Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Friday, April 28, 2006
  Strange Relationships

One of the stranger things about working at a call center like mine, where we do both inbound and outbound calls, is the sort of relationships you have with your callers. There are customers that I know well, I have dealt with them for a long time and I can finish their sentences for them and know what they need. That's actually pretty cool. Those people make my job easier, and I consider some of them friends.

The majority of my customers are not my friends. They are in that grey area of almost acquaintances. It's like flying on a long flight where you actually talk to the person sitting next to you. You may be friendly, but you accept that you will never see this person again, so you actually make no real attachment. It's weird to get to the end of your day and you can't remember half of your conversations.

I know that its fairly unrealistic to think I would have the sort of conversations where we share deep feelings, talk about things that matter, and develop meaningful conversations. Yeah, that's some serious B.S. . I guess the thing that bothers me is that spending all day talking to people, having such curt, cold conversations makes me feel kind of cold and lonely. I think the nature of call center work kind of makes you feel a little cheap, like you are paid to be pleasant to people that are only calling because they want things from you. I guess when I say it that way it sounds like I should be wearing something low-cut with fishnet stockings, but its really just not a good look for me, I'd have to shave my legs too, and that's just not the sort of slippery slope I'm interested in going down at this time in my life.

Some of its a personal thing, I've never been very good at keeping friends, or developing best friends. The nature of my job just seems to amplify that. I guess I want to actually talk to people, to talk about things bigger then mutual funds and bonds, and to feel that they hear me. Marx was right when he said that work causes alienation. It alienates you from what you produce, and the people around you.

At least I can still press the mute button and abuse my customers that way. That always helps.

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
  Ask a Ninja

I love this video...



Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
  Desperation around me...

"AC, You exceeded your goals for the last six week period. There has been a thirty-six percent increase in calls answered and total transactions completed. We are very satisfied with your work to date here at Anonymous Investments."
My new supervisor reached out his hand and took my hand firmly and shook it. I was kind of shocked. This had never happened before.

"Thanks...I'm..I'm glad you're pleased."
"We'll talk more in a month or so. Keep up the good work!"

I walked out of the conference room a little dazed. Sure, I still had not seen any kind of real raise, but I had real praise, and that meant something. My euphoria was short lived as I got a fresh cup of coffee and headed for the cubicle farm again.

Like prairie dogs when there are no coyotes or rednecks with varmint rifles, the employees had popped up their heads and were kibitzing back and forth while it was slow.

"I got a written warning for my performance again."
"Its never enough for these people. I could do cartwheels and they would say they weren't high enough!"
"None of my extra work counts, none of the things that can't be measured mean anything to them!"
"I hate this place!"

I really felt bad for them. I had spent years feeling that way, and now I was the one that was actually doing well. I just made my own little victory kind of hollow. I know we can't all be winners. A call center is not like the Special Olympics. We don't get praise for trying our best.

That said, call centers, even good call centers, have this ability to make you feel alienated from your work. If you do what makes you feel human, you don't make them happy. If you do what they want, you can't always feel human.

Sometimes, its just a huge crap shoot. You never know what kind of callers you're going to get, its like playing cards. Some day you get customers who like you, who are easy to deal with, and other days you get these freaks that crawl out from under a rock and have nothing but the stupidest, most esoteric questions that are never answered to their satisfaction and never help your numbers.

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Monday, April 24, 2006
  Celebrating Springtime

Springtime arrived today. Now, some people say the Robin is the sign of spring, or Tulips, or the Red Winged Blackbird. Not me. The hot blonde in spandex bike shorts rollerskating down the sidewalk is my favorite sign of Spring, and I saw her today.

Therefore, I decided to officially celebrate Springtime. Nothing big. I didn't put on a loose tunic and a crown of Dandelions, and run through the grass singing some ancient springtime ode.

No, my celebration was a little more common.

First, I pulled into 7-11 and got a Big Gulp. Then I opened up my CD case and found just the right CD, my own mix tape of the best thing to ever come out of Texas: ZZ Top. I then opened up all of my windows, found the longest way home I could think of, purposely picking long straightaways and country roads with few houses.

There is just such a different acoustic with the windows open. "Cheap Sunglasses" sounded like it was live and "La Grange" was outstanding. I accelerated 15 miles over the speed limit as the Holsteins became a blur of black white and green, grinning as I could hear my wife nagging in my mind everytime when I go 5 miles over the speed limit. I screamed the lyrics as loud as I could, and for 15 minutes, I was 16 years old again and had a big old toothy grin from ear to ear.

Sometimes, life is good.

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Sunday, April 23, 2006
  Five Things Tag

Diane Duane over at Out of Ambit tagged me back in March and I didn't read about it until just this week. Oops..
Here you go-but you won't get all the answers as it would interfere with the anonymity thing.

