I was on desk with Quiet and Classy librarian yesterday. She is always dressed elegantly and speaks quietly and kindly. We were quite busy, running out from behind the desk to the shelves, to the computers, back to the phone and the IM requests.
On one of my trips back, I asked a tall older lady standing at the desk in a mink coat, jeans and sneakers if I could help her. She was looking at one of our city maps.
“I’m so flustered right now, I can’t tell you,” she said. “I’m looking for my eye doctor’s office, and I can’t think of what road it’s on. You go north on the highway, then turn left and wind around and it’s back in there.”
Hm. “Well, just take a moment and calm down,” I said. “We have lots of time. Is it Busy Street, by chance?”
“Busy Street….no, no, I don’t think so,” she mumbled.
“Well, take your time. If I can help you, I’ll be right here.” I pointed to the desk and she nodded, poring over the map.
The poor lady was there for over an hour, trying to figure out where she was going. I checked in with her from time to time, as did Quiet and Classy. She finally got that it was a dentist’s office she was looking for, not an eye doctor.
We conferred in the back office about what to offer her. “The poor thing,” I said. “She couldn’t even remember her own name when I asked her. I thought maybe we could call her home and ask someone to look at her calendar or something.”
“I know,” Quiet and Classy said. “I don’t think she should be driving a car – who knows where she will end up?”
We offered her the yellow pages, thinking that one of the dentist’s listings would jog her memory. Something finally did – she chose one and asked us for a map. Sure enough, it was on Busy Street, which we had both asked her about, but turning right, not left.
As we printed the driving directions, we wondered if it was truly the right office. Who knew?
As we came back to the desk, her sister suddenly walked up. “Honey, what are you still doing here? Don’t you have a dentist appointment?”
“Well, yes, but I couldn’t remember how to get there. I’m just getting a map.”
Quiet and Classy asked the sister very quietly if she would be going with her. “No!” Sister said in surprise. “I came here to get a book.”
Honey turned to leave and Sister said to her, “Well, you can’t go now, you’ve already missed your appointment.”
“Oh, I think I’ll still go.” Honey said. Sister went off into the stacks.
At last glance, 15 minutes later, Honey was talking to a mom and her two kids in a stroller. Before that, she was showing the map to someone else in the foyer. Was it possible that she had forgotten she had an appointment, after the hour-plus she had spent in frustration and embarrassment at the desk?
Quiet and Classy said, “Well, that’s what we have to look forward to.”
“I hope not,” I said. “I hope my family won’t let me wander around lost like that.”
It is a professional library standard to give the information that is asked for, which we did. However, it seems to me that the information that was needed could only be gained from a professional evaluation of Honey’s memory. Could she possibly have Alzheimer’s?
I hope they don’t wait till she ends up in Omaha to ask someone that question.