Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lab Tales part 5 - Customer Service Experts

Most likely, one or many of you fine ladies out there was trying to call me last week and got a strange message on my phone. After two rings, a voice would ask you for a voice box number before I even got a chance to answer. I apologize and assure you the problem has been rectified.

And it wasn't easy. First of all, like all customer service situations, it required calling from work. I mean, why should the idiots at Bell be available when I get home or at another convenient time? After all, it's not like they're going to waste my time while I'm at work, by keeping me on hold for almost an hour.


Of course it is. I call the idiots... First off, Bell has a voice recognition system. I guess pressing numbers is too convenient for them. You have to talk to a machine to get service.

Voice Message: "Welcome to the Bell automated phone service. For service in English SAY English."
Me: "English."
Voice Message: "Bonjour! Comment est-ce que je peux vous offrir une excellente service aujourdhui?"
Me: "English!!! ENGLISH!!! Godamn it!!!!"
Voice Message: "Ca c'est une service automatiser qui repond a des commandes vocales. Si vous avez besoins d'aide, dites le mot, 'aide'."

Finally I get through to some idiot. I explain my problem, "Yes, when hot ladies call me, after two rings, they get a message asking them for a voice box number."
There's a long pause before the customer service guy responds with the competence and wisdom I've come to expect from a customer service rep, "HUH?! I don't understand."

I eventually manage to get him to understand the problem by getting him to call my phone line at home. Of course, before this was the mandatory security check. He asked me for my name and adress and phone number just in case I was someone else, trying to fix my phone problem. This is obviously a common problem, someone trying to fix problems. So they put me on hold. Then he comes back on the line, "Oh, that is strange. Let me trasnfer you to repair."

He puts me on hold again. The guy from repair answers. This guy's rude and its obvious that everything I say to him is just an unwelcome distraction from whatever it was he was doing before. "I don't understand your problem," he growls. Eventually we do the security check again. He calls my hom number leaving me on hold AGAIN!!! Then when he's back on the line, he says, "Oh, I'll transfer you to the ummm... RIGHT department." I imagine him transferring me then picking up a bookmarked Penthouse magazine so he can continue whatever it was he was doing before I called.

Now some bubbly girl answers the phone. Exactly the same thing happens. Confusion followed by security check. She calls my house, puts me on hold. Then she gets back on the line and says, "Oh, let me transfer you to the ummm... repair department."

Me: "I just got transferred from the repair department!"
Idiot Woman: "Really? What did they say?"
Me: "They said they would transfer me to the RIGHT department. You're the Right department! YOU!!!"
Idiot Woman: "Mmmmm.... Let me get my manager."

This is obviously going to be an epic wait so after five minutes I put the phone on speaker, filling the lab with annoying elevator music and the repeated phrase, "Your call is very important to us... Please stay on the line and representative will be with you in a moment."

As if I'm not angry enough, my co-worker decides to give me some advice.

Co-worker: "What are you doing??? How long have they had you on hold?"
Me: "Oh, ten, fifteen minutes?"
Co-Worker: "Talk to the manager!!!"
Me: "They're getting the manager now."
Co-Worker: "This is disgusting, hang up and call back... Don't be a pussy!"
Me: "Yeah, so I can go through the whole ridiculous process again?! I'll just wait."
Co-Worker: "Let me handle it!!! I'll fix your problem!"
Me: "Yeah?? You're an expert?? Isn't your laptop on warranty? Haven't you sent it to be fixed about twice and you still have to keep the paperclip on the screen so the picture isn't distorted???"
Co-Worker: "That's different... It's Futureshop! COME ON LET ME TALK TO BELL!!! I'll give you the dollar I owe you if you let me speak to them!"
Me: "You touch that phone and I'll kill you!!!"
Co-Worker: "I'm good at this stuff! Ask anyone! AAh, You're pathetic. Even Warren would have gotten service by now!!"
Me: "Warren???"

