In Uncategorized on December 15, 2004 at 9:11 pm

unsolicited opinions, spiritual reflections and your daily serving of sarcasm: my last running diary of the season

2:07 p.m.–after arriving, admittedly a little late, for my last shift in customer service, my first call started like this:

“thank you for calling CBD this is Jeff. how can i help you?”

customer: “HELLO? hello. hello-o…”

“this is CBD, how can we help?”

customer: “beeeep.” i think her cheek crunched the #4 on her receiver.

“this is jeff, how can i help you?”

customer: “HELLO.”

“this is CBD.”

customer: “oh…hi…i was…uh…wondering.

“if…you…could…uh…check one of my…uh…orders.”

“sure. what is your order number?”

customer: “let…me…see. it is…uh…..”

at that moment, i was reminded of the wisdom of sir randal. “i could do without the customers in the video store,” he said. “which ones?” dante queried. “all of them.”

2:27 p.m.–on friday night i found myself huddled under the doorway of city hall, furtively smoking a bummed cigarette. as a cold mist began to blot out the street light and seep into my government-subsidized shelter i felt a wave of melancholy coming on. hold fast, i exhorted myself, but i felt certain that a night of moping, and a page littered with bad, anguished poetry was inevitable.

it was at that point, just then, that i realized what a moody, internal, narcissistic little bastard i can be. fifty feet away was a coffeehouse in which sat my beautiful pixie of a wife, a master of unintentional comedy who is also a member of our church and a dozen other people that i desire to more fully know and love. yet, there i was, smoking a cut-rate cigarette and licking my wounds. i couldn’t help but laugh.

2:31 p.m.–i pick up the phone only to hear a lady who is way too focused on her family. because of her love for her “beautiful boys” she decided to let them flip the pages of the catalog to the items she was interested in and pick out a few of their own while we were speaking. this led to some priceless statements like: “oh, jeff, you should see their eyes. it’s like they are opening christmas presents already!” when i asked her about which shipping method she wanted to use, she replied, “hold on. i need to ask my beautiful boys.”

go ahead, lady. shoot me in the head.

3:27 p.m.–the lady who played mike myers’ mom in so i married an axe murderer just called. her accent was even deeper than it was in the movie. guess she wasn’t focused on simplifying her speech for the movie-going audience.

in all seriousness, it took me five minutes and twenty-nine seconds to correctly record this lady’s address. talk about painstaking. if she wasn’t so sweet, she probably would have left me with a throbbing melon.

3:41 p.m.–a customer just called to let us know that we shipped incorrect items to him on an order he placed in june. he said he did not call sooner because he was in a coma. no kidding.

the funny thing is, i believed him. i replaced the incorrect items and even stepped up the shipping so that he could enjoy his Bible studies before Christmas.

of course, five minutes after i got off the phone with him, another rep walked over. coma man was on the line again. now he wanted to order another book from us, but he wanted us to comp the shipping. in short, he was looking for a coma-induced discount. no dice, my friend. no dice.

4:01 p.m.–just received third straight call from a customer who is trying to add an item onto a previous order. dear friend, if you ever order from l.l. bean, cbd, ikea or any other catalog company, save the customer service slaves some sanity by GIVING YOUR COMPLETE ORDER THE FIRST TIME YOU CALL.

4:05 p.m.–while listening to anne lamott’s traveling mercies on cassette, stumbled across this gem:

“Families are definitely the training ground for forgiveness. At some point you pardon you family for being stuck together in all this weirdness. And when you do that you can learn to pardon anyone. Even yourself, eventually.”

i think that’s a good word from all of us, as we head home to visit those whom we love the most deeply and with whom we tend to fight the most fiercely.

4:15 p.m.–i am currently sitting in someone else’s cubicle in the customer service department. i’ve always found cubicles to be interesting little habitats. sometimes, the clutter in the cube can tell you a little bit about the person it enslaves.

assuming the latter assumption is true, here is what this cube tells me about its occupant. the glut of personal pictures suggests that she might be as obsessed as i am with self. she seems particularly predisposed towards pictures of herself in brightly colored, strapless prom dresses. that would lead one to guess that she fancies herself a princess. sure enough, taped to the back of her cubes are pictures of the idealized, annoying, platonic ideas that preceded lady di: sleeping beauty and snow white (which reminds me…is there any way to truly distinguish those two stories? they are prime examples of one of my most deeply held assumptions: that all disney movies are basically the same. but that’s another post, if not a doctoral thesis). the only remarkable difference between the ideas and the form in this instance is that the cube occupant doesn’t wear shoulder pads that measure three feet in diameter. in fact, since her dresses are strapless, she has no such pads at all. finally, the books in her cube suggest the struggle between virtue and vanity that struggle within us all, for right below a book entitled how to be a lady is a prodigious stack of us weekly and star magazines. should this young lady be shaped by fundamentalist ideas about femininity or us weekly articles about j lo? that, my friends, is the question.

the cube…can one conceive of a more intriguing habitat for humanity?

4:40 p.m.–20 minutes until emancipation.

4:41 p.m.–repeat sermon about completing your order here…

4:51 p.m.–“Now here is my secret: I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again….My secret is that I talk loud. I talk loud and then the other customer service reps leave me alone. I need God to help me control my volume, because I no longer seem to be capable of speaking softly; to help me with intonation, as my voice is often off pitch; to help me listen, as I seem beyond being able to listen to those I loathe.”

5:04 p.m.–i’m out like elton.


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