On my way to the library yesterday, I thought about how it’s been awhile since the library’s computer system went down. Guess what went down just as I arrived at the library at 2:00 p.m.
It was citywide. Every library in Toronto had no Internet. Librarians had to manually checkout books. The system was still down when I left just before the library closed. It was back up when arrived today. As usual, the librarian did not know what had caused the problem.
Here’s what I think:
Every bureaucracy has its bean counters—bureaucrats who are out to save the company money. They come up with ideas such as, “If we cut our employees’ butts off, then we can sell their chairs and save money by never having to buy new ones.”
Every so often, one of the library’s bean counters will ask, “Do we really need all those people working in the IT (Information Technology) section?”
And every so often, the IT section takes the computer system down for job security.
CHIEF LIBRARIAN: The system is down citywide. What is the problem and how long before you fix it?
HEAD OF IT: We don’t know. All of our staff are working on it. We’ve called in people who were on days off. We’re doing our best.
And after a day, sometimes more, sometimes less, the IT people fix the problem and the computer system is back up.
CHIEF LIBRARIAN: What was the problem?
HEAD OF IT: Uh-er—it’s too complicated to explain, but it took all of our staff to fix it.
And the bean counters realize that they should not cut back in the IT section.
My Uncle Lennie used to say, “The people who give you a headache will sell you the pill to cure it.”
I was a space invader. Oh, the irony!
The library allows you 30 minutes computer time on your library card. If no one has booked the computer, then the library will give you another 30 minutes making 60 minutes in total. After 60 minutes, you may continue to use the computer if no one has booked it. The computer will shut down for anyone over his or her sixty-minute limit once someone books the computer. The library also has Express computers that allow you to use them for 15 minutes without having to use your library card to sign on. That way you avoid using up your library-card computer time.
There are three Express computers on the library’s third floor. A woman sat at Number 1 with Numbers 2 and 3 vacant. Since Number 3 occasionally has Internet problems, I sat at Number 2 beside the woman at Number 1.
As soon as I sat down, the woman started scolding me.
“Why did you have to sit next to me? There are many empty computer places. You could have sat at one of them. I need my space. I need my space. Go and use another computer. I need my space.”
Well! Didn’t her words sound familiar. I thought, “Lady, I feel your pain.”
I explained to her how I did not want to use my library-card computer time, and how the third Express computer sometimes has problems.
“I don’t care! I need my space. I need my space. You don’t have to sit beside me. I demand that you move to another computer! I need my space.”
I don’t like being ordered to do something. I dug my heels in.
“I’m staying at this computer,” I said. “I won’t be long. I would have finished already if you hadn’t started yelling at me.”
A voice in my head laughingly said, “So, how does it feel to hear your thoughts come at you from another person’s mouth?”
And I started laughing on the inside thinking about my blog from a few days ago.
And in my laughter I realized that people have their reasons for sitting near me, when there are lots of places available, just as I had my reasons for sitting next to the woman. How unreasonable of me to expect my own space in a public place. Also, in my laughter, I realized that there’s no difference between me and the nutbars. We think the same thoughts.
I will not get upset when people invade my space. I will likely laugh.
I wanted to thank the woman for yelling at me, but she wouldn’t have understood.
Someone once said, “Rich people have the stock market, and poor people have the lottery.” I don’t own any stocks.
My experience shows that new lottery games have lots of winners while the games are new. The winners trail off as time passes. Manipulation? Every lottery retailer I asked, over the years, agreed that there are more winners when the games are new.
The lottery draws used to be held live on television. Now the draws are done behind closed doors. The draws are closely monitored—or so they say. Sometimes (human beings) + (lots of money) = corruption. For the sake of transparency, why not go back to having the draws live on television? Lots of poor people would watch.
I have no proof for the following, but I think the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) can manipulate winning numbers. It’s all done by computers. The OLG can tell where and when a winning ticket was bought. Can the OLG tell which numbers are picked before the draw, and then make sure none of those numbers wins the jackpot? This, of course, drives up the jackpot. The higher the jackpot, the more tickets people buy. The more tickets people buy, the more money OLG makes. And when the OLG has made enough, they allow the winning numbers to come up from a ticket someone bought. Manipulation would also explain the many winners when games are new.
“Oh, but the numbers are drawn randomly,” they say. Really? How do you program randomness into a computer? Everything a computer does is the result of a program someone created. Isn’t programming randomness an oxymoron?
Thinking that the OLG manipulates the numbers does not stop me from buying lottery tickets. One day I hope to win so I can buy some stocks.
