I hate this time of year, campaign time, especially the conventions. Have you ever been in a church service, or sporting event, where everyone else was just delirious with emotion at what was going on, and you felt nothing? The pastor is giving an impassioned altar call, the music is playing and people are streaming to the front to pray, or be prayed for, and you feel absolutely nothing. Or you are at a stadium, and everyone is screaming and yelling, doing the wave and dancing to some incredibly loud, overused rock anthem, and you're just sitting there thinking, "Get over yourselves, it's just a ball." It's a really weird feeling, like you are alone in the world, like something is wrong with you. But much of the time you also feel like, "Damn, am I the only sane person in this entire universe?"
When I hear the rhetoric from the two parties during their conventions and hear the speeches I feel the same way. But more than that, I sicken at how the two parties reduce our essay question lives to true and false, they don't even give us any multiple choices. There's more to the world than Left and Right, Democrat and Republican, we don't have to think in black and white in a world full of color.
Here's a great cartoon about thinking between simply left or right from that great alternative comic, Cat and Girl entitled:
The last 2 days have been good. Here is a list of the best 10 things of the last 2 days (not in order of importance):
10. Snapple Diet Raspberry Ice Tea. Might not be a fine wine, but it has a delicate full bodied taste, and goes great with Doritos.
9. "Fields of Gold"-I think this is the best song Sting has ever wrote.
8. My cat crawling up on my chest and purring as I scratched his ears.
7. The lovely breathy timbre of my wife's voice.
6. Pizza Hut Thin Crust.
5. "In Your Face" by Richard Elliot, off the "On the Town" CD. One of my all time favorite jazz songs.
4. Something, something....
3. My callers at the center alternating between Southern Graciousness and New England Sarcasm. Somedays I like the people that call in, this was one of them.
2. Going 70 miles an hour down the turnpike on a beautiful summer day, and finally noticing the blue sky and white clouds that looked like a Monet.
1. I remembered my Grandma who had died about 10 years ago, and it felt like she was there. Her bob hair cut, continual Marlboro cigarette, and bright red lipstick. She could out-cuss a sailor, took no crap from anybody, but would always light up when I came in the room and mark my cheek with her lipstick. She called me "little doll". My grandma was the coolest.
[Click here to read part 1]
[Click here to read part 2]
[Click here for part 3]
In the last post I explained how it is difficult for us to clearly see ourselves the way others see us. I also said there are "gates" inside of us put there by society that keep our own self image intact without an overload of self-insight.
But what are these gates? How can we open them enough to gain some kind of insight into who we are? Well, here is a partial list as I see it. Any others that you have, comment below or drop me an email.
Check out Words Cubed for some very good writing.
Kudos out to Blogger for the new headboard. I don't know about the rest of the blogs, but I'm getting a lot of hits from that "Next Blog" button.
Also, check out the blogroll, have added NicholeWorld and Patricia's blog, Solitary Figure.
Sorry to hear that Shelly at Finding Normal and Jason over at Percenterprises are calling it quits. Its a shame because they had some excellent writing and were one of my daily reads. I'm leaving their links up for the time being if some of you want to read them before they are gone for good.
"Why do you see the small speck which is in your brother's eye, but you don't notice the wooden pole which is in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3
Sorry for the lack of posting going on lately. I'm actually working on a series of posts that should be coming out soon. I've also been playing video games. I seem to trade off posts for video games, but the fever has past....
Check out this blog:
Also, here is a very interesting article about working in an highly automated inbound call center-it sounds worse than mine...
"Busy Signal" - Vancouver Courier 2000
In our vast call center complex there is a combination reception area for new customers and executive lounge. In this sanctum of plush Burgundy carpet and tasteful art prints is a small refrigerator and a cherry table that overflow with a cornucopia of snacks and beverages.
The treats are not there all the time, it is refilled from time to time when clients are coming in or for board meetings. Of course, this area is off limits to the rest of us. I have not pilfered myself, but I hear tales of croissants filled with cream cheese and fruit and exotic snapple flavors and Doritos.
Recently, a cry of rage and uproar came from the management and accounting department. Someone had been eating the forbidden fruits! If their pitchforks had not been out getting sharpened, they would have gotten some torches and stormed the call floor where we work.
Instead of getting the polygraph out, an all caps memo appeared taped up around the center that read:
ATTENTION ALL EMPLOYEES:
THE FOOD AND BEVERAGES IN THE EXECUTIVE LOUNGE ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE. ANYONE CAUGHT EATING THIS FOOD WILL BE DEALT WITH BY MANAGEMENT.
We are all shaking in our boots, yet secretly hoping this culinary Robin Hood will hook us up with some croissants...
