An Hour at the Reference Desk

July 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm Leave a comment

I thought I was well-prepared for my first hour at Reference this morning.  We were closed yesterday for the city’s art fair, so I anticipated a brisk business when we opened again.  My first patron was an elderly gentleman who needed to have his boarding pass printed.  He had never done this before and needed help.  Normally I would pass this on to one of our well-trained computer assistants, but this morning I happened to be alone on the floor.  I sat him down at my reference station and offered to do it myself.  He appeared to have all necessary information at hand, including dates, times and destinations of his round-trip flights.  He even had his confirmation code.  That’s when things started going to hell in a handbasket very fast!!  He wasn’t quite sure if it ended with a 2 or a 7, so I tried it both ways.  I even tried it with both numbers.  That was enough to lock me out of the automated online system and into the misery of speaking to an airline representative located in a country halfway around the world!  After what seemed like five minutes of working through an automated menu system, I finally got “Morgan” at the other end of the line.  I could barely understand him and he obviously didn’t under me at all.  He got my patron’s name wrong as well as his phone number.  After patiently spelling everything out for him several times, he happily gave me the correct confirmation number which didn’t have any resemblance to what my patron had given me.  I thanked Morgan profusely and hung up.  Bad move on my part !!  I entered the code into the spot indicated online and, presto, brought up our patron’s flight data.  Unfortunately, it was relating to a flight he took LAST year in July, not the one he’s scheduled for tomorrow.

As much as I dreaded it, I called the airline back and waded through their menu system one more time.  This time, I got “Calvin” on the line and had to explain the entire mess one more time.  I’ll have to admit, Calvin and I understood each other a bit better that I had anticipated.  He gave me another confirmation code and offered to stay on the line with me, which I accepted.  I made it through logging in with clear sailing, but then got stuck on selecting a seat.  I had no idea that a passenger had to PAY for a regular seat if they pre-selected it.  Naturally, my patron wanted to pick out a seat – and immediately  the screen came up to select a method of payment.  I hung up with Calvin and spent the next five minutes working with my older gentleman getting his credit card into the system.  FINALLY, 56 minutes after my first reference interview, I was able to hand my new friend his boarding pass.  When he asked if he could have a return pass printed, I was almost thrilled to have to tell him that it was too soon to print that one.  He’ll now have to find a friendly librarian in New Jersey who will be willing to help him.  I’ll be praying for God to give him/her a lot of patience!

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