Sorry, I’m booked – My Strange Summer Job

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Mike Pitstick, Contributing Writer

From teaching kids computer gaming to spraying weeds in the mountains, UDers have had some odd summer jobs. This is the first in a series on some of the strange summer jobs students and faculty of UD have held in the past.

 

While I imagine most University of Dallas students spent their summers riding horses on the beach, documenting rare Sasquatch sightings or swing dancing at their local nightclubs, I filled my days with more mundane tasks. I lived at home and worked at my public library. You’re probably already thinking to yourself that this will be the most boring thing you’ll read all year. Luckily for you, it’s much more interesting to read about than to live.

For the sake of a decent story, I’m going to forgo a banal description of how I would wake up every morning, drive to work, wait for someone to let me in, punch in on the computer, go to my locker, put on my badge, grab a cart, roll it to the book drop, pick up the books, check the DVDs, put them all on the cart and roll it to the desk. That kind of description would put you to sleep. Good thing I skipped it. I also won’t go into detail about how I picked up trash in the parking lot, watered plants, straightened books, picked up toys, put children’s puzzles together or wandered around aimlessly when everything else had been done. Rest assured I won’t subject you to that.

The library seemed like a natural fit because I’ve always loved reading. Once upon a time, I imagined the library as a place where a sweet old lady would point you to the cookbooks even if you asked for a medical dictionary, where parents would be reading to their children from picture books about dogs or molecular genetics, and, most of all, where books flowed like the Tiber in an everlasting fountain of knowledge.

With this image in my mind, many of my daily interactions at the library were something of a letdown. I can’t count the number of times I told a disappointed visitor, “sorry, we only have the book, not the DVD.” Who really reads anymore? I’ll tell you – old people and nerds. If the library didn’t have computers, DVDs and CDs, I probably wouldn’t have had a job this summer.

Maybe I’m exaggerating. People read, but it’s no longer the predominant form of entertainment. Most people don’t even consider it entertainment. Even the old man with the bad dye job and bungee-cord suspenders came to the library for the computers, not the books. I really thought I had crazy old men pegged as part of the “still-reading” demographic.

All things considered, the most interesting thing about my summer job as a library aide was that, five days a week, I got to interact with the oddest collection of people I’ve ever encountered: library patrons. There were the regulars like stuck-in-the-‘80s guy, who sported tattoos, leather, chains and wild pink hair, all at the youthful age of 60. Then there was “umm … what?” girl, the precocious teen who presented me with the handwritten lyrics of Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit single “Call Me, Maybe,” declaring that she had written them herself. Finally, there were gems like perpetual-congestion guy, who cleared his throat every 0.2 seconds, either because of some chronic condition or because he just wanted someone to notice him. I never realized how well sound carried in the library until perpetual-congestion guy decided to hang out for the entirety of my shift.

All that being said, I loved my job. The hours were flexible, I made $0.05 over minimum wage and I didn’t leave work every day smelling like some kind of food I would eventually despise. But more importantly, working at the library taught me some valuable lessons that I will now happily pass on to you: 1. Most members of online dating sites are homeless men on library computers. 2. The readership of the Fifty Shades trilogy is not limited to young or even middle-aged women. 3. It is possible to somehow rack up a $1,000 library fine … and 4. Treat everyone equally and with kindness, whether he be a man in a suit or a man who doesn’t know where his next meal will come from.

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