Check out this newspaper article about a call center that helps the troops in Iraq.
"Scottsdale call center aids lots of GIs in Iraq"
I love the new Capital One Credit card commercials with David Spade. It's a secret cruel dream of many customer service professionals like myself to be able to say "no" to people all day.
It's not that I don't want to help people, I do. But, there are always those customers who think they are just being assertive, when they are actually being assholes. In fact, I know someone who does customer service internationally, for Asia, Europe and the United States. That person states that people from the United States lose their cool and get more demanding than any other nationality.
Of course a lot of that has to do with how customer service has evolved here in the United States, or maybe I should say devolved. Customers are becoming more and more agressive because they know that companies will jump through hoops for them. I'm sure that is a result of a free-market economy. Especially when all you have to sell is service or information.
That being said, let me tell you about a delicious exception in my little world. One of our corporate customers sells our services as part of an overall package. We provide their customer with our services as part of their purchase. It's all above board, there is a document they get that plainly tells what we will and will not do as part of this purchase of services. Certain financial services are covered, and some aren't, but they are available for a cost through us if they want them.
But, people being people, no one ever reads that part of the agreement. Especially not the people who sell the services to the consumer. I think they just close one eye to the limitations of the program in order to make sales, but hey, that's just me.
The long and the short of it is that I have people calling me about this program just losing their mind when they can't get all the services they wanted. I mean they go into hysterics and get really rude and ask me "What sort of service are you offering? I thought I already paid for this! How dare you ask me to pay for this!".
It would make me feel bad if there was not a large print page in their packet explaining what our services provide. But more than that, my company will not get paid if I provide these services when they are not on the list. So I get to tell these people "No..."
And it feels really good....
Let's say this counts for a couple of posts....It's a short biography.
I've never been good at being outright defiant. It has a lot to do with many psychological issues, like being passive-aggressive, afraid of confrontation, yada, yada, yada, ad nauseum.
But I knew someone once who was more defiant, and more of a rebel than anyone else I have ever met in my entire life. His name was Siegfried, and he was a 17 pound gray Maine Coon cat. He was the first cat I had ever owned, and my wife picked him up from the pound. He was a beautiful cat, with a wonderful white ruff framed by charcoal gray fur that made him look like he was wearing a gray suit with a ruffly white shirt. Maine Coons also have this endearing quality of head butting you when they want attention.
Like all responsible pet owners, we had him neutered. We also had him declawed front and back after he punctured the waterbed, climbed my wife's nylons on a Sunday morning, and shredded our furniture. Since he was an indoor cat, and we never allowed him outside, we felt this was for the best.
Sigfried changed after this. He was always fairly serious for a cat, and became even more so after this. Not just a no-nonsense seriousness, no, this injustice to his manhood and removal of defensive weaponry pissed him off at the world forever. I think he fancied himself a feline Charlton Heston. He grudgingly forgave us mostly, and snuggled and played with us and was a good kitty at home. But he never did not forgive the vet.
From that time on he was feared at the vet. He had a big red dot on his file which meant "Dangerous Animal". We finally had to muzzle him when taking him to the vet and even then he was treated like Hannibal Lector. He made sounds that would make your hair stand on end, not just screeches and yowls, but a low pitched growl that was unmistakably venomous. He always had to be taken in the other room away from our eyes to get his shot, I always imagined some veterinary SWAT team with Kevlar body armor and tasers holding him down.
Its hard not to anthropormorphize a cat when they display such human emotions. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt if he could have pronounced the "F" sound, he would have let the world know his true feelings.
Sometime, along the way Sigfried got older and no nicer. The veneer definitely wore off and he was splintery rough wood underneath. His ear was mangled after a freak hematoma from getting into some wild catnip and he lost some of his good looks.
After a long weekend away, we walked into the house and Siegfried had heard us coming and deposited a hot steaming pile of welcome home on our bedroom quilt. It was still warm, that is how we knew he heard us coming and was paying us back for leaving him alone for 4 days.
I bear some of the blame for his bad temper. Having had only dogs, I wanted to tease and wrestle with him like my dogs. He would have none of that, I ended up with countless puncture wounds on my arm and one on my nose.
One of the few pleasure he had in life was eating. He ate donuts once, and hissed and growled when we tried to take them away. Since we had no children, there were times we let him on the table. He became utterly shameless. Bacon was his favorite thing in the world, until I introduced him to smoked salmon. I think I was trying to make it up to him for the loss of sex.
