Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Call Girl Confessional

First things first:  I did not have sex with Charlie Sheen.  I've never spanked a millionaire or made a Republican senator call me mommy while I changed his diaper and told him he was bad.
And I know you're disappointed in me, because that sounds like a secret I might have.

(As am I, because that would be far more lucrative and interesting than what I actually do.   There comes a point in every woman's life where she hears about a call girl who is sleeping with a politician and making $10,000 a pop and says to herself, "I could do that...")

(Yes you have.  Don't lie.)

As a child, I had lofty dreams of being a famous actress/veterinarian.   I would perform on Broadway on the weekends and save animals during the week.  I would be a great humanitarian who had one of every breed of dog in my mansion and my own dressing room with a star on the door at a famous stage somewhere (I was rather vague as to where the stages were.  I more or less thought Broadway was a building where people performed.)

After I grew older and wiser (and lazier and discovered I was pretty and boys liked me) and found out that vet school took at least 8 long years, I decided to just be an actress who happened to own a lot of dogs.  My goal became less "Broadway" and more "National Enquirer."

Between one thing (pregnancy) and the other (life) that dream got away from me  (obviously) and some how, in some way, I wound up in New York working at a call center for a major corporation.

(Believe me when I say I was just as surprised as you are.)

(I know, right?  The hell?)

Don't get me wrong... I enjoy my job, mostly because I enjoy eating and living indoors.  I also like my co-workers, love my supervisor, and overall, don't hate every customer I talk to.
For the most part my customers are polite, friendly, reasonable, and want one thing and one thing only:  to lower their bill.
I'm cool with that.  I get that.  I don't want to pay more for something than I have to.  I use empathy (sometimes.... though it has been pointed out to me that saying "I know, right?" doesn't count as empathy).  I'm helpful, I work my magic and tada!  Bill is lower, we're chuckling about something amusing that I said, we're making plans to meet up for cocktails, we're besties forever.  (Not really.  But the vibe is there.)


There is always that one customer.

You know the one I'm talking about.

That one. damn. customer.

They come in different forms, that customer.  They can be mad and screaming about an imagined discrepancy in their billing, and even after you've explained it 473 times using graphs, hand gestures, smoke signals and words of one syllable, they still don't get why their bill is that high.  So you break it down as simply as possible (and even preface it by saying, "So I'm gonna break it down as simply as possible for you, Bob" and then hope that this is not the call that is pulled by quality control) and say, "Your bill is this high because of math.  When we add these numbers together, and you've agreed that all those numbers are correct, they equal this amount.  Would you like me to hold while you get a calculator?"

To which Bob responds, "But why is my bill so high?"

Me:  "Math, Bob!  It's math!!  Do the math!"  (But only in my head.  In real life I say, "Let me go over this with you again, Bob..." and Bob says, "It's not adding up.")

(Don't be Bob.)

There is the customer whose demands are so ridiculous that you have to mute the phone repeatedly so you can look at the person next to you and say, "What in the actual FUCK?" because those words need to be said, and you're afraid you are going to say them to the customer.

Newsflash:  If you can't afford to pay your bill, then you probably can't afford the attorney you are threatening to hire so you can personally sue me for informing you of the terms and conditions (that you signed and agreed to) of your contract.  And yes, when I offer to add your imaginary lawyer as an authorized user on your account, I am being a bitch.

You might be surprised by the number of people who believe we can control the weather.  (Or not... if you work in a call center you are actually reading this and nodding your head.)  On one hand, it is a bit of a power trip to know that people think I have that close of a connection to the Almighty.  They demand to know what we are going to do about the snow/rain/wind/tornado they are having in their area that is interfering with their service.  They have been transferred three times because none of the previous representatives have been able to perform a miracle.  By the time they get to me (yes, I'm that person at the end of the road) they are so enraged by the apparent incompetence of my peers that I have to listen to them complain (scream, swear) about how much of their time has been wasted because no one will just "flip a switch" and fix it for them.  Because that's how nature works.  It's a switch.  A big switch.  And if you don't ask me nicely (which you never do) I won't flick it for you.
So I'm all, "Let me place you on a brief one to two minute hold while I get Jesus on the line."
Okay, I don't.  Well, I do, but I mute the phone first and say it to the person sitting next to me.

