Sorry for the lack of blogging of late. I have been actually,(gasp)reading a book! Ok, and playing some new video games I got for Christmas. I promise to return to blogging next week. I even have four or five posts brewing.
In the meantime, I want to take a minute to wish everyone a happy new year.
If you want to start the new year with your own Gmail account, comment below with your email address, and I will share some of my remaining invitations until they are mostly gone.
Check out this new blog: Finding Yourself Despite Yourself
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I cut a very large piece of spiral cut ham off of the bone and warm it up in the teflon skillet. I lay the piece of ham on the plate, almost going over the edge with its delicious pinkness.
Next, I cook two large eggs in the skillet in some olive oil, and cook them until the yolks are still runny, but the white part is not. I gingerly lay the eggs on top of the bed of ham.
A sea of pink flesh with an island of white and two golden ovals. I think of a sunburned women in a bikini, taking off her top to show her ivory white breasts and large nipples.
All of sudden, I don't know if I'm hungry or horny...
Thanks for reading,
Here's another on of my favorite quotes from "A Christmas Carol", it's about Fred's wife.
"He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live!" cried Scrooge's nephew. "He believed it too!"
"More shame for him, Fred!" said Scrooge's niece indignantly. Bless those women, they never do anything by halves. They are always in earnest. She was pretty; exceedingly pretty. With a dimpled, surprised-looking capital face, a ripe little mouth that seemed made to be kissed-as no doubt it was, all kinds of good little dots about her chin, that melted into one another when she laughed, and the sunniest pair of eyes in any little creature's head. Altogether she was what you would have called provoking, you know, but satisfactory, too. Oh, perfectly satisfactory!"
I know it may not be anything very Christmasy, I just love his words and how he describes her. After I read this, I want to meet this person. I find her personally believeable, and as attractive a woman as I can imagine. I hope I can write as well as this some day.
Not had enough Dickens? Go visit my other blog and read my post entitled, God Bless Us, Every One!
Thanks for reading,
Today was the essentially the last full day of work. We will be in tomorrow, but we are closing early and still working out some major problems with the servers in our network. The server problems started today on and off and caused no small amount of hassles. What seemed to exasperate this was that many of our customers are trying to take the rest of the year off and thought they would get in some last minute trades.
Not only were we unable to do many trades, the increase in call volume caused a lot of customers to stay on time a long time. When we finally answered after they had been on hold forever, they found out we could not help them. Needless to say I spent a lot of time today talking to people who had lost any and all trace of the Christmas spirit by the time they were yelling in my earpiece. I encountered almost every psychological response known to man. The angry, the hurt, the disappointed, the shocked, the indignant, and the confused, along with many variations that were a mixture of all those previously mentioned. But there was one customer who made it all worthwhile.
I have dealt with Fran for about 2 years on a regular basis. I've always liked her because she relates to us in a straight-forward way, like we are equals helping her out, and not her underlings. This goes a long way to creating good will. She had called in a trade early in the day, and we kept trying all day to get it completed. The times when the servers weren't down, our phones were flooded and we could not get it finished. I finally left her a message and told her how to call me direct without going through the queue. She rang right through. I explained I thought I knew a back door method to get the job done, but it may cost a little extra money or take longer, but it could be completed. She agreed and within three hours it went through and did not cost extra, I actually saved her some money.
"You're my hero, I know it took 6 hours, but all of my trades were completed and I can leave for vacation with nothing hanging over my head. I really appreciate all of your hard work. You are my hero. Merry Christmas."
That was the high point of the day. The low point was pretty much the everything before and after until I hit the clock and fled the building. After that, Mrs. Cog called me and asked me to stop and pick up more stuff for the Christmas party. I found myself venturing into Wal-Mart and Target right in the middle of the Christmas rush. Between finding a parking spot and trying to maneuver a cart through what seemed like a demolition derby in the store, I started really disliking being around people.
It took about 50 minutes and all of "Time Out" by Dave Brubeck to bring me back to wanting to be a part of humanity again. I'm sipping some eggnog now and listening to Nat King Cole. I still love Christmas.
Thanks for reading,
Many people have never read "The Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. They feel like they have because they have seen so many of the great movie adaptations(the George C. Scott version is my personal favorite), but as good as they are, you still miss alot. It's only 128 pages, and it is not only great for getting you in the Christmas spirit, it's great for making you look at your priorities and remember that life is about people and not profit.