"The Five Things Tag"


What were you doing ten years ago?
If I told you, I'd have to kill you...

What were you doing one year ago?
Answering the phone and pondering imponderables...and stuff.

Five snacks you enjoy:
Totinos Sausage Pizza Rolls
Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches
Any big-ass piece of steak straight from the grill.
Tater Tots
A perfectly ripe mango

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:
-"Boys of Summer"-Don Henley
-"Every Breath You Take"-The Police
-"La Grange"-ZZ Top
-"Roam"-The B-52's
-"Better is One Day"-Passion

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
-Buy a large plot of forested land where I would build a shack with a wood stove and a dig a well. I would hunt, fish or just get away from my manic world whenever I wanted.
-Go to Spain and Italy. Drive a Vespa through crowded cobblestone streets. Look at murals and churches. Drink wine. Maybe even pinch a butt or two when the Mrs. wasn't looking.
-Get a Masters degree in something useless to business. Philosophy, English, French, Music.
-Buy a yellow Cooper Mini.
-Hike the Appalachian Trail.

Five things you like doing:
-Blogging
-Something, Something...
-Watching Mystery Science Theater 3000
-Camping
-Listening to music

Five things you would never wear again:
-The Bart Simpson T-shirt
-The Nike Cortez tennis shoes with the Garfield shoe laces.
-The manatee tie
-The lilac colored dress shirt
-The purple sweatpants

Five favorite toys:
-"Take Five" Dave Brubeck CD
-Silva Orienteering Compass
-Book of George Orwell Essays
-Scorpion xenon ultra-bright flashlight,(We're talking,"AAHHH!! I'm blinded!" kind of bright).
-Leatherman tool

Now I have to tag five other bloggers..
Fidget
Miyna
Andrena
The BLS
Gary's Blog


Thanks for reading,

AC
Anonymous Cog

 
Friday, April 21, 2006
  Virus



There are times when happiness comes on me like some benevolent virus. Infecting me slowly through a loving look,a favorite song, the taste of bitter caffeine on my tongue, and the smell of damp earth early in the morning.

The virus multiplies. Its genes are inserted and begin to replicate inside all of the grumpy, pissed-off cells in my soul. New cells emerge, the helical chains of amino acids and proteins twist into a half circle with the organelles and ribosomes moving into two groups opposite the curved DNA until every cell looks some huge colony of smiley faces. For the time being, I am pleasantly immune to the bacteria of human naughtiness that flows through my phone.

Rage on assholes, you won't hurt me today...


Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Thursday, April 20, 2006
  Anonymous Cog Finds Love-Conclusion

(click the link above to start from part one)

In the first part of my last year of college, I was introduced to my future wife. It wasn't love at first sight by a long shot. I was more interested in her room-mate at the time, and was trying to be polite. Well, my friend ended up with her room-mate and I was still alone. Since I was in her circle of acquaintances, I did see her more, and begin to think about her more.

At first, she was not very interested in me that much either. In fact, she didn't speak to me much at all. It was the strangest start of any relationship I remember having with a girl. We saw each other more and more in the hallways. We talked a little more and more. Finally, there was an assignment in sociology to meet with someone you didn't know and ask them some questions. It was just the sort of opening I was looking for. I didn't have to be extra brave, I just had to see if she wanted to do a school assignment with me. She accepted. I tried to casually work in going to dinner and a movie, and she accepted also. Things were definitely looking up.

The date was the day after Valentine's day, I don't know why, but I decided to buy a purple carnation with a bow on it to give her. I was scared I was going over the top, scared she would think I was doing too much too fast. But she wasn't. She beamed and said "thank you" so sweetly I felt I would melt.

The movie was great, we had dinner at some little 50's diner place and then went home. We didn't kiss or hold hands or anything, but the night was charged with electricity. Talking to her was not like talking to Amy at all. I got the impression she was as smart, if not smarter than me. She had read lots and lots of books of all kinds. She went to the same type of church as I did. There were so many things that were so similar it was almost spooky.

Then there were her looks. She had beautiful honey blond hair that was long and shiny. She had a nice figure that was round in all the parts I liked and the clearest, bluest eyes I have ever seen. But best of all, she was incredibly kind.

The date went so well, I asked her out again and she accepted. This continued for three weeks until we were inseparable. We went to movies, museums, the zoo, to church together. We even volunteered at a couple of places together. I had never met such a person who was so utterly wonderful. My heart had finally found a home. She never played any head games, and she loved me in such a way that I actually believed in myself more and more each day.

