Tags: 2010s, family, poetry
So when I want to wallow in it
I can, with gusto
But I don’t want to talk it about okay?
Here’s the thing
I don’t want you to tell me its okay
I don’t want you to console me or
Try to make me feel better about it
I don’t want to hear that its not that bad
Or that things will get better
Because maybe they will and maybe they wont
And I don’t want to speak about
The thing I dare not say
My own admission of guilt is mine and mine
And how can I counsel others when I have failed so
How can I listen and empathize
When my own sins are so much worse
What have I done? Oh, God, what have I done?
Maybe it’s not that bad but it feels that way to me
And to the ones I’ve done wrong-
It feels that way to them
I’ve tried, over and again, to make amends
Two steps forward and three steps back
Is such a funny cliche for such a horrible situation
Here I sit, on Father’s Day, alone.
Or surrounded by people other than my children
Which, today, is the same thing.
It’s not fair…it’s not
She has the kids
She has custody
She has their hearts
I have photos and memories, all outdated.
I could wait for a phone call, or
I could take the initiative
Like I haven’t done so many times before
I can place a call, or send a text, or write on Facebook,
Or I could drive the many miles
Or send up smoke signals
Or think happy thoughts
I don’t want any more of this pain
My chest–my heart–I cant take it
I don’t want
I don’t want any more holidays
I just…I surrender. Please, no more.
Tags: money, The Grid
Technology is an addiction. Back in the day when I had the internet, I read about that on some blogs. And listening to the radio the other day, I heard someone talk about it. There are some YouTube videos as well about survival.
There is a movement–I’m not sure what you’d call them. Luddites, maybe? Trying to detox and separate themselves from the technology overload in our society. As I sat in front of the TV watching just regular satellite because we couldn’t stream the Netflix, and at the same time I texted with my phone, I considered it. No more tech…A simpler way of life. I should post something on Facebook about it.
I could do it. I’m sure I could. I’m made of that stuff–what do you call it?–The pioneering spirit. I had watched a special on the history channel about it. Disconnect everything–the satellite, the cell phones, the internet. Just give me a stack of papers and pens so I can write, and an ax to grind. I’ll fill my time. Or a chisel and some rock–I’ll start at the deep end.
At first, I had resolve. But then they turned it back on, and I plugged the cable directly into my vein. Maybe I should get wireless?
Tags: customer service, money, The Grid
About a week ago, we started feeling the pressure. The Man was coming down on us. ATT shut off our internet service.
Well, we know the drill. We make a call, make a payment, and wait for them to turn it back on. But before we prepared to hunker down and begin our withdrawal shakes, I called back to talk to a LIVE person. There was just something cryptic about the way Detroit explained that this had happened, and I had questions.
After navigating the various treacherous menus, I got put on hold for what promised to be a real person. After entering my phone number and other information, Shelia comes on and asks for my my phone number and other information.
Shelia can’t find our account. But she promises to completely satisfy me with customer service, even though I find that doubtful over the phone. She passes me on to Lawrence. Lawrence tells me it’s a great day at ATT, and wants to know how he can make it a great day for me. Turning my internet back on would be a great start, I tell him.
After having me repeat all my information again, plus a few new things–I don’t remember ever setting a secret question, but okay–he puts me on hold briefly to confer with his colleagues. He comes back and regrets to inform me that my account was canceled. Not just stopped, but canceled. For non-payment, which shocked me even though I’m sure it’s accurate. But it was slated for destruction on the 18th of last month.
Only through their incompetence did it last this long, which gave them time to cancel me, print it out, use it to build a statue of me to burn in effigy, and then piss on it. If they had shut it off right away like they are supposed to, I would have called right away and avoided all of this. I can’t help but think that was the reason this happened.
So we have to sign up for new service. I’ll connect you to that department, but before I do, is there anything ELSE I can do to make it a great day for you? No, Lawrence, you’ve done quite enough.
He connects me with someone in the Twist in the Wind Department. Beth wants to make it a great day for me, too. Honestly, quit trying to make me happy and turn my internet back on, wouldja?