Here's the great quote from the beginning of the book, where Scrooge and his nephew Fred argue about the value of keeping Christmas.
"Nephew!" returned the uncle sternly, "Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."
"Keep it!" repeated Scrooge's nephew, "But you don't keep it."
"Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge. "Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!"
"There are many things from which I might have derived good by which I have not profited,I dare say," returned the nephew, "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always though of Christmas-time, when it has come round-apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that-as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
Thanks for reading,
Lately I have been spending some time getting the house ready for the Cog family Christmas celebration under the constant supervision of Mrs. Cog. My sensibilities being more suited to literary pursuits than decorating, I was banished to catch up the laundry instead of any real Christmasy stuff.
As I folded socks and underwear and hung up shirts and pants I pondered something. Why do they put button down collars on flannel shirts? I've always considered button down collars appropriate for sport shirts and dress shirts, you know, something that you might put a tie on. But why in the wide world would you put a tie on a flannel shirt? Is there some University of Oxford extension in Alberta where there are young men in club ties and navy blazers learning the finer points of using chain saws? Are they seeking a degree in forestry management?
Oops, my wife caught me blogging... back to the salt mines...
Thanks for reading,
Click the link above to read a sweet piece about saying no to rude customers...
When I religiously look at my sitemeter everyday (please,oh please, validate my sorry little life...), I notice at least 10-20 hits a day from search engines. I don't pretend to understand all of the finer points of blogging, but I have figured out something about this part of if.
Getting hits from links will only last so long if you can't get new readers, or if you cant attract people that aren't just surfing Blog Explosion to get credits to spend on traffic for their own sites(I'm not downing BE-you are a chump if you blog and don't use it!). But building search engine traffic is important to attract more than just other bloggers.
Here is a partial list of some ideas for building search engine traffic-comment if you know some other ideas.
1. Submit your URL to Google. Click here.
2. There are other sites on the web that will submit your site to multiple sites, and even freeware. I would not pay to do it though, the spiders will find you soon enough if you are posting regularly, which leads to...
3. Try to post at least a couple times a week. This is like the compound interest of a mutual fund, it will increase your prescence on the web much quicker than you realize. Besides that, the search engines will combine results from different posts, so the more words you have on the blog, the more chance you have of people finding you. Unless you are one of those people who starts a sorry blog just so they can post a bunch of half-ass posts that are just hyperlinks to sell stuff, that's just sad. Blogs are not a multi-level marketing vehicle, I don't care what the infomercial told you. Content sells, not gimmicks. Sorry, I'll step off the soapbox now...
4. When you do post regularly, be sure to join and ping Technorati when you do post. Technorati also has one of the best utilities for keeping track of who is linking to you, in some ways I like it better than using Google alone.
5. Link to other sites, and try to get them to link to you.Click here to read how links are important to determining your place in the "food chain" of page ranking.
6. Try to make your blog have a focus that will cause certain subjects to be discussed more often than others. For example Bailey's Broadcast is about struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD). That will help more readers find that site if they are looking for information about dealing with that disorder. Of course, my site has to do with call centers, so people looking for information about call centers turn up here often. With pride, I would like to point out that I am the first site that comes up when you enter Call Center Bullshit. Thank you, thank you very much. I don't think this would make my Mom very proud though, let's not tell her...
7.Try to walk that fine line between posting about things that are uniquely part of the "message" of your blog, versus mentioning things that are part of the popular media landscape at the time.
A great example of this is a post I did about David Spade's Capital One commercials. I swear, after that post, I get at least 4 hits a day from Google because of that post. Somehow, I am the first site that comes up when you enter David Spade Capital One call center commercial.
The point I am trying to make is this: If you want people to read your blog, don't just spend all your time making it just look fancy, but write it in such a way that it will draw visitors. Content will ultimately be more important than form alone if the majority of your blog is writing.
Thanks for reading,
Check out this blog by an elementary school teacher with a really bad attitude.
I loved the writing immediately...
What an incredibly strange day I have had. It started out with some slow time to drink coffee and chew the fat with my coworkers, then it got freaky from there. Over the last week four different people have either left the center altogether, or have been transferred to another part of the corporation. What this meant to me was I got to spend some more quality face time in the GM's office with Larry, two other employees and someone from human resources.
