Before I leave you for a week I have something to get off my chest.
Yesterday I took some books back to the library and picked up some I wanted to take out.
"You can use the self-service computer to return and take out books," says the library assistant at the counter where there is no queue.
So I try to scan the books I'm returning and there is a malfunction. A teenage library assistant clears it for me and takes away the book that doesn't scan.
I try to work out how to scan my library card to take the new books out. The screen demonstrates a hand feeding a card into a slot. I have a hand and a card. But I see no slot.
I go back to the original assistant. There is still no queue.
"Can I take them out here? I can't work out how to use the computer."
"It's very straightforward once you've done it once."
"Well I haven't done it once."
"Maybe next time you'll get more help."
"Is it now policy to direct customers to the self-service computer?"
"It's very easy, you know."
I was trying to bond with her, to agree how terrible it was that stupid rules meant that even though there was hardly anybody in the library, library assistants like her weren't allowed to do the job they'd been trained to do. Of course the reality was, she was thinking...
"They employ these young girls to do nothing. I'm not going to work my arse off while these young girls are walking around the library with nothing to do, getting paid for doing nothing. I've been here for five years. Does seniority count for nothing? I'm going to have it out with the senior librarian. That young slip of a thing should be explaining to customers exactly how to use the self-service computer. She should stand over them while they do it, correcting any mistakes, making sure that the next time they use it they won't come running to me. I am more important than her. I shouldn't be spending my time behind a counter checking in books and checking them out, rushed off my feet, when some young thing who hasn't been here five minutes can't even pull her finger out to help the public properly!"