Sunday, June 29, 2014

Answering the call...

Yeah, it's a Lite Brite.  Can you imagine a child in 2014 playing with this?  Me neither....


Hindsight being 20-20 I could have been a better human being in my teens and 20s... as an adult I've tried to balance the cosmic scale in small ways ever since.  There are really three things that I do now by habit that, while insignificant to the planet at large still make me feel like I'm helping out here and there... and since I like lists...

1. Donating Blood.  I think I'm somewhere around 18 gallons at this point.  My mother was taken to the hospital 30 or so years ago and they "ran out" of her blood type.  They had to drive 20 miles to get more.  I was horrified, naturally.  So when there is a blood drive at work I always sign up... the bonus of cookies and juice is obviously a delight.

Downside: This exchange actually took place a few years ago.

Fellow Blood Donator Guy: (as he was leaving the "Blood Bus"... "Let's be honest, getting out of work is really the best reason to give blood".
TVGuy: "No.  Not really.  You actually are helping to, you know, save lives and..."
Fellow Blood Donator Guy: (Interrupting me) "No, I'm right. And you're wrong." (exits Bus)
TVGuy: (to nurse) "What the Hell??"

2. Roadside Assistance.  I got a ticket one time for a tail light light bulb that had burnt out.  I explained to the officer that I lived alone and that there really wasn't any easy way for me to check that other than my oil change place catching it.  He gave me the ticket anyway.  Since then, whenever I see a car with a light out, brakes or tail, I try to pull up along side them and let them know.  I think I've done this over a gazillion times now.. you'd be surprised how many there are that are burnt out.  99.9 of the time the driver is very grateful.

But sometimes....

Downside:  This exchange actually took place a few years ago.

TVGuy: (makes universal "Roll Down Your Window" Gesture with hand)
Fellow Driver: (annoyed, rolls down window using electric switch instead of hand crank that my gesture suggested they use -- when is that gesture going to be obsolete to this generation by the way? Anyway....)
TVGuy: "Your right brake light is out".
Fellow Driver: "Mind your own f***ing business!" (drives away)
TVGuy: (thinking) "What the Hell"?

3. Parking lot attendant.  About 25 years ago on a phenomenally windy Southern California day, I came out of a grocery store and saw a shopping cart on a beeline to give the side of my new car a door ding.  There was no way I could get there in time.  As the cart moved in on my defenseless auto, a bystander, much closer to my car than I, swooped in and saved the day.  He even refused my clumsy attempt to give him five bucks for his kindness and walked away, mysteriously and in slow motion. (Okay, that's just how I remember it...)

Anyway, most of the time between me and my grocery store entrance I grab stray carts and push them into the store. 99.9 percent of the time... well, no one really ever notices but it's just habit now. But occasionally...

Downside: This exchange actually took place a few years ago.

TVGuy: (pushing carts into the line of other carts)
Fellow Cart User: "You shouldn't do that"
TVGuy: (puzzled) "Do what?"
Fellow Cart User: "Put the carts away for the employees... they'll get fired and then you're the asshole". (walks away)
TVGuy: (thinking) "What the Hell"?


I've worked in three call centers in my life and recently ended employment with Comcast, where I helped people with their technical issues.  Many of these callers were complete assholes.  As I took these calls, I realized that I too sometimes was kind of an impatient jerk with customer service folks (TVGal can attest to this as she nods her head slowly) and vowed to be better to these anonymous 800 number folks in the future.  I would no longer be impatient.  I would no longer wonder about the intelligence of these noble folks, working hard for their companies to further their financial wellbeing.

This lasted exactly 128 days.

As I left my bank branch yesterday I noticed that their two clothing donation boxes in the parking lot were overflowing, so much so that a few homeless folks were doing some "shopping" on the stuff that had fallen onto the ground.  Seeing a 800 number on the side, I quickly leapt to the call of duty and once again became TVGuy, Helper of Those In Need.   The companies name has been changed to protect the innocent....

Customer Service Representative: "Hi, thanks for calling ClothingCorp.  How can I help today?"

TVGuy: "Hi, I'm at my bank over in Edgewater and your clothing bins are completely full to the point of overflowing.  They probably need a pickup pronto."