"With these changes in our workforce on the floor, we need to ask you all to step up and help us make the transition smooth for our customers.", the HR rep quipped, thinking he had once again cornered the market on the obvious. The HR drone droned some more,"As you know, several of our customers are so diverse in their investments, not just anybody can handle them. You three need to make sure that everything they need is taken care of and that we make sure the billing is handled quickly and efficiently"
The GM had been acting very strange. He was actually leaning forward looking at us with what appeared sincere concern, not leaning back in his chair like he was bored that he had to speak to us. He finally spoke and we discussed specifics about taking care of these special customers, and he was very cordial.
Larry even expressed some thanks for all the work that we had done so far for these customers. It was actually a very pleasant meeting. Kind of frightening...
The day progressed, and this customer decided to put us to the test with multiple trades, but always getting sent to me and the other "specialists". That, combined with a real increase in call volume, almost like some sort of run, towards the end of the day caused some real overtime just to get caught up and get everything documented enough to cover our asses.
Larry said I did a good job today...
I just don't know what to believe in anymore, my whole sorry world is falling into happy pieces around me. At least I didn't get a raise for the extra work, that would really have been hard to deal with(maybe not so much). Maybe tomorrow will suck, because the universe as I know it is seriously messed up.
Thanks for reading,
Check out this great blog from Nova Scotia...
Nothing incredibly exciting happened this last week, only that feeling of irritation like your socks are wet, that being in a customer service job brings from time to time. The only interesting story was from one of my coworkers.
Someone really screwed up a trade. Not your average, run of the mill mistake, this was the Mona Lisa of screw ups. There were people shouting in the phone, the sounds of receivers being slammed, and of course lots of cursing. There was even a conference call on the speaker phone in the general managers office. Through what at first appeared to be a group effort, we lost a lot of money on a trade for one of our larger corporate customers.
Later, I found out it was not a group effort. Tom is one of my coworkers who sits in a cubicle next to one of our venerable call-center veterans. Tom explained to me how he heard the veteran setting up the trade. This veteran agent gave a prediction how the trade would work out, which is a big no-no. We are not to do anything that could make us responsible for a bad trade. It's not our money after all. From what Tom heard, the customer made the decision based on this information, even though there is no record of this detail available to the rest of the agents.
Tom did not want to be a snitch, but when he saw how management was in a tight spot, and did not seem to understand how it happened, he decided he would say something. This was a big step for him, because he is not very confident even though he is better agent than I am.
He walked into the GM's office, and told him what he knew about the trade. The GM looked at him with a deadpan expression, blinked, and then a short, yet long, awkward silence followed. The GM's phone rang, he answered it, then turned around his chair so his back was to Tom. Eventually Tom realized he was not welcome and turned and left the room.
"It's like I wasn't there, would it have been such a big deal to acknowledge that I'm at least speaking?" Tom said shaking his head. Sometimes I think our GM has a complete lack of any people skills. I often wonder if Donald Trump would be a warmer boss...
Thanks for reading,
Previous Post in the Series:Quotations about Struggle
I think this will be the last post about "The Struggle"...
One of the books on my list to completely read is Don Quijote by Cervantes. I've only read parts of it, so I'm certainly not a scholar. From my literature class in college, I remember my professor talking about how the book was a reaction against the overly romantic works of the middle ages that idealized chivalry, and bravery, but had very little to do with the practical day to day life of the rest of the world.
For those of you that have not read it, Don Quijote is an aging Spaniard who spent his very boring life reading books about knights, chivalry, and adventures. At some point, he appears to lose his mind and thinks himself a knight on a mission to defeat the forces of an evil wizard named Frestron, and to protect the honor of his chosen lady, Dulcinea.
He is accompanied on these quests by his servant, Sancho Panza, who is always the unheard voice of reason. The most well known story in the book is where he comes upon a field of windmills, but the knight-errant looks upon this scene as 40 giants swinging their various weapons this way and that. After refusing to listen to Pancho's insistence that they are windmills, he spurs his horse on and attacks the first windmill. He breaks his lance in pieces and is lifted into the air by the sail and dropped to the ground. After Sancho manages to rouse him, Don Quijote explains that the evil wizard turned the giants into windmills at the last minute in order to steal sweet victory from the knight.
