Author Topic: Not Going To Happen 'Cause I'm Not Harry Potter (Impossible Patron Requests)  (Read 663768 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

MommyPenguin

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4159
    • My blog!
Reminds me of the Doomsday Book.  The character is planning to go back in time (I think to about 14th century England?) and they painstakingly research a name that would have been very common and usual in that time... Isabel, I believe.  The character's name is Kivrin.  She's spent ages preparing her story, etc.  Except that when she arrives back in time, she's sick and delirious.  When asked her name, she tells them her real name, Kivrin, which is nowhere near appropriate.  Conveniently, they hear it as "Katherine," which was a perfectly acceptable name during that time.  Close shave.  :)

darling

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 268
OK, end of background.  Where the impossible patron requests come into the story is when people submit a name that is impossible to modify in the form requested.  The patron loves the Russian name "Olga" but wants to have it changed to the 10th century Irish form, as if all names have a counterpart in all other languages in all time periods.  Or wants "Willow of the Fairy Hills" because it's her favorite name from a certain bodice-ripper fantasy romance, but has no documentation whatsoever to prove that it is a name actually used by humans in period.  And again, she wants it made authentic for medieval Irish.  We have concluded that what the patrons really want is for us to wave our Magic Herald Wands and change history, so that Olga and Willow really ARE period Irish names.

LOL, I work ren faires as part of an educational Royal Court (we are paid, and most have theater backgrounds). When I was figuring out my backstory, I searched through the actual records of family names for the nobility of that era, and picked out the one that I liked for my family name (actually belonged to my favorite historical author at the time), parents names, children's' names, etc. 

Back on topic:

As part of our work in the group, we sometimes get requests from other acts, players or vendors to participate in various "play" scenes. As our days are usually heavily scheduled, we have to narrow down what we do participate in, without offending anyone (because we do like these people, and see them throughout the season, year after year). The rules are:

1. The "scene" must have a beginning, middle, and end. No trailing off, or leaving something open ended (yadda yadda, and we're not sure what will happen after that, but we'll figure it out). It's not funny if it just kind of peters out, and it confuses the paying customers.

2. No more than 5-8 minutes long, because it has to be able to hold the attention of the patrons. ("It'll only be about half an hour, no more!" Um, that's show length, and it falls during our lunch break.)

3. It has to make sense, and be appropriate. No kidnapping the under-age-princess type thing (we have no more princesses, partly because of this).

4. It cannot interfere with our normal shows/duties. Don't interrupt a show unless someone is missing, hurt, or dead. Interrupting MY show with your stalker-behaviour will get security called, not a date with me.

5. If you want us to be part of an actual show, you had better have a script, or an idea of how you want people to react, and what you want us to do, and it's best to talk to us before the gates open (but not while we're getting dressed, unless you are a scotsman, and in a great kilt. I will talk to you ANYTIME, and the answer is YES!).

All of us have good improv skills, but there are times when you just don't want to get into something without some idea of what you are supposed to do, how long it will take, and how it ends.

Our standard e-hell-friendly phrase: "I'm sorry, it won't be possible today. Maybe you can work on a plan this evening/week, and email us, and we'll let you know if we can work it in." (it usually ends there, as they never get back to us).

EHell has definitely helped me keep my cool, and to have a polite backbone at faire.

asb8

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 490
I had a customer call in and ask us "Can you locate all of our email on your servers and send it on to us?" after we had an issue with the servers that held up mail delivery and the servers were fixed.

Nice try...  we have too many mail servers and try to find all of the mail that belonged to her? She had 20+ email accounts too.

I'm sorry I don't understand.  You had an issue with your servers that cause a client's email to vanish?  Asking that their data be retrieved is not an outrageous request.  20+ account or not, if your company is taking her money to provide a service, then you have to do your utmost to provide the service.

Jocelyn

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2890
As background, I'm going to babble about my hobby here, the Society for Creative Anachronism. We are a non-profit group that researches and recreates the Middle Ages and Renaissance, with about 40,000 members worldwide. 

In the Society, I am a herald.  My job is to help people create a persona, a person who could have lived in that era, complete with a name and a coat of arms.   All name components must be documentable to the Society's time period.  Such name and arms are submitted to the Laurel King of Arms, the Society officer who registers them so that no one can use a name or arms that are too similar. 

