Saturday, December 31, 2005


Knight Rider Pants

Okay...this is the coolest thing ever. I have visions of wearing this Knight Rider-esque belt buckle while talking to my pants. The greatest part is, that almost no matter what my idea is, they will say (in a voice like Kit) "That's not a good idea, Josh."


Classified ads (alternate title:Why am I reading the classifieds at 7:00 AM on a Saturday?)

So...if you hadn't guessed by the title (the big words above these,) I was reading the classified ads this morning, and started giggling uncontrollably. Why? Well, aside from the fact that it may have been an allergic reaction to newsprint, these things are funny. Not just the (insert gender) seeking (insert gender or species) personal ads, which I don't have the time to go into, but the job listings.

We all know (or if we don't, we're stupid, so mail me all of your money) by now that all of these WORK FROM HOME STUFFING ENVELOPES AND SNIFFING GLUE! YOU WILL MAKE $387.43 PER HOUR AND SOON APPEAR ON MTV CRIBS IN YOUR BENTLEY! ads are a bit...shall we say, false. I'm noticing a new trend now. Bilingual customer service, retail people, and telemarketers needed. All promising to pay top dollar. Some may see this as a legitimate ad, seeing that we live in a country where we have a large number of immigrants from all over the world. The tip off is this - most of these ads don't list the company that is hiring. They "recruit" for said company.

So...still haven't explained why I was giggling, have I? Did I ever mention I'm easily distracted by shiny objects? Mmmmmmmm.....shiny. Anyway, while most of these ads specify which language they desire you to be fluent in (in my opinion, there are plenty of Americans who were raised speaking English that aren't necessarily fluent in English yet, but that's for another rant,) this particular ad only requested that you be bilingual. If anyone in my worldwide audience of 3 people, most of whom are reading because we are related and you feel it's an obligation, knows Klingon or some other useless language (French comes to mind,) I would pay you to set up an interview. By pay you, I mean not pay you, because while I'm always willing to contribute to a good joke, I'm usually the one to come up with witty things to write on people who are passed out, not hand out money. Go get a job, you hippies.


Customer Service and Telemarketers

First off - let's get 2 things out in the open.

1. If you're paying attention to the time stamps on these posts, yes, I'm doing this on a Friday night. But I'm resting up for New Year's Eve...

2. I probably won't usually post this many times in one day, but I had an interesting week.

Now on to the topic...

Customer Service people are a necessary evil. That being said, at least pay attention to what you are doing, and try to make sure you understand how the world actually works.

This is an actual conversation, recreated to the best of my ability. I have changed the names to protect the mentally deficient. Except for mine, because you already knew it.

Me: Hello, this is Josh.

Her: this Josh?

Me: Yes.

Her: Josh, this is Stacy from **** Staffing agency, and we saw your resume online. Are you still looking for a position?

Me: No, I've already taken one, and I'm quite happy with it, but thank you for your interest.

Her: Oh, well, we wish you the best of luck, Stephen, and keep us in mind in the future.

Me: (to myself:did she just call me Stephen? That doesn't even rhyme with my name, or begin with the same letter!) I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that, my cell phone broke up on me.

Her: We wish you the best of luck, Stephen, and keep us in mind in the future.

Me: (Holy crap. She did call me Stephen) I sure will. Stacy, right?

Her: Yes.

