Sunday, July 21, 2019

Words (almost) fail me

Loyal readers (all two of you) may recall I volunteer at the local historical society museum. As part of my volunteer duties, I let myself get suckered into serving as the Secretary. That in turn means I get to tote around the museum's Tracfone. Don't recall if I ever mentioned it before, but the museum got rid of its land line a few years ago when we realized that (a) most of the time that phone would be ringing in an empty building (when open hours add up to barely 8 hours a week you know there's not going to be anyone there to answer it), (b) even when we were there if it did ring it was basically a personal call for whichever volunteer happened to be on that day or a telemarketer, and (c) it was costing almost $1,000 annually. Granted, the phone service did include Internet but we almost never used it.

We did the math and figured out that if we invested in the best smart phone Shopko had in stock for Tracfone at the time we could cut the phone expenses by at least 75 percent annually, maybe more. Then we learned we could transfer the landline number to a mobile, and that was that. Changing the phone number had been the one thing making us hesitate. So back in 2016 we made the switch. When the museum is open the cell phone stays at the museum for the use of whichever volunteer is there. When it's not, it lives with the Secretary. Me.

Minor digression. One of the advantages of the cell phone is we were able to get a Square so now we can take plastic for payments. No more listening to visitors say "I'd love to buy this book but I don't have enough cash." Not a problem, we say, and people either whip out the Mastercard or start to stammer. Fun for us either way.

Anyway, I do tend to check the cell phone daily. It has the EBay and Amazon Seller apps so I can see at a glance if the museum has sold anything (we sell stuff that doesn't fit into the museum's mission on EBay and new and used books through Amazon). I can also see if anyone has left a voice mail.

So yesterday the phone said new voice mail. It was midday, more or less. What do I hear? Someone asking for a special tour, one by appointment, for her group. They had just gotten into town, were here only for the weekend, and were wondering if someone could meet them at the museum basically ASAP. What the. . .?? On our website we do say "by appointment." We also say it on the sign on the door. The sign on the door says "seven days advance notice." The website isn't quite as specific, but what do people think "by appointment" means? You don't call a doctor's office and say you'd like an appointment for five minutes from now.

I am kind of wondering just who she thought was going to answer the phone when the museum was closed. But that's a different issue.

I am happy the phone was turned off when the person actually called. Otherwise the caller might have gotten to hear "Are you fucking kidding me? It's a gorgeous sunny Saturday in July and you expect one of our volunteers to drop everything immediately? Hell no."

Would I have tried to set something up for them if  there had been more than a few minutes notice? Maybe. I've been kind of losing patience with the public recently so it's a toss-up. I'm still liking doing the cataloging, but for sure my tolerance for humans is dropping rapidly.


  1. Seems it is best to keep the phone turned off.

  2. I have been in jobs dealing with the public and some people can be really pushy. I quit volunteering years ago.

  3. I feel your pain. I am the volunteer manager of a used book shop that sells donated books from the public for the benefit of our local library. I am extremely good at it, having quadrupled the earnings of our little shop in the 18 months that I've been running it, not that I get ay thinks from the Friends of the Library. And it's getting to me. Here I am, at age 63, GIVING away my labor (running a used bookstore takes a lot of time and effort -- books are heavy!) -- I'm even working Saturdays, something that I yearned to escape all those crappy entry-level jobs ago in my 20s and 30s. And don't get me started on the utter crap that gets dumped on our doorstep in the middle of the night. And don't get me started on the Board members of the Friends of the Library, who have ever touched a used book and who think they are my boss. I'm taking notes for a possible book (I'm a memoirist) and I figure that I'll have enough stories by December, when I will quit in a huff, with much glee. I can't wait to be rid of this stupid JOB and, having earned all my Do-Gooder Points for the rest of my life, I am clear from ever volunteering ever, ever again.


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