As part of the paperwork to register a name, people have a number of choices.  One of them is an option to have a name modified to make it authentic for a certain language, culture, and/or time period.  So if you submit "Alice Smith" but ask to have it changed into a form authentic for 14th century France, we can do that. 

OK, end of background.  Where the impossible patron requests come into the story is when people submit a name that is impossible to modify in the form requested.  The patron loves the Russian name "Olga" but wants to have it changed to the 10th century Irish form, as if all names have a counterpart in all other languages in all time periods.  Or wants "Willow of the Fairy Hills" because it's her favorite name from a certain bodice-ripper fantasy romance, but has no documentation whatsoever to prove that it is a name actually used by humans in period.  And again, she wants it made authentic for medieval Irish.  We have concluded that what the patrons really want is for us to wave our Magic Herald Wands and change history, so that Olga and Willow really ARE period Irish names.


Could the character be the daughter of an Irish woman and a Viking man? since the name is also Scandinavian it could work

I'm SCA also.   But unless things are very very different in Elfmama's kingdom, the person registering their name has the obligation to come up with a plausible name and explanation. The herald is supposed to help them find documentation that the name is authentic. Many heralds are very kind and will start earlier in the process, guiding someone with only a vague idea, but that's not a requirement of their job. It would be like hiring an interior decorator for your home, and when she arrives with her samples, telling her you have no idea what color you want to paint your living room, and then moaning that she's no help because she can't show you the perfect color which you will instantly recognize if she just shows it to you... and then not accepting that she cannot get the style of furniture in the fabric you want because you've selected a modern sofa that comes in leather with an aluminum frame, and you want it done in toile. And you want fluffy Cape Cod curtains. 
Way back in time, when the SCA was young, you could get names passed that were not at all authentic. Willow is an example. So a newbie may meet someone who's been SCA since the 1970s, and want to use a similar name, only to be turned down, because the strictness of historical plausibility has increased as knowledge has increased. You can no longer get James of Goetz-Down passed.  ;D

Thipu1

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6609
More than 20 years later, this one still makes me laugh.

We had a request at the library.  Someone wanted to write on a friend's cast,  'Sorry about the broken leg.  Get well soon!.  The problem was, he wanted me to tell him how to write the message in Egyptian hieroglyphs --- and he wanted me to do it over the telephone!   :o

missanpan

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 352
More than 20 years later, this one still makes me laugh.

We had a request at the library.  Someone wanted to write on a friend's cast,  'Sorry about the broken leg.  Get well soon!.  The problem was, he wanted me to tell him how to write the message in Egyptian hieroglyphs --- and he wanted me to do it over the telephone!   :o

I remember you wrote this story! It was HILARIOUS! You should write out your response!

jedikaiti

  • Swiss Army Nerd
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2670
  • A pie in the hand is worth two in the mail.
Slightly OT, but the hieroglyphs reminded me. When I was in high school, I walked up to the reference desk at the local library looking for a very long word. I knew how many letters long it was, and what it meant, but not the actual word.

Took the reference librarian less than 5 minutes. :-)
What part of v_e = \sqrt{\frac{2GM}{r}} don't you understand? It's only rocket science!

"The problem with re-examining your brilliant ideas is that more often than not, you discover they are the intellectual equivalent of saying, 'Hold my beer and watch this!'" - Cindy Couture

rain

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 744
jedi- what's the word?
"oh we thank thee lord for the things we need, like the wind and the rain and the apple seed"

jedikaiti

  • Swiss Army Nerd
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2670
  • A pie in the hand is worth two in the mail.
The one I had was a 3,641-letter chemical name - can't seem to find the actual word online. Wikipedia currently lists a 189,819-letter chemical name as the longest, and a 1,909-letter word as the longest published word, but Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters) is the longest to appear in a major dictionary.
What part of v_e = \sqrt{\frac{2GM}{r}} don't you understand? It's only rocket science!