It's obvious he had some frustration and wanted to live out his fantasy of being a downtrodden customer who was pushed too far by living vicariously through my phone call. I"m getting angrier and angrier as he rambles on. Then another co-worker walks in. She walks up to the phone and stares at it in confusion for a moment before asking, "What's this?"

Me: "That's a phone... It's used to communicate with people over long distances."
Co-Worker: "But..."
Me: "I know, I know... I put it on speaker phone so I could wait on hold and do work at the same time."
Co-worker: "And you expect them to answer??"
Me: "Ummmm yes?"
Co-worker: "You're so naive... I remember when..."

Everything else was kind of a blur. This co-worker has, like the other has also been abused by beauracracy and is waiting to get back several hundred dollars because of some careless screw up. Yet, both of them know the best way to handle my problem. Their inane rambling mixes itself with the soporiphic waiting music and I kind of zone out. Just as the unthinkable was about to happen (one of them decided it would be fun to sing to the automatic message) the people at Bell pick up.

I run to the phone. The guy explains to me in mystified tones, "Yeah, that's really strange. I dont' know how that hapenned??? It doesn't make sense." I love that. Has their computer system developped some kind of artificial intelligence that it's able to outwit every level of management in this god-forsaken company? I mean, for my sake, PRETEND you know what's going on.

Anyway, I was told they could fix the problem in 24-48 hours. He rambled on a bit, "Well... at worst 48 hours... but probably less than 24... But be prepared for 48... I'm really sorry sir. I really don't know how this hapenned. But we'll fix it. I'll send the problem to a technician. Sorry you won't be able to get any calls."

Morons. How about you put the technicians on the phone instead of idiot kids who don't know s**t from toothpaste and waste my time while I'm at work. Regardless... The problem has been fixed. It only took about half an hour or forty minutes of frustration on the phone. I've had worse.

Fun Factoid: 5 billion yeast cells died while I tried communicating with Bell, a company dedicated to providing communication services.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Rat Who Shagged Me

My friend Stef sent me this article about caffeine making female rats randy.

It's always interesting to read studies about animals that don't involve actual quantitation of chemicals in their bodies because it requires so much human interpretation. In this study they say that if female rats were given caffeine before getting it on with a male rat, they were more likely to want seconds afterwards (more sex not more caffeine). They say the females "visited faster" afterward. But couldn't that just be because they were hyper from caffeine? They say the female would only leave after receiving more sexual stimulation.

But this begs the question, what's sexy to a female rat? Do the researchers know she was being sexually stimulated? Maybe the female was just coming back to chat with the male rat about marriage and children and the meaning of life. The male rat, not wanting any part of the conversation decided to grope her knowing this would result in more sex and/or less talking, causing the female rat to leave in tears, "You're only interested in one thing you rat bastard!"

It also makes you wonder how much of the researcher's own horniness factors into his/her data. "Oh, look, she's very interested... Who wouldn't be interested in having carnal, torrid relations with such a studly rat? My own husband doesn't bare his teeth that way anymore. Nor does he lash out with his tail in that come hither manner... In fact the last time we made sweet rat love, it lasted 10 seconds and..."

Anyway you get the point. I know someone who does REAL research on rats. I can't remember exactly what it involved. Something about letting them start having sex and then stopping them before the act was complete and then measuring the chemicals present in their brain. It's cold and quantitative like real science should be. (It's also brief and unsatisfying to the woman, like sex should be!!! cue the Fox network-esque OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I'm just joking) Science reduces sex to a few chemicals produced by the brain with no human biases to mess up the data. No talk of, "Mmm, looks like the female wants a cigarette... I know I would." Or, "If I were a female rat, I'd definately want a man with a long tail who could last all night long." (This is an assumption, correct me if I'm wrong, J-9).

I guess it would be much easier if the rats could just speak English. Then we could listen to the conversations between all the female rats, "I was intimate with Bill last night and between you and me,it was he was so well endowed it's almsot as if he has TWO tails!!!" or, "I was intimate with Larry last night and quite frankly, it lasted about the amount of time it takes to spring a rat trap!"

