Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Boy, Are We In Trouble!

A lot of interesting things happen at my place of work. Some make us giggle. Some touch our hearts and make us feel good. Some make us furrow our brows and leave us quite bewildered.

One such bewildering event occurred today. But it really started a couple of weeks ago when, on behalf of the CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency, for those unfamiliar with the acronym), another organization called to book the library’s meeting room for an update on changes that are being made that will affect businesses. The CRA representatives asked for assistance in finding a venue and the organization that contacted us were merely doing them a favour by making the arrangements.

My first question was, “Where do I send the invoice?”

We do not, as a rule, provide space to user-groups for free. And while the fees for using the meeting room are nominal, they are also very helpful to our little library.

No one seemed to know the answer to my question. I wasn’t overly concerned. It was the CRA after all and it seemed reasonable to me that a government agency would a) be willing to pay expenses; and b) have the capacity to do so.

Today was the day that the meeting took place. When the CRA representatives arrived, I entered the meeting room and welcomed them to the library. I then asked who I was to make out the invoice to.

The CRA representatives were two middle-aged(ish) women and at the time I entered the room they were in the process of discovering that the table they were setting up was child-height. Apparently the bright yellow top and short legs were not clues and they stood blinking at the low surface with the same look of bewilderment that I was about to look at them with.

The dark-haired member of the duo looked up at me after a moment and said, “We don’t have any money.”

Several things popped into my head – and nearly out of my mouth – as I processed what she was saying. The CRA – Canada Revenue Agency, you will recall… you know, the place we submit our taxes to… had no money to pay for the use of the library’s meeting room that they requested the use of.

It was all I could do to bite back the admittedly sarcastic retort I desperately wanted to blurt out and left the room. With a look of utter bewilderment on my face!

In hindsight, I should not have been so surprised. Or as optimistic as I had been. A similar incident happened a couple of years ago when another government agency (also federal) expected us to provide them with the use of the meeting room for free. Then I was told “…we expected more support from community organizations. We can’t just waste tax-payer’s money on expenses like this.”

But we are supposed to provide them with a heated, lighted room at our own expense!? Sheesh.

When I returned to the staff room, my assistant was sitting at her desk, diligently working on inventory or cataloguing or some other task as outlined in her job description. I couldn’t keep my bewilderment to myself any longer and said, “Un-freaking-believable!”

“What?” my assistant asked. She’s used to my outbursts and so turned her attention fully to me as I explained what had just happened.

She looked at me, as bewildered as I was, for a second. And then we both burst out laughing.

Boy, are we in trouble!