"The problem with re-examining your brilliant ideas is that more often than not, you discover they are the intellectual equivalent of saying, 'Hold my beer and watch this!'" - Cindy Couture

magicdomino

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4545

 You can no longer get James of Goetz-Down passed.  ;D

Normally, I'm in favor of authenticity, but have to admit I really like that one.

Elfmama

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6012
As background, I'm going to babble about my hobby here, the Society for Creative Anachronism. We are a non-profit group that researches and recreates the Middle Ages and Renaissance, with about 40,000 members worldwide. 

In the Society, I am a herald.  My job is to help people create a persona, a person who could have lived in that era, complete with a name and a coat of arms.   All name components must be documentable to the Society's time period.  Such name and arms are submitted to the Laurel King of Arms, the Society officer who registers them so that no one can use a name or arms that are too similar. 

As part of the paperwork to register a name, people have a number of choices.  One of them is an option to have a name modified to make it authentic for a certain language, culture, and/or time period.  So if you submit "Alice Smith" but ask to have it changed into a form authentic for 14th century France, we can do that. 

OK, end of background.  Where the impossible patron requests come into the story is when people submit a name that is impossible to modify in the form requested.  The patron loves the Russian name "Olga" but wants to have it changed to the 10th century Irish form, as if all names have a counterpart in all other languages in all time periods.  Or wants "Willow of the Fairy Hills" because it's her favorite name from a certain bodice-ripper fantasy romance, but has no documentation whatsoever to prove that it is a name actually used by humans in period.  And again, she wants it made authentic for medieval Irish.  We have concluded that what the patrons really want is for us to wave our Magic Herald Wands and change history, so that Olga and Willow really ARE period Irish names.


Could the character be the daughter of an Irish woman and a Viking man? since the name is also Scandinavian it could work

I'm SCA also.   But unless things are very very different in Elfmama's kingdom, the person registering their name has the obligation to come up with a plausible name and explanation. The herald is supposed to help them find documentation that the name is authentic. Many heralds are very kind and will start earlier in the process, guiding someone with only a vague idea, but that's not a requirement of their job.
The key is 'plausible.'  It's much easier to help a newbie find a good name from the very beginning than it is to do "stunt documentation" for an iffy name that they've used for years and are now attached to.

Olga and Willow were only the tip of the iceberg, believe me.  I've been on Laurel's staff, I was Golden Dolphin Herald, processing submissions for Atlantia, I did six years as Baronial Herald, and I've done consultations at innumerable events.  It is not fun to tell someone that "Moonglow Halfelf", the name they've used for gaming for 20 years and now want to use as their SCA name, is not the name of a human in period.  OTOH, ask me if there is any documentation for names with 'elf' as an element, and I can pull given names, surnames, and place names for your consideration.  Get obnoxious with me and tell me that I just have to accept your persona story because "there isn't any documentation for that time and place"  and I WILL slap you down with facts to the contrary.  And I've pulled a couple of rabbits out of hats for names that other heralds couldn't find in period, one in a needlework book, of all places, and another out of my own family genealogy.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
It's true. Money can't buy happiness.  You have to turn it
into books first.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

gingerzing

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 934
My favorite story from my mother when she worked in the public library of my hometown. 

A woman walked in and approached Mother to help find a book.  Okay, that is what librarians do. 
"I want the complete works of Shakespeare by Edgar Allen Poe"
<Insert my mother sniggering a bit until she realized that the woman was serious and getting annoyed>  "You want what?"
"Like I said, the Complete works of Shakespeare by Edgar Allen Poe."

It took Mother about 10 minutes to explain why that wasn't going to work.  She could either get Shakespeare or Poe.  But otherwise - Wrong centuries, wrong styles, wrong sides of the ocean...  The woman kept getting angrier and demanded another librarian.  Then got angry when that librarian told her the same thing.  "Here is Shakespeare and here is Poe" 

That and the gal who came in to pick up a book from her high school English list.  "I need a book.  Don't know the title but it is by some dead Greek guy."   :o

hobish

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 18186
  • Release the gelfling!
I work for a very, very, very large academic institution.  Main campus is one mile east-west by two miles north-south - so 20-40 minutes of walking given having to go around buildings and stop at crosswalks.  I actually work about a half-mile off the south end - my department is off-campus so we don't have the security risk of students wandering into the building.

