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Jewish World Review March 7, 2001 / 12 Adar, 5761

Workstyle by Paula Bern

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Consumer Reports

Rude public...venegeful man...whining speeder -- Q: Your advice to Kit from West Virginia that a job as a librarian might help her avoid rude customers she encounters in her present position is way off the mark! As a librarian who has worked in a variety of library settings - colleges, private corporations, state agencies - I can tell you that I have dealt with rude customers in every situation. As you said, anyone who deals with the public can expect rude behavior. I think your suggestion of a different career may have been appropriate, but your suggestion of a field was not. -Frances Drone-Silvers, reference librarian, Parkland college, Champaign, Ill.

A: You have just disillusioned me and settled, once and for all, my childhood dream of being a librarian. I used to think that hanging out in the stacks with hundreds of books had to be the coolest job in the world, amid the best people in the world. No grumpy people, no complaints, no rude remarks; just quiet, happy bookworms who smiled at all passers-by. I guess I can now take a look at my second choice: a tiger tamer with Ringling Bros.

Q: One of my colleagues recently won a lawsuit against a blind person and he's boasting in our office that he is going to go after this man's guide dog as part of the judgment set by the court. Surely, even in this free-market world we live in there is some regulation protecting people from this sort of thing. -Chuck, San Diego, Calif.

A: Thanks to you I've just learned something new: the four-legged friends who serve as our guide, service or hearing dogs are considered so valuable that they are categorized legally in most places as "health aids" and, as such, cannot be claimed by a creditor to satisfy any judgment. At least 29 states have laws prohibiting creditors from taking "health aids" and, New York goes one step further; exempting the dog's food from being collected as part of a debt.

Q: I was a luncheon speaker at a meeting several hours from home, and what a disaster it turned out to be. My flight was late, so I jumped into my rental car, checked the route to the convention center and hit the road. I think I was going 85 when I heard a siren and saw the police car behind me. The cop wouldn't listen to my explanation and hauled me to the local city hall where a local magistrate hit me with a major fine. I made it to the site just as dessert was being served. It was embarrassing and I was out $100. Should I bill the group that booked me as a speaker? -Talker, Sacramento, Calif.

A: Are you kidding. The whole fiasco was your responsibility. You should have caught an earlier flight to avoid any last-minute hassle and kept you car within the legal limit. And there is no way the group that booked you should be responsible for your lack of it.

02/20/01: Computers and preschoolers ... rude bank customers
02/13/01: Hooked on subliminal tapes ...picking up the tab

Dr. Paula Bern has taught executive seminars at Carnegie-Mellon University. Comment by clicking here.


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