Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Saturday, July 29, 2006
  The Malfunction Part VIII

I walked into the light and stood before a large fountain with ducks and geese happily paddling around. There was a park behind the fountain leading to a park with a wooden footbridge over a large stream leading to a gymnasium complex. Behind me was a large auditorium and a beautiful college campus. I was back at my alma mater, a Christian junior college in Kansas. I knew he was still with me. I looked straight ahead and spoke,
"Why are we here, Mr. Brown?"
"Walk towards the foot bridge, there's someone you need to see."

It was about 4:30 in the afternoon on a sunny April day. Leaning on the bridge was a young man in khakis, a white dress shirt with a loosened brown tie and a briefcase. He was looking absently at the water below. His expression was rapt, and it looked like there was the beginning of a tear at the corner of his eye. He had a bible in his hand opened to the book of II Corinthians. Verse 21 had been highlighted with a yellow marker.

It was myself again, almost twenty years younger.
"A.C., do you remember what happened on this day and why its so important?"
"I do...I had just finished a theology class on redemption. It was so outstanding because I had never understood what it meant to be righteous. I had never understood
that I didn't have to try to make God like me anymore. I didn't have to try to not sin. Jesus' death on the cross took care of all that for me. If I just depended on this fact in simple faith, I would never have to try so hard and fail over and over and over again."
"Why was that so important to you?"
"Because I always grew up thinking I could never be good enough, I could never keep from sinning. I always thought that the problem was me, and everyone else had it together. I always thought I was the failure, I was the weirdo, but it wasn't true. I went to altar over and over to get saved. I kept trying and trying to be good and failing over and over. That's why this was so important. This one truth changed everything for me."
There was silence for about four minutes. My younger self put his bible back in his briefcase and started walking towards the dorms. Brown finally spoke.
"There's another stop waiting for you..."
The door appeared at the end of the bridge and we walked through to another sunny place.

Part IX

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Thursday, July 27, 2006
  The Malfunction Part VII

The service soon came to an end. The doors opened to the chapel and people started coming out. I soon realized no one could see or hear me or Brown. I followed myself to the boy's dormitory with Brown following. It was so strange to see yourself outside of your own eyes.

No one went to bed right away. In fact we all kind of wandered around and talked about what had happened that night. I remember I had become close frieds with a red-haired stocky kid named Mark and a chubby guy with dark nerdy glasses named Brad. We were sitting on the bunks talking.
"AC, You were up at the altar for a long time. What happened?"
"I don't really know. It was so strange. I have been going to church as long as I can remember, but there was never a time when God was so real to me."
Mark spoke up.
"You've really got to be careful when you get back home. I've been to camp three times, and its so hard to stay close to God when you get back home. None of your friends understand, your parents think you are being weird if you spend a lot of time praying. People in church say they want us to be good Christians, but they don't want us to be on fire for God, it makes them look bad. They just want us to be religious."
"AC, What's this rumour about you and Tina behind the pool building. Someone said you guys were making out back there."
"It's no rumor Mark. It happened. I've repented of it, I know it wasn't right, and we haven't met since then."
"That's good AC. You've really got to give it all you've got if you want to keep your relationship with God intact. You've got to give your life to him whole-heartedly. "
"I will, Mark, I promise. I will..."

Mr. Brown turned to me.
"What happened to your promise?"
"I was young. I was still figuring things out. I got kind of busy when I got home. Then I met Amy, and things changed..."
"You know, you can be such a putz sometimes. This is not some optional, best case scenario. Your faith is not something that you work on when its convenient. It is your life. Being a Christian is not like a being a liberal republican or conservative democrat, its all or nothing. You knew that back then. But you have forgotten it. You want to know why you have forgotten it? Because you have forgotten that you are serving Christ, not out of fear, but out of love. That lesson is next. Come on, time to go."

A door appeared in the darkness with late afternoon sunshine streaming through...

Part VIII

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
  The Malfunction Part VI

Mr. Brown had brought me back in time to the first summer camp I ever went to. It was in the hills of South Eastern Kentucky. I was about fourteen, and was the only kid from my church to go. The camp was part of our denomination's youth outreach, so I was dropped off by my pastor totally alone, not knowing a soul in the world.

The other nerds must have got my ultrasonic signal, in a matter of three hours I was with my people, talking about the merits of the Commodore 64 versus the TRS-80 color computer. My new friends got there a little late, before I found them I was invited to go on a walk with a large bosomed girl who kissed me behind the pool house,(I'm not making this up, it really happened). I think she needed to be at church camp more than I did. But I didn't complain at the time.

Mr. Brown must have known what I was thinking about, "Yes, we're all impressed with your little feat of carnality behind the pool house. A lot more happened than just checking out each other's tonsils. Something much more important..."

I didn't answer. The service let out, and everyone came out of the chapel.

