Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pushed to the Limit

Guy, to girl: Did you want to look around a little longer?
Girl: No. They don't sell these books. (Turning to me) Right? Ma'am? These books aren't for sale, are they?
Me, confused:, they're for sale.
Girl: Really? Then what are these stickers?
Me, dismayed: Price tags?
Girl: Oh. Where's the price?
Me: It's the number on the bottom. With the, uh...with the dollar sign in front.
Girl: I don't see it.
Me: (Bangs head against wall)

I swear to God, I cannot take this anymore. Each day finds me buried beneath an avalanche of breathtaking stupidity, and I can't - keep - digging - myself - out. I'm done. I give up. Apathy, be quick.

Just please, for the love of God...make it stop.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Praise Be to Boing Boing

For they have shown me how to save my poor, decrepit Converse.

Yep, those are knitted Converse tops. Granted, the soles of my Converse are a bigger problem than the tops (the bits of rubber on the heels that say All Star, for example, have ceased to be), but still, replacing the tops would help.

I am so tempted to try this.


To Hell and Back

...In which Sam is forced to attend an utterly asinine two-hour customer service training seminar given by an obnoxious jokey douche bag who fills her with thoughts of rage and causes her to overindulge in adjectives of negative connotation. Told in seven parts of varying horror/inanity.

Part 1: Damn It.

I am incredibly hungry for unhealthy food, and have decided to share this piece of news with my co-worker.

"You know what I could go for right now?"
"A soft pretzel. A great big one with a cup of melted cheese to dip it in. Or - a soft pretzel on a stick, coated in cinnamon."
"Those are disgusting."
"Yes. Yes, they are. And yet, they're delicious."
"Um, no they're not."
"Well, whatever. I just wish there was someplace downtown that sold them."
"Sucks to be you."

This last comment is quickly proven true, when my boss comes in and announces that I will be going to This Really Awesome Customer Service Seminar!! My co-worker had gone to one this morning, but a doctor's appointment had gotten me out of it. I'd thought I had escaped it entirely, but as luck would have it, there's an afternoon seminar as well. Of course we have to leave immediately, so I don't get time for lunch, which sucks, and the seminar is two hours long, which sucks more, but oh well.

I have no choice. To the Holiday Inn I go.

Part 2: Attempt at Optimism Crushed By Reality

I drag myself into the conference room, silently cursing myself for working a job where this sort of thing is required. I consider bailing right then, becoming a freelance writer or a dutiful housewife with seventeen children and one more on the way, or living on the streets of Rapid, recycling glass bottles for quarters...and then I see the pretzels.

Yes, pretzels. Soft, warm, lightly salted pretzels. And cheese. A huge pot of cheese with a stack of little white cups leaning against it.

Suddenly, it's worth it.

I take two pretzels and three cups of cheese (I'm hungry and cranky and damn it, I deserve it) and sit next to a white-haired, red-suited woman with a clipboard, who rambles for a few moments about how absolutely brilliant this speaker is before asking if I would please move over so she has a place to set her clipboard and plate.

I do so, and then I realize: I'm relinquishing my chair to two inanimate objects that would have been equally apathetic on the floor. Also, the salt on this pretzel is not evenly distributed. Screw being positive: this place sucks.

Part 3: Wait, What?

The speaker is, naturally, an assclown, and his customer service experience appears to be limited to this one time? when he worked in a gift shop?, which is obnoxious. Still, at least he's boring, and thus easy to ignore. That is, until he says something so witty, and yet so deep, that I am struck dumb by his profundity. I stare reverently at his douchily animated face and bask in the glow of his beauteous words of wisdom, desperately wishing I could come up with something as enlightening as:

"Remember, we are human beings, not lima beans."

Except, wait: what the hell does that mean? Beings and beans are two entirely different words, so there isn't even a pun in there, but more importantly, what particular undesirable traits do lima beans possess, and how could they be confused with human ones? I'm not light green and chewy. Children don't hate me. (Although, when I was a kid, I loved lima beans. God knows why. I hate them now.) Why do my differences from lima beans need to be mentioned at all? Frankly, Mr. Promotional Speaker, I'm offended. In fact, that one phrase has put me on the fast track to hating you. Do you have anymore tricks up your sleeve? Anything that rips off/cheapens Lewis Carroll, perhaps?

