Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Are You Sure You Don't Mean Noah's Arcade?

Whoever said there is no such thing as a stupid question has obviously never worked in a library. From time to time, I get such fabulous little gems that I can't help but share. Enjoy.

Not too long ago, a mom came in with her third-grade son. They were looking for books about Noah's Ark, and since it is such a popular topic for picture book illustrators, I showed her every children's book I had featuring the Biblical Boat. But nothing seemed to work for her. She just kept shaking her head and saying, "this isn't it, this can't be the all of them." After working her way through the stack of books, she comes back up to the desk and pleads with me to share my uber-knowledge.
"I know you have it here," she whispers. "You have the list."
I have lots of lists. I tell her as much. I have lists of books for schools, lists of award winners, lists of things I need to do, but none of those is what she is looking for.
"I need the complete list of the animals Noah had on the Ark."
"Excuse me?" I asked, puzzled as to why a grown, seemingly functional adult is asking me for a complete list of EVERY. ANIMAL. ON. THE. ARK.
"We need it for school," she explains. "He has to do a report, and I need a whole list."

What should I do? Do I point out that, in accordance to Christian theology, the premise that Noah took two of every animal on the ark would mean the list would be taller than the building we stood in? Do I make something up?At this point, I have to stop and search for my best customer service voice.
"Well, I don't think I have the *exact* list," I say, cheerfully. "One could assume it would be two of every animal that isn't seafaring."
"But he needs something to cite for his paper," she said.
"How about the Bible?"
"But that doesn't have a list in it. Isn't there something that you can give me?"
Finally, after exhausting my patience and my collection, I just hand her an illustrated book of Bible stories from a few years ago.
"I think this is as close as we are going to get," I tell her, hoping that she will just take the book and leave. She heaves a pretty big sigh, then takes it back to a table. She's thumbing through it pretty diligently when I hear her exclaim with relief:
"Look, Tommy, God saved the seals!"
Do with that what you may.

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