655 posts, 2 years, 7 months, 3 days-I've had enough...
If you might not have gathered from reading the end of "The Malfunction", I am not going to blog anymore about the call center. I'm not deleting the blog, there's too much of my heart and soul in this place. There will be bad call centers, bad bosses, and certainly bad customers, around long after I leave my call center, so someone may enjoy reading it. I will still answer emails and comments,(not so quickly though). I'm leaving the blogroll up for now, and I will be glad to link to anyone who links to me. If you liked Call Center Purgatory, I've created a Cafe Press Store, click the post title link above to get to the store.
I'm ready to live life, and there's no room for Call Center Purgatory anymore. It takes too much time, and has become counter productive. Check back from time to time, or keep an eye out on Technorati. I will let you know when I finally leave the call center, and I may give you some actual details about who I am and where I worked.
There are so many of you that have been very kind and gracious to me. I could not begin to name all of the wonderful people who have commented, emailed or linked to me. I care for many of you like dear friends who I have known for years.
Thanks for reading,
I really mean that.
I found myself still on the floor, my face still wet from crying, back in the white classroom with Mr. Brown. I stood up and faced him.
"Is that it? Is it over?"
"Yes, it is. Sit down for a minute."
I sat down in one of the chairs. He leaned on the desk and began to speak.
"You've learned a lot, but there's some other things you need to think about. Most people are thrown into something like Purgatory. Moses spent many years wandering through the desert, so did Paul, when he spent time in the Arabia after his conversion on the road to Damascus. David was left alone with his sheep for weeks at a time. John the Baptist wandered through the desert for years, living on locusts and wild honey. Jesus spent 40 days alone before he started his ministry. What about Matthew? How many years did he spend as a tax collector? He was abused and hated by both the Jews and the Romans, he lived a life as miserable as any call center worker. You're not the only one that has felt this way. The difference is they all came out of their Purgatory when they were called. It's time for you to do the same. Put all your energy first into your relationship with God, and then into being a benefit to those around you. Stop obsessing about the call center, put that energy into leaving it."
"Good...Goodbye for now."
He grinned, waved his hand, and everything blurred into a mixture of indigo and grey. I came to a start, and found myself sitting at my desk in the call center, the headphone had fallen around my neck. The screen was dark. The clock said it was time to clock out and everyone was getting ready to go. I took off the headphone and opened my desk drawer to put it away. In my desk I found a cold can of Diet Cherry 7-up and a Cow Tails candy. I rolled up my sleeve, and there were scars that looked like bite marks. I picked up my bag and lunchbox and got up to leave. As I walked through the long hall through the accounting department, I could hear playing low over the PA system was "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" by Neil Diamond.
It was time to leave this place, forever...
Thanks for reading,
To say it was black was an understatement. There was no longer any input to any of my senses. It felt like I had no eyes, no ears, no sense of smell or touch, wandering in cold nothingness. My hands in front of my face could neither be seen, nor could I feel the air produced by moving them in front of my face. I clapped, I screamed, I clapped my hands, I stomped my feet, all of it made no noise at all. I reached in my pocket and felt my cell phone, but the light did not work, and the ringer and volume made no sound. It was at this point the silence became very loud.
I sat down. At least I think I sat down. I was not vertical and was mostly relaxed, except for not knowing where I was or how long this would last. If I were to venture a guess where I was at, I would say it was a part of Limbo called "Pascals Room". You may remember the quote from his book Pensees,
"All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone." For once in a long time I was totally alone with nothing but my heart and my mind to keep me company. I could not even hear my heart beating.
At first my head felt like it was humming, like my thoughts were producing some sort of noise of their own; thinking about my life, my wife, how I ended up at the call center and how I had come to such an empty life. The hum began to subside and I began to think slower and slower. All of the time I spent in the call center, just feeling sorry for myself that, "I wasn't fufilled". Yeah, the place is a bad place to work, and it brings out the worst in me, but I still am responsible for who I am.
I had embraced the anger, sadness and frustration in the call center for so long that I was comfortable with it. It had become my friend, the reason I used for not being useful to the world. It was not a good enough reason for not making a difference in other people's lives. I might not be able to have some dramatic job, or do all that I want to do, but I have to do something more than this.