When I started this series, I told you I believed my wife is the only girl for me and said I would explain to you why that was. Here's the reason: I spent so many years of my life looking for a woman, and had so many years of bad luck until I met her. Before my wife, when I did land a girl, she was either nuts, not that bright, or not kind. None of the other women I have ever went out with, or known has been like my wife. I know there are other women who are kind, beautiful, and smart, but I never ran into many of them. I experienced all of the other kinds of women. I had more than my fair share of the pretty head-cases, air-heads, silly girls, mean girls, loose girls, and all the others.

My wife is one in a billion. I can't take that chance again. It took too many years, too many heart-aches, and too much time to find her. Its not worth it to go anywhere else. I'm not saying she's perfect. There are some times she drives me nuts. Sometimes she makes me so mad I want to go live under a rock. But when I sit down with her on the couch, she still makes my hear beat faster. I still feel kind of dizzy if I stare in her eyes. She still makes me crazy with lust.

This blog is called Call Center Purgatory because I really hate my job. Even if I never find the job I love, I still have the woman I love, and that means a lot more than money or prestige or any kind of dream job. She is the reason I've stayed in this job so long, to make the money we need and to keep her happy and secure until I can find a better job. She makes it all worth it.

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
  Anonymous Cog Finds Love Part VIII

(click the link above to start from part one)

After I graduated from High School, I picked a Junior College about two hundred miles away from my folks. It was a real stretch for me, I had never been on my own. If I had not had the help of some great roommates, I would have never made it. We became like a family. I found a Joe-job flipping burgers and settled in to get my degree.

I still was not having much luck with women. I pulled off a couple of dates during school. I dated a nice Malaysian girl, but she made sure I knew she wouldn't marry me because I was not Malaysian. At the time, I was thinking, "Gee, I was thinking I wouldn't marry you because you're kind of nuts, but I guess you have a good reason too." I had a lot of these dates where it didn't feel like a date. By that I mean there was no spark. We were "just friends", we were just "hanging out", even if I originally thought I had made a date, I was horribly wrong.

I met a girl at the restaurant I worked at that went to the same college I did. We became good friends, but when I made it clear I wanted more, she lost her cool and really hurt my feelings. This one was especially tough because she was so smart and classy that she seemed perfect for me.

I struggled to get over it and kind of moped around the restaurant for a week, just trying to figure what was next. At one point, she yelled at me, "It's always something with you,isn't AC?" I just didn't talk to her anymore. I know I was immature, but she was heartless.

College was very good socially for me. Everyone wanted to be my friend, everyone wanted to talk to me, but never any more than that. When I filled out the college application I had thought that I would finally be around some mature women, women that didn't play games like Jan, women that would take me seriously. I felt very lost for awhile. There was part of me that enjoyed being on my own, enjoyed the single life, but I still had such a void that needed to be filled.

More tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,

AC

Click here to read the conclusion.


Anonymous Cog

 
Monday, April 17, 2006
  Anonymous Cog Finds Love Part VII

(click the link above to start from part one)

My love life after Amy was pretty insubstantial. I became depressed. Amy and I tried to become friends, but it started going too far again. I don't know who believes that its possible for men and women to be friends after they have crossed a certain line in a physical relationship, but I don't buy it. Even if you manage to act like friends, there are always those images and feelings somewhere inside you, knowing that it could be more.

I think that its even harder for men, just because of how sex is so hard-wired into all that we do. It can be like some itch you can't scratch sometimes, some high-pitched hum that does not go away, but is always there annoying you. Then, to make things worse, there's this woman in front of you that you find attractive, just wanting to be friends. It can be too much. If I had to do it all over, I would not have dated seriously in my teens. I just don't think most guys that age have the sort of emotional maturity to be involved physically with girls.

For a while I felt like a yo-yo. Going back and forth to Amy. I wished she would tell me to get lost, I wished one of us would be strong, instead of some romantic purgatory, never going anywhere but never leaving each other. I wished I could find another girl. I wished I didn't have these feelings. I found my self thinking, "Is this the only girl in the world that will ever have anything to do with me? Do I need to stop looking? What's wrong with me?"

Before I had to make that decision my parents decided to move about 500 miles away to different jobs. They were moving us to a big city in the Midwest, to a world that would be so incredibly different from the town of thirty-thousand that I had grew up in. I wrote a post about one of my last days in the small town I called home-click here to read Water Tower Hill.

So, the decision had been made for me. She was 500 miles away, and there was nothing I could do about it. When I got to my new home, she sent me letters that curled my toes with lust, but also made me glad I had gotten away from her. In the big city, I felt pretty lonely for awhile, but I eventually made friends. I got involved with a youth group and started doing very well. At first, I met a really hot Latina girl* that was obviously interested in dating me, but I soon figured out she was "popular" with a lot of guys. I politely declined. I started doing a better job of being a real friend to the girls in my youth group. I started going out and hanging out in groups, with guys and girls. I still wanted more, but I wasn't going out of my way to get a girlfriend this time. The experience with Amy may have broke my heart, but I had made up my mind that I wouldn't go so far, so fast again.

