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Author Topic: Not Going To Happen 'Cause I'm Not Harry Potter (Impossible Patron Requests)  (Read 1712322 times)

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blue2000

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I work in a small, regional archive.  I am the ONLY full-time staff person here, which means I do all the reference work, greet visitors, pull/shelve materials, supervise the reading room, and try to keep on top of the cataloging back-log, answer questions about the exhibits, answer the phone, make copies, etc.... 

Our collections focus on a single ethnic group who immigrated to the area heavily from the 1880s through the 1930s.  The majority of our researchers are looking for genealogy information.  Most come armed with at least the names, dates, and places they know.  The man who came in yesterday was a different story.

He explained that he was just passing through (lived 2 states over), but thought he would stop in and see if he could find any information about his grandmother's family.  I asked where in the area they had lived.  He didn't know the name of the town.  I asked for family names.  He only knew her married name (which was the local equivalent of Smith), so I asked when they were married.  He didn't know.  He didn't know when they had come to this country, didn't have anyone's death date (so I could look for obits), didn't know of their religious affiliations (we have a lot of church records), political leanings, employment history.  Oh, and he could only stay for about an hour.

Since our historical records were pointless without more information to narrow down the search, I tried to direct him to our online resources (we have subscriptions to useful things like Ancestry and the Institute of Migration from the "Old Country", that can usually help us find an immigration date, place of origin/settlement, birth/death dates, etc.) 

He refused!  He wanted to "have something to hold in my hands that my ancestors actually touched."  I pointed out that the only way I would be able to find something like that is if we had more information to give me someplace to start.  At that point he had almost reached his self-imposed time limit and left, muttering how useless I was and how I wouldn't even help him.

Wish I had a magic family tree wand, but alas, I do not.  If you can't give me information to work with, I can't produce miracles.

Heheh. Reminds me of a trip MiddleBro took once with the same idea (although he was much easier to deal with I'm sure).

He went to Ancestral Country on a business trip. He decided to stop in the city where one of my grandparents was from and look up the records. Unfortunately, the name is VERY common and there were about a hundred people born in the same year with the same name as my grandparent. ??? He has temporarily given up on the search. ;D
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

Slartibartfast

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Unnalee, I'd have been tempted to pull out the first reference to HisFamilyLastname I could find, and tell him "Ooh, that's definitely your family!"  Chances are he wouldn't have known the difference . . .

Jocelyn

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He explained that he was just passing through (lived 2 states over), but thought he would stop in and see if he could find any information about his grandmother's family. 
He refused!  He wanted to "have something to hold in my hands that my ancestors actually touched."   
He actually thought that he could go into a museum, and the curator would let him handle the artifacts because he claimed to be a descendant of the original owner? Seriously?
The best I think you could have given him was if said ethnic group were of a particular religion, that if he went to the church he might find something his ancestors had touched, like a communion rail. But even that's a stretch.

LazyDaisy

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My mom loves doing geneology as a hobby and also helps others research theirs. She has run across a few individuals that assume that when she researches a family line she also goes "forward" in the tree to current living descendants. She may have the names of all children from her great great great grandmother, including the one she is descended from, but she doesn't usually then trace all the other siblings forward to find their living descendants. I wonder if the man thought along the same line -- the museum has records of the original immigrants and some of their history, certainly they must have kept track of their descendants as well, including current living ones like himself and he could just show up and they'd be all "Bob! You finally found us, we've known all about you for generations!"
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

zyrs

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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.

After H.G. Wells invented the time machine and accidentally allowed Jack The Ripper to escape into the future, he went back in time and asked Poe for help containing the situation. Poe agreed, but he had some demands of his own. Once Wells finally convinced him that there was no way they could remake the Earth into a hollow sphere, even with a time machine, Poe decided to settle for being William Shakespeare. It was dead easy, too, since they just had to bring the complete works back in time with them and have Poe copy them out long-hand. What with all the excitement they clean forgot about Jack The Ripper, but he made the mistake of stopping in Chicago during the Capone era and brought a knife to a gunfight, so happy endings all around.