I know some of you are saying, how does a Castillian looney that could have benefited from in-depth psychoanalysis and the application of certain types of chemical supplements, have anything to do with the struggles of everyday life?
The connection between the two is expressed in two questions: Number one, what determines what is real and what is not? Number two, could it be true that our reactions to our perception of reality are very real and representative of who we are, even if we don't have a grasp on the "common" reality everyone else sees?
Let's start with number one: The world is filled with Sancho Panzas. They see the concrete, the solid, and can't perceive anything else. That's a good trait for the survival of the individual, but a bad trait for the betterment of the spirit and soul. We all know these people, they see nothing beyond the mundane, they live for Must-See-TV and Banquet Hungry Man dinners and nothing else. Having an open mind is questioning what is real and what isn't. Its not allowing yourself to live solely on the strength of your perceptions.
Number two reminded me of a sociological theory, called the Thomas Theorem. It was developed by William I. Thomas and Dorothy S. Thomas. The theory states that, "If people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences." Even though the windmills were not giants, when Don Quijote acted on what he believed, the results were real enough, he was injured. His perceived world was real to him, in both perception and reaction.
I don't believe that Cervantes was trying to show the value of all human struggle as inherently heroic, even if directed towards a cause that would ultimately fail. But I see the story that way. Quijote may have been a nutcase to those around him, but he was a sincere nutcase. He approached the world solely on the strength of his convictions and what he believed to be true.
Somewhere between Sancho Panza and Don Quijote lies the way to live a satisfying life. If we are so enveloped in the fog of the mundane that we never spur our horse on to joust at what the world perceives as just a windmill, but we see as forty giants out to do harm to the world around us, I think that we have missed a great deal.
Thanks for reading,
Click here to read the whole series from the beginning: Prelude:Struggle
Curling up under the pillows on a cold night, I settle in for seven hours of oblivion. My cat curls up on around my head like some vibrating white hat trying to suck the heat out of me. We have a lovely symbiotic relationship...
Less than five minutes later, I am out...
Coming in and out of the tide of dream consciousness.
Punching the time clock.
Angelina Jolie is stirring my coffee,(what lips!)
Chasing the customer complaint specialist with a cattle prod.
No, Mr. Customer, you can't have everything that you want, but I would like to reccomend that you kiss my ass, ok? bye bye.
Szechuan sesame chicken with broccoli and crab rangoon...
Strapping on my backpack, walking into a green valley...
The sound of wind rushing around me, cold autumn air on my legs, the sweet, ripe smell of crunchy leaves.
I'm sitting under my favorite tree in the woods, there is a mirror pond ahead, my wife beside me.
God, it's the alarm...
Thanks for Reading,
Previous Post in the Series:The Struggle to be Spiritual
Here are some other quotes about why the struggle in itself is important.
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
"Language exists only on the surface of our consciousness. The great human struggles are played out in silence and in the ability to express oneself."
-Franz Xavier Kroetz
"We grow because we struggle, we learn and overcome."
-R. C. Allen
"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."
"Passion is power,
And, kindly tempered, saves.
All things declare,
Struggle hath deeper peace than sleep can bring."
-William Vaughn Moody
"Work and struggle and never accept an evil that you can change."
"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the Gods. So let us celebrate the struggle!"
"Acceptance of one's life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices."
-Dr. Paul Tournier
"Where there is no struggle, there is no strength."
Thanks for reading,
The Last Post in the Series:The Struggle of Don Quijote
"Just stop being so damn picky!" Larry growled at the wide-eyed man with the crewcut. The man gathered some strength and shot back, "You will not curse at me! You and the GM agreed we would follow these policies! Do you want to lose this account or what?!". Larry turned away and didn't respond. The tall crewcut bowed his head, turned and stalked down the stairs finally disappearing from sight.
One of our larger corporate customers that manage several large investment funds have advised that they aren't pleased with the way we have been handling things lately. I've seen management worried before, but they are truly losing their cool about this.