Thanks for reading,

AC

Click here to read part VIII


*[Just a little foot note-I did not just put the phrase "hot Latina" in this post to get search engine hits, because the sort of hits you get from putting "hot Latina" in your text does not bring "quality hits". There truly was a "hot Latina" that wanted to go out with me-no joke. Not that I have anything against "hot Latinas". Quite the contrary. I am very fond of many Latinas, and yes, some of them are hot, especially Salma Hayek. But my respect for "hot Latinas" should not be seen as some stunt to get traffic-let's be clear on that! Okay then...]

Anonymous Cog

 
Sunday, April 16, 2006
  Poverty, Politics and Faith


I have actually updated my poor, little abandoned blog about poverty and politics. Click the top to read an editorial from the New York Times entitled "Christ Among the Partisans."

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Saturday, April 15, 2006
  Anonymous Cog Finds Love Part VI

(click the link above to start from part one)
Things continued on with me and Amy for about six months before things soured. I believe the majority of the blame was my fault. I'm not proud of the young man that I was. I was a horny jerk who did not appreciate her kindness. Fortunately, we never had sex. Somewhere between my own moral upbringing and a consummate fear of getting her knocked up kept me from going too far.

I remember my dad warning me that he wasn't sure she was the right girl for me and that I needed to be careful to not get too physical. Dad was really wise about this because just telling me not to see her would not have worked, instead he approached it like I was another man about to make a mistake that he wanted to warn me about. When he said that I had this eyes-wide-open daymare of her pregnant, us living in a lousy mobile home with dirty faced kids running around our feet and me working at Radio Shack to bring home barely enough to live on. Meals of Kraft macaroni and cheese placed on a dirty particle-board table and her looking more haggard every day. I saw her becoming less and less kind and more unattractive every day, and my plans for a good life ebbing away. I don't know where the vision came from but I shuddered and re-thought my plans for carnal pleasure.

The other thing that may have caused me to break up with her was that I didn't respect her. She allowed me to be rude, she always did what I wanted to do, and she never spoke up for herself. She was kind of a doormat, just so she could have a boyfriend. She was actually as desperate to have love as I had been.

I discovered we were such different people. I loved books, writing, and programming computers. She was just a teenage girl who loved to gossip on the phone, buy new clothes and listen to top 40. When we weren't making out or on a date, just talking, I had this feeling we weren't on the same page. She didn't like to talk about anything particularly deep, or understand that much.

Before I broke up with Amy, I had become the equivalent of a married man. What I mean by that is that other girls flirted with me because either they thought I was safe and wouldn't respond, or because they were interested. I started wondering if the grass would be better on the other side of the fence. I remember one of the girls I used to eat lunch with called me one night, and we had a conversation that made up my mind for me. I trusted Sonya because she had always been straight with me and turned me down as a boyfriend the year before, but stayed a real friend.
"Hey Sonya, What's up?"
"So, you and Amy are pretty serious I hear."
"Well, we're going steady, but nothing more than that."
"that's not what I hear."
"Oh...Go on."
"Amy and her mom have plans for you. Big plans."
"What do you mean?"
"Marriage, dummy! She's telling other girls that you're in the bag. That her and her mom are talking about how you guys will get married after you graduate!" I said bye, and hung up the phone numbly. There was a re-run of my daymare, then I knew what I had to do.

The next day I told her I didn't want to want to go with her anymore, I didn't have any good reasons. I told her we would still be friends. She cried, and I felt about two inches tall. Of course, after this all of the girls that had flirted and acted so friendly all became cold and irritable. They had all circled the wagons, and I was the lone Indian in their sights. It was a rough couple of months until summer break.

More after Easter...
Thanks for reading,

AC

Click here to read part VII


Anonymous Cog

 
  Too Much Love?


Here I am, about to write part VI of Anonymous Cog Finds Love, I think I've got about four more episodes left in me, and I find myself thinking, "Dude, What does this have to do with working at a call center?" Nothing really, actually things are ok at the call center right now. One thing I have learned about writing from having a blog is that when you are inspired to write about something you should finish it, because inspiration does not come about everyday. I'm stoked about this series because the ending is really good.

If you are bored with reading about the love life of an adolescent, sorry, check back next Friday, or read the archives. If that isn't enough, look on the blogroll for section entitled "Call Center Bloggers", you can even find serious management blogs there.