A friend’s only modern technology is a landline, with voice mail, from Bell Canada, a television set that uses an antenna, a DVD and VHS player, and some AM/FM radios. That’s it! No computer. No Internet. No cell phone. No cable or satellite television. Also, he does not have an e-mail address.
Every several months he gets calls from Bell Canada. “We’d like to upgrade your package and save you money!” the caller says. It’s always the same line, but from different callers. He does not mind the calls because he is waiting for someone from Bell to answer his final question.
He said that he explains how he does not have a computer, cell phone, and no e-mail address. He also says that his tv is free because he has an antenna on his roof and gets twenty to thirty channels. “Still,” he said, “the person will go on and on about Bell’s various packages and how they will save me money with Internet, cell phone and satellite tv.”
He said that a phone call from Bell will go like this near the end:
“Your packages range from $200.00 to $300.00?”
“Yes,” says the Bell person, “but our three-month introductory prices are cheaper.”
“But the regular price, after the three-months is over, is between $200.00 to $300.00.”
(Here is his final question.)
“My regular telephone bill is between $40.00 to $60.00 per month depending upon long distance calls. How am I going to save money by paying $200.00 to $300.00, per month, for one of your packages?”
He told me, “No one has ever answered my final question. And after the brief uneasy silence, they thank me for my time and hang up.”
A friend commented on yesterday’s blog questioning whether what I wrote was true. My reply to her comment? Truth is stranger than fiction.
I tell my friends about the different people I see during my adventures on Earth, and my friends think that I am exaggerating. Nope. I reports ’em as I sees ’em.
I have mentioned her before in an earlier blog. She has shovels and bags and boxes on her dolly. Don’t know what is in the boxes, but the bags contain pop and chips and candy. She eats and drinks while sitting at the computer playing games. Her dolly is her purse. It goes where she goes.
Her clothes and hands often have dirt on them. You do not have to be near her to smell her perfume which is a combination smelly feet, body odour and caca. I am not meaning to put her down, but I mention this because of the irony in what she does before she uses a computer.
Dolly Lady takes a moist sanitary paper towel from a foil package and wipes down everything! She meticulously wipes the front and back of the computer’s monitor, the computer’s base, the keyboard, under the keyboard, the wire from the keyboard to the base, the mouse, the mouse pad, the wire from the mouse to the base, the desk, the entire chair including the legs. Oh the irony of a not-so-clean, smelly person, who hasn’t bathed in centuries, worried about getting germs!
I would love to know what is going through her mind.
I would love to know what is going through her mind. I would love to ask her. But I keep my mouth shut. These people do not obey the same Laws of Physics as I do. Who knows what violence may erupt if I asked a question or made some comment? I satisfy my desire to say something by blogging about them. I reports ’em as I sees ’em. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Here’s another true story I made up because it happened to me.
I sat down at the end of a row of computers at the library. A middle-aged woman sat to my left. She looked normal and attractive from the side. But when she turned towards me and spoke, I knew she was missing some keys on her keyboard.
“Are you a bad people?” she asked.
“Uh-er-uh-no, I don’t think so,” I said.
“You look like a bad people,” she said
“I don’t think I am.”
“But you look like a bad people. It’s not good to sit beside a bad people.”
She got up and walked away.
Not only was she missing keys from her keyboard, but her hard drive was orbiting some planet in another galaxy.
Was it my clothing that made me look like “a bad people”? I was wearing a blue denim shirt and blue jeans. Did she see prison blues?
Was it my skin color? Does my dark skin make me look bad?
“Does it matter?” asked a voice in my head. “The woman is obviously irrational. Why waste your time trying to find a rational reason for her irrational behavior?”
“You’re right,” I said to the voice in my head. “Good advice.”
“I’ve got more advice,” said the voice in my head.
“What?” I asked.
“Never sit beside bad people.”
I used to work in social services with a man I will call Bill Mars. (Not his real name.) Bill Mars was out-of-this-world! when it came to avoiding work. What a master! I was junior to him, so I had to go along with his choices.
Part of our job was helping people with various problems—or at least point them in the right direction to solve their problems. If Bill Mars could not find a way to avoid contact with people, and he had many ways, then he had a favorite line he would use. His facial expression never changed while he was working. It was always long and dour. He kept the same facial expression whether people were emotional, or calm while explaining their problem. When they finished, he would say, “So? What do you want me to do about it?”
His question always confused people because they thought that we there to help them. We were, but not according to Bill Mars. We were there to avoid work.
How amazing the lengths Bill Mars would go to avoid doing any work! He used so much energy finding ways to get out of helping someone with a problem. He would have used far less energy simply doing the job.