I think you do.

Part 4: Cheshire Cat Rip-Off

"Does anyone have a co-worker who doesn't smile? Anyone? A co-worker who never smiles? Surely someone does. Someone who never smiles at customers or the people they work with? A co-worker who never smiles? C'mon, people, I know one of you has one..."

A lone hand emerges from a sea of blank faces, waving slowly back and forth like a broken car antenna. When Mr. Assclown leaps to her side and presents her with his World-Famous Smile On a Stick, I die a little inside.

The Smile On a Stick is precisely what it sounds like - a paper cut-out of an obnoxiously toothy grin glued to a cheap wooden stick, meant to be held up to one's face when one's frown won't reverse itself. It's creepy as hell, as disembodied facial features generally are, but even worse, it's a Cheshire cat rip-off.

I swear to God, that's exactly what that damn smile looked like - overly curved, lip-less, and no bottom teeth. The only difference was that it couldn't levitate.

Part 5: My Body Stages a Protest

Damn, I need to get me some glasses. I'm squinting at his power point presentation, taking careful note of every misused or conspicuously absent apostrophe, feeling my blood pressure rise every time I read a phrase like "customer's who leave," and my eyes just won't take it anymore. No, they plead. Stop. We can't read anymore. We're tired. Don't you love us?

I look down at my empty plate, and my stomach swells with dissatisfaction. I wanted a pretzel on a stick. Can't you do anything right?

My brain shouts at me to, just this once, take a nap. No one will notice. Please? Every word from this man's mouth is a kick to my frontal lobe. Every sentence is an angry black bruise. Do you know what a brain bruise is, Samantha? It's a concussion. You are giving me a rapid series of concussions, and that's abuse. If you don't get me out of here, I'm going to call a neurosurgeon and have him transplant me in a nicer girl's head.

I disregard their pleas for mercy. I tell my brain, oh, but won't this be something to blog! I tell my stomach to shut up and think of the starving children in Argentina. I promise my eyes a pair of shiny new glasses. I pacify them with words as cheap and empty as the ones my ears are trying desperately to ignore, and the guilt overwhelms me.

Part 6: No, Really, What?

Mr. Assclown Promotional Speaker has run out of things to say. I know this, because he has resorted to making us speak. He asks each of us to state the most important thing we've learned today; the one piece of advice we plan to follow religiously, no matter how asinine it proves to be. I stare at his pompous jackass face and think, damn. What a pompous jackass. Then I think, oh, shit - does this mean I have to talk?

He starts with the opposite side of the room, and at first I'm amused by the uniformity of everyone's replies. "I'm going to go above and beyond what my customers request." "I'm going to smile all the time." "Use customers' first names." "Have fun at work!!!" But after awhile the repetition starts to get to me, and I realize that if this doesn't stop, I'm going to...actually, I don't know. But it will not be good.

When he gets to me, I promise to use customers' first names. It's not a lie, since I do it already, and it's boring enough that he doesn't ask for details or congratulate me on my Really Hot Idea, thank God. Instead he moves on to the next woman, who says she is going to "be more intentional in my customer service." She says this as though struck dumb by her own brilliance, and I am reminded of a girl I once worked with at a job hated. This girl was perfectly nice and had an upbeat, positive attitude. She was also dumb as post, and spoke as if she was constantly in the middle of a religious epiphany. This is the girl who once said to me, "I think I'm going to stop sleeping with guys I don't know!" as if the suggestion to stop hooking up with every available guy in a fifty-mile radius had come straight from the mouth of Jesus. I stared at her, watching her open a bag of cold chicken with a steak knife, and then I said, "well. That sounds like a plan."

But let's be fair - not sleeping with strangers is a noble goal. I can't fault her for it. I think it was a smart move on her part, especially since it meant I no longer had to listen to stories that began, "so, this one time, when I slept with four guys in a row?" Good girl.