Part VII

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Saturday, July 22, 2006
  The Malfunction Part V


We walked into a humid summer night, wetting our shoes in dewy, green grass. I could here singing coming from behind me. I turned to see a building that had a chapel on the front of it and a large grey building connected to it. I looked around to try to get my bearings, it was vaguely familiar. There was a line of trees opposite the church, next to a sports field. Next to that was an outdoor pool, and opposite that was a huge building that looked like a manor house.
"Where are we Mr. Brown?"
"It'll come back to you soon enough. Let's go see what's going on in the chapel."
We quietly entered the chapel. There were two men in their 30's wearing the same green polo shirt and jeans chatting in the lobby, but they acted like they did not see us. I peeked through windows on either side of the double doors.

Everyone was singing a slow song, and raising their hands. I could see a young guy in a blue Hawaiian shirt up at the front of the altar. He was kneeling in prayer with some other kids around him. Finally, he dried his eyes and got up. The other kids hugged his neck and he started back to his seat.

I finally recognized the young man as he walked up the aisle. I was looking at myself.

Part VI

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Friday, July 21, 2006
  The Malfunction Part IV


Everything went gray and swirled, like being inside one of those acid-like Windows Media Players Visualizations, changing from grey to black in a thousand shades and colors, like it does when I listen to Coldplay. I floated beyond myself, beyond the call center and beyond thought and time.

Then it cleared up. I found myself in a small classroom. It was all white from the floor to ceiling. I sat in one of those chairs from High School, where it has a little desk on it. The only thing that looked real was the chalkboard. It was green and dusty with little pieces of chalk all over it.

A door opened, from where I don't remember and Mr. Brown walked in.
"AC, it's time for a little walk through memory lane. You have forgot who you are, you have forgot why you were put on this earth, and you have forgot the mercy and the love of God." With this, he walked to the blackboard and wrote in all capital block letters a scripture verse:

"My people have been lost sheep;
their shepherds have led them astray
and caused them to roam on the mountains.
They wandered over mountain and hill
and forgot their own resting place."
~Jeremiah 50:6
He cleared his throat and walked closer to me. "I am going to take you on a little trip to jog your memory. Step this way, please." With this he pointed to the wall on the east side of the room. A door appeared where there had been nothing but white wall before. It clicked, and the old hinges squealed as it slowly swung open. There was the clear darkness of night sprinkled with bright yellow stars in a summer sky before me. I rose and begin to walk towards the door.

Part V

Thanks for reading,

AC
Anonymous Cog

 
Thursday, July 20, 2006
  The Malfunction Part III

"Listen to me son, I'm not fooled by your vague excuses! You don't seek the things of God, and you don't even like to go to church. You read your bible once or twice a week, and you only pray when you feel guilty for something. You're overtaken with weaknesses and habits that you know better than to dabble in. It's not only that you are a sad excuse for a Christian, you sir, are becoming a sad excuse for a man!"

He stopped himself, and tried to soften it some. "AC, I know you have a good heart, but you need to pull yourself out of this slump you're in. I'm here because you can't go on living this way, you need to stop, and now!"

I thought before I spoke for a second. Then my own frustration with life in general, and my spiritual life specifically came through.
"Fine! You're right! I don't deny anything you say Mr. Brown! But would you throw me a bone here? I don't know how to get out of the place I'm in! The path is unclear, I see only grey where black and white used to be so clear. My world is dark, vague and sad. Bad habits are my only constants, and the only light is the love of my wife! Every time I try to pray, its just black and dark. If you know how to get back home, I wish you'd show me!"

He was silent...
He glared at me with a stare I could not comprehend if I studied him a thousand years. I couldn't tell if he was thinking, or trying to pause so he didn't kick my ass. He was the only Sunday School teacher I ever knew who could could control a room full of 5th grade boys without raising his voice.

"Come with me..."

Part IV

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
  The Malfunction Part II

I turned back to my phone and brought the call back on,
"Hi, sorry about the wait. I'll try to help you, I'm having some problems with the computer and the phone, so I'll do the best I can."
"There's nothing wrong with your computer or the phone system. I 'adjusted' them. No one but me and you will hear this conversation, and no one will see that you were off the phone."
"Who are you!?!"
"You don't recognize my voice? I'm Mr. Brown. I was your Sunday School teacher in the Fifth Grade."
"But you died! I went to your funeral! Who are you really?"
"Don't believe me yet? Look at your screen..."

There he was. The solemn man with a grey flat-top and glasses with the square black frames. He had taught me and my friends every Sunday morning. He had been a banker, but also had spent time in the Navy, he was the sort of old-school guy I always wanted to be like. He was amazing, because he was serious, but not stuffy. He always spoke to us like we were adults, but he had an authority about him that never allowed us to take liberties. As far as spiritual matters go, I could think of no one else I trusted more.

