Thursday, July 9, 2009

All in a day's work...

One of the best (and occasionally worst) things about my job is you never know what's going to happen on any given day. The Library is a public building. That means anybody can come through the front doors during operating hours and anything can happen. I thought I had seen and/or done it all, been just about everywhere in this building. Just about being the operative words here.

Today, a young lady dropped her keys in the crack of the elevator doors. Yup. Down they went. Of course, our Head of Maintenance took a half day of vacation. It never fails. If he takes off, something happens with the building. The roof starts leaking. A toilet overflows. Something. Every time. Today, it was the keys in the elevator.

Staff finds the special device to open the door. We send the elevator to the top level and shut it off at the internal panel. We fumble around, getting the door on the lower level to open. We find the switch for the light in the sump pit at the bottom of the shaft and the main shut off switch. And there are the keys, seven feet below the edge of the door, on the floor of the pit.

We can't find anything other than a long stick to fish them out. Where's a wire coat hanger when you need one? The Head of Children's Services gamely attempts the fishing expedition. No luck. We all look at the ladder. It's a big step over from the edge to the top rung. Thankfully, bottom of the pit is relatively dry.

One thing about being a Library Director: I do not expect anything of my staff that I am not willing to do myself. Of course, now we have an audience. Some moms and kids waiting for the elevator, watching the show.

Deep breath and down the ladder I go, into the pit. Now, mind you, I did not dress this AM to go into a sump pit. I dressed for work, which is usually in a nice dry office. It's a good thing I wore flat shoes and am not afraid of heights! The ladder sides above the rungs are a bit wobbly. The rungs themselves are round rods, not the best footing while wearing dress shoes. I make it down without falling or swearing. The latter was a near thing when the ladder sides moved. But there are children present and I am a professional. :-)

The keys are rescued and returned to their rightful owner. I climb out and step back over onto the landing without incident. Now I can honestly say that I have been EVERYWHERE in this building - roof, eaves, drop-ceilings, closets, boiler room, elevator room - and even the sump pit.

Running a Library is not for the faint of heart. Because you never know what's going to happen.

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