Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Keeping the Customer Satisfied

Reading a post on another blog the other day, I was put in mind of an incident that happened to me more than ten years ago. At that time, I worked in a community college library. We had a regular patron who was clearly mentally ill. Each day he'd come in declaring he'd received another prestigious degree from some Ivy League university. We dubbed him The Reverend Father Doctor International Attorney at Law. One day he came in and asked me to get the Constitution for the Planet Jupiter for him. He knew I would come through for him because I was famous campus wide for my crack interlibrary loan skills. Well, I'll confess this one had me stumped. No matter how hard I tried to convince him that Jupiter had no life, let alone a formalized government, he just kept insisting. Finally, in desperation, I went to the law department and copied a few random pages of the Supreme Court Reporter, then put them in an I.L.L bin with his name on it. The next time he came in asking if Jupiter's Constitution had come in for him, I pulled the pages out with a flourish and handed them over. Thrilled to pieces, he retired to a table and poured over the pages. He was clearly very happy and I never heard a complaint from him. When I related this story to my reference classmates in library school, some thought what I did was unethical. Was it? After all, I kept my customer satisfied. What do you think?

Steve Bertrand
Assistant Director


Blogger Gnashing Books said...

In terms of disseminiating information, yeah, maybe not so great, but for dealing with loonies, I would have messed around with him a bit more. Blank pages, tell him it's written in Jupitarian...

May 31, 2007 6:33 AM  
Blogger 3goodrats said...

I think if you hand it over while saying "I think this will satisfy your needs" rather than "Here is Jupiter's constitution" then it's perfectly fine. I don't like handing over misinformation, but when you are dealing with the mentally ill you just have to figure out what will make them happy. Great post!

June 05, 2007 3:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home