So I listen.  I reach deeeep within myself for patience and empathy (I knowwwww, riiiiiight?).  Then I explain, again, and again, that we cannot control the weather or give them free service because of their debilitating sense of entitlement.  At this point they lose their shit and hurl their abuse through the phone and into my headset.  I'm supposed to say, "I'm sooooo sorry, I completely under your frustration."
(I usually don't say that.  What I usually say is "Uh huh.")
They say, "Aren't you going to fix it??!"
And I say, "I really wish I could, but it's against our policy to interfere with Acts Of God."
And then my eyes roll so hard in my head that I'm temporarily blinded.

I could go on for days (and I will... which is why I have a blog) but I will cut it short (for now).  I just need to give an Honorary Mention to the "Let me speak to your supervisor" customer.  (Because I had two of those last night.)

If you are that person, stop it.  Unless you have been treated egregiously by a representative, were sworn at, called names, or told to fuck off, there is literally nothing a supervisor is going to do for you that I can't.  I do not spend my nights waiting for you to call so that I can piss you off and refuse to help you.  Dispense with the belief that supervisors are sitting on stockpiles of cash that they are dying to throw at you because you didn't get your way.  Your case is not special, your circumstances are not unique, and if I can't waive your early cancellation fee or all of your back charges because you didn't want to pay your bill, neither can they.  When I say, "I understand your frustration but transferring you to my supervisor is not going to resolve this for you," believe me... because there is nothing I would rather do than stop talking to you.  Trust me.  TRUST. ME.  I WOULD LOVE TO LET SOMEONE ELSE TELL YOU NO.

Whew.... venting.  It's awesome.

Until next time...

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The clumsy life chose me.

I'm clumsy.  I know it, you know it, strangers who have seen me crash and burn over a small pebble in a parking lot know it.  If it can be tripped over, fallen off of, bumped into.... I will find a way to do it in the most painful and embarrassing way possible, with the largest audience available to witness my shame.  (My Shame always has witnesses.  Always.  If I fall down while crossing the street, which I have, it is always in front of a school bus filled with horrible children or a prison bus filled with inmates.)

I was the kid who always had a bruise, a scrape, an open wound or stitches.  I used band aids as an accessory.  (Sadly, my options in the 60s and 70s were limited to Flesh Tone  or Darker Flesh Tone.  No Disney characters or Pixar pals back then... we took our bandaids straight and rocked them with panache.)

My parents thought (hoped, prayed) that I would outgrow it, start paying attention to what I was doing but alas, that has simply never happened.  (Chalk up another way in which I have disappointed my mother.)  I have no idea what I'm thinking about that is more important than whatever act of mobility I am currently engaged in, but obviously it's very crucial that I focus on that rather than walking.

Long story short, I'm kind of a train wreck, and not the Amy Schumer version who has sex with strangers because John  Cena just isn't quite enough for her.  



Typical conversations in my life go like this:

Dan:  "How did you get that giant cut on your elbow?"
Me:  "I banged it on the tampon disposal thingy in the bathroom at work.  I was worried I might get something gross like chlamydia or herpes so I dumped a bunch of hand sanitizer all over it and I haven't died yet, so I'm pretty sure it's all good."

Dan:  *kissing me on the top of my head*
Me:  "Ouch!"
Dan:  "What's wrong?"
Me:  "I slipped on a dryer sheet while I was doing the laundry and fell down and banged my head on the washing machine.  I may or may not have been unconscious for a minute, I dunno.  I went to sleep later and didn't die so I'm pretty sure it's okay."

Dan:  "How did you get that huge bruise on your shoulder?"
Me:  "Oh, that?  I was leaning out of bed trying to reach my water bottle on my night stand and I underestimated the distance and fell off the bed.  I didn't land on the dogs or anything breakable and after lying there for a few minutes I was able to get back up, so I figured it was fine."