I really can't remember where I was going with this... I originally had some very profound comment about sex and how animals are... something? Morality? Secularism? I can't remember. For some reason I can't get the thought of a rat with a giant wang out of my head, so this post is over.

Someone send me pics from the Toga party so I can write a post about it!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Signs that you're a slob

I had a funny chat with my friend Jenn tonight. I was describing how messy my apartment is and how I should be tidying it up instead of chatting on msn. I have a chair in my room, and like many people, rather than hang up my clothes I just toss the clothes on the chair. And as weeks pass the pile gets higher and higher. But the shameful part is, the pile got so high the other day, that the whole thing toppled over, and rather than hang up the clothes I endeavored to rebuild the pile so it was stable enough to retain its former glory.

Jenn tried to convince me that her apartment was also messy. She said a sure sign that things were getting out of hand at her place were.

1) The bed is unmade
2) The dishes are piling up

THAT'S IT??? I almost NEVER make up my bed. And dishes? Foggetaboutit! I retorted with:

3) There are leaves on the floor from my dying plant.

She countered with

4) There are dustbunnies in the corners.


5) Freaking silverfish have overrun my bathroom like the Uruk Hai overran Helmsdeep.

Jenn at a loss adds the very feeble,

6) Dusty furniture

Me, confident in my surpreme filthiness end it all with the shameful,

7) Sometimes, rather than take the garbage downstairs, I start a second garbage bag outside of the can and start filling that up!!!

Game, set, match!

I'm aware of the unnaceptable state of my apartment. I dont' try to justify it. And if I am about to have company over I do manage to clean things up to make the place acceptable. My crowning achievement is I seem to have defeated the silverfish in my apartment by spraying all of the radiators with raid. I haven't seen one since! Eat Piperonyl Butoxide you six legged bastards!

I think my apartment reflect my state of mind, or rather, the messiness of my apartment coaxes disorganized thought in my daily life. That's what my dad seems to think. I've been trying to find a reason for my general confusion and fragmented thought process. A messy apartment seems like a likely candidate.

The thought of my mess does come back to haunt me throughout the day sometimes. "Mmm... I left that plate with maple syrop in it at my computer desk didn't I?" And as my mind wanders back to the chaos of my apartment, that chaos manifests itself as me doing something particularly inept at work. For every derelict t-shirt in my apartment, I spill one beaker of chloroform in the lab. For every unwashed dish I accidently light a co-worker on fire... Beware... Masta's messiness may claim the life of you or one you love!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Holiday Hi-lights and Low-lights

Another holiday season has come and gone. I'm satisfied cuz I got to see friends and family before it was all done. I guess the main event was New Years which was basically drunken Karaoke night. It was a trans-posse affair with people from High School, the lab and even from out of town coming together in a tone deaf, orgiastic collision of worlds. Where else do you get to see Simon and Vrej team up to sing I had the Time of My Life while gazing longingly into each other's eyes? It was also somewhat prolific to have our old Math Teacher's son, in the room singing off key with a glass of whisky in his hand at all times. And of course those racists brought Fried Chicken with them.

Prior to that there was an outing with Marie-Eve, Pat and Mel that will go down in history as one of the most awkward movie outings ever. It started off with Karaoke at my apartment, then moved on to deliciousness at Baton Rouge. All good so far. A note of interest, that a conversation came up about the fact that the amount of ribs produced implied that many pigs died to feed us. Marie-Eve acted scandalized as if she didn't know that ribs came from dead pigs. I mention this for a reason that will come up later.

After food it was time for the movie and this is where things got messy. Mel had warned me before hand that she had promised to see Brokeback mountain with a friend of hers and that we were all to come. Now, it wouldn't be the first time I'd been accused of being a homophobe, but it really didn't interest me to see a movie about two gay cowboys. I don't think that makes me prejudice. How many of you racists saw Amistad?! Exactly. No matter, Pat and I could easily go see another movie while the ladies went to see Brokebackside Mountain Cowboys.