Not infrequently, we get callers asking us to walk over to check if someone's at their desk, even after we explain that the university has almost 11000 faculty and staff members and the listed office for the person the caller asked about is at least one mile away from our location.

I get that one sometimes, too. "Sir ... we have 9,000 employees spread over 11 buildings in 4 states. No, I cannot just find 'John' for you." They make me laugh.
It's alright, man. I'm only bleeding, man. Stay hungry, stay free, and do the best you can.
~Gaslight Anthem

Yarnspinner

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3878
My eyes are crossing.  I have written about this patron elsewhere, but I think I have to unload the whole tale here before I lose what little is left of my mind.

Bert is a nice guy, but he is obsessive to the point of madness.  He is very interested in the history of Our City and does a lot of research on it.  That's fine. He is also African American which isn't actually important, but does add a twist to this tale.

Unfortunately, he does not research his other obsession, which is proving that before Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office, Herbert Hoover had desegregated the army, Jim Crow did not exist, racism did not exist, everyone got on well in some sort of multicultural utopia, there was happy intermarriage, AND the Depression never happened (Roosevelt invented it to discredit Hoover), college was free to all as were hospitals.  No one went hungry, there were no food lines and....everyone lived in a paradise where no one had to work, etc., etc....

His "proof" are the speeches of Herbert Hoover.  Period.

At first we tried to engage the crazy and explain what real evidence is.  We tried to explain, light heartedly, that a speech given by someone seeking reelection is not evidence and, frankly, that the speeches of pretty much EVERY president since Washington sound an awful lot a like...everything is raining puppies and unicorns cavort about sneezing up rainbows. 

We might as well talk to ourselves as he comes back day after day demanding more and more proof about his belief of the 1930s utopia.  He will stand at our desk and read from the speeches to back up whatever point he is making.  Interesting fact:  both his parents grew up during the Depression, but apparently they are part of the conspiracy to suppress this information.

I said one day "So, my Grandmother was lying about having to take in washing to make ends meet?" and "Medical care was free?  Boy, Gramma got taken for a ride since she and Grampa had to PAY the hospital and the doctor with real cash money when my Uncle was born."  And "Bert, are you calling my Grandmother a liar?"  And he just chuckles and keeps arguing his point.

It has reached a place where we cannot make him go away as he is determined to "open our eyes" to the truth of our current situation.  No matter what information we are able to find for him, he dismisses it, no matter the slant is right left or center...it's all a conspiracy and we have to produce information to prove this consipiracy.

I finally told him that I wanted to stay friends and that he was frustrating that aim and that if he wanted to ask me for help on any other topic, I would help, but if he mentioned Hoover and Roosevelt, I would walk away.  He's been good about not asking me for proof of his theories, but it's still a drain on our time and energy.  Today my colleagues and I were calling each other in order to free up whoever Bert was holding hostage at the time.

I've asked my supervisor if we may start instituting a five minute rule for chatting and slightly delusional people. 

I'm sure this sounds silly and not that big a deal, but this has been going on for six months and daily it becomes more oppressive, especially since we have to deal with multiple versions of Bert embodied in other patrons.

magicdomino

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4545
My favorite story from my mother when she worked in the public library of my hometown. 

A woman walked in and approached Mother to help find a book.  Okay, that is what librarians do. 
"I want the complete works of Shakespeare by Edgar Allen Poe"
<Insert my mother sniggering a bit until she realized that the woman was serious and getting annoyed>  "You want what?"
"Like I said, the Complete works of Shakespeare by Edgar Allen Poe."

It took Mother about 10 minutes to explain why that wasn't going to work.  She could either get Shakespeare or Poe.  But otherwise - Wrong centuries, wrong styles, wrong sides of the ocean...  The woman kept getting angrier and demanded another librarian.  Then got angry when that librarian told her the same thing.  "Here is Shakespeare and here is Poe" 

That and the gal who came in to pick up a book from her high school English list.  "I need a book.  Don't know the title but it is by some dead Greek guy."   :o

There are many theories about who wrote the plays we attribute to Shakespeare.  As far as I know, Edgar Allen Poe has never been a candidate.