I began to consider my actions outside of all those half-ass pseudo-intellectual reasons that I always brought up to justify my own selfishness, my own sin. I stopped trying to see "the bigger picture", and talk about my actions in the "context of a larger world view". I realized that so much of my own high-minded philosophy was just bullshit. Spending time trying to find truth in the world is important-but even a search for truth can be used to cover up your own selfishness. Absolute truth still lives. Sin really exists. Discussing all our own faults, trying to explain them away, or becoming obsessed with finding the root of your sins, does not cause them to cease to exist, it's just a convenient way to ignore the truth as you pretend to explore it.
I wept. I repented of my own self-centeredness. I asked God to forgive me and show me how to be useful to him and to those around me.
The darkness faded...
Thanks for reading,
I fell through the darkness for a long time and landed with a thud into a dark place. Shades of navy and indigo swirled around me. Somehow, I was unhurt by the fall, and my injuries from fighting the wolves had stopped bleeding. I stood up and walked towards a light in the distance.
As I got closer, I realized it was what appeared like a large screen in front of me. It was all static, as if there were no signal coming to it. Then it came to life and the screen went black and I saw my name in big white letters centered, like a title. The title faded and then images of people began to float in front of the screen, with their voices coming from all around me. I saw before my eyes all the people that I could have been a blessing to. The people I could have taught in Sunday school, people I could have encouraged, people I could have befriended, people who would have nothing to do with religion, but I could have been the person that shared God's love with them.
Their faces swirled around me, unhappy and depressed, in anguish and pain. Noises of lament, crying and sorrow surrounded my ears, reaching a crescendo that made my ears start to ache. I started to feel sensations of heat, heaviness and a non-specific feeling of oppression and fear all around me until everything went black, and the horrible noise ceased immediately.
Thanks for reading,
As I moved very quietly down the hall, I could hear the head wolf howling and screeching around the corner and 500 meters down at the exit. I waited around corner and let the song repeat several times. I couldn't hear it anymore in my head. My own internal soundtrack was playing Rage Against the Machine. When I thought how many years that I had let these three spirits called Selfishness, Self-Pity and Despair keep me down, I seethed with anger. The evil world system that really ruins our lives is not just corrupt systems of government and businesses. It's the thoughts and beliefs that make us live mediocre lives, these are the voices that truly keep us down. It was my turn to watch them fail and suffer.
"Human!! Where are you!!...Snarl!!..I know you're coming!..Grrrr!...Come out!!.. Do you hear me?...I'm going to bloody my teeth on your neck!....AAAAAIIIGGHHH!!!"
I pulled the pin from the fire-extinguisher-turned-dart-gun and clutched the spear in the other hand. I left the lit bottle of napalm around the corner where I could get to it easily. I slowly came around the corner.
"Hey, Fuzzy-ass, you looking for me? Yoo hoo! I'm over here!"
He started sprinting towards me, not even noticing the new weapons. I kneeled down and aimed the dart gun. He kept coming, he was senseless and running on pure hatred. I had not fired this gun, the size of projectile meant it would probably only be good from a short distance. I had to wait until he was less than 10 meters to be do any good.
I squeezed the trigger and the barrel popped off and the frozen CO2 gas sprayed my face as I fell back to the floor. He was on top of me in seconds. We rolled on the ground in the hallway. He was inches from my face and bit my left hand and shoulder. I finally kicked him off and grabbed the spear. He leapt again and I brought the blade up and missed his chest and caught his belly, ripping it fully open as he knocked me on the ground. He was screaming in rage and pain, while he struggled to his feet. I rolled towards the bottle, leapt up and broke the bottle over his head. The flame spread over his whole body. He writhed in agony and rolled around trying to put the flames out with no luck like the others. I finally thrust the spear through his temple and he finally stopped howling. The smell was incredible.
I didn't stop to rest, or pick up the spear. I didn't care anymore. I wanted this to end and I wanted out of here. I ran to the exit, and tore aside the blue tarps and leapt into a black void...
Thanks for reading,
I listened hard, trying to hear the click of their claws on the floor over the high-pitched bluegrass gospel coming streaming from the PA speakers. Instead, I could hear them howling and screeching as they ran toward the maintenance department. It had been a good choice of music. They were so furious they didn't stop to consider the trap.
The doors burst open with a crash, as the two wolves came in. I released the bottles from the ceiling, they broke and coated the wolves with flames that weren't going out. They howled and screamed and rolled on the ground with no luck. Five minutes later and they were charred corpses. I put the fire out, and made sure they properly dead. That should keep them out of commission for longer than before.
I went to the CD player and selected track 11, and set it on continuous repeat. It was a song entitled "Goodbye". I hoped that the gospel lyrics and the mandolin would make the lead wolf lose all sense like the others. I picked up my weapons, lit the wick on the third bottle and headed out towards the exit.