CSR: "Thanks.  Let me start with getting some basic information from you.  What is your name?"

TVGuy: (puzzled) "I don't work for the bank or anything, I'm just doing you guys a favor.  Why do you need my name?  Isn't the only thing you need the address or location?"

CSR: "I need it for my records.  What is your name please?"

TVGuy: (still puzzled) "I really could just say anything here right? Okay, my name is Theodore."

CSR: "Is your name really Theodore?"

TVGuy: "How could it possibly matter, to be honest.  But you can call me Ted."

CSR: "I'll put that name in my system, but I think you're lying."

TVGuy: "Let me put your mind at ease. I'm definitely lying."

CSR: "So you aren't going to give me your real name?"

TVGuy: "My parents once told me that they thought Anthony was a nice name.  But you can call me Tony."

CSR: "I don't know why you won't give me your name... what possible reason could you have for not doing so."

TVGuy:  "What possible reason would you need it in the first place.  Look my name is Frank. (said with as much earnestness as possible, hoping she would believe me...)  Can I just give you the location so I can move along with my day?"

CSR:  "One moment please." (I hear typing in the background that goes on for at least a minute.  Either she simply can't spell Frank or she is finishing a novel.  It's a coin flip.)

TVGuy: "Hello?"

CSR: (finishes typing) "Okay, what city and state are you calling from?"

TVGuy: (still puzzled) "Aren't you a local company?  Your donation box says something to that effect..."

CSR: "Yes, we are located in Denver, Colorado."

TVGuy: "Why would you ask what state I'm calling from then.. isn't there just one answer to that question?:

CSR: "We have to ask it for our records."

TVGuy: "That simply doesn't make any sense. Okay, I'm calling from Arkansas."

CSR: "No, you're not."

TVGuy: "I most certainly am.  Beautiful downtown Little Rock.  Located in the great state of Arkansas.  Where I am calling from right this second."

CSR: "Sir, you're not calling from Arkansas..."

TVGuy: "How can you be certain?"

CSR: "We don't have donation boxes in Arkansas."

TVGuy: "You kind of just proved my point.  Look, the box is in Edgewater in the shopping center by Sloan's Lake.  It's in the (Generic Bank Name) BankCorp parking lot.  Is there anything else or can I go now?"

CSR: "What are the cross streets?"

TVGuy: "Sheridan. There is no other cross street close by.  It's in a very long shopping center, again in Edgewater.  It's probably the only one in your system listed as Edgewater."

CSR: "I need the cross streets for pickup or else I can't send someone out."

TVGuy: "Look, I'm just calling as a courtesy.  Whether you pick up the clothing or not is your business."

CSR: "If you didn't care about the clothing being picked up, why did you call in the first place?"

TVGuy: "I'm thinking it would be easier if I just lit the clothing on fire, saving us both some time..."

CSR: "Please Hold"

TVGuy: (listening to bad hold music and wondering why I had called in the first place.  I thought about hanging up but then stupidly stayed on the line... three minutes later...)

CSR: "Sir, what city are you in?"

TVGuy: "Edgewater, as I've said several times."

CSR: "We have no Edgewater in our system."

TVGuy: "It's a suburb or something of Denver."

CSR: (searching her computer) "Ah, BankCorp in Denver on Sheridan. I found it.  In the future, when you call in just say it's in Denver and this will go much faster."

TVGuy: "Do me a favor.  Think of the largest number you can.  Now insert that number into the following sentence.  What are the odds that I ever call this phone number again... (Your Number) to One?"

CSR: (not understanding or caring about my witty retort):  "Do you have a pen handy for your confirmation number?"

TVGuy: "Confirmation Number?  For what possible reason would I need that?" (I then realized instantly what she was going to say and starting laughing as she replied...)

CSR: "For your records."

Meredith: At the end of the day, there are some things you just can't help but talk about. Some things we just don't want to hear, and some things we say because we can't be silent any longer. Some things are more than what you say, they're what you do. Some things you say cause there's no other choice. Some things you keep to yourself. And not too often, but every now and then, some things simply speak for themselves....
--"Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)

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