The postman. And who comes to help when you’re cornered by an angry user? Security. I can’t count the number of times that our cleaners and caretakers have helped me out when the building has been full and something has gone wrong and although I don’t doubt they would have done it anyway because they’re all good people, it was certainly made easier and happened much quicker as a result of having a good relationship with them.

Obviously you should be nice to everyone unless they’re actively trying to cause you harm, and I’m sure most of us are because Librarians do tend to be a pleasant lot, on the whole. But if you need more persuading, remember that being nice to cleaners and caretakers and postmen and security and anyone else who works in your building can actively save your bad day from getting even worse. It’s basic karma, really; if you are nice to people, they will be nice to you in return and don’t we all want to work in an environment like that?

*and wine, there may have been a few tipsy librarians trying to hide at their desks this afternoon…