I gloss over the problem with Beth. “You guys turned my internet off. I paid, and I have a confirmation code here. Why can’t you just turn it back on?”
Beth puts me on hold briefly and then comes back. She said, “Well, it looked like some odd things going on there, but I have you back on. Go unplug your modem, wait about 15 seconds, and then plug it back in. You’ll be back in business.”
We did and we were–thanks, Beth! Our troubles were over…
Until this week. Monday I got home and again we have no intarwebs. I will gladly pay you Tuesday for connectivity today–
Except it was Monday, and we already paid the bastards.
Other ridiculous stuff happened, so that by the time I called them, it was almost nine pm. No people after 8pm. But the pleasant mechanical voice I call Vern said we could make a payment on our past due account. No thanks, Vern.
When I got home Tuesday, I was prepared. I grabbed my phone and went downstairs, and turned the computer on. I painted my face blue and put on a kilt. They can take my Cat5e, but they’ll never take my wireless!
Internet! I yelled, as I lunged forward and dialed.
Well, I’ve gotten better at this. I confound Vern quickly and get to a real person. Annette wants all my information–it’s a good thing I trust all these people.
“What’s the phone number?”
“We don’t have a phone number, we just have DSL.”
“Okay, what’s the account number?”
I have to call back with the account number, because she isn’t finding anything based just on my name and social. I wonder now if she meant she doesn’t see anything or just won’t look?
I go upstairs and find a bill, and also get the check Detroit did over the phone that has the confirmation number. Back downstairs I look at the bill–it’s the one we JUST received, that has the payment that she made on it, with my next amount due on July 6th. Now we’re cooking with gas.
Or, maybe someone just left the gas on, and I’m slowly dying in here. I was on the phone for two and half mother fucking hours. I had to plug my phone into the charger, because between the decreasingly helpful but very thickly-accented help and the 70s soft-rock-turned-elevator-hold music, my phone felt like I did.
I was on my last bar.
I talked to Rebecca, Robert, Marvin, and George–All very Anglo-sounding names from India. At first they were eager to make this the best customer service experience for me ever…but their enthusiasm started to wane after a while. George (or something like that; honestly I didn’t understand what he said his name was, or what about every fourth word was–I had to pick it up from context) took the initiative to park me in one spot. He put me on hold while HE talked to other people, instead of sending me around the world cube hopping. I listened to hold music while I played solitaire and my arm fell asleep, and occasionally he would come on and give me a status update.
“We’ve only just begun…”
“Sir, I am speaking with several of my colleague about your situation right now. Just please hold a few minute and I will sort this out for you. Again, thank you for choosing AT&T.”
“I remember when rock was young–”
“Sir, I am now escalating to a higher level of tech support so that we may resolve your situation to your satisfaction. Just please hold please while I consort with my colleague and workmates. Again, I thank you for choosing AT&T.”
“Well, you came and you gave without taking, but I–”
“Sir, I am now joining with Estaban in a conference call with you so that we may resolve this difficulty to you satisfactorily. Sir. Just please hold, thank you, and thank you for choosing AT&T,”
I felt like Malcolm X at this point: “I didn’t choose AT&T, AT&T chose ME! To fuck with!”
“Billy, don’t be a hero, don’t be a fool with your life–”
“Sir? Thank you, now please, for holding, and I am joining with Estaban who can explain well what is your situation, please.”
Estaban was actually American. He said that they did indeed cancel my account, and after our payment went through they did put in a new work order, but somehow it got lost or stuck in the system–
But I know how computers work, and I know it was human error. Or human malice. I imagine the culprit was one of the chicks from the previous day that wanted to make sure I was satisfied..and she must have misunderstood their mission statement, and just read the part that said, “Fuck em.”
Estaban told me that he had taken care of everything, it was all set now, and we should have our internet back on.