Oh, and a note for you Google searchers, you will not find "Call Center Comics", or "Funny Call Center Videos" or "Call Center Jokes" on this website. If you're looking for something funny, go to this site or listen to some great mp3's at Carlos Mencia's website.
Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Friday, April 14, 2006
  Anonymous Cog Finds Love Part V

(click the link above to start from the beginning)
For once in my short little life, things were going well. I had a great girlfriend that really liked me. I was popular and enjoying life. My grades sucked, but that's another story.

After that first date, things started moving fast between Amy and me. I remember our first kiss was out behind the church after a youth event. I was hooked after that. I had never kissed a girl before that, but I was a quick study and seemed to have a real motivation to practice as much as possible. For my own personal betterment of course, it had nothing to do with the hormones coursing through my veins.

I had no car, and was not allowed to borrow the car yet. We got together at youth group events, school or I rode my bike the three to four miles it took to get to her house or vice versa, otherwise I had to get my folks to drop me off. In my quest to find new and different places to make out, I discovered something at my school. Behind the bleachers, there was a small maintenance shed. It should have been locked, but the maintenance man left the lock on it in the hasp so from a distance it looked locked but wasn't. Our school had open lunches, and there were other times that we could sneak away for a few moments of bliss.

We hadn't really told a lot of people we were an item, but they had their suspicions. Then, when the teacher caught us kissing, everyone knew. I didn't really mind "the shame of it all", because it made me even more popular on campus. Finally, I was the Romeo, the lover-boy, the "dangerous guy". I had never been "bad seed" before, It was kind of cool. Somehow my parents never found out about, all I got was a stern talking to and a bad reputation.

The most satisfying event that happened after that was that when Jan found out about it, she was pissed. She sought me out sitting by myself one day and we had this conversation.
"I just heard about what happened between you and Amy! I am so disappointed in you!"
"Excuse me?"
"You heard me! What do you mean making out with her like that?"
"Hold it. Why should this disappoint you? Would you explain that to me?"
"Well...uh...It just does!"
She stormed off and I almost laughed out loud as she walked away. Not only had I become the bad boy, but I finally got the better of one of those women that played games with me but never would go out with me. Part of me was disappointed that she could have been my girl and I had ruined my chances forever, but I decided something about women at that point: I'd rather have a pleasant woman that was kind and didn't play games than some glamorous head case. Maybe Amy wasn't the prettiest girl in school, but she wasn't some vain headcase.

More tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,

AC

Click here to read part VI


Anonymous Cog

 
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
  Anonymous Cog Finds Love Part IV

(click the link above to start from the beginning)
After having my ego bruised by being dumped by the ugliest girl in school because "God told her to", I was not as active in my search for love. There were a couple of close calls with a strawberry blonde horsey girl,(she liked horses-did not look like one) and a black haired girl that I leaned in to kiss and then pulled away at the last minute. I was still gun-shy, still striking out. I sort of stopped trying so hard for a while. It was obvious my efforts had not worked up until this point.

Several years went by and I found myself a sophomore in a small high school somewhere in the Midwest. I had become the emperor of the friend zone. I had a lot of girls that I hung out with, I wrote for the school newspaper. I wasn't the school jock, but I was fairly popular.

After the Winter break, school started and their were four new girls in class. A tall blonde with a nice, slim figure named Jan, her sister Carol who had short black hair and an equally nice figure, and a brunette named Amy with big blue eyes, a sweet face, and a figure that could be described as a little "thick" around the middle. She was very shy, but seemed nice. Somehow, I never really considered girls that, I don't know how to say it, had a little extra, as a bad thing. I guess my German heritage means I lean toward the healthy girls a little. Click here to read a whole post about this subject.

I found I got along great with Jan, we were joking together and hanging out a lot. I couldn't figure out Carol or Amy, they said very little, if anything at all. As time went on, Jan flirted with me, sent some kind of signals, but when push came to shove, she wouldn't go out with me. She didn't blow me off, but she always had an excuse, she was always busy, or would simply change the subject, but she kept being flirtatious. I finally decided that she was just a waste of time, one of those women that either didn't know what she wanted, or was speaking some strange language that sounded like English, but the nouns, verbs and adjectives all meant something different. Yes meant no, maybe means no, and no means yes, but you have to keep trying harder for a while before it actually means yes. My head hurt, I wrote her off and went rabbit hunting to clear my mind from the detritus she had filled it with.

Meanwhile, without me asking, trying hard or anything, one of my friends told me that Amy wanted to go out with me.
"You're kidding, right?"
"No, I'm serious!"
"Right, I've heard this before. OK, I'll play along. Ask her if she wants to meet at the mall on Saturday to go see a movie."
The flurry of communications commenced and by the end of the day I had my first official date with a real live girl.