The point at which his health and temperament really started going down hill was after we adopted our second cat. This interloper was tougher and stronger and really knew how to fight. It was like watching WWF, and Siegfried always seemed to lose. The new cat actually would body slam Siegfried. He would crouch on the ground, then spring like some furry cobra locking his paws around Sigfried's neck. We kept hoping they would become friends and keep each other company, but it never happened. They would lick each other's ears and 5 minutes later be at each other's throats. Siegfried was no good at fighting, except at dinnertime. He would cuff the new cat multiple times like a feline Mike Tyson if he got between him an his food. This was the one time he was the Alpha cat.
As he got much older, we finally had to banish him to a part of the house with no carpet because of his tendency to defecate on the carpet. He would not urinate on the carpet, but would walk in front of you, make sure you were watching and squat to drop a hot load of love.
As much as it pissed me off, there was always a part of me that respected the pure bile that this animal possessed. You could not punish him, or reward him , or do anything to change his behavior. He was his own person and would not be changed by anyone. He may be forced into punishment, but he would never be changed, or be told what to do. He had a titanium core of defiant rebellion that would have made any freedom fighter, rebel or Hell's Angel drop their jaw in awe. If he could have gotten a tattoo it would have been the Anarchy symbol or the "Don't tread on me" flag.
As he got older and sicker, we finally had to move out of our older house into a new apartment. There was no option left for him. He could be a sweet cat to us from time to time, but no one would adopt him. His litter box activism towards all things carpeted was certainly not a selling point. Besides that, he was throwing up more, and getting arthritic. I did not want his last week on earth spent huddled up in corner of the pound, crying and hissing, when I knew there was no chance for him to be adopted. I had no alternative left but to end his life. Since I felt responsible for some of his temperament, and he liked me least of all, I decided to be one to take him to the vet for the last time.
Laying on the table, I could not even get the muzzle on him. He was so freaked out and mad, the vet actually had to sedate him before he could be put to sleep. After he was sedated the vet started the shot to end his defiant little life, his tongue slipped out. I tried to put it back in his mouth and it would not go back in. While I knew it had more to do with his muscles relaxing, I preferred to see it as the final act of defiance to a world that he would never let conquer him.
As I drove home, I cried more than I cared to admit. He may have been a bad cat, but damn it, he was my bad cat. I had grown accustomed to his little serious face, and the way he shook his ears when he was getting all hopped up on catnip. I even liked the open mouth hiss and the low growl that translated into obscene curses in any language.
I hoped wherever he went he was finally happy. With his contemptuous and rebellious nature, I found it hard to believe he would go to some kitty heaven. I could see him hissing, and biting Saint Peter. No, he would not fit in there.
If he ended up in a dark fiery place, I hoped that they would recognize his pure defiant spirit. Finally, he would have the respect due to a cat of his incredible bad-ass character. Maybe, he would be given the one thing that he really always wanted, but nature had never provided him with.....
His very own middle finger.
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."-Thoreau
Ok, Still thinking about politics. But don't worry, some customer or coworker will piss me off soon and there may be more call center hijinx that will ensue..(ok, that just sounded so lame it was almost funny in a cynical ironic way, better adjust the meds...)
I have been thinking for sometime how this country needs health care available to everyone. I don't think extending medicare is the right idea, but there has to be some way those working for minimum wage can get insurance. Our country is so afraid that abled bodied people may get government benefits they have effectively screwed a large portion of those who are working.
I have worked at many "Joe-jobs" and can tell you how ineffective it is to allow employers to handle covering our health care needs. At one place I payed more than to the company in insurance for me and my wife than if I would have bought insurance from an agent like Allstate or State Farm. At another place after I had been hospitalized a couple of times in a year, the controller came and asked me if I thought anything else would happen to me medically because of the costs that were passed on to them. On and on it goes. I have heard of some places that will give you a higher starting salary if you opt out of their insurance.
Ranting aside, I have the beginnings of a plan for national health care and how to raise the minimum wage at the same time-comment below-I am sure there are some holes in the plan or things I did not consider.
1. Take the burden off of employers to provide healthcare. Insurance premiums will be deducted from paychecks and sent to government.
2. There will be a very small tax to employers to cover the government's administration cost of providing healthcare.
3. Employees will have the chance to pick a HMO or Insurance based on what they are able to pay.
4. The Government will administer and pay the premiums collected through payroll taxes. The government will also be responsible for examining any abuses or bad service by the insurance companies.
5. There will be a HMO style benefit available to everyone whether they are able to work or not, but everyone gets the ability to choose which plan and which company to ensure there is competition and plans that are appropriate to your needs.
