Thursday, November 18, 2010

Progressive Life Stages of Public Embarrassment

Once upon a time I worked in my local library.  

It is a wonderful library.  In fact, it was hard for me to leave.  I tried several times, and after each stint of travelling, I would return and work there again for a few months or years.  I still go back to visit when I'm in my hometown.  


Back in the days before we were virtually connected to a constant web of information, we actually had to research with the aid of books or people to find out what we wanted to know.

Which means the library would get some interesting calls.  And if I was the one answering the phones, well...

"Hello, Carnegie Public Library, how can I help you?"

"Can you just tell me the sixth verse of the song the Twelve Days of Christmas?"

"Umm.  I can't think of it right off the top of my head.  I'd have to sing the whole song through for that.  Can you wait a moment please?"

In my moment of silence I quickly ran through my options.  We had a book which I knew would have the entire song, but it was a few shelves away; also, was this person for real or just another prank call?  In my moment of hesitation, the voice on the other end of the line had begun to sing, thinking my explanation had been an invitation.

"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me.... A partridge in a pear tree."

Maybe they're for real... oh, yes they are because they are continuing:  

"On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... two turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree."

Unavoidably, I found myself humming along.

And when they reached the sixth verse, where their moment of mental lapse was occurring, my voice continued as they faltered; "...six geese a'laying, fi-i-i-i-ve golden rings..."  

We finished that verse, said an awkward goodbye, and I put the phone down.

So, I used to think THAT was a challenging experience to have in a public environment.

Nowadays, it's...

"Look, Mum!  That man in the wheelchair has ONLY ONE LEG!" 
[And you just had to say that one in the loudest voice ever]


"Is that man taking DRUGS?"
[Also loudly, about three feet away from the person in question]

And finally, one of my favourites:

[Said Shouted on our street, as we were walking up our drive]


  1. Erin,
    Don't forget when we were in the Edinburgh castle, and Righty was,for no conceivable reason, shouting as loud as he could,
    "Toilet, toilet"
    Strangely enough, everyone was giving us interesting looks :)

  2. I do remember that... I think he had just learned the word. It's gotten so much more intense since then! :)


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