My dad dropped me off at the mall and we went to the movie. She had makeup on. She smelled good. She had this way about her that told me she was as excited about this as I was. She laughed at all my lame jokes. She sort of snuggled up to me in the theater. I actually pulled off the arm stretch maneuver and had my arm around her and rested it on her neck.

After the movie, we walked up and down the mall looking at the stores. We held hands. I managed to have enough money for a couple of tacos and pepsi's at a dark little Mexican restaurant. I could not believe that this was happening. I was on a date with a girl, and she liked me! As I looked at her, it was like with Mary, my minds eye softened her image like baby oil on a camera lens. Her eyes were bluer, her lips redder and for once in my life everything was wonderful.

More tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,

AC

Click here to read part V


Anonymous Cog

 
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
  Anonymous Cog Finds Love Part III

(click the link to start from the beginning)
I thought and thought about Mary. Why was she saying these things about me? We had never spoke seriously. In fact, I had teased her, made fun of her and never really talked to her,(yes, I was kind of a mean kid at this point in my life). I hung out with some of the popular girls, and she was not considered in that group..

It just didn't make sense! But the hormones were still screaming over reason's calm, cool, collected voice-"SHE GIRL! HAS BREASTS AND CURVY PARTS! SAYS LIKES YOU! MUST TRY! LOSER LIKE YOU NO HAVE MANY OPTIONS!". I think most teen-age boys have that burgeoning male chauvinist pig voice inside leading us to so many stupid decisions. I was sure she would go with me. Why shouldn't she? I was popular, I was not the ugliest guy in school, and I was cool. Damn Cool-just ask my Mom and my Gramma! I had an Izod shirt for crying out loud!

That Friday afternoon, I finally decided I would ask her to "go with me".

"Mary, would you go with me?"
"Wow, I'm flattered. But I'll have to pray about it. I'll let you know Monday."
My mouth dropped open. I stammered out a weak "OK." and turned on my heels and walked off.

It was a long weekend. My complete lack of real social cues left me with no idea what to do. Pray about it! Why was she spreading rumors only to tell me that she would have to pray about it! Women were making less and less sense to my seventh grade mind. Now they were mixing religion with romance. I didn't understand religion, and now God was getting involved in my love life! Why didn't I ever have a Sunday School lesson about this? Nobody told me HE was going to get this involved in my life!

Monday finally came.

"So what about my offer?"
"I prayed about it and God doesn't want me to go with you. Sorry."
"OK...."

I couldn't think of anything to say at this point. I mean, she had me with the God bit. At that point in my young, naive life, I had never been taught to question the prayers of others, and if someone had the cajones to say "Thus sayeth the Lord!", I wasn't going to doubt them. What really pissed me off was I was dumped by the ugliest girl in school because God told her to!

I quickly stopped to pray a quick and very serious prayer. I promised Him I would never linger over the bra section of the Penny's catalog if He stopped this madness, and stopped interfering in this part of my life. I don't think He listened. After this, I didn't think I could have possibly have any worse luck with women than I had up to this point. This had to be the apex of loserdom, the height of my depths, the lowest point, the Mariana Trench of romantic misfortune. Things had to get better!

Some years later, I realized what a little schmuck I had been. I walked right into her trap and made the unpopular, mean and ugly girl suddenly attractive and smart. Of course God had nothing to do with it. I can't blame her. I deserved to look stupid. I actually kind of respect her for being that cunning for a seventh grader. I have since learned that people blame God for anything and everything, and will say the most incredibly stupid things were his idea.

Tomorrow-Young AC actually breaks his losing streak-I promise...
Thanks for reading,

AC

Click here to read part IV

Anonymous Cog

 
Monday, April 10, 2006
  Anonymous Cog Finds Love Part II

(click the link above to start from part one)

As I started Junior High School, things changed. Due to an influx of hormones, and some real mixed messages I received while watching late night re-runs of Benny Hill, I started considering that there could more to girls than just holding hands. Sometimes I have wondered if it would not be better for society if we locked all Junior High boys in a closet until the hormone levels even out. It's such a rough time, and they just don't understand things around them. They smell, their voices are changing, they can't be reasoned with, they are just sort of sub-human for a while. I say this from the experience of having been one, a summer spent as a camp counselor, and several years teaching Sunday School.

The first positive change I remembered in Junior High was that girls started actually being my friends. I hung out with them, ate lunch with them, and learned more of their mysterious ways. I actually found myself on the receiving end of flirting from time to time, but I never figured what was the next step after that and they didn't seem to be explaining it to me. At least I actually felt more comfortable around them, but still came up just short of an actual girlfriend.

There were two strange episodes that stick out in my mind. The first involved a girl named Angela. She was a thin, waif-like creature with short black hair, big dark eyes, and again, had a slight over-bite that fascinated me. She was also very shy and rarely talked to anyone. We hadn't really talked before that, but had some of those longing looks that teen-agers can be so famous for. My dad called that look "making cow eyes".

