Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Stay Away from Mistletoe

So we have a reference line here at the library. And while most of the calls we get are simple enough ("what is the definition of blah blah blah?"), we have one patron who calls fairly often with hilariously absurd questions and requests. Well, to be fair, it's not that the questions are so ridiculous, but her incessant need that you answer her questions in exactly the fashion she wants them. Hard to explain, but I think you'll see my point after reading below.

For example, last week it was "Hey Lauren, I need a refresher on Joan of Arc. Was she a Christian?" To answer something like this, I ignore all of my reference training and head straight to Wikipedia, from which I read her the first paragraph. ("Oh ok great, Lauren. That's exactly what I wanted to know.")

So this morning, she calls and wants me basically to help diagnose her insomnia symptoms. She wanted to know about the second kind of insomnia, where you wake up and can't get back to sleep, and what the specific causes are. Wikipedia wasn't going to cut it this time, so I found a reference book in our medical reference section about Sleep Disorders, and read parts of it to her. Needless to say, it did not suffice that "worry, anxiety, and pain" were the top causes of this phenomenon. She kept saying "you aren't exactly hitting it on the head. I need to know Top Causes, not just suggested causes." So basically, I reworded the "suggested causes" several different ways until she was more than happy. 

So tonight, she calls back and remembers me. And here's how the conversation went. And let me preface this by saying that K just informed me that she calls her often, giving a fictional name, and was most recently asking for help diagnosing a family member with "egomania." 

Lady: Well Lauren! What are you still doing there? I'll just call back later and let someone else help me.
Me: No no no, ma'am, I'm happy to hel....
L: Ok then, I need to know synonyms for "objects of love."
M: So... like names for objects of affection, like sweetheart?
L: Yes.
M: (Looking at Thesaurus.com)... well we've got honey, love, valentine....
L: No not the actual words. I need to knwo what it means to have an object of love.
M: So what exact information are you looking for, ma'am?
L: I want to know what happens when you have an object of love. Or when you don't. What does it do?
M: Well I can give you information about how it affects your brain?
L: No no no I need specific facts about what needs it provides for. What does it do to you? What does it mean?
M: (Completely lost and scanning Wikipedia, looking at H and pretending to blow my brains out.) So I read her this: 
Biological models of sex tend to view love as a mammalian drive, much like hunger or thirst.[7] Helen Fisher, a leading expert in the topic of love, divides the experience of love into three partly overlapping stages: lust, attraction, and attachment.
L: Mammalian? What is mammalian?
M: As in, pertaining to mammals. 
L: Oh ok, so upright walking with spinal chords?
M: Yes, exactly. 
L: Ok, so what else?
M: Ok, well this is interesting:

Studies have shown that brain scans of those infatuated by love display a resemblance to those with a mental illness. Love creates activity in the same area of the brain that hunger, thirst, and drug cravings create activity in. New love, therefore, could possibly be more physical than emotional. Over time, this reaction to love mellows, and different areas of the brain are activated, primarily ones involving long-term commitments.
L: Ohhhh now that makes sense! Like egomaniacal? 
M: Well I'm not sure (Sadly, I thought up until a few minutes ago she was making that word up... therefore proving that librarians are not walking dictionaries afterall)...
L: Well Lauren, I just think people who want to be in love are crazy. Just crazy. Why would you want such a thing? It makes you mentally ill in the first stages, then you're miserable. What's the point?
M: ...... (at a loss for words)
L: What do you think Lauren? I would like to know the  opinion of an education person like yourself.
M: Well I'm no scientist, ma'am. And I can't say I know all that much about love these days, but I can assure you there's a point to it.
L: Well I just don't think so. I think we ought to warn everyone. They need to just stay away from the mistletoe this Christmas! Nothing good can come of it!
M: (Laughing nervously...) 
L: We'll write pamphlets and distribute them! Stay away from mistletoe!
M: Ma'am can I help you with anything else?
L: No, you've been wonderful. Thank you so much. I'll talk to you soon. 

K, H, and I have concluded she must have a family member who she fears is egomaniacal, maybe because he/she has fallen in love? Perhaps her worry over this is what is keeping her up at night.

Lesson learned: do not answer the phone with PRI 12 pops up. And stay away from mistletoe. 

So stay away from mistletoe folks, it could ruin your life. 


Holley T said...

The calls *still* come in on PRIV 12...just because I enjoyed revisiting this, I'll include an exact transcript (she thoughtfully left a voicemail for M, which he shared with us) of "Amish Hair Care":

"M, you seem gifted to me at getting obscure things for me. Knowledge. I would like to know how to sustain hair on women's heads without constant cutting! Now, the um Amish had wonderful ways of cleaning hair. Whatever it might take to avoid having inches and inches of my hair constantly cut off! I would like to have enough hair to put up AT WILL!! And I would like for you to call and say "I'll be here at these hours and I'll be glad to look for this for you"...if you'll call me or whatever you might want me to do. I want you to call (3 phone #'s dictated) to say what you might do or what you know about hair"

Oh, during another call, she asked Matt how she could tell her computer that she only wanted bible explicit messages.

Lauren said...

That might be the best one yet! An actual voicemail? Awesome. I'm looking forward to hearing about the follow-up conversation when M calls her back.