Days at the Archives are rarely “a little” busy. They are either slow or slamming. Slow days have been the norm lately. One afternoon, our only walk-in patron (thatís library talk for customer) for a good hour or two was a woman convinced that, fifteen years ago, her mother was stolen from a local nursing home and murdered by high-ranking Knoxville officials connected not only to Arab terrorists, but to the mafia, the Black Panthers, and the Nazis as well. Unfortunately, I zoned her out so I could keep working on my project. My boss had to recap parts of the saga for me later, and Iím sure her version wasnít as captivating as the original. Thatís the problem with slow days. Even though they allow you to concentrate, they make you less alert. *
First thing yesterday morning, expecting another slow day, I set out to transcribe two documents for our upcoming Archives Week exhibit. I sat at the computer. I clicked on Word. Then the patrons came, in person, on the phone, through e-mail and letters—one after the other, most with complex questions that required me to dig way down into my brain and figure out what we have that might help them find an answer. I like this kind of question. It makes me feel useful. It helps the time pass, and yesterday, the time passed quickly. Days like this can be great if youíre in the right mood, but they pose a problem too. They wind you up. I was working so fast yesterday, I almost strangled myself as the lanyard my ID pass hangs on got snagged on an open file drawer. That hurt. While I was making dinner after work, I looked down to see my ID pass dangling in the ham and cheese on the skillet. I was so wound up that I still hadnít thought to take it off.
*David and I are frequently baffled at slow service in almost empty restaurants. Several times while eating out, we’ve been the only customers in a restaurant and have still received stagnant service, much slower than we would have if the place had been packed.