I remember towards the end of school, we all went on a field trip for science class. We had to collect samples or plants and flowers. We were all walking through some fields that had been left fallow for a couple of years, so there were all kinds of plants. I had already found some yellow wild clover and some burdock, so that would be enough for my assignment, then I saw it. It was a large purple flower that was in between two thistles. I don't know what it was, but it was striking, like something you would buy in a florist shop. I picked it, hid it as best I could and put it in her locker when no one was looking.

She found out it was me, and thanked me sweetly. She gave me her address on the last day of school and asked me to write her during the summer. She lived a little too far away for me to ride my bike. I wrote her five or six times. I got one letter back from her, and it said "I love you.". I was ecstatic. Finally, I had a girlfriend. As soon as school started, I was sure life would be good. When she came back to school in the she was different. She avoided me, and blew me off when I tried to talk to her. I even over heard her telling people about my letters once. She moved away soon after that and I never saw her again.

The second incident was in the eighth grade. There was a girl named Mary in my Junior High, unlike Angela, she was not pretty. She had a bad complexion, greasy hair in some Dorothy Hamill style, a pear shaped figure, big ugly glasses and braces that resembled the grill of a pinto that had been totaled. I realize looks aren't everything, but she was a gossip that was mean and snotty to other people. She bragged about being a Christian, but was not even nice.

How in the world did I get involved with her? Good question. The girls that were my friends and that I ate lunch with asked me if we were an item.
"What do you mean?"
"She's telling everyone she likes you, and that you are going to ask her out."
"Ok..I really haven't talked to her much. I don't know anything about that."
They just grinned and waited until recess to run and gossip with the other girls about this. I went to a very small school, gossip was almost a lettered sport with jackets given out.

So I started thinking about it. The more I thought about it, the prettier she became in my mind, like someone was putting baby oil on the lens of my brain. I thought maybe I had been too hasty. Perhaps it was worth a try. I still had not ever got a kiss, or ever held the hand of a girl. She was a Christian, I was Christian...I decided I would give it a try, even though there was this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach.

More tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

Click here to read part III
 
Sunday, April 09, 2006
  Anonymous Cog Finds Love Part I

"Have you heard about the lonesome loser?
Beaten by the queen of hearts every time.
Have you heard about the lonesome loser?
He's a loser, but he still keeps on tryin'"~Little River Band

Everyone has a different idea about what true love is. Every couple is different and finds each other in unique way. In my own life, I have no doubt that my wife is the only one for me. We've been together almost twenty years. Besides the fact that we are so happy together, there is another reason I believe she is the only girl for me. Let me tell you about my love life before her.

I have always liked girls, from first grade I always found them interesting. Unfortunately they have not always have been as interested in me. Besides being kind of shy, and having the sort of mouth that orthodontists look at and see new cars, I was always kind of a "husky kid", at least that was how Sears always described my body type. I wasn't huge, I still played sports, but I was always self-conscious about being a little pudgy.

Of course, in grade school I didn't have a real girlfriend, but this was not for lack of trying. The first girl I had a real crush on was Amy Howard, click the link to read a story about that. In grade school, I always seemed to be too shy to tell a girl I liked her, or just got shot down when I tried.

Now, I know what some of you are saying, "Grade school is too young to have a girl-friend!". I don't disagree with you. I know I was way too serious about it than I should have been at that age. Of course, at that age, I wouldn't have known what to do with a girl if I had one. All I knew was they were pretty and nicer than boys, and I wanted them to be my friends, maybe approach the ecstasy of holding hands or even a kiss on the cheek.

Even now, I remember that the feelings I had as a kid were real. When I got shot down, or rejected, it really hurt. The thing so many of us forget about being a kid is that their emotions are still very real. On some level, their emotions are more real than ours because they have nothing to compare them with, no perspective, no way to shrug it off, or even realize that emotions are not accurate guides. A child's broken heart and hurt emotions are just as real as an adults, sometimes its even worse.

In fourth grade, I remember walking home with a girl named Annie. Our houses were a couple of blocks apart, but I always went out of my way to be with her. She had glasses, short brown hair and was very pretty in my mind. Week after week I walked home with her. She never told me to get lost, but she wouldn't let me carry her books. She was my first memory of a girl that sent me mixed messages. I know now she was being polite, but fourth grade boys are pretty dense and live in a simplistic world. They are hoping for black and white and don't always have the ability to see shades of gray.