6. Employees will have the option of switching companies once a year to further encourage good customer service.
7. Since the employers are not saddled with providing health care, there will a sizeable increase in the minimum wage, $.50 to $1.00. This still dwarfs in comparision to what some companies are paying for health care now per hour per employee.
8. Another option instead of the one time raise is that the minimum wage will be examined and increased yearly according to a formula that factors in inflation and market forces, not according to legislators.
It's not a perfect plan, but it is better than what we have now. The perfect plan does not exist. This is not extremely anti-business, and may be more efficient than a totally state-run healthcare system like in Canada.
Check out this article in the Jacksonville Times-Union.
Ok, I have just recovered from reading some of the funniest blogging since I started reading Call Centre Confidential.
Right now, take the mouse in your hand and click on this link below:
I start to hate this time of year. You can't turn anywhere without hearing about the presidential candidates, its like a continuous infomercial thats on every channel of your tv and radio and magazines and news papers. I've been active in politics off and on, I do vote and consider that important to do, I write letters to the editor if I get really ticked off and call my representatives when I want my voice heard.
What really floors me is how politics divides people. Not just individuals, but entire families and workplaces. It even can divide churches. Politics always narrows our beliefs down to true/false questions when our heart only has answers for essay questions. Going to a "fundamentalist" church(hate that word), and living in a conservative family, I am so used to these ideas that I don't really think about they affect others around us. My church does not preach from the pulpit that we must vote for George W. Bush, but the values that it does preach are so aligned with those of the Republican Party, there is very little doubt what is the "right" way to vote.
But someone recently pointed out to me how unfriendly an atmosphere our church is to someone that does not like George Bush and is going to vote for John Kerry. I know its not possible to change this, I wish there was some way I could. I don't think my pastor means to be like this but he is ingrained into the Right Wing Christian culture and probabally can't see it. He is a good man with a good heart and does the best he can, but he's got a blind spot.
I'm frustrated that Republicans represent some of the enduring values of Western-Judeo-Christian ethics, but don't seem to represent the virtues of caring for those less fortunate. They major on the foundations of morality, but also seem to worship profit and tax cuts over social programs. I have mostly voted republican for most of my life because of certain issues that I hold very dear(none o ya bizness), but if I don't see a change towards those less fortunate, I may have to vote the other way.
In order to gain votes the platforms of each party are so incredibly sacred. Therefore so is the labeling. If I want more gun control I must be a liberal, If I'm a member of the NRA I must be a right wing facist. If I'm not comfortable with Gay Marriages I must be a closed minded bigot, if I want Gay adoption I must hate the family and all that is good. On and on it goes, this machine of labeling and pigeonholing everyone of us into liberal or conservative, sinful and righteous, facist or communist, good or evil. It's all bullshit. That's right, hot and steaming, freshly deposited out of the north end of a south bound bull.
Christianity is not a political party, and neither party represents all of Christianity by a long shot. You are decieved if you think you are on the side of God when there is money, power and ambitious men in the mix. I can't tell you who to vote for, I can just say this, determine what is important to you, and who you think is the best person to represent those concerns.
Well, I'm mostly over the little "Uber-Snit" I had last week. But nothing has really changed for the better, the tension just died down to a tolerable level for the time being.
But there is something that I like about my job that I have never discussed. I enjoy the relationships that I have built with some of my customers. Besides some of our institutional customers, we have customers that just do a lot of business with us. I know them by the sound of their voice and actually enjoy talking to them.
A large part of my business is following instructions. Whether they are the instructions of my company, standing instructions on file in the computer for all the different customers, or just verbal instructions from my customers, doing what I am told correctly is essential in my work.
What's interesting though is that with many customers I have moved beyond their verbal and on-file instructions and know what they want before they say it. Even better than that, sometimes I do what they want before they tell me to. You certainly can't do that with everyone, and it is a small group of individuals that get that kind of treatment. But I enjoy giving that kind of service. I know they are really pleased when I call them and already have the plan of attack ready to fix their problem. It may never get me a raise working for this ungrateful corporation, but it makes feel like I've made someone else's life better, and that's truly gratifying.
I can't stand it anymore. Can I talk anyone into reviewing this blog over at Blogorama? I've got a deal for you, if you review my blog and leave me a comment, I will review yours. I don't mind if you leave a bad review as long as it is honest and well written, "Sucks Ass" is not even trying.
****Click Here to Review me****
I know I'm shameless, and I am ok with that. Who else needs a freakin' hug of acceptance?
Check out Patricia over at Solitary Figure, another person in Call Center Purgatory.
Also check out IBrutus for some political writing and a list of activist resources-caution though, this is not a site for the right-leaning conservative.
Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.
By Rage Against The Machine