The image on the screen started speaking again.
"Do you believe me now?"
"I guess I have to...There's no earthly reason to explain what's going on. Why are you here?"
"We're concerned about you. We've been watching you for some time. You've been floundering. You could be in danger if you don't change your ways."
"Look, I know I'm not the best Christian in the world, and I've got some improvements to make, but I don't think its all that bad."

He looked at me with a look that made it very clear he did not like being trifled with. He pointed his finger at me, the hand and index finger came through the screen and I scooted back a little. He spoke again with a voice clear and firm...

Part III

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Saturday, July 15, 2006
  The Malfunction Part I

Ring...Ring...Ring...
"Anonymous Investments, This is AC, How can I help you"
As I picked up the phone, I noticed something odd on my photo display. The call clock that shows time on call had stopped, and the display was flashing "RECORD OFF", meaning the system that records each call was out of order. I looked at the clock display on my computer, it had stopped too.
Finally, the person on the other end of the phone spoke to me,
"Something wrong AC?"
"uhh...Yeah, my computer's not working..I think I need to get you to another agent. Hold on.."

I stood up and yelled to the floor supervisor,
"Hey, my computer and phone just malfunctioned, is there anyone else that can take this call so I can reset my system?"
He didn't hear me.
"Hey! I said I need some help here!"
Still, nothing at all, like I wasn't there. I yelled to one of the veterans two cubicles over.
"Hey! George! I got a problem with my computer and phone! Can you take this call?"
Again, George didn't even look my way, or act like he heard me. I guess I'm on my own with this one. Maybe it's just an informational call...

Part II

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Friday, July 14, 2006
  Introduction to "The Malfunction"

(click the link to get to Part I of "The Malfunction")

"No man remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself."~Thomas Mann
I've got a new series that I will be starting in the next couple of days. It's called "The Malfunction". It's really different from other things that I have wrote here. It's my first attempt at serial fiction, but its not your run of the mill fiction. It's fiction combined with biographical elements from the humble life of yours truly.

I won't lie to you, it's a blatant rip-off of stories like "It's a Wonderful Life", or "A Christmas Carol", I'm more than willing to admit that. That's fine with me, imitating Dickens or Frank Capra is a hardly a bad place for any writer to start from. The other thing that inspired me was a story C.S. Lewis wrote called, "The Pilgrim's Regress", about a man finding his way back to God after being blinded by religion.

In my own life, the time spent in the call center has been a low point in my own spiritual growth. I've been less fervent, less faithful and more back-slidden than I care to admit. I'm writing this story to remind me of who I am, why I am here, and how much God loves me in spite of my own failures.

If you don't like "religious" writing, you may still want to stay tuned. I find a lot of established religion to be bondage to rules made by men. A relationship with God is always more important than simply obeying a bunch of rules. Back to the series, I'm going to be talking about some of the experiences I have had that have defined who I am. I am not going to be talking about doctrine, or shoving scripture down anyone's throat, it's just a story. If you're offended by any type of mention of Christianity, I understand if you don't want to read it, but I'm not writing this to convert anyone. This is not a missionary blog. I just want to share who I am with people I consider my friends.

Thanks for reading,

AC
Anonymous Cog

 
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
  Various Links

Cubichell is one of the funniest office blogs I have seen in a while.

Information is a web-only novel set in a call center.

Lisa Hutch has a new blog. She's a law student in Canada.

FrancesDanger describes herself as "An enigma, wrapped in a cypher, smothered in secret sauce. "

And of course, I can't get enough of Savage Chickens.

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Sunday, July 09, 2006
  Dead End Job


I don't want no dead end job
I don't wanna be no number
I don't want no dead end job
I don't wanna be no number

The queue gets longer everyday
I just ain't no time to stay
I ain't gonna run away
All I want to do is play

Don't wanna be no teacher
I don't wanna be no slave
I don't wanna work no assembly line
Like my uncle Dave

The queue gets longer everyday
I just ain't got time to stay
I ain't gonna run away
All I wanna do is play.


(Lyrics from the Police song "Dead End Job",
from the early days when they flirted with
the idea of being punk.)

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
  Comments? Comments?

Click the link to read a very funny Pearls Before Swine cartoon about bloggers obsessed with comments.

Got some blog-block going on right now. I feel somewhere between shell shocked with total craziness at work, and bored about talking about it. But stay tuned gentle readers, next week I will have something special lined up for you...

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Saturday, July 01, 2006
  Dropping Knowledge


Click the link above to check out Dropping Knowledge. Its an organization that actively promotes questioning held assumptions about the world around us. To learn more, click the link below for a very fascinating video that explains everything.

Watch the Quicktime Movie Here


Thanks for reading,

AC
Anonymous Cog

 





Exploring the mind numbing insanity and childish corporate culture of an unknown call center employee.
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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.
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Email:anonymous.cog at gmail.com
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"One must know oneself, if this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life, and there is nothing better." -Blaise Pascal
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The Cog is listening to:
"Wake Up"
By Rage Against The Machine
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