Me: Linda, have a great day. *click*

editor's note: I chose Stephen with the "ph" rather than the "v" because I think it looks more sophisticated

Then there was the lady from a place that rhymes with "Delirious Satellite Radio." (Hopefully that is ambiguous enough to avoid litigation.) I called in the beginning of December to cancel my subscription because since I'm not on the road as much with my new job, it seemed pointless to pay for the radio anymore. The guy I spoke to informed me that my service didn't end until January 19th, but he would go ahead and remove my credit card information from my account so that it didn't accidentally renew automatically. Great, taken care of. Imagine my surprise when, while checking my online balance on December 19th, I saw that $132 had drawn out of my account for said company. I think I speak for everyone when I say that nothing makes the holidays brighter than unexpected extra expenses. When I called to complain and get it straightened out, I was told that the money would be credited to my account within 5 days, but they would go ahead and turn my radio off right then. get to keep drawing interest on my money, and I no longer get your services. Then, just to make me hate her a little bit more, she told me I was lucky that the original guy had not removed my credit card information, or she wouldn't have been able to process the refund so quickly. It never quite clicked when I told her that if he had actually done his job, there would have been no refund for her to issue, becaue the money would never have drawn out of my account in the first place. Oh yeah...and she was a "manager."

Let's cover telemarketers next. The obvious: very few, if any of us, want them to continue breathing. The not so obvious: some of these people are actually human, and chose this as a job because:

a. they lost a bet
b. they secretly hate themselves
c. (fill in your own reason here)
d. they are fulfilling community service obligations for probation

I'm sure many of you have your fun little games you play with these people...pretending you don't speak English, faking a bad connection by making static noises with your mouth, asking if you can call them back at home...

I also have a fun little game I play, but recently I met my match. One of my games (and my favorite) is, just when they have started into their sales pitch, and are starting to think I'm interested, I'll start quietly singing to myself. I prefer power ballads. My ballad of choice is Hold On Loosely by .38 Special. (You know the one, in fact, 90% of you just started singing it out loud. I know for a fact (and I'll try not to address any one of my friends directly too often) that Leighton is singing out loud at work as he reads this.)

Usually this alone will fluster them, and they will lose their place or hang up. If it doesn't take right away, I gradually increase in volume, passion, and lack of ability to carry a tune. I have never had anyone make it past the chorus a second time without hanging up...until recently. As I was launching into the chorus a second time (at this point I could hear my dogs in the backyard barking at me) the guy on the other end of the line started singing along with me, matching my volume and passion, while exceeding my lack of ability. SO far, this guy had 2 major things going for him: I almost always give to this particular charity anyway, and he was awesome. I would have bought him a beer if we were in the same room. Needless to say, I gave more than usual. So Jim, from St. Jude's Children's Hospital, if you read this, well played, my friend...well played.

And my mind goes back to a girl I met some years ago,
Who told me
Just Hold On Loosely
But don't let go
If you cling too tightly
You're gonna lose control
Your baby needs someone to believe in
And a whole lot of space to breathe in

Friday, December 30, 2005


Here goes nothing...

I was talking to my grandmother Christmas Eve, and somehow we got on the subject of how much the world has changed since she was a child. I don’t mean just technologically, but people and our priorities also.

She told me that every morning her father would get up, light a fire in all of the fireplaces in the house (there was one in the kitchen, living area, and each bedroom) before going outside to milk the cows, gather eggs, and tend to the animals. After that, he would come in and help with breakfast before everyone got their day started. You know, the kids off for the twelve-mile, uphill both ways, barefoot death march in the snow to school, and the adults to do the rest of the farm work. I swear, the story about that trek to school gets worse with each telling. Does this morning routine sound familiar to anyone? Probably not, since the Amish don’t use computers.

While my parents didn’t have any milking or egg gathering to do, they did have the enviable chore of getting my sister out of bed in the morning (I was an angel…seriously, if you squinted and looked slightly to the left, you could almost see my halo if the light was right and there was no cross breeze). The breakfast fare wasn’t quite the same, but it was still there. Instead of bacon, eggs, sausage, grits, country ham, biscuits, and sixteen other varieties of pork and pork by-products, it was usually toast, oatmeal, or cereal (and in the long run, my circulatory system thanks them). This was assuming, of course, that, after getting my sister out of bed, she didn’t manage to sneak back in (she really was trouble). On a side note, how on earth do you eat that much breakfast and then go start your day?! If I eat a breakfast that size, I am immediately in need of a nap. Of course, most of the time when I eat like that, it’s 3 AM and the incredibly sobering yellow walls of Waffle House surround me. There may be other reasons for me wanting to go to sleep. But I digress. The point is, aside from my sister being evil incarnate, and me playing a harp in a heavenly band, that my parents made the time to get up and have all of this ready, morning after morning.