Between fifth and sixth grade, there was one girl that I actually considered marrying. I realize that was some fairly long range planning for a guy that had problems remembering to change his underwear, but in my pre-pubescent mind, I was as serious as a heart attack. Her name was Elizabeth, she was my pastor's daughter. I don't know what it was about her, but I would have traded my BMX bike, and Crossman 760 BB gun* to be her boyfriend. She had big blue eyes, curly chestnut colored hair and white straight teeth, with a little bit of an over bite that I found oh-so seductive when she drowned her lips with that great smelling strawberry flavored lip gloss.

I was actually best friends with her brother, and the three of us hung out together all the time. I don't remember how it came about, but whenever I tried to become more than a friend, she shot me down. When her and her brother moved out of town, I was crushed. I remember it felt like my little world was over. I never got beyond the friend zone with her.

Thinking about it now it seems like I exuded this sort of desperation around girls that ruined my chances. It was like they could smell it, but this would not last forever.

More tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,

AC
Click here to read part II


*I had a Daisy Red Rider BB gun too(like Ralphie in a Christmas Story), but the Crossman 760 was my favorite-you can pump it up multiple times to increase power and shoot either bb's or pellets. Just a little useless factoid.

Anonymous Cog

 
Sunday, April 02, 2006
  Out of Touch

Hey everybody, I'll be out of touch for about a week due to anonymous drama and an internet outage-don't worry, got something in the works called "Anonymous Cog Finds Love."-should be good.

Thanks for reading,

AC

Anonymous Cog

 
Saturday, April 01, 2006
  Sadness Arrives For a Visit.


Sadness.

My personal definition of Sadness is an emotional sickness where feelings of hurt and depression are common. It can be caused by known or even unknown factors, whether problems perceived in the world around you, especially relationships, or physical factors such lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or other bio-chemical factors.

Feeling sad sucks. I think we can all agree on that. I don't like it because what remains in my own antiquated definitions of masculinity tells me being sad is a "feminine emotion". I know that's bullshit, but you don't go from being raised a dyed-in-the-wool redneck to a sensitive man who's in touch with all aspects of his inner child overnight. I'm trying to ease into it. I bought some after-shave moisturizer last week, I think this is a positive step in the right direction, but I still mix it with my Aqua Velva. Can't help it, I'm a menthol after-shave addict.

Anyway, beauty tips aside, sometimes I feel like sadness is some ninja-like foe, waiting in the darkness ready to leap out with a black sword and pierce my heart when I least expect it. In reality, many times sadness is like a virus, incubating little by little until I wake up with congested emotions and a chapped will-to-go- on-living.

Take this last week for example.

Monday, I went to work, everything was fine, except I returned a call to a customer to set up a trade and I got this little ray of sunshine from that companies administrator:"I've talked to you people over and over and you don't get it. Don't worry about doing any work for us! Your company can't follow up on anything we ask you to do! We'll call another broker! The person that called you didn't realize this!"

I sort of did that "emotional gulp" that men do, and went back to work, but it still hurt.

On Thursday, a customer called and went on and on about how they are going to stop doing business with us, and how they can't rely on us. It didn't matter what I said, he wanted to vent, I finally gave him the phone number to corporate and tried to get off the phone.
Gulp..Gulp...

On Friday, I called one of our outside vendors for help with something and got this little ray of sunshine, "We don't do business with your division anymore. Don't call here anymore. Do you understand?"

I hung up, and felt broken inside. Like I had been slugged in the gut. I just felt sad. I had taken it all week and I have had enough. If things weren't going better with management, I may have hit the clock for the final time and just driven somewhere, anywhere where there were no phones.

Even though I don't like my job, there is a part of me that enjoys being part of a large fairly successful company. I like it when we all work together and customers are happy. I like it when we do things right. I like being part of a team.

People don't realize that when you call someone and tell them how much their company stinks, it hurts that person on the other end. A company is not just mortar and brick, it's like an entity made up of tissue and cells. People are the cells that make up a company. Some of us put heart and soul into taking care of our customers. We spend time away from our families, we don't take lunch, we come early and stay late, so we can take care of you.

Then you call up and explain what a horrible company we work for, thinking you are some "incredibly discerning customer that demands quality service" and need to let us know these things. You know, that sort of rhetoric just shows what a small minded human being you are. It shows the lack of real professionalism, grace, and basic human kindness you should have learned in kindergarten.

If you don't want to do business with me, fine, I understand that. Just communicate in a way that doesn't poison the rest of my day. I don't know, maybe even some say something like, "Nothing personal, but I'm afraid we're rethinking our relationship with your company. Thanks for calling." Would that be so hard? Would that kind of politeness kill you? Instead I have to hear personal attacks from cretins with the sensitivity of a Mack truck without brakes.

Ok....

I feel better now that I've got that out of my system. Thanks for being there for this little bit of nastiness.
As always, thanks for reading,

Your friend,

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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"Wake Up"
By Rage Against The Machine
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