“Yes, anytime Thursday before 8pm it should come back on. Thank you for choosing–”
“Hold on.” I sighed. Not for effect, but because I was honestly weary to the bone about this around-the-world-in-two-hours phone trip I had been on. “First, you cancel my account even though we paid, and then I sit here on the phone for over two hours, and NOW you tell me I won’t have internet service until Thursday?” This was Tuesday, and we had already been a day without it. Besides that, I was trying desperately hard (and succeeding) in staying off the internet at work, to save my job. And the troll in the basement–with nothing else to do–comes upstairs and helps himself to the Wii right in the middle of the living room…where I am and where I wish him not to be. Thursday? I didn’t tell them all of this; I merely conveyed it with my sigh, my pause, and my tone. I concluded: “I…am not happy.”
Estaban read from his script, “Well, sir, I can certainly understand your not feeling happy.” I hear a page turn. “This is what I can do for you, okay?” Short pause. “I can deduct ten dollars from your bill” –I almost protested at that point– “for twelve months.”
Oh. Hmmm. I rubbed my head. “Hmmm. Okay. I’ll take that. That’ll do.” Is this what negotiations at peace talks sound like? I didn’t sound joyous, I’m sure. But I was appeased. Maybe Estaban was French?
He finished explaining to me the details of what it would take before I would have the internet back again. I felt like they were holding my porn hostage. He gave me my new account number.
“Once again, sir, I apologize for all the inconvenience. Thank You for choosing AT&T, and I hope we made this a great customer service ex–”
I just hung up.
I just got a new second job, yay for me. It’s a pizza delivery chain. I’m sure I’m going to write about it–
However, in keeping with lessons previously learned, I’m going to give the place an alias. I shall call it…Pizzarama. When I was drawing a cartoon strip, that was the name I gave the place.
But I don’t start for a few days–I have to wait until my shirts come in. Hopefully by this weekend I can jump right in and immediately start regretting this decision. So tonight, I was home, and I cooked some bratwurst on the grill–
And ended up going to McDonald’s. It’s not my fault; for some reason these were just bad–spoiled. And we had tried this brand this way before, and they were bad. So, no more of these. I drove to McDonald’s.
I have a list, and I rattle it off. We’re feeding several people from the value menu. At the first window I paid and got the receipt, and I examine it as I pull up to the next window. The glory hole.
Well, it’s my lucky day; the manager is working the hole. She hands me a tea not in a carrier, and tells me this is the sweet one. Then the carrier with two more teas. The damn things are big. Why are there no normal sized drinks in fast food? Don’t get me started!
She then hands me a bag and said that these are just the fries. I tried to tell her about the discrepancies on the receipt. You see, I ordered three McDoubles with no pickle and no onion, and one more McDouble but that one is plain, and it doesn’t look like that on the receipt–
Well, her version is that I must have said no pickle no onion and plain, which is basically the same thing (it isn’t). What I said doesn’t matter. What is on the receipt is what matters. She waved me off, dismissing me, and turned away.
Oh, you think you can out passive-aggressive me, bitch?
I had already decided I was going to pull over and check the order, but I had pulled up a few feet and hit the brakes. Detroit’s caramel sundae was not here. I started to back up, then looked behind me. Okay. I’ll pull forward like I planned. But I wasn’t wearing shoes, so I was going to have to drive around again.
I pulled up to one of their waiting spots and started looking through everything, and a young man working came out. He asked me if I was missing anything. I guess attempting to back up, and then pulling over is one of those subtle little signs.
"Yeah, I’m missing a caramel sundae so far, and I’m going to check everything else. I told your manager there was a problem and she just brushed me off." He waited while I did, counting against my list. Finally, I said, "Okay, I’m missing a caramel sundae and a Mcdouble, no pickle no onion."
"Did you want nuts on the sundae?"
"No, probably not." Well, he was a nice young man.
The manager was the one who brought the food out. Nice! Well, this is service, I thought.
She said, "Okay, so you ordered four McDoubles but you wanted another one?" She’s drawn a line in the sand, she has.
"No, I ordered four, but I only got three."
"Okay, can I see your bag, please?" Really? You have to check my bag? You can’t just take my word for it because I’m white?