Thanks for reading,
I was ready to fight them, but how did I get them to come to me? Looking around the maintenance department, I found a unlabelled closet full of machinery. It was the PBX system for the phone and the P.A. system. There, I found a CD player with "The Best of Neil Diamond" in it, set to repeat forever,(shudder). The wolves said they knew this place inside and out, if they heard the music change, they would know where to come.
It couldn't just be any music. It needed to be something that would make them so furious they would not stop to think that this was a trap. It had to be the sort of thing that Psych-Ops people use to get people to end a stand-off. Desperate people can give up when they can't stand hearing the Barney theme song, or Metallica makes them cringe. Interestingly enough, creatures from Hell didn't seem to mind Neal Diamond...
I had remembered seeing a CD boom box on the desk in the maintenance manager's office. Maybe there would be something there. Inside the CD player was a classic bluegrass gospel CD from Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys called "This World is Not My Home. My folks made me listen to this music when I was a kid. I hated to admit it, but I liked it. There would be no other type of music to infuriate these creatures better than Old Time Gospel.
I removed the Neal Diamond CD, and threw it like a frisbee and heard it shatter on the wall, I thought I may have heard a tiny, evil cry as it shattered. I put in the new CD and selected track 2, the title track, "This World is Not My Home", and set it on repeat. I turned up the volume for all the speakers and increased the high-end response on the equalizer, so they could enjoy that extra-twangy goodness.
I turned the heavy steel shop table on its side as a barrier, and waited with my hand on the rope, listening hard to hear the creatures coming...
Thanks for reading,
(Don't be stupid enough to try anything listed below. It's obviously fiction, untested, dangerous, and illegal...'Nuff said.)
A plan had taken shape. I gathered a CO2 fire extinguisher, three large glass bottles, powdered soap, three dishcloths, a large plastic spoon, a funnel, a large mixing bowl and the biggest knife I could find. It had a blade that was 12" long and a 1/4" thick. I suspected the rest of what I needed would be in the maintenance department.
I stuck my head out the door and listened. No clicks. The hallway was clear. I quickly moved my supplies into the maintenance department and got to work.
First, I filled the bottles with some homemade Napalm, once I found several other flammable ingredients. I lit the wicks and suspended the two bottles from ceiling over the door, with a rope tied to a heavy file cabinet with a bowtie that I could release in one pull. I was saving the third bottle for the last wolf.
Next, I found a length of 1/2" steel gas pipe. I cut it down to about 20" and attached it to the CO2 extinguisher by first removing the hose, then sliding the barrel inside the opening and then tightening it down with a radiator hose clamp and duct tape. I made a 8" long dart by cutting a long screwdriver in two with a hacksaw and then sharpening it needle sharp with the grinder. I taped some cloth to the end so it would pack tight in the barrel.
One weapon was still needed: a spear. If I had to fight these monsters up close again, I wanted something with some reach and a sharp edge, that could be thrown if needed. First, I knocked the pins out of the handle of the kitchen knife and removed the wood handle. Then I mounted the blade on a broken shovel handle by cutting a deep notch in the center of the handle. I inserted the the bare steel handle in that samep notch, and then secured it by putting long wood screws through the same pin holes that were used on the old wood handle. I wrapped that end with metal strapping to strengthen it. Now I was ready...
Thanks for reading,
I don't know how many of you are reading this story. There have not been many comments, so I'm assuming it's not that interesting to everyone. That's fine, at this point I'm writing it for me, and I would like to think I'm not that big of a comment whore. It doesn't matter anymore if you are reading it or not because I have to finish it, just for my own sake. It's become like my own "Pilgrim's Progress". I feel inspired to write it, and obsessed with finishing it. I'm just not interested in writing about the goings on at the call center lately.
I'm finishing it this week. There will be two or more posts per day. The next couple of posts have some samples of music added to it as part of the storyline,(thanks to Amazon.com for having samples of any kind of music ever.). Click the links and it will open Windows Media Player.
Thanks for reading,
Two double doors led to a large industrial kitchen in the cafeteria. There was a large storage closet, with a locking steel door where I decided to hide during the 10 minutes head start the creatures gave me.
Hopefully, they would rush past this place, trying to catch me in one of the wings that I did not explore. I was sure they would go to the call center first since that was where I was trying to get to when they caught me the first time. If my plan worked, it may be an hour or two before they figured out that I had stayed behind.
