The Kellinator's guide to asking for a favor from a total stranger without looking like an asshole
- Identify yourself. When I call strange places, as soon as the phone is answered, I explain, "Hello, I'm Kellinator Jones from the Library of the Damned." If you are phoning someone, you obviously know who they are; they deserve the same courtesy. I learned this gem in second grade.
- Be polite. You would truly be amazed how far a simple "please" and "thank you" can go. For example, they usually make the difference between me telling my boss I had a pleasant exchange with you and me making fun of you on LiveJournal.
- Be clear. Please make it clear to me exactly what you are asking for. I cannot get you something if I do not know what it is. And hand in hand with that...
- Be concise. My time is just as valuable as yours. Please don't waste either of ours by not bothering to figure out what you're looking for before calling me, repeating yourself needlessly, or giving me useless information that has no bearing on the task at hand and will just confuse me. And please, don't "uh" and "um" me to death.
- Understand that you're asking for a favor, not demanding a right. I am under no obligation to give you what you want, and I will not put your request above the needs of the people that it is my job to take care of. Keep this in mind, and do not treat me like one of your employees that you can order about at will.
- Be patient. You are not my number-one priority. If I promise you I will get it for you, I will; don't waste your time or mine by calling every five minutes wanting to know where it is already.
- Be gracious. If I tell you that your request cannot be filled for a policy reason, accept this gracefully, especially if there's a possibility you might need to ask me for something else later on. The policies are there for a reason, and if you expect the library to honor its policy of lending to you for no charge, you should respect the various policies that are in place to safeguard the library and its collection.
- Don't bullshit me. If you already know a library policy (for example, that we do not photocopy for local law firms), don't try to sneak around it. It insults my intelligence.
- And perhaps most importantly, Don't whine. I've heard it all before, twice.