Monday, November 02, 2009

Why Larry David needs to leave Woody Allen alone and take on grad-student daily life

Most of my petty grievances stem from one part of my day-to-day life: the part when I have to show a library worker the stamp in each and every one of some tower of library books, to prove that I have borrowed them legitimately. (See earlier rant for background.)

Today, it reached a new low. I arrived prepared at the examining area with all six of my books already opened, in a pile, so that the person whose job it is to check the stamps had to make the least effort possible. But! Behind me there was a man in full businessman-on-the-go regalia, a foot taller and a couple decades older than myself, with either a backpack or a small piece of luggage on wheels. He had two books he needed inspected. Well! The student (a guess) inspector announced that the man should go ahead of me in line, because he'd be out quicker. Perhaps so, and this might have been reasonable had I been there with a duffel bag full of books and had he had just the one, but six versus two? Were those five seconds of that man's time so much more valuable than the four seconds of mine? I am convinced that the man's age, dress, demeanor, and perhaps even gender played into his being rushed in front of me. A grad student with a backpack surely isn't in any kind of hurry. As he proudly marched in front of me, the man offered a gruff 'Thanks' behind him, either to me or to the woman who'd encouraged him to cut the line, but in either case, I offered no 'you're welcome.'


Miss Self-Important said...

I have now encountered the library strip search and agree that IT IS THE WORST THING EVER. Backpacks are the worst because they make you open ALL the pockets, even the cell-phone pocket, where you have doubtlessly stashed all the cell-phone-sized books you're stealing. I now carry exclusively tote bags to the library, no matter how heavy or painful.

Phoebe said...

At NYU there's none of that - it's just that your bag will beep if you leave with a book, even one you've checked out. However, your bag will also beep at (I'm embarrassed to say I know this) Urban Outfitters and other clothing stores, where you have to explain that no, you weren't shoplifting, it's just library books.

However, my new building is of the doorman variety, and Jo and I enter and exit all the time, greeting the same doormen, and every so often one we've seen dozens of times will stop us and very suspiciously ask us who we're visiting, forcing us to plead our case. (There are no IDs, ala the dorms.)

A first-world problem, yes, but it's only a matter of time until we get locked out.

Britta said...

Wow, that was really presumptuous. If you'd complained, I suppose you would have seemed bitchy, but the woman should NEVER have let the man go in front of you. If he had asked you, that would be ok because then it would be your decision to make, and it would be you graciously doing a stranger a favor. But this employee basically made a probably sexist and ageist decision and acted like you don't have a voice. If it ever happens again, you should make a fuss, or ask to speak to her supervisor so she knows it's not ok to judge the importance of people's time based on gender and appearance (I mean, if he were that much in a hurry, he could have gotten there before you.)

My library pet peeve is that we can only request books on reserve by their call number, and not by title and/or author. I get that is how they are organized, but the library staff has access to the catalog, and can look up the call number from the title in 2 s. That might be asking much if they were busy, but it is more often the case that there is not a single free computer for a student to use, the check out people have not a patron in sight, and they're basically like, please, go away and wait 5 minutes to look up a call number because I can't take 2 s away from my math hw to look it up for you (even though, presumably, they are getting paid to work in a library, not do math hw). Being a misanthropic grad student, I give the undergrad employees the evil eye until they look it up for me.

Jeff said...

Now that you mention it, I can't think of much coverage of grad school in movies or TV.

There's plenty of stuff about high school, undergrad... the dreaded Young Urban Professionals... but grad school? All I can think of off the top of my head is the "gradual school" quip in The World According to Garp.

(and by this I don't mean law or biz school).

Maybe most screenwriters haven't been to grad school, because as anyone who's done it knows, it has a whole different vibe than undergrad.

Is it time to write a screenplay?

Phoebe said...


That library system sounds awful!


There's already "The Big Bang Theory," about physics postdocs. The humanities need some representation, however, beyond the occasional mention whenever ala Philip Roth a pretty young thing with a touch of intellectual inclination serves as love interest to an aging prof.

Britta said...

Heh. Presumably you are used to it, because it is the Reg.

Phoebe said...

Ah, then yes, this I vaguely remember. NYU asks for even more info, but I rarely get reserve books these days, so it hasn't been an issue lately. I was far more concerned with the book I'd returned that they proceeded to lose for about a year and a half, the threat of a fee ever-looming. The Reg never lost any of the books I'd returned, but then again, I wasn't taking out nearly so many in those days...

PG said...


I'd think that graduate school gets little coverage because it's both uncommon (the entire population goes to high school, and about 2/3 goes to some kind of college, but a much smaller proportion goes to graduate school) and often uninteresting to people who are not geeks (unlike the uncommon experiences of solving medical mysteries, uncovering crimes, etc.).