or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk



Reference Question of the Week – 4/12/15

   April 18th, 2015

Willy Wonka meme: Oh you can get Russian girls?  Tell me your secret.This week's question is really only funny because of an amazing coincidence, and for the ensuing internal embarrassment.

On Thursday this week, a young woman with an Eastern European accent came up to the desk and said she had something she needed to print. She could see it in the email on her phone, but not when she logged into her Yahoo account online - so what could she do?

Our Print from Anywhere service allows people to submit print jobs by email, so I explained how to do that. It's kind of a long email address to type, and when I pulled out our brochure which has the email on it, she said thanks and took it over to a nearby table to actually send the message.

A few minutes later she came up and said the email was sent. I logged into the web print queue and scanned the list to find an email job (by far most of the jobs come through the web interface, so the emailed ones stand out). I saw one, saw it hadn't been printed yet, and released it.

As I picked it up off the printer, I glanced at the front to make sure it printed okay, with no smudges or anything. There weren't, but what I did notice (which is more than I should, I know), was that it was an email from someone named Olga saying she was from Russia and found me attractive. In fact, this is what it was*.

What? I blushed and just handed it to the patron. I thought, well, maybe she doesn't speak English well, and was more comfortable taking time to type all of this out instead of saying it to me. I thought maybe if I just handed it to her we'd avoid that awkward yet common patron-hitting-on-librarian situation. We've all been there, right?

So she took it from me, and then immediately said,

My name's not Olga. This isn't mine.

Oh.

I took the print back from her, and went back to the print queue. I refreshed it, but no other email print job was listed. Hmm.

We looked at her phone, and sure enough, she hadn't actually sent her message yet. So she did, it showed up, I released it, and she was happy.

Two more comments about this:

  1. I know this is a common type of spam, but sending it to a library's print queue and letting it lie in wait for a single male librarian to accidentally print it is impressively strategic thinking.
  2. I don't think the patron picked up on any of this, because she just wanted her print job. I, on the other hand, immediately started looking forward to sharing my ridiculous ego with you.

 


*I blacked out our web print email address, just in the hopes of cutting down on any future spam sent to it.




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4 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 4/12/15”

  1. marcbl Says:

    I always look forward to your posts, but this one gets a gold star!

    If I ever get bored, I’m gonna hop in my car and drive the 3,000 miles to your library. I’m sure I’ll think up an epic prank somewhere along the way. Then I’ll buy you a beer or two. 🙂

  2. Alison DePollo Says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and I think this one takes the cake. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  3. Marci Mock Says:

    Thank you for sharing! Made my afternoon! Gold Star for sure!

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @marcbl @Alison @Marci: you guys are welcome. I think I’ve gotten more messages and in-person comments from people on this post than any post so far – I guess I should embarrass myself more often. But I’m glad you enjoyed it – I thought it was funny too. If patrons only knew.