Some years ago, I worked at the Circulation Desk of a State University Library. One of the things I did was supervise the student workers. One day, one of the students came out back and asked me to go out to the desk, because a patron was giving another student a hard time. As I walked out, I could spot the patron immediately. He was the one pounding his fist on the desk. He must have been doing that for more than a few seconds, because as I got to the desk, the security officer showed up (someone had seen the patron and called security).
What was the patron so upset about? He wanted to check out a book. He was clearly someone who thought he was very important and appeared used to getting exactly what he wanted when he wanted it. The fact that the library had rules that prevented him from getting exactly what he wanted seemed to irritate him slightly. The conversation went something like this (remember, the poor student had just told him all of this before I got there):
Him: I pay taxes and I want to check this book out.
Me: State residents are able to use many of the library's services. You can read or copy the book here. Unfortunately, if you are not a student or staff member, there is a $25 per year charge to take books out.
Him: That's outrageous! I pay taxes! This is a public library. (Note: that state had a system whereby if you had a library card from one local public library, you could check out books from any other local public library in the state. The State University library was not part of this system.)
Me: Yes, we are public, but we are not part of that library system. I understand that you need this book. These are your options. You can read the book here. You can copy parts of the book here. You can request this book by Interlibrary Loan from your public library. You can pay the fee and check it out for a month, with up to two more months of renewals.
Him: I shouldn't have to pay to check this book out. I don't have time to read it here!
Me: Well, you can check with your local public library. Some of them do have fees for interlibrary loan, but they are usually small.
Him: What are the fees at MyTown library?
Me: I'm sorry, I don't know that. Every library in the state has its own policies and fee structures.
Him: Well, then, how can I get this book?
[insert another 10 minutes of exactly the same conversation. He can get the book if he pays our fee or his local library's fee, he can read or copy it here. Several library staff have paused in their travels and are glued to the drama at the desk. We finally have a breakthrough about what interlibrary loan can do for him.}
Me: I'll look up the phone number for YourTown library. Maybe you could call them and find out if that option would work for you.
He stomps off to a pay phone in the lobby. He comes back to the desk.
Him: They can do the loan. I've got them working on the paperwork right now and they will fax it over here. So, I'll wait here until it gets here.
Me: Oh, dear. You see, interlibrary loan is a separate department. Let me run upstairs for you and see if they can process this book for you today.
I run upstairs, taking the book with me. No one in ILL is surprised to see me. They have already had a phone call from HisTown library. The whole staff is laughing about this guy, who apparently bludgeoned the staff of the other library into submission over the phone. I hand over the book. ILL staff explains that they *have* to send the book to the local library because it must be checked out in their system. But they are making an exception and are sending it overnight delivery, so that the book will be there tomorrow. I head back downstairs, relieved that the book is now safe (I was afraid at one point that he would grab the book and run out of the library), but a little worried about telling the guy he can't get his hands on the book until tomorrow.
Me: [Explains about ILL, special overnight delivery just for him, extensive cooperation between the two libraries just for him, the book will be waiting for him tomorrow at HisTown library.]
Him: [Amazingly, he seems to accept this.] What time tomorrow can I get the book?
Me: I'm not sure. Perhaps you could call YourTown library and find out what time FedEx usually delivers to them?
Him: This is really not an efficient system.
Me: Oh, dear. We really are trying to get you this book.
Him: [bursts into laughter] Well, you guys really pulled an end run around me, huh?
Me: I'm sorry, I don't know what that means?
Him: You fixed me good. No one ever does that! How would you like to come work for me?
Me: [Thinking, Yeah, right. I barely survived a half hour encounter with you.] Why, that's very kind of you. But I really do like working with books.
The security guard watched him until he left the building.
Seriously, he had several options to access the information in that book. Why he had to throw a temper tantrum at the desk and scare the students who were working there is beyond me. There are rules in life. Sometimes, they don't work the way we want them to. The adult thing to do is to accept that you can't get exactly what you want and to move on. And I'll bet his hand hurt. Those were granite countertops he was pounding on.