Wednesday, January 25

Obligatory work-based rant

I have a confession. I work in a call center.

I am not a telemarketer, but if you were to speak to me in my official capacity, I often have not-so-good news to give you. I have been cussed at and had my heritage denigrated, but the worst is folks--women and men, but men are somehow more heartbreaking--crying. Fortunately, the crying does not occur too often, leaving me free to focus on the following aggravating things that occur on a daily basis:

The first real person you speak to is your portal and guide for the rest of your call. Pissing me off with your first statement ain't the best tactic.

The phrase "you people" is truly one of the most obnoxious things a person can say.

". . . Uh. . . ." is not the answer when asked your account number, name, or social security number.

I have no control over the phone system. I don't know why I have to ask you all the same questions again, and yes, I agree it is pretty stupid.

I have no control over the phone system and no, I don't know the name of the Muzak-ed song you were just listening to.

I have no control over the phone system, and starting our call with a rant about how this is America and why the !@#$ is there a Spanish option when we should all speak Amurican will not endear you to me.

I have no control over the phone system, and no, I do not know why you ended up with me when you specifically entered the Spanish language option.

I have can see how long you have been waiting, and no sir, you have not been on hold 25 minutes.

I can see your payment history, and no, ma'am, this is not "The first time in 20 years" you have ever been late.

The first pen you pick up will not work. Be prepared for that, and realize that I have heard at least ten people today comment on how funny that is.

When asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you," the answer "Pay all my bills," is cute only to you.

And what is UP with people who read strings of numbers this way:
"Ten, twenty-three, one, one, three zeros, five" for 1023110005? Just read the damn number, a digit at a time, please. One, zero, two, three, one, one, zero, zero, zero, five. . . . How hard is that?

Even more difficult to understand are people who state dates like this: The "sixth of the seventh" translates to July 6th. I have had conversations that go much like this one:

"I paid the first time the sixth of the seventh, but my second payment was on the third of the eighth then I didn't pay again until the eleventh of the tenth." What.the.fuck. Someone tell me, is this just a Southern thing?

I am sure there are many more irritations I can tell y'all about which I am currently blocking, but I am off to work, perhaps I will update this tonight.

Thursday, January 19

Lest we forget

Here is an email I recieved from Ben Bounds last week, in case eveyone is thinking that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is up and running smoothly again.

I just got back from The Mississippi Gulf Coast last night, and I thought I should report back to all of you on what its like down there... I'm really not sure if words can do it justice, it is that bad...

I spent 2 and a half days in Long Beach, Pass Christian, Biloxi and Gulfport, and it looks like a nuclear warhead was dropped right there on the Coastline... There are nearly no standing buildings within 2-4 blocks of the beach, depending where you are... Trees, roofs, cars, trucks, signs, etc. are floating or anchored up to 100 yards out in the water... Concrete slabs are all that is left of the antebellum homes, hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping malls, etc. on the beach... Literally, there are stairways that go up to nothing, cars lodged in houses, swimming pools, and trees...

There are small communities of nothing but tents and trailors called "Camp Hope", "Camp Gospel", "Camp Faith" and so on... There are campers, tents and trailers in peoples yards where their relatives are living... There are people camped out on their slabs fully armed and waiting on their insurance checks... These are people who vary from lower to upper class now living side by side in muggy, humid open-air communes with bugs and littler and filth all around them... They have almost no restaurants within a mile of the water... and the ones that are there are serving the most basic foods like hamburgers, pizza, etc... These bugs, the noseums (or nosiums) are mean as Hell and they bite the shit out of you and leave little red marks up and down your arms, and they get inside you clothes too... Most of these people have no hot water to bathe in and only shower about 3 times a week...

There is sewage water standing and contaminated water that never seems to go away... The smell in certain places is nearly unbearable... There is broken glass, and splintered wood and sharp scrap metal everywhere... plastic Wallmart and Wallgreens bags fill the trees where they used to have leaves... there are TVs and refrigerators, heating units, AC units, computer monitors and such on every street corner waiting to be picked up and disposed of... I even saw some teddy bears and barbie dolls half-burried or stuck in trees on certain lots...

There are workers from North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as North Mississippi that were with various agencies like FEMA, the Army Core of Engineers, Red Cross, etc... They are working in disbelief of what has happened. They all told me they can't wait to get home and that they had been down there too long... And you can barely tell that they have even put a dent in the clean-up... They need more volunteers, more supplies, more food, more water, more everything...

It is so overwhelming that as soon as you see it, you get a lump in your throat and the hair on you body stands up... And you catch yourself fighting back tears every time you turn a corner... But nobody down there wants your sympathy -- they want help. They need help. The press and the White House have forgotten about them... Their neighbors and friends have stopped calling to check on them... They are exhausted, tired, dirty, scared, destraught, angry, frustrated, sad, lonely and confused. There hasn't been a disaster like this in our time... Camille didn't make this kind of impression... There hasn't been a disaster like this in the U.S. since the 40s, so there are few people who can tell you the last time anyone on American soil had it this bad...

If you have time, money or supplies to donate to the resillient residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, please do so... They are trying to rebuild their lives, but they need our help. There are many places you can go to donate, and all you have to do is give a little... I don't know if I would recommend going down there unless you have a strong stomach and lots of free time to get your hands dirty. But there are plenty of other ways to help... Like I said, there is no way to put what is going on and what has already happened down there into words... It is the saddest thing that I can remember in my 27 years (admittedly not that long)...

Sorry for the sappy e-mail, but it is easier than telling this story 1,000 times to everyone on this list... You don't have to forward this to anyone... Just don't forget about our friends and family on the Coast.

Ben Bounds
Oxford, MS

P.S. George W. Bush made his first trip to the Coast in 3 months today... I voted for him, so I am not pointing any fingers, but shouldn't we all ask "Where the Hell have you been?"

Thursday, January 5

O, ye of little faith

Well, I would have agreed with the comments by DSMars and Anne Arkham on the post below mere days ago, but that was before I ran across an article on "accessory" nipples on the internet. I found them a fascinating evolutionary tidbit, kinda like the gill-having stage that human fetuses go through. Sort of, wow, that's neat, and how can anyone not believe in evolution with this sorta thing going on. But then I read further on the subject. . . .

I have always had a cute little mole below my left breast. Now, this is not the sort of thing a swimsuit model would be sporting after a dip in a cold pond. Not at all nipple-like. I had never given it a thought. But as I was reading, it slowly started dawning on me: "Holy shit! It couldn't be, yet. . . yet. . .Yes! My little "mole" meets all the qualifications of a supernumerary nipple! Now, what do I think about that?!" It was a shift in perspective, for sure. What once was an interesting philosophical idea was now an object on my own body. I think I really liked it better when it was an abstraction rather than a reality, but did I think I was an exception from evolution? And now Mark Whalberg and I finally have something in common.

Sunday, January 1

Happy Random New Year

You know how you can be sailing along through life, complacent, but in an ok way, then all of a sudden you realize something about yourself you never knew that sort of shakes you up a bit, such as discovering you have a third nipple?

No? Well, it's a shocker, I'll tell you.

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