It had been 8 minutes. I turned off the lights sat on the floor in silence and listened. Time ground to a halt, and I heard nothing but the beating of my heart. Four minutes more...I suspected I heard a click somewhere outside in the cafeteria. The noise came closer, "Click..Click...Click..." and then the bump of a door being opened. It was silent for ten seconds and then I heard the "woosh" of it swinging shut as the clicks became farther and farther away.
I stayed on the floor and waited for a good five minutes before moving. I listened at the door, then silently opened it and saw nothing. I crept to the double doors and looked out into the cafeteria. There was nothing out there. To be safe, I taped up some paper and aluminum foil to the windows in the door. I turned on the lights in the kitchen and got to work...
Thanks for reading,
"Start running human...Snarl...We'll give you a ten minute head start. No need to rush this.....Grrr..It's going to be sweet...If it's any comfort, you were right about one thing...Snarl...This is the only way out. We know every corner of this place...Grrr...so run if you like, but don't get your hopes up!"
Then all three of them made that frightening, laughing sound.
I turned and started moving down the hall as fast as I could, trying to come up with some sort of plan. They knew I wasn't recovered enough for another one-on-one fight, and I knew whenever the fight did come, it would not be fair.
The weapons I had were only good for a melee. What I needed was something that would stop them at a distance. Since these creatures could not be killed, I could only hope to incapacitate them long enough to get the exit. I figured that the head start was as much for them to come at me from different directions as it was to make the hunt last longer. They expected me to run long and far, maybe go to the records department, or head to the call center. They would probably leave a guard at the exit.
As I came around the corner to the cafeteria, an idea began to take shape. I ducked inside the double doors and headed through the empty cafeteria to the kitchen.
Thanks for reading,
I stopped in my tracks and could feel my heart begin to race. I bent my knees, readied the crowbar in my right hand and slowly crept around the long curving hallway.
"We know you're there, Human. You can stop trying to sneak up on us!", the voice was gravelly and ended with a snarling noise. As I rounded the corner, I saw the three wolf-creatures again. The one that spoke was the one I thought I had killed last. He had a big bare spot on his neck with a four inch long scar, but he was definitely alive. The one whose skull I had crushed his scull had a dented, lumpy head, with a strip of skin hanging off. He looked the most grotesque. The third one moved with a strange limp to the left as a result of the injury to his spine. But they were all alive, their copper eyes still as bright and cold as before. They looked more dangerous than before.
"I killed you! You were cold and dead! All three of you! I busted your skull and your brain was leaking out! How can you be alive?"
"We're not mortal..Grrr..like you. We regenerate our physical form. From those bandages you've got, it appears a lot easier than you do, boy.", he said, ending the sentence by snapping his teeth together fiercely.
"The deal was that we were allowed to chase you through Purgatory..Snarl!...like a game. We agreed because your fear and dread is like food to us. You were to run from us and run through the construction zone and into the dark, where you would finally go home, Snarl..But you didn't do that. Instead, you attacked us. No human has ever got the better of us... We had an agreement with the Powers, and you broke it."
"Who are you?"
He growled and snarled in such a way that it sounded like laughter.
"You don't recognize us AC? We have been your companions since you were young...Growl...You remember the scripture...Snarl.."The sin that so easily besets you"?....Let me introduce our merry band. The being whose skull you crushed is Selfishness, the being with the limp is Self-Pity, and I, I am Despair...Snarl!..We have pursued you for years...Grrr...We have been waiting to feast on your sorrow, waiting for the day you would give up trying to serve the Powers...Snap!...We have tasted your despair...Grrr...Like an appetizer on a toothpick...But finally, we have the advantage...Snarl!"
"I still haven't given up. You can't feast on my soul, you have no right."
He made the laughing,snarling noise again,"You are right. I will not have the sweet nectar of your soul, but in this physical form, I can have your blood. I can still taste it on my teeth...", he stopped to pant like a dog. "And that's good enough for us...If we are going to lose eventually, we will do the will of our Father Below and stop you from getting home. You will not cause Him any more trouble, and we will feast on your flesh before the Powers throw us into outer darkness..."
Thanks for reading,
I continued following the signs labeled "New Wing Under Construction". I had not seen anything resembling construction for the first hour of walking, just gray, non-descript carpet, white walls and a lot of locked doors. I did not stop to try to unlock them, I had had enough exploring for now. The halls were bright and cheery, there were junctions every 100 meters with comfy couches, end tables with lamps and dried flowers and desks where a receptionist would sit, but there were still no people.