But then at dinner, Pat bails on me! He says he'll go see Brokeback Mountain, leaving me with the option of going home, or going to see another movie by myself. Anyway, after about 2 hours of complaining, we get to the theatre and I grudgingly pay for my ticket to see Brokeanus Cowboys, praying no one would see me there. The girls of course are like, "It won't be so bad, what's the big deal? Two cute guys who happen to be gay."

It was really funny because in the theatre, most people were obviously gay. Not only that, several gay couples seemed to know each other.

Bruce: "Hey! I hear this movie is great with all the sodomy and man-love."
Serge: "Yes. Gaylord Weekly called Brokeback Mountain a heart-warming, sphincter ripping good time!"

Now, not only was the movie itself pointless, but it included several scenes of graphic man love including a very early scene of sodomy. It was stupid. The movie basically sets itself up like this, "Hey, Heath Ledger, you look cold out there... Why not share this here tent with me?" and then they wake up in the tent and sodomize each other. One girl in the theatre got up and ran out of there the moment it began.

Anyway, the guys keep in touch. Then they get married and cheat on their respective wives to go to Brokeback Mountain and get it on. You don't really get a sense that they're in love. Just very horny. One guy goes to Mexico. I didn't realize at the time but it was explained to me that he was hiring male jigalows to satiate his lust for men. Have you ever seen a love story where some guy gets tired of keeping it in his pants so he hires a whore cuz his true love is otherwise occupied? Nothing says romance like a mexican man-whore... shudder... I hate this movie so much. SPOILER WARNING* The entire movie there is the sound of ravens cawing in the background and big surprise one of the gay guys dies! How tragic. And subtle. Is it just me or whenever a movie or franchise is going nowhere, they find it necessary to kill off a character?*

Let me say I also hated this movie for all the same reasons I hated American Beauty. Family values are kind of thrown out of the window to focus on two hopeless and selfish individuals. Big whoop! I think the movie fails on all levels. As a love story, as pornography, as drama, as a buddy comedy, as an action adventure, as sci-fi thriller... It's a train wreck. I hated it... I hated it right in the face!!! And I know all the critics are gushing all over it. Nuts to them!

What was fun though, was that the girls were just as uncomfortable if not moreso than the guys. "But.. But... They took it up the ass!"

Newsflash! That's what gay people do! It's all well and good for girls to think of gay men as well-dressed, mild-mannered, effeminate people who you can complain about your boyfriend to. But apparently it slips their minds that homosexuals, like heterosexuals, need some kind of orifice to carry out their... deeds... It's called reality (not the orifice mind you.. the orifice is called the @#$!&*). You can't enjoy ribs and pretend something didn't die to produce them. And you can't say you're not homophobic if the thought of two men ummm... making love? makes you uncomfortable. Anyway, that's the last time I keep an open mind. Thanks a lot PAT, MEL AND MARIE-EVE! Woman I will NEVER forgive you for this!

You know, I raised an eyebrow when Frodo kissed Sam on the head, I have no business going to see a movie like Brokeback Mountain. I guess I'm not mature enough. It took all of my will not to scream out, "OH S**T!!! THAT'S NASTY, GUY!!!!" I'm sure one day my ignorance will be tempered, but... this movie was too much too soon. Mind you I have no problems whatsoever with gay people. But I think portraying it on the big screen cheapens the beauty of love shared between one dirty ass cowboy and another and that it should be kept private! The only on screen man kiss that I felt was appropriate was between Aragorn and Boromir in the Fellowship of the Rings. After a discussion with my friend Jenn, we came to the conclusion that man kissing is only acceptable if one of the men has been pierced by several poisonned arrows and they are surrounded by dying Uruk Hai.

Otherwise, fun holidays. Thanks to all who took a part in New Year's at the Crizzouse. Vrej's bitterness toward New Year's comes with an important message. We don't need New Year's as an excuse to gather and get soused. This is what the Crizzouse is for. So for 2006 I prithee... Let's see more gatherings, more partying and more MORE Fried Chicken!