I handed it over and said, "I have one over here that I pulled out, and the bag has the other two." As she looked, I added, "At the bottom is a plain hamburger."
"Oh, and you didn’t want the hamburger." She is trying to make this my fault; she believes that what I wanted and what I ordered are two different things. Actually, what I ordered and what they heard are two different things. I’ve done this shit before. And I have a list. This is not my first time in a fucking drive thru.
"No, I *did* want the hamburger. *And* the other McDouble that is missing."
"Okay, so I’ll give you the McDouble, and it’s a dollar-seven for the sundae." She had the burger and the sundae in her hand, and I had the rest back in the car. I was tempted to drive off, but I decided that right here, right now, I would draw a line in the sand as well, and take a stand for all the little guys that got fucked in the drive thru.
"Are you really going to give me a hard time about this?" This was more of a personal question, where I was reaching deep, trying to feel her motivation, and get under her skin a little.
"The sundae is not on your order." She had come out to my car prepared, with her copy of the receipt, to prove her points. Time to pull out the customer service card.
"Is this customer service?" I asked innocently. "Is this how you take care of the customer?"
She shoved the food in my hands and said, "Have a nice day," and stormed off.
What a pushover. And I was prepared to battle for the sundae.
I swear that whole episode just made my day. Food for thought, I’m sure, if I was deep enough to contemplate it. Special sauce for the goose is a McDouble of another color for the gander– You know my history of customer service.
But I fought the man, and I won. I was practically whistling all the way home.
I talked to my friend the Dude last week at bowling, and between our discourse on Vietnam, I mentioned that yeah, I was looking for a job. On a weekday.
He said he knows a guy. He could get me a phone number by three o’clock. With nail polish. There are ways. Believe me, you don’t want to know.
I call up the man, and we arrange for a drop. I brought the ringer. My dirty laundry. The whites, dude.
I take a meeting with the man, and was prepared to give him notes on his cycle. He offered me a drink, but they had no milk, or even non-dairy creamer. He asks me some questions. "Are you employed, sir?" and, "What makes a man, Mister Lebowski?" At the end he said, "Do you have your references?"
"That, and a pair of testicles."
He said that he needed to review the details, that there were still some other people he needed to talk to, like the nihilists. My references looked good, but he was taken aback when I told that fucking Kraut that I sure as shit don’t roll on Shabbas!
He said, "I recommend you do what your parents did: Get a job!" He also wanted to know why I used so many curse words. I asked him why he treated objects like women, man.
I left, with my drink in a to-go cup. There’s a beverage here, man. I drove home listening to Credence.
There were a lot of threads in my head, a lot of ins and outs, and it made me think, so I called him up and told him that, in order to make the drop, I’d be willing to work on Shabbas, even though there is 4000 years of beautiful tradition at stake, from Moses to Sandy Kofax.
Several days passed, and I bowled and what-have-you, and ate at the In and Out Burger. Finally, some news:
"Phone’s ringing, dude."
"Thanks, Donny." It was the man. The man said her life was in my hands.
"Man, come on, don’t say that."
"If you take this job, her life is in your hands."
"So, I got the job, then?"
"Well, dude, we just don’t know."
"Far out, man. Far fucking out." My buddies did not die face down in the mud in East Asia for nothing. Apparently he did check my references. "He’s a good man, and thorough."
I have to go in yet for my orientation. Should be a pushover.
I waited to make sure I had a job before I got car insurance…yeah, the Dude had been rollin bareback for a while, and what did I get for it? They pissed on my fucking rug. But I made a call, in the parlance of our times, and Jackie Treehorn hooked me up. It’s a better deal than when I was dealing with the nihilists. That must be exhausting.
But, sometimes you eat the bear, and well, sometimes, the bear eats you.
I thought my career had been winding down, so this was good news. Although I may need to talk with my accountant, to see if this bumps me up to a higher tax bracket. So I filled out the papers. Work papers. "What business are you in?" I’m unemployed.
So, the dude got the job. I got to keep the rug, plus they gave the
dude a beeper. The meeting went okay. The old man said I could take any rug in the house.