They have been firing off memos faster than a belt-fed machinegun. More serious than that, there was a company wide management meeting lately, and they chose one of the people from our vast customer relations department to oversee every transaction and trade by this customer. This new "Customer Service Czar" will either shoot you an email nastygram or physically come to your desk and tell you if you messed up the trade, or mis-handled an informational call, or screwed up the billing on a transaction with this very important customer.
The thing is, the Czar is not trying to make us do something new. All of the things that they want us to do are already on the books. They want us to fill out all of the fields, keep the customer informed about the cost and what happened after the trade, and to protect ourselves, management wants us to get the names of people that we deal with in case they contest any charges.
Larry, my floor supervisor, and one of the guys that has been there a long time, appeared to be towing the company line at first. He was yelling at us when we did not fill out fields or do something half-ass. But he is not used to this kind of precision in handling calls, it's causing things to slow down and take twice as long. After a nastygram and a personal visit, he finally snapped at the Czar.
Before this, the old-timers were used to taking calls non-stop and handling them as fast as they could without stopping to get the details straight or really find out what the customers wanted done exactly. The idea was to answer the calls and let the details take care of themselves. Customers didn't complain that much, because there weren't as many options then, we were one of the only games in town.
Besides Larry finally rebelling against this need for real customer service, all of the other old timers are complaining because their call volume is down because, GASP!, they actually have to do things correct the first time. Cry me a river. They have been getting patted on the back for too long by management for doing things just half-way. Finally, maybe they are going to see the idea that quality and quantity are not synonomous.
Signing off for now with a smug look on my handsome face and a stained coffee mug in my hand, I remain the protector of truth, quality, and utter humility here in Call Center Purgatory,
The Anonymous Cog.
Thanks for reading...
Previous Post in the Series: Struggling Poetry
"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Philippians 2:12-13(NIV)
One of the good things about working in the call center is that to me it really is a purgatory. More and more, the unrealistic attitudes and beliefs I had about life and who I am are purged by the fire of daily life in a difficult environment. I say this because I spent some time in seminary when I was younger and came away with a lot very idealistic beliefs about living the Christian life. I used to think I had it all together, and could tell you how to run your life. I certainly don't feel that way now. Soon after I finished bible school, a friend of my father took me aside one day and said, "You know more now than you will know the rest of your life, you will know less and less each year from this point on."
I was smart enough and respected him enough to listen and say thank you. He was absolutely right. I know less and less each year, but the things I do know, I'm secure in them. I used to think if you prayed and read your bible everyday you would automatically become a better person. It's a good idea, but it's hard to put into practice. Even the days that I do spend time praying and studying, I still miss it.
Somedays, I miss it big. I lose my temper, use foul language, or say unkind things. That's one of the reasons I don't talk to my coworkers about my religion, I'm not a good advertisement for it. I know that's a cop-out, but I think it does less damage than preaching one minute and talking trash the next. People have enough disappointments with flaky Christians, I'm not going to be one of them.
There are days, that I have things together. My actions do match my beliefs from time to time. So how do I keep going? How do I struggle through seeing two people act through me? One is kind and disciplined, the other is coarse and rude and crude. They both struggle to control who I am to the world.
One of the ways I am able to continue the struggle to live what I believe is to remember that at one level, I have already won.
"Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Hebrews 10:14
As long as I continue to believe that the blood of Jesus cleansed my sins past, present and future, and depend on that, I have the ability to go on when even though I feel like a failure. Contained within my daily struggle against all the filthy,worldly feces inside of my mind and life, is my sacrifice to God. I may not be able to become perfect, but I know that the act of struggling itself is my way of showing gratitude to God for what he has done for me through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I know that no matter what there will be a day when the struggle will be over and I will be welcomed home. Here's a quote by my favorite Christian author:
"I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience etc. Don't get the upper hand.No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of his presence."
-"Readings for the Year",C.S. Lewis
I'd also like to say to those of you that may not be Christians, I'm not trying to convert anyone, nor am I trying to use this blog as an evangelistic tool. I do consider many of my readers as friends, and am just sharing what I believe in my heart, the same way I would share it with my friends.
Thanks for reading,
Next in the Series: Quotations About Struggling
”The smallest effort is not lost,
Each wavelet on the ocean tost
Aids in the ebb-tide or the flow;
Each rain-drop makes some floweret blow;
Each struggle lessens human woe. “
From "The Old and the New" by Charles Mackay
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