Dan, in a letter written in all caps and littered with exclamation points, placed prominently on my coffee pot for me to find when I got out of bed:  "DANI!!!!  IT IS VERY ICY OUTSIDE!!!  WEAR BOOTS WITH TREAD AND BE CAREFUL!!! I MEAN IT!!! IT'S DANGEROUS!!!!"
Me, texting back indignantly:  "I'm pretty sure I know what to put on my feet when it's icy out, Dan.  I'm not stupid.  Seriously."
Me, 5 minutes after shooting off my annoyed text:  *taking the dogs out while wearing slippers and instantly plummeting knees-first onto the frozen tundra that used to be my front steps*
Dan, later that same day:  "Why are you limping?"
Me:  "I dunno.  I'm old.  I think I have a bad hip."

My youngest son, Brennan, has inherited my unfortunate tendencies.  In his lifetime he has escaped death by mere inches without even really trying.  He's like Mr. Magoo, wandering obliviously through life while pianos and anvils drop from rooftops and 15th story windows behind him.

Last week we were talking on the phone when I heard a loud crack and bang coming through the wires from his end.
At the same time as I said, "What was that?!" He yelled, "Mom!  You will not believe this!"
As it turns out, seconds after he had walked under a tree, a giant branch broke off and landed right behind him.  He was a little shaken up (not dramatically so, as things like this are not entirely unheard of in Brennan Land) and asked, "Mom... why am I so unlucky?"
Me:  "Did the branch hit you?"
Him:  "No..."
Me:  "I personally see it as that you are very lucky."  
(Of course, he had a broken hand at that time because he was helping a friend get rid of a computer.  I'm not sure of the details but apparently it involved breaking things, including Brennan.)
Him:  "How am I lucky?"
Me: "It's like, when I see a hearse and I'm not in it?  I'm like, WINNING!  Score one for the Dani Girl!"

I have injured myself stupidly and painfully so many times that the only explanation can be that Karma is amused by my antics.  (Or maybe I pointed and laughed once too often in a past life at some poor soul who biffed it in a big and public way, which is entirely possible.)

Years ago I broke my finger because of the stupid dog.  It was the middle of the night, she was barking her ass off, and I got up to find her standing on the dining room table barking at the curtains.  I reached out (somewhat forcefully, not gonna lie) and rather than getting anywhere near the dog, I banged my hand on the corner of the table and broke my middle finger, which was ironic, considering how I felt at that moment.

And then there was the time I opened the closet door one night and my rarely used iron flew out and dropped like a ton of bricks, landing on the top of my foot and crushing all the little bones in there, which, in case you were wondering, are tiny, fragile, and numerous.  (This is my reason for never ironing.  Thank you, Dryer Sheets, for saving my life.  It's not because I'm lazy, it's because I'm cautious.  And might have PTSD.)

I gave myself an actual concussion opening the freezer.  I was talking to Dan (friggin' Dan) and turned to look at him at the exact same second that I pulled open the freezer door.  I smacked myself so hard on the side of my head with the door that I burst a blood vessel in my eye and knocked myself out.

Then there was the night I broke the toilet at my in-laws house, which endeared me to them forever.  (Just ask them, they'll tell you.)  I got up in the middle of the night to pee.  I had taken an Ambien and was wearing earplugs because of the snoring machine that is my husband (in other words, what happened next is not my fault.)   I wandered sleepily into the bathroom and sat on the toilet, only to be knocked entirely off balance and have my bare ass plunging the depths of the icy cold toilet water.  I frantically struggled to pull myself up, with the lights off, earplugs in, and drowsy from the sleeping pill.  I couldn't quite grasp what was happening until Dan burst into the bathroom (quite dramatically, mind you, because my husband is something of a drama queen) and turned on the light.  I looked down and saw water gushing out of the shattered toilet bowl and apparently creating a dazzling waterfall through the ceiling and into the kitchen below.
It was a proud moment, standing there with wet feet, pajama pants puddled at my ankles, and the entire family looking in to see what had happened, while Dan over-reacted and made a huge deal out of it.
(Silver lining:  As far as I know there was nothing disgusting in the toilet.  Also?  As it turns out this entire incident could have been avoided if my jackass nephew had put the damn seat down.)

