Dear Slightly Smelly Patron of the Library of Glum,
When I tell you we do not have that particular journal in the library, I do not mean we do have it, but I’m not telling you where. I do not mean we could have it, and it would take me a minute to run down the road to the newsagents with the petty cash biscuit tin and get you a copy – academic journals, after all, cost something like Â£30 or Â£40 an issue, and that’s not counting the scientific ones, whose invoices make me faint on a regular basis, and anyway, we order most of them in from specialist suppliers who live in the internet. I do not mean I don’t want you to have it. I do not mean anything at all beyond the stark, basic, ‘we do not have this journal’. If you like, I’ll agree that it’s annoying and that you must be very frustrated. Did that help you feel better? No? In any case, please hush about the damned journal. Standing there complaining at me is having no more useful effect than making me both tetchy and nauseated. Go home and wash instead, and make the world a happier place.
Dear Considerably Less Smelly Patron,
Yes, you do have a library fine on this book. It was due back at the end of October. Yes, you told me you had it renewed, but, please remember, you told me you had it renewed at the beginning of October, which would make it due back at the end of October. Which it was. It is now the end of November. Yes, we do offer a week’s grace on late returns. Indeed. To avoid a fine, therefore, you should have returned or renewed this book in the first week of November. This is the last week of November. No, I am afraid that your having spent August abroad is no reason whatsoever for me to waive this fine. You hadn’t even borrowed the book in the first place in August.
Dear Whatever On Earth You Think You Are,
This is a library. Not your GP’s consulting room. I cannot see anything even beginning to resemble a magic staple in your upper arm. Please put your shirt back on and go away.
Dear Patron Who Is Probably Quite Normal,
The fact you are smiling at me and saying please and thank you does not alter the fact you are now asking me to look something up on the catalogue for you for the seventeenth time this afternoon. Pay attention. Type the author’s surname in the box marked ‘author’. Press return. See? Now you try. What do you mean you can’t find anything? Ah. We discussed this at go five, go eight, and goes eleven to fifteen inclusive. If you spell ‘Austen’, ‘Austin’ one more time I will accidentally delete your library record.
Dear Patron Who Is Being Extremely Reasonable Considering,
Yes, the lift is out of order. Again. Indeed, that makes twice in one week. Yes, we have called the engineer. We have been calling the engineer since ten o’clock this morning. I am well aware you simply can’t get up the stairs and that the lift breakage has basically locked you out of your library. I am deeply annoyed on your behalf, and I would quite like to slap the engineer upside the head. When I have finished slapping the muggins who installed the bloody lift all wrong in the first place. All I can do is offer you a ping-pong bat and a place in the queue.
With all good wishes to you all,