Where I meet some Southmead residents…

Some of today was really interesting, and some of it just plain dull. The traffic was light so I was there in no time, and went to collect the papers. Yesterday I mentioned a few of the shops, but today I took more notice — there’s a barbers, a nail salon, 2 pharmacies, an Iceland, and two sandwich shops, a Greggs and another, rather amusingly named “On a roll”. They were all just opening up their shutters as I walked past.

We had quite a variety of customers in today. There are a few men who come in and read the papers and go on the Internet first thing every morning; in addition today we laid out refreshments for the Crime Reading Group, and located the necessary paperwork in preparation for a Health & Safety visit.

It was quite interesting listening to the CR Group, because the book they’d just read (can’t remember the title) they didn’t enjoy, and didn’t like one of the characters (by the very nature of the genre, there has to be a ‘baddie’, surely).

The H&S people arrived whilst my colleague (the other C* — who had woken up in a panic in case the urn upstairs had been left on: it hadn’t, but the windows had!) was on her tea break, but fortunately they spotted the folder and so all they asked was “ah, there’s the panic button, how often is it tested?” which I couldn’t answer (and in fact, hadn’t known there was a panic button!) and then my colleague appeared and they started talking about the letters they are going to get on Monday telling them about their new jobs.

At lunchtime the cleaner came in — a big black guy. My colleague went home and warned me the cleaner might not get much done as he was very chatty, but I managed to avoid too much conversation thanks to this forewarning. After he’d hoovered the library and cleaned the floors (and I skipped from room to room to keep out of his way, taking The Telegraph or Which? magazine with me), he told me he’d polished the tables but you couldn’t smell it, and that he was looking forward to playing with his 4 children over the weekend. I was polite but didn’t encourage conversation — after all, it was my lunch hour, I wasn’t being paid, and I had a whole hour in a room full of things to read!

In the afternoon several mothers (or grandmothers?) came in with piles of kids’ books (which I had tidied in the kinder boxes in the morning), including a Polish mother and daughter; a few older people came in, including one with several Mills & Boon and another with a single Western, and one who doesn’t sleep well so uses audio books to help her to sleep (and I was able to recommend something another customer had told me they’d enjoyed); an Indian gentleman wanted to join and sign up for a free computer class starting next week in another library; and another man in a grey hat wanted some help downloaded information about lottery numbers as he knew a way to figure out the next winning numbers. I suggested he join the computer class too!

A man came to check the lift was working OK — one of the reading group had used it in the morning, and my colleague had shown me how it worked in case the H&S people asked me — who knew it would feature so many times today!

Finally 4 teenagers came in and asked if they could sit in the library (I discovered later they were waiting for the Youth Club next door to open at 5) so I said they could, so long as they behaved themselves — and of course I tried to persuade them to read something… I hadn’t meant the little kids’ books with the big pictures, but that was better than nothing (until her friend teased her) and one of the boys at least glanced at the teenage magazine, “Phoenix”. (My colleague said they were watching porn on their phones. Well, they are teenagers!) There were also two younger girls printing out tags for Mothers’ Day, and a young boy who confidently asked me to reserve a book for him, and could remember his number off by heart, as he twirled round the room.

I must learn more about the Dewey system, because as I was straightening the biographies, I noticed they had several different numbers e.g. some were 700 and some were 300, and I’m not sure why.

Finally, as we were leaving and my colleague said the alarm was always tricky and that it was important to get it right in the evening as there was no one to call out, so I suggested she swipe the fob more slowly and — bingo! It worked.

Crime books on the left; kids’ books in the middle; non-fiction, local history and audio books on the right.
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