Thursday, September 28, 2006

Spiders, part IV

I'm pleased to announce that I've experienced a paradigm shift.

After my initial post about spiders, someone explained a theory he had about bees and spiders, etc. I don't completely remember the conversation, but I walked away considering the idea that spiders and bees maybe, possibly, are not very emotional creatures. Whoever it was told me that he didn't really think that they had feelings. It was something I had never really thought about. At the time of the conversation, I'll admit that I was less than convinced of his viewpoint.

All along, I've been feeling like spiders and bees were part of some sort of conspiracy. And as I continue to reflect on the conversation that I had with whichever friend it was, I realize more and more that my thoughts were completely irrational and, really, impossible. Insects and arachnids simply do not hold conferences to discuss attacking humans. They don't have squashing drills where they practice dodging shoes or jumping around wads of tissue. Big spiders don't tell baby spiders about the thrill of scaring a poor girls into abandoning perfectly good blankets or rooms. They just don't. It's all just very disturbing anthropomorphism, and it probably stems from books like Charlotte's Web and James and the Giant Peach.

Since then, I've realized that my friend is right. And suddenly, spiders seem much less dangerous that they did before.

I have exciting evidence that attests to my change: I have (personally) killed four spiders in the last three days. And two other insects. And I smashed all of them with my bare hands! Okay, not really. I actually used tissue for three of them. And a shoe for a really big and juicy one. I'm so proud of myself, though, because I really couldn't kill spiders before. It's still progress, though. The best I could do was spray excessive amounts of smelly spider-killer on them, and even then I was afraid to pick up the bodies for fear that they would come back to life.

You still won't see me on Fear Factor anytime soon, but I would like to thank whoever it was that I chatted with.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Did you hear about Hugo and Kim?

Almost every day, funny things happen at the call center.

Management specifically tells us not to try to convince people to be interested in online college classes: either they are interested, or they are not, and either answer is okay. We just want to know.

People don't realize that, though. They think that we're going to pressure them to spend money or sign up for something, so they get really defensive. They just wanted their FREE! Dinner for two at Chili's! or FREE! Pair of jeans! Or to WIN! A laptop!!! and so they clicked some button saying that they were interested in college classes.

Occasionally, people will admit that they just wanted the free thing, and that they're not really interested. I commend their honesty. More often, people will say they "made a mistake," and that's okay too. (I've made a huge mistake!) Or they'll say that they don't remember filling the form out. Fine. [My personal favorite response is "Oh, I changed my mind. I'm not interested anymore." In that one, they're taking responsibility for having expressed the interest (however fleeting and related to incentive), and still communicating their disinterest politely.]

Other times, interesting things happen. Sometimes people (other than the ones that we're calling for) start interrogating us (sometime I'll have to post about the time that I actually was interrogated...). When it happens, it usually turns out to be:

1) A jealous spouse. (Sad. My husband and I will not have trust issues when telemarketers call.)
woman's voice: "Hello?"
me: "Hi, is John there?"
her: "Who is this?"
me: "It's [me] with the [Company], is he there?"
her: "Why are you calling?"
me: "He had expressed an interest in some college classes. Can I talk to him?"
her: "College classes?!"
me: "Yes..."
her: "And you're from where?"
me: [sigh.]

2) A concerned parent. Since people are kind of greedy, they sometimes try to maximize their share of FREE!* (*but not really) stuff by signing up their children for free stuff too.

"Hi, is Madison there?"
"Madison? What's the last name?"
"Yeah. Jones. Is she there?"
"Um. Well, this is the Jones', but...Madison? What does this regard?"
"Oh, I'm calling her back about some college classes she had expressed an interest in. Can I talk to her?"
"Who is this?!"
"It's [me]. She'd filled out a form saying she was interested--"
"College classes!! Madison is two months old!"
"Oh! I guess that's a little early to be starting college."
"Yeah, I don't know how that happened!"
(I do.)

In another variation of this, a kid actually does sign up, but they're too young and don't have their parents' permission. This is especially concerning to parents when my male coworkers call for their middle-school aged daughters.

3) A confused relative. This is actually a variation of #2.

"Yeah, is he there?"
"Um. Henry? What is this about?"
"Oh, I'm calling him back about some college classes she had expressed an interest in. Can I talk to him?"
"Who is this?!"
"It's [me]. He'd filled out a form saying she was interested--"
"No! College classes!! Henry is 293847239 years old!"
"Yeah, he's not interested in classes. I don't know how -that- happened!"
(I do.)

4) Something completely random.

We tell people that we're calling from the "Career Institute" and sometimes people misunderstand what we're saying. One time a guy got really mad that my coworker Joe was calling.

"Who IS this?"
"It's Joe."
"From WHERE?"
"The Career Institute."
"[much calmer] Oh! You had me worried there for a minute. I thought you said you were calling from the "Queer Institute."

Or another time, as an attempt to embarrass my coworkers, a guy pretended to be really friendly on the phone, but kept giving pornographic...instructions? to someone that was in the background. Really disgusting stuff. The high school kids who called him loved it. The called back again, and put the guy on speaker phone, and he did it again. I was already tired of their immaturity and lack of professionalism, and after that, I had them moved.

Yesterday, I heard a lady frantically tell someone on her side of the phone that there were police all around the house. She returned to our call and asked me if I could please hold for two minutes. I could, I told her. It took more than two minutes, but when she came back, she was really interested in online college classes. She wanted to take criminal justice classes. Didn't matter which degree, she said. I found that amusing.

Also yesterday, I called a nun. She wasn't there, but that left me with some questions. Can nuns take college classes? Do they use the Internet? Do they apply for FREE!* dinners and jeans and to become mystery shoppers? Do their relatives do that on their behalf? I just really didn't expect that from them.

Last week I kept calling a Mary Katherine. We keep the same papers, so I call each person up to four times (until I talk to them) and then the morning people will try four more times if I don't get ahold of them. WELL. I remembered M.K. because she had it set up so that it plays music while you wait for her to answer. We draw music notes next to the people that have those. Usually they're ghetto songs, but hers was lovely classical music that I enjoyed listening to. I had already listened to it three times when I called her on Friday. After the music it goes to her answering machine where she tells you in her southern accent that you've reached Mary Katherine and she isn't available, blah blah blah. On Friday, though, she answered.

"Hi, this is [me] with the [Company], how are you?"
"Ahblow espainyol." [WHAT? I was shocked. She had just told me in a thick American accent that she spoke spanish. I knew full well that she spoke English, but I thought I'd humor her...]
"Hablamos espanol!" [I told her that we spoke her language.] She hung up on me.

Yesterday I was rude to someone on the phone for the first time. And I think that's commendable, since I've been working there for a month. A lady kept asking me who I was. Over and over again. And I told her that I'm [me] and I was calling for Uzo. And she kept not understanding, and I kept asking if Uzo was there, and if it was the right number. And the lady was really rude. She said, "If you don't know who you're calling, just get off the phone." And she hung up on me! And I was annoyed. Because I did know who I was calling. So I called her back and said, "Listen! You don't have to be