You all know the story about how I stabbed myself in the ass with a steak knife and almost bled to death, so there's no reason to repeat that one.

It doesn't surprise me anymore when a baby bird lands in my hair or I step in the one hole in the yard and break my ankle.  

Nor does it surprise any one else.

I called my mother last night to let her know about an upcoming surgery I am having later this month.
I had a brief moment of self-pity and said, "How come this stuff only happens to me?  You and my sister breezed right through getting your period, childbirth, and menopause.  And then there's me.  Debilitating cramps, endometriosis, long, difficult, almost fatal labors and deliveries, and now this."
Mother, chuckling:  "Oh, honey... why on earth would you expect anything to be easy?  It's YOU."

Silver lining:  I'm never boring.  And Pandas are my spirit animal.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I Left My Shame In California

This dazzling ensemble is what I wore to the post office this morning.  I literally rolled out of bed, threw on an ugly, stained, ratty sweatshirt, stuck my feet in my boots (I'm not even wearing socks, yo... because I'm a rebel.  And I couldn't find any within a foot of where I was sitting), ran my fingers through my raging bedhead, got in my car, and went.  

I even went inside, talked to the post office lady, smiled at a few old people, and gave zero fucks.

As I was driving the half mile home (shut up, it's raining.  Not that I'd walk if it wasn't, but still) I had a brief moment of clarity:  Dude... you have completely left your Shame in the dust.

Shame is hanging out at the beach right now drinking Starbucks and eating a scone and I'm in upstate New York wandering around in public in my jammies hating on Dunkin Donuts.  (Seriously, it's gross.  Weak-ass coffee, greasy sad donuts.  Toughen your shit up, Dunkin... I want my coffee to taste like coffee and I want a damn maple oatnut scone.  And green tea that is actually green... but that's a complaint for a different day.)

(And then I totally forgot what I was talking about.)

I felt wistful for a moment.  I remember Shame.  Shame was that voice of reason that made me shower every day, shave my legs in the winter time, do my hair, and put on pants.  Shame walked behind me and nagged me until I put on a bra, ate my vegetables, and reminded me not to announce "That's bullshit!" every time I disagreed with someone.  Shame gave me a filter, helped me shop, and reminded me I wasn't invisible when I had an itch that needed to be scratched in public.  Shame would have advised me not to sit in the open hallway at work and pick carrot cake crumbs out of my cleavage.  Shame would have been like, "Gurl... PEOPLE CAN SEE YOU."  Shame was my bestie, that friend that let's you know that you've had enough to drink, you can't dance, you can't sing, and you do, indeed, look fat in those pants.

In hindsight, Shame is kind of a bitch.

After moving to New York I kept in touch with Shame for a little while.  I made an effort when going out in public.  I kept my thoughts and opinions (mostly) to myself, I put on pants before leaving the house.  I worried about how my ass looked in those pants, was self-conscious about my muffin top, and cared if people liked me.

Then it occurred to me:  I don't know anybody here.  Not one single person gives one single shit about how I look standing behind them in the grocery store.  They don't care if I'm fat, they don't care if I'm nice, they don't care if my knees are growing bangs or if I go home and cry because I have no friends.  I am completely anonymous, there isn't a chance in hell that I will encounter anyone I know.  Not one.

(Also?  Depending on where I am at a given time, it wouldn't matter what I had on... I'd still be the most fashionable person there.  Thank you, Amish people.  *fist bump*)

It's incredibly freeing to not give a damn.  I rock my jammy bottoms and my Bear Paws, I wave hello to people who don't know me (and don't want to), I call bullshit on the masses when duty calls, and I've become mildly feral.  (Am I wearing a bra under this sweatshirt or am I not?  Only my boobs know for sure.  In case you were wondering, the answer is usually not.)

I'm good with that.

Don't get me wrong... I do wear clothes to work.  I make an effort with my hair and makeup.  I'm polite to customers and only declare bullshit when my phone is on mute (so far).
Long story short?  I don't miss Shame.  When I go back to California to visit we'll probably hang out... we'll have drinks, sing karaoke, and I'll be properly embarrassed in the morning.  And then I'll return to New York with no regrets.  None.