My special lady friend Detroit was excited to hear of my recently acquired position. She said, "I’ll suck your cock for a thousand dollars."
I don’t know.
You know, everyone uses the Internet at work, a little bit. And people stand around and talk to others, a little bit. And people send emails to others, a little bit. Am I doing it more than others? I don’t know. A little bit, maybe.
But not anymore. I’m gonna keep my head down and keep working. Shit. Oh, Lord, please, just let me keep my job. I may have fucked off a little, but not anymore.
I remember writing about this once before when I was down to just one job, or just two but not working much on the second one. I don’t remember. The point is, I had too much time on my hands and started going bat-shit crazy. BSC.
Just a little while ago, I stood up and started pacing. My mind was racing and my fingers were flexing with a twitch-like speed. It was nine o’clock at night, and I needed something to do. Fuck me.
Detroit and I talked about it. Sadly, she’s gotten to know me pretty well. The bottom line is, I know why some people die shortly after they retire. I’m going to have to work for the rest of my life, if only for my sanity.
You know, I see some people…who can just sit. Sit and watch TV, or sit and read, or just sit and veg. For days on end. Hell, *years* on end. Her oldest son the troll would take root where he sits if he didn’t have to occasionally go to the bathroom or forage for food in the middle of the night like some kind of fucking nocturnal sloth.
Her mom sits down and then there she sits. That’s all she wrote right there.
And I know that normal people lead active lives, and so that is what I should be doing. I am, however, completely certain that I have no idea what comprises "normal." I go to work at my desk job, then I come home and I’m…lost.
I almost feel like my medicine isn’t working? I’m going to talk to the doctor about this. Aside from the ADD, I know I have some kind of avoidance disorder, which is just a bullshit way of saying that I don’t do things that I should sometimes. I go to great lengths and expend a lot of energy avoiding things until I get completely locked up; it’s a karmic constipation.
As much of there is of the stuff I want to avoid, there is still so much other stuff that I want to do that I can’t seem to get to because I’m busy avoiding doing other things.
I don’t have mania, I think. But I see some hypomania. That’s a mid-level mania, basically. It means that even with mental illness I can’t excel.
I do know one thing–actually, I know several, but this floated to the top–The hornet’s nest of voices and activity is back in my brain again. All the voices are me, don’t worry. But all the bastards are histrionic and just chomping at the bit for my attention.
Altruism, my ass. I’m trying to cover mine. Ass, that is.
The world is a scary place. But, like politics, Armageddon is local as well. I mean this for everyone, not just me. If the world falls apart–when civilization goes down in flames–it is not going to matter to you what is happening even fifty miles from you. What is going to matter is what is happening to you, directly.
This job I have is in the mortgage industry, and Christ is that ever a scary place to be right now. I have to have faith and rely on the wisdom and decision-making of the bosses over me to ensure that we can maintain our jobs.
Luckily for me–so far at least–my bosses seem pretty adept at navigating these turbulent waters. And they have the same vested interest that I do: keeping our jobs. Them maybe more so than I; these guys all make way more money than I do.
So they keep doing their thing, and I keep doing mine.
Originally my job was just scanning. I have a high speed scanner at my desk and I put file in, click a button, and it feeds through, and I enter it into our imaging file system. Not brain surgery by any stretch…not even a minor procedure, like a hangnail.
But I’ve been doing it for five years, so I’m about the best there is. Then I started to learn more about various documents, but also about the equipment itself. When the guy who took care of that moved upstairs, I slid into his spot while the chair was still warm. I have half a dozen high speed scanners on this floor, about that many large copiers, some fax machines, and over thirty printers.
When there is a problem, they come to me first. If it’s something simple, I can fix it. I spend about an hour each day on average clearing paper jams and so forth, babying finicky equipment and moody women, trying to get them to interface without bloodshed or mechanical damage.
I also order the paper and the ink and toner for the machines, and maintain that part of the supply closet. On my own, I documented all the machines and their requirements, and try to keep track of them when IT moves shit around.