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Thipu1

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He explained that he was just passing through (lived 2 states over), but thought he would stop in and see if he could find any information about his grandmother's family. 
He refused!  He wanted to "have something to hold in my hands that my ancestors actually touched."   
He actually thought that he could go into a museum, and the curator would let him handle the artifacts because he claimed to be a descendant of the original owner? Seriously?
The best I think you could have given him was if said ethnic group were of a particular religion, that if he went to the church he might find something his ancestors had touched, like a communion rail.
But even that's a stretch.

All the time we would have people come in wanting to see Papyrus X, Y, or Z.  When we pulled out a big 19th century book with photographs of the ancient document and a translation of the text (usually in French or German) you could hear their jaws hit the floor. 

These folks really expected that we'd unroll a 3,500 year old papyrus scroll in front of them and leave them alone to 'commune with the ancestors'. 

Yeah, right. 

Elfmama

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He explained that he was just passing through (lived 2 states over), but thought he would stop in and see if he could find any information about his grandmother's family. 
He refused!  He wanted to "have something to hold in my hands that my ancestors actually touched."   
He actually thought that he could go into a museum, and the curator would let him handle the artifacts because he claimed to be a descendant of the original owner? Seriously?
The best I think you could have given him was if said ethnic group were of a particular religion, that if he went to the church he might find something his ancestors had touched, like a communion rail.
But even that's a stretch.

All the time we would have people come in wanting to see Papyrus X, Y, or Z.  When we pulled out a big 19th century book with photographs of the ancient document and a translation of the text (usually in French or German) you could hear their jaws hit the floor. 

These folks really expected that we'd unroll a 3,500 year old papyrus scroll in front of them and leave them alone to 'commune with the ancestors'. 

Yeah, right.
Many, many years ago my branch of the SCA went on a "field trip" to the Walters Art Museum.  We were wandering around looking at all the goodies when someone announced joyfully from underneath a period banqueting table "Oh, look, it all comes apart for transporting!  You just have to pull out these pins out here and here!"

So of course, everyone got down on the floor and crawled under the table to see for themselves, with the best draftsman among us tasked with making quick sketches so that we could duplicate the table ourselves.

And when we emerged, there was a museum guard standing there with his arms crossed and a stern look on his face, one foot gently tapping the floor.  He must have thought we were actually  going to try to take it apart! 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Common sense is not a gift, but a curse.  Because then
you have to deal with all the people who don't have it.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Thipu1

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Museums need to be very careful because you never know what people will try to do.

We had a pair of beautiful and somewhat fragile Chinese chairs on view. People would try sneaking  behind the ropes to have friends photograph them sitting in the things. When the chairs were replaced with a Chinese day bed, young women were forever trying to pose on the thing like a Chinese anatomical doll. 

I once found a woman in heels and a business suit trying to climb a ladder on display in the African galleries. 

In the American galleries we had a wonderful inlaid table from about 1820 on view.  A family of visitors was found starting to set up a picnic lunch on it.

Because they're not heavily visited, the period rooms are always a problem.  An amorous couple was found attempting to play 'Scrabble' in a 17th century bed. 

Heck, a janitor found a pair of museum visitors trying the same thing when he went into a closet for a mop. 

Museum guards probably have reams of stories to tell. 

     
« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 09:07:13 PM by Thipu1 »

Nikko-chan

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They are also probably scarred for life.

WolfWay

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Impossible request from boss.

Coworker sends me a data file to process. Some of the data file is missing, so it won't process. I email coworker (cc-ing boss in on email to keep him in the loop as to progress) to ask coworker for a more up to date version of the file. Coworker is on leave today, so boss decides to step in and forward the question onto someone who can help... he forwards my own email right back to me!

"Hi Wolfway, in coworker's absence can you provide feedback on this issue?"