And at least Dumb Formerly-Trampy Girl's comment made sense. Because, really,"I'm going to be more intentional in my customer service," makes about as much sense as "we are human beings, not lima beans." I'm still not sure what that woman was trying to say. Was she saying that she intended to be more conscientious while dealing with customers? Or was she saying that her customer service skills are usually a happy accident, and that from now on she intends to think while answering the phone?

I just don't know.

Part 7: My Really Hot Idea

I'm standing in the lobby, waiting for my ride. I'm cranky and pissed off and seriously disappointed with the quality of the soft pretzels sitting like wet lumps of clay in my stomach. Outside it's raining, which under normal circumstances would have thrilled me to no end, but I'm too annoyed to appreciate it. Then I see one of the women from the audience, the one with the co-worker who never smiles, run outside. She has an umbrella, but it doesn't protect her Smile On a Stick, which she holds out to her side. And as the corners of that repulsive disembodied grin bend beneath the weight of the rain, turning the smile to a toothy grimace, I realize what I want to do with my life.

I want to have my own seminar. A seminar for customers. I will call it the How Not to Be an Assclown Seminar, and it will be wonderful. It will include such topics such as "I Don't Want to Know About Your Incarcerated Child-Molesting Son" and "No, You Really Can't Have My Phone Number." The only items on sticks will be soft pretzels, and I won't compare my audience to legumes.

Mr. Promotional Speaker, you're more than welcome to attend.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Religious Epiphany

A few weeks ago, en route to my blog, I made a simple typing error and became lost. By switching the s and p in blogspot, I found myself in a crazy religious site run by people who think that, since I am a Catholic who sins frequently and flippantly, I am going to Hell. Which is entirely possible, I suppose, but something tells me that God would decline to share such a juicy piece of gossip with self-righteous borderline-psychotics.

Anyway, I thought it was odd for a religious site to have as their URL, since 1. they're not a blog, and 2. "skipping past conclusions" is meant to imply a lack of both focus and knowledge. (Although, maybe that's why they misspelled "spot.")

Then this morning, on my way to Carrie's blog, I once again switched the s and the p, and, once again, I wound up in Psychotic Pseudo-Christian Land. This seemed strange, so I started testing other blogs, and the same thing happened every time. Rachel, it works for your blog. It works for the Guerrilla Knitters as well. It works for everything.

And that's when I realized - the roads to hell are both profuse and varied, but all it takes to bring us to Jesus is a simple typo.

Thus, stupidity saves.

Friday, May 9, 2008

In Praise of Linnea

So, I realize that there are an infinite number of childless people who nonetheless have very strict notions of what constitutes good parenting. I like to think that I am not one of those people. All I ask is that when children come into my work, they speak in a reasonable tone of voice, don't run around knocking things over, and if they do, that their parents make some effort to control/discipline them. I have no intention of procreating, so I rarely start sentences with "if that was my child I'd...," because it sounds strange to me. I can't picture myself with a baby. I would be so bewildered by a a baby's presence - the sort of person who would be confused at a newborn's inability to use a spoon.

That said, I do have one very strong belief, one I would certainly adhere to should a baby fall from the sky and into my lap, and that is the belief that every little girl should have a floppy doll.

Specifically, Linnea.
I had the one on the right, and she was awesome.

Linnea rocked because she was smart, she liked to garden, and she wore a cute hat. Also, her hair was adorably low-maintenance, and although she dressed well, she was not afraid to get her little cloth hands dirty. She had a pretty name, which she shared with a flower, but it was an unusual flower name, nothing obvious like Rose or Lily. (Not that I don't like those names - I'm particularly fond of Lily.) She only had one pair of shoes, but they went with everything, and dammit, she just looked a little kid.

I hadn't thought of Linnea in years, but that all changed yesterday, when I found a Linnea doll in an antique/gift shop. She was perched on the edge of an antique bureau, and I literally jumped for joy when I saw her. She was a little bigger than the one I had, and she wore the dress and apron of the doll on the left, but everything else was the same. I almost bought it out of nostalgia.