The only time I saw Bill Mars working was when he made coffee for our boss. He would smile around our boss, too.
It has been years since I left that job, but Bill Mars came to mind recently watching how a librarian avoids doing anything. Her method is simple: she stares at her computer screen, or looks off somewhere in space where nothing is happening. In other words, she avoids eye contact. Even when she walks from the office to the Reference Desk, she looks in directions where nothing is going on. If she does not see it, then it isn’t there.
I do not know her name, but I call her Bill Mars. When you see Bill Mars at the Reference Desk, you know that she will only see her computer screen or some obscure place in the air. You also know that if she has to help you, then she will avoid getting up from her seat. She will make you wait when you walk up to the desk to ask her something. I presume she is hoping you will go away. Other librarians will get up from the desk and deal with a noisy person or some other problem that requires intervention. Not Bill Mars. She sits there staring somewhere safe pretending nothing is happening.
The screen went blank on a computer I was using. Other librarians get up to see whether they can solve the computer problem. Usually they do. Not Bill Mars. I reported the blank screen to her expecting her to get up and investigate. As usual, it was a long time before she looked up at me to find out why I was bothering her. I told her. She remained seated.
“Find another computer to use,” she said, “and you don’t have to worry about it” Then she returned to gazing at her computer screen.
Bill Mars would not get up from her chair if World War III happened in front of the Reference Desk. Wait a minute. Perhaps she would get up as long as she did not have to do anything.
Librarian Bill Mars does not look anything like the man I used to work with except for one thing—a fat ass. Both have a fat ass. I wonder why.
I have mentioned this before and still cannot believe the noise allowed at the North York Central Library. I cannot believe it because of how strict stern–looking librarians used to be about noise. You used to get Shhhhhed! if you breathed too loud.
Presently, here are the noises happening now on the library’s fourth floor:
- A man two computers over is sleeping, with his head hanging over the keyboard, and snoring ever so loudly
- The man at the computer opposite me is babbling away on his cell phone
- A woman at a computer across the room is babbling away on her cell phone
- Another woman standing on the floor between then man opposite me and the woman across the room is babbling away on her cell phone
- The nutbar next to the man on the cell phone is singing softly in his Mickey-Mouse voice. Every so often this nutbar lets loose an orgasmic Mickey-Mouse scream
- Next to the nutbar is a woman with the volume of her headphones so loud that I can hear the lyrics to the songs playing on her computer
- A woman at the table behind me is sporadically laughing out loud
- The man at the table next to the laughing lady is chewing out loud
The librarians? Where are the librarians and their stern looks? Why there’s three of them at the nearby information desk having a gabfest. No stern looks. They could pass for fashion models and actresses. Shhhhh! is not in their vocabulary.
Silence, where are you Silence? Why do you no longer hang out at the library? Where do you hang out these days? Can you let me know? I would love to hang out with you.
My name for this security guard shows that I think the world of him.
Fat Fuck patrols the building that houses the North York Central Library, retail outlets, offices, and a food court. People use the food court when the library closes. Fat Fuck climaxes when he orders library people out of the food court when the food court is closing.
No one aspires to be a security guard. People aspire to be police officers and become security guards when, for some reason, they cannot be police officers.
Why can’t Fat Fuck be a police officer? Is he too fat? Police departments have rigorous physical tests that applicants must pass. Is he too white? Police departments also have racial quotas — although they would never admit it.
Fat Fuck will go out of his way to look for crimes against humanity. What crimes against humanity? Besides being at a table in a closed food court, Fat Fuck hunts down people who have their computers and cell phones plugged into food-court outlets. According to Fat Fuck, using the plugs is against food-court rules. Fat Fuck is the only security guard who enforces this rule. The other security guards do not seem to care, and have walked by people with their devices plugged in.
The other day a student plugged her cell phone into a food-court plug. She was at a table near the plug, but nothing linked her, or anyone, to the cell phone plugged into the wall.
It was about an about an hour before Fat Fuck rolled by. Fat Fuck erupted!
“Whose phone is this?” he shouted. “Whose phone is this? Whoever it is better unplug it right NOW!” And then shouting even louder, “THEY BETTER UNPLUG IT RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW, I SAY, RIGHT NOW!”
Fat Fuck’s theatrics made the food court walls and floor think that they were experiencing an earthquake. The poor, fear-frozen student did not know what to do. She sat shaking for a bit before she suddenly she ran to the outlet to unplug her phone, but she had difficulty doing so because she was trembling. All the while Fat Fuck glared down at her.
She finally unplugged her phone and fled to her table. Fat Fuck rolled off into the sunset satisfied that he had made the world a better place.