I stopped and listened several times, watching to see if any one or any thing was following me, but saw and heard nothing. The carpet was very quiet, so I wasn't truly convinced.
I passed an entrance to a cafeteria and a kitchen, then much later, double swinging doors leading to a maintenance shop. The carpet ended and was replaced by a dusty concrete floor and bare sheetrock on the walls. I was finally getting close.
The hallway made a graceful turn and the sheetrock was replaced by wood framing, and bare electrical conduits and plumbing, covered with plastic sheeting to keep the dust contained in each skeleton of a room.
Up ahead, I heard a solitary click echo off the floor...
Thanks for reading,
"The landscape of my heart..."
It all made sense now. I was walking through the landscape of my heart, the degradation of my own soul. I made my own Purgatory, now I was fighting my way home. In the midst of Purgatory, I would seek God again and to leave it all behind. My life was not the call center, nor was my sadness. It was all my own. I needed to leave the job, but the more important task was to find God again, no matter where I worked. I remembered a poem I read one day.
“So when the shadows lengthenThe time had come to throw off Purgatory, to escape that muttering, bad mood that leads to Hell. I remembered C.S. Lewis describing Hell in such a way,
Across the landscape of my soul,
And doubt draws near, I will seek the light.
I will recite the creeds, receive the sacraments,
Search again the scriptures, sing the hymns,
Hear the Word brought forth...”
~Bud Hayes, "A Confession of Faith"
...it begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticising it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticise the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine..."~C.S. Lewis, "The Great Divorce"I picked up my gear, and started walking towards the construction wing. I felt more hope than I had felt in a long time.
I let the bloody crowbar fall to the ground and put my head between my legs and tried to catch my breath. I really hoped there weren't any more of these wolf creatures around. That was about the stupidest thing I had ever done, but it may have been the bravest also.
I don't know why, but I decided I wasn't going to the call center. It might be the way home, or it might be a dead end. In my life it had been a dead end. This place followed some familiar patterns, so it made sense to not go to the call center. I thought of the Seinfeld episode where George realizes everything he has done has been wrong so he does the opposite and becomes wildly successful. TV is not my basis for life, but that's not bad advice when you have been a screw-up. Every exit I had found so far was blocked. The sign that said "New Wing Under Construction" was my best bet to find my way out.
I finally stood up, picked up the crowbar and hatchet and started walking, at least limping, towards the new wing. I was dizzy and still bleeding. I needed to find some kind of bandages and clean up if I was going to make it any distance.
Fifty meters down the hall I found my answer, a door marked "Infirmary". My keys opened the door. It was clean and had been well-stocked recently. I stripped down and started washing my wounds with hydrogen peroxide, dried them off and then put a little Neosporin on them . I didn't need any stitches, but I had to use a couple of butterfly bandages and wrap my thigh fairly well. I was still kind of woozy, and found a saline IV bag in the cupboard. It was kind of hard, but I managed to get it started and lay down on a cot in the corner and drifted off to a deep sleep.
I woke up much later. The IV bag was empty and my the dizziness was gone. I got dressed slowly, I had become stiff and the bruises were starting to show up. In the mini refrigerator on the counter I found a cold can of Dr. Pepper, a snickers Bar and a sandwich in a Ziploc bag. It was Bologna and American cheese on white bread with Mayo and brown mustard. There was a big pickle in a jar in the door of the refrigerator. It was like the kind of lunch my mom would pack.
After I finished the food, I looked around the room one more time. There was an envelope on the desk I had not seen before. It had my name on it. I opened it up and this is what I read:
You're on the right track to get home. Head through the new wing and go through the dark area at the end of the construction to exit this building.
You have thought often how this place is familiar, have you figured out why yet? The spiritual world is as real, if not more concrete than the physical. Your wounds are evidence of that. This is a real place. The landscape and structures in this world change from person to person to represent the landscape of their heart.
You have visited Purgatory...
As you can tell, the ruin of your soul extends for a long distance, like a ruined, locked building in a dark gray land. Yet, the ruin is not complete; hope remains, and there is still room for growth and still a way out.
Now, find your way home, and maybe you won't have to spend any more time here later.
P.S. The Neil Diamond Muzak is actually not part of the landscape of your soul. The powers that be have a unique sense of humor and know you can't stand him. Besides, it made you want to leave quicker, didn't it?
Thanks for reading,
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