Apparently, I'm the only person who has walked into that store and recognized Linnea for the amazing, kickass little gardener she is, and that makes me sad. Linnea was genuine. She was sincere, she was happy, and she had her own almanac.
She was a chatty, enthusiastic little kid utterly lacking in vanity, and the birds just flocked to her. Sure, I had Barbies, and I liked them, but they lived such complicated lives. Some were adopted, one was diabetic, and Ken's foot had been gnawed off by a vindictive rabbit. Linnea was just a nice, sweet girl, and she had no taste for sequins or backless gowns. A rabbit would be too charmed by her to gnaw off her foot - in fact, if I remember correctly, she made friends with the rabbits. If I had a kid, I'd name it Linnea. Even if it was a boy.

So it's probably a good thing I don't want kids.

And that was my shiny happy post.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Never Thought I'd Try This, But...

On Sunday my mother informed that I am too negative, and pointed out that one day I will be old, and how would I like people mocking me on a blog, and although I do believe she was being facetious, maybe she has a point. On the one hand, I love being negative. I delight in my cynicism, wallow in my sarcasm, and enjoy nothing more than trekking through the torrential rains of my contempt. On the other hand, negativity is all I know. Perhaps if I tried my hand at optimism my mind would be opened to a world outside my bleak, dusty little corner: a world of sunshine and daisies and rainbows that aren't the faded watercolor strips which so disappointed me a child, but huge arcs of poster paint stretching from my apartment building to Egypt.


What the hell. I'll give it a shot. I'll give it a great big shot of...

The List of Things That Make Me Happy, Or Would If They Were True:

1. My boss is George Carlin. How amazing would this be? I could spend eight hours a day mocking people with George Carlin. Every time someone asked me for books on horticulture and insisted I was spelling it wrong because, duh, it starts with a w, George Carlin would be there to point out that Whorticulture sounds like a porn video that takes place in a flower bed and involves gardening tools in odd places. Not only would George Carlin be there to say all the things I'd like to say but can't, but because he is my boss that can't would become can, and although we would probably frighten away all our customers, at least we would have a good time doing it.

2. The customer with the imprisoned, child-molesting son who, to her mind, wouldn't even be in jail were it not for his lying brat of a daughter has not been in lately. She definitely didn't come in yesterday, have me ship more books out to him, and inform me, as I was packing them up, that his lying brat of a daughter is grounded until he gets out of prison, and hopefully she'll learn to stop running her mouth, that little lying brat. Also, said customer finally found a bra, so that never again will I wonder why her stomach looks deformed, sort of forked, and then realize that I am actually seeing her breasts, swinging back and forth like two opposing pendulums. I thought the whole "she had boobs down to her waist" thing was just a myth, but apparently not.

(And yeah, I know it's cheap and a little tacky to poke fun at someone's appearance, but she had it coming. God, I hate that woman.)

3. This is my boyfriend:

And that's not even a very good picture of him. I tried to find a picture with him in glasses, because no one looks better in square black frames than Rodrigo Santoro, but there were none to be had. Stupid Google Image Search. You'll just have to take my word for it. Man looks gorgeous in glasses - kind of a shy, nerdy, completely-unaware-of-how-heart-stoppingly-gorgeous-he-is look. Which, as everyone knows, is the best look of all.

4. I am writing an episode of Seinfeld. They're not bringing the show back permanently, they're just doing one episode, which is unfortunate, but still: I get to write it. George, Elaine, Jerry, and Kramer are my marionettes, and I'm pulling their strings in whatever directions I fancy.

Really though, it's always been my dream to write for Seinfeld. I don't know what the story would be, but it would be glorious. Elaine would date somebody who was actually attractive, and Jerry would have to settle for a woman who was actually in his league, and George and Kramer would stick to what they're best at - lying and hijinks, respectively. Nothing would please me more than writing an episode of Seinfeld. They wouldn't even have to pay me for it.

And that's the end of the list. All this dissatisfaction with life as I know it masquerading as optimism has left me exhausted.

Hmm. You know, the sun is shining, and quite brightly too. I don't see any poster-paint rainbows though.

Back to being cranky.