Let's take a peek at my "adult" life. I barely have enough time to put on pants before hopping into the batmobile and blazing down six lanes of concrete so that I can sit in front of a glowing box that is slowly eating my soul. Honestly, if I thought I could get away with putting my pants on after I got to the office, without being immediately shown the exit, I would sleep in for another five minutes, and make the commute sans pants (for those of you who actually know me, sorry about the visual). Breakfast? We don’t need no stinking breakfast! If I’m lucky, I managed to set the coffee pot correctly the night before, so I am in a semi-conscious state while exceeding the speed limit. Sadly, most of the time, I ignore that pesky AM/PM light and instead of coffee in the morning, I have a hot pot of coffee ready when I get home and want a cold beer or seven. Welcome to my life.

By the time I have children and they are old enough to participate in that which we so cruelly refer to as “The American Dream,” I suspect they will have even less of a morning. I think they will sleep in their jetcars, which have autopilot and drive them to work, still sleeping. When they arrive, they are fully dressed by robot butlers (I’m thinking probably robot monkey butlers, but I’m no Nostradamus,) and have an IV bag of future coffee hanging on their arm. My guess is that Starbucks will have the market cornered on coffee by this point, and be able to charge $1200 for a low-fat mocha-latte-frappe-licious-grande-el-guapo-a-diddly. Soy milk, if available.

My point is (seriously, bear with me, I will make one, unless something shiny distracts me first) that we need to slow down and enjoy each other more often. (Wow, this just took a sentimental, holiday type of turn) Every year, my grandmother says that she hopes she makes it to next Christmas. In reality, it could just as easily be any of us that misses next year.

I spend over an hour a day traveling at speeds that my grandmother’s parents never expected humans to go, and which I will not disclose fully, because I suspect my mother will read this (it’s 55, Mom, I promise.) Luckily, I gots mad driving skillz, yo, because there are some out there that don’t (or dizzon’t, as my homeboy Snoop would say). Let me take a minute to address my two least favorite types (I wasn’t expecting this to turn into a traffic safety diatribe, either. I’m as surprised as you are, honest!)

Hi, Crazy soccer mom in your tank-sized SUV of Doom – got a minute? How do you manage to talk on your cell phone, smoke a cigarette, apply makeup, knit a blanket, and direct air traffic over LaGuardia all at once? Seriously, is there any microscopic particle of your brain focused on the task at hand? Also, if you don’t have extra robotic arms, how are you steering? I can almost hear the females getting upset, so let me take a swing at my own gender also.

You know, the power-hungry, way more important than you guy wearing a suit he can’t afford while driving a car he can’t afford? Let it be noted: I see your Bluetooth headpiece in your ear. It is shiny, and I am duly impressed. It also makes you look like a bigger geek than those kids with Spock ears at the Trekkie conventions. I also see your fancy GPS system on your dash. Equally shiny, equally impressed. Is your office that hard to find, or are you that distracted by the fact that you are shaving while reading the newspaper in your car? Here’s a tip. Take the earpiece out, unless you're on the phone with P-Diddy, it can wait. Shave at home. Even I manage that most days. As for reading the news, do like the rest of America, and slack off at work to read it online.

There was some sort of point in there somewhere, I promise.


The Birth of Spork Nation

So…I’ve decided to start a blog. Good thing, too, as there aren’t enough of them around. The truth is, you’re not going to gain any deep insight into the human psyche here, nor will I fix the national deficit (attention or financial). The most you can hope for is an honest outlook on life from this guy. You’ve been warned.

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