I felt like replying with a conversation between me and me discussing how we could work together to solve the issues before finally "both" asking boss if he wanted to forward the question onto someone else who might be able to help (like perhaps me?).
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Mel the Redcap

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Impossible request from boss.

Coworker sends me a data file to process. Some of the data file is missing, so it won't process. I email coworker (cc-ing boss in on email to keep him in the loop as to progress) to ask coworker for a more up to date version of the file. Coworker is on leave today, so boss decides to step in and forward the question onto someone who can help... he forwards my own email right back to me!

"Hi Wolfway, in coworker's absence can you provide feedback on this issue?"

I felt like replying with a conversation between me and me discussing how we could work together to solve the issues before finally "both" asking boss if he wanted to forward the question onto someone else who might be able to help (like perhaps me?).

*mad snickering* Well, somebody's not paying attention, and I don't think it's you...  ::)
"Set aphasia to stun!"

unnalee

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Museums need to be very careful because you never know what people will try to do.

Because they're not heavily visited, the period rooms are always a problem.  An amorous couple was found attempting to play 'Scrabble' in a 17th century bed. 

Heck, a janitor found a pair of museum visitors trying the same thing when he went into a closet for a mop. 

Museum guards probably have reams of stories to tell. 

   

Janitors of any ilk often have many such stories.  When I was a new teacher, the janitor in our building often caught kids in the bathroom playing scrabble of many varieties.  When I was a museum docent during undergrad, I learned to never leave the back gallery unattended during high school field trips for the exact same reason.

bopper

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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.

"You know, Bert, we don't have any information about that.  Have you tried <other library>?  Maybe they do."

esteban

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Museums need to be very careful because you never know what people will try to do.

Because they're not heavily visited, the period rooms are always a problem.  An amorous couple was found attempting to play 'Scrabble' in a 17th century bed. 

Heck, a janitor found a pair of museum visitors trying the same thing when he went into a closet for a mop. 

Museum guards probably have reams of stories to tell. 

   

Janitors of any ilk often have many such stories.  When I was a new teacher, the janitor in our building often caught kids in the bathroom playing scrabble of many varieties.  When I was a museum docent during undergrad, I learned to never leave the back gallery unattended during high school field trips for the exact same reason.

My son came home one day from 8th grade and said that a couple people he knew were suspended for playing scrabble and partaking in a certain "medicinal in states we don't live in" herb.  I'm not sure if it makes us bad parents but the first thought my wife and I had was doing that at the same time in a school bathroom involves a degree of multi-tasking and iniative that is impressive if misguided.
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cwm

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He explained that he was just passing through (lived 2 states over), but thought he would stop in and see if he could find any information about his grandmother's family. 
He refused!  He wanted to "have something to hold in my hands that my ancestors actually touched."   
He actually thought that he could go into a museum, and the curator would let him handle the artifacts because he claimed to be a descendant of the original owner? Seriously?
The best I think you could have given him was if said ethnic group were of a particular religion, that if he went to the church he might find something his ancestors had touched, like a communion rail.
But even that's a stretch.

All the time we would have people come in wanting to see Papyrus X, Y, or Z.  When we pulled out a big 19th century book with photographs of the ancient document and a translation of the text (usually in French or German) you could hear their jaws hit the floor. 

These folks really expected that we'd unroll a 3,500 year old papyrus scroll in front of them and leave them alone to 'commune with the ancestors'. 

Yeah, right.

To be fair, if I call ahead with enough time to one of the forts nearby from the Civil War, I can arrange a time to get out my ancestor's belongings and see them up close. There's probably loads of rules to follow, and I wouldn't mind in the least wearing white cotton gloves if I got to actually hold his saber, but I figure it's so much work for the parks department and the people working the museum that it's not worth it for me to actually call ahead and DO it. It's nice enough for me just seeing it. But it's not quite so old as papyrus, and I wouldn't be expected to be left alone with it.