When there is a serious issue that I can’t fix, I am the contact person for our service vendors. I call, I relate the issue, I’m there to show them to the machine, and I’m there to learn what to do so I can fix it myself if possible. Frequently, they can talk me through how to fix something over the phone, saving them a trip out and getting the machine back in operation sooner.
Our own IT department handles the printers; nonetheless I am the first line of defense for those. If I can’t fix it, or it needs parts or further maintenance, I place the work order, and help the people who are on the printer switch to another one on the network.
I also dole out some regular maintenance, 90% of which is cleaning.
Of course, rumor has it that they want to eliminate all or most of the printers and switch to a couple of big network printer/copiers. Rumor also has it that they want to switch to a different file system program that would eliminate alot of scanning. Since that is my primary job, hearing that makes me wet my pants a little.
Diplomatically, my boss hedges as she explains that there will still be some scanning that has to be done. However, I’m a realist (I hope), and I know that nothing lasts forever.
And, you know–remember in the 70s and 80s when the dawning of the computer age really arrived for business, and it was heralded as the beginning of the paperless society? The one hundred thousand-plus sheets of paper moved through the copiers each month would beg to differ. And those are copiers of pages printed on the printers, so let’s call it an easy quarter of million sheets of paper each month…just on my floor.
But I have often hinted–both subtly and directly–that I would like to learn some new skills, so that I can be more useful to them, and continue to have a job–for me. Naught had come from it over the years, but recently I lucked into a better opportunity.
The same federal regulations and interference that caused the financial mess we are in–
[Oh, yes–I blame the lax standards of Fannie and Freddie for our current collapse, and the directly responsible for that is Barney Frank, among others.]
–has caused a shift in our structure. It used to be that our "FHA Department" was one person that was part of the Suspense Department. But now, a larger and larger percentage of loans are FHA. Now we have an actual department: Linda, Stacy, Mallory, Pam, Kim, and Janet.
I had given Kim a ride home off and on a few times over the last few weeks. We have gotten to be friends–I went to her grandmother’s funeral, and we have chatted and talked a lot. In fact, I had started associating with them more than others on the floor. Although I was technically in the shipping department, that was more of an ersatz hybrid; I feel like I am a department unto myself. Besides, it’s mostly younger women in Shipping, and I didn’t have much common ground with them.
But the ladies in FHA are more my age (except Mallory, who is a cute younger chick), and we could talk. I didn’t try to weasel my way in; I got lucky and it just happened.
So on a few occasions taking Kim home, she mentioned how busy they were in her department. It fell on my deaf ears the first few times…until I had an idea.
That morning I talked to Linda, and then to Erica, my boss. Instead of asking her to find me something–which would place the burden on her–I had found something and asked her if I could do that. She said yes.
So now I help out in the FHA department. It’s nothing more than clerical work. Honestly, it’s all I’ve ever done anyway. But my scanning the last month or so had gotten dangerously light. I was working hard to milk a full day’s work out of an hour or two’s worth of scanning. The first day I helped in FHA, I felt like it was the first time I had actually worked in weeks.
I’ve managed to pick up a couple of duties that I help out with, depending on the flow, and it has made my day go by faster to have work to do. Praise Jesus! Hopefully I can learn more and more of this–
And it also helps that they needed help and wanted to hire another person but the big boss didn’t want to. I hope it helps make me look good. I’m just happy to have work.
In the meantime, I picked up a temporary duty from the in-house title company. Most of what I scan is for them, anyway. But they have someone who goes just about every day to the county court house and to the one in the city to get deeds and so forth recorded. Lynn does this.
She was called for jury duty, and they asked my boss if I could fill in on that position. Hell yeah! I went with Lynn a couple of times to see how it was done, where to go, and who to talk to. However, she got her jury duty postponed because of illness, and I filled in for her for a couple of days. They still need someone who can do it if she is out on vacation or for a sick day–she has cancer, and occasionally battles with it.
In the last few weeks, I have finally felt useful and good about the work I do. It’s been a long time.