Where Am I?

A year ago I was reading reports of some new virus that was starting to spread, and felt that we’d probably be okay if we were sensible. I never dreamed that a year on I’d be wearing a mask nearly all day as a key worker, and as of this morning breaking the news to staff that another colleague had lost a close relative to covid.

Sometimes I’m numb to it, sometimes I’m angry. I’m grabbing humour where I can find it. Sometimes I wish I could work from home, but most of the time I’m glad I can get out of the house. I remind myself I’m very privileged, even as I want to curl up and hide under the blankets.

But hey, someone yesterday asked to buy the original of one of my sketches, so that’s a nice thing.

Phoneless Day

I left my phone at home today – not for any great reason, but just because I was in a hurry. As is usual in such cases, I only realised when I got to work, so just shrugged and got on with it.

It did mean that my peers had to use the branch landlines to get in touch with me through the day – and in the process I think it all underlined how much of our job is based on communication and consensus.

I did manage to get some work done for wider projects currently underway, as well as prepare a bit for the reapplication my job that an upcoming restructure is promising, so it was a productive day – but I did feel a little lost without being able to quickly check mail and news at a moment’s notice.

First world problems…

Key Worker

Today I learned that library staff are now classified as key workers – I suppose its good to have that confirmed rather than just bat the idea around. Certainly the steady stream of book requests and queues at the door reinforce that for us, along with the heart-felt thanks from people of all ages.

It must be time for a cuppa

On a lighter note I had a very brief health worry yesterday with sharp pains coming and going low in the abdomen on my right hand side. One quick Google for symptoms suggested either a liver problem, or appendicitis, among possibilities but both of them mentioned an inability to pass gas.

Pretty much immediately on reading that, I passed gas and fortunately was on my own so didn’t gas anyone. Lady M and myr s can attest to how lucky my staff were. And lo and behold the pain was gone.

If that’s the worst health issue I have, I can live with that…

What Do You Mean I’m The Adult?

If there’s one thing I think most of us recognise, it’s that situation where you realise that you’re not the newbie any more, and indeed that people are looking to you to lead – and you look round for a more adult-y person, but there aren’t any so you’re it. Yeah, had one of those today.

To give some context I usually am the one to whom people defer so being “the adult” isn’t exactly new. Whether that’s as a manager, or a leader, or DM, or Dom it’s usually me making a decision or giving approval, or well you get the idea.

Even the opening situation described above isn’t exactly new either. It tends to happen every month or so in one context or another. I blame the silver in my beard I think.

Today’s revolved around a conversation with one of my peers about someone seconded to a position recently. Among other things, we talked about areas that some quiet words may be needed about – to help keep pace with the demands of the job and certain situations.

Halfway through, it dawned on me that I was being agreed with, and was leading the conversation. As the other person has been in post longer than I have there is usually an expectation of leaning in on that experience, but not this time. This time I was the adulty adult being asked for experience and guidance.

What’s the problem? Well, nothing and something. Having my opinion taken as equal weight is a good thing, as is recognition of skills and experiences. What quails is the inner child that doesn’t like having expectations put on him because it reminds me of past pressures and mistakes. It’s that very young place that lacks self confidence even as adult me takes ownership and takes charge – despite, or perhaps because, there’s no one else willing or able to step up.

Perhaps that’s why it felt so important later in the day to acknowledge, congratulate, and thank an apprentice for stepping up, taking ownership, and resolving a situation (with one or two prompts). Seeing them straighten in their chair where they’d been bowed with worry they’d screwed up made my day.

Not Long

I know that there isn’t some magical tickertape explosion due to wipe the woes of 2020 away at the end of the week, but I am looking forward to symbolically saying goodbye to this year. If nothing else there’s a mental shrug to be done, like splitting a big job into smaller slices, with stepping into 2021.

I’m back at work for a few days, providing a click and collect service, so at least I can feel I’m making a positive difference in the lockdown. The biggest difficulty is retraining my brain to wake at a reasonable hour, so I’m setting lots of alarms tonight.

All Ending In Tiers

I couldn’t resist the joke.

Within ten minutes of the announcement of Surrey going in to Tier 3 restrictions I had people coming in wanting to grab as many books as possible. They were afraid we were about to close our doors.

Thankfully I was in a position to be able to tell them that while they were very welcome to carry as many books as they could, we would be remaining open so they could relax. Our existing precautions and spaces, along with the fact we don’t serve food or drink meant we don’t need to alter the service we provide.

There was much relief, and slightly less worry as a result.

I have one more day of work and then I’m off until after Christmas. I feel I’ve earned the break.

Jawdrop Moment

I was shelving books the other day, and was approached by a customer, book in hand. Nothing unusual there, it’s part and parcel of my daily work routine.

The customer wanted to know if we had the latest book by the author they had just finished reading – which was a bit of a problem because they held in their hand The Quarry – the last book written by Iain Banks before his death in 2013.

I gently broke it to them that this wouldn’t be possible – barring an upcoming non fiction work due out next year based on his notes and drawings around his Culture series of books. I thought that perhaps this was what they meant when they asked after his next book

And this is where the conversation wandered sideways a little: I was berated for keeping the books of a dead man on the shelves if there weren’t going to be any more books by them.

I’d love to say that I had the presence of mind to sassily spread my arms to encompass the many, many works by dead people on our shelves, but they turned on their heel and walked out, leaving the book on top of the desk beside us before I could gather my wits.

I love working with the public, and sometimes it is precisely because of the surreal conversations I have with them.

Carry On

There were interviews yesterday for a fixed term addition to our local managers during the restructure to make up for people who retired earlier in the year. I have been regaled today with stories from staff who were on-site where the interviews were taking place, and I’ve realised what I’m most looking forward to, whoever gets the position:

Someone else I can gossip with. My usual go-to peer for this is dealing with a family emergency, and I’m having to bite my lip at some of the unfiltered comments that have been made.

So, sorry whoever gets the job, you’re going to get your ear bent in the near future (though not until tomorrow apparently)

It’s a funny day, can you tell?

Oh, The Usual Chaos

We’ve been able to reopen the libraries for browsing by the public, so its nice to see that most of the requests this morning have been to use the photocopier. Given that yesterday we started the consultation phase for a new restructure, that may only be a moderately salty comment.

I read through the documentation, rushed through the seven stages of grief and then got on with the day because I’ve always found there’s two things that help put things in perspective: being actually very busy with customers and their enquiries, and the sudden and unexpected death of a colleague’s relative.

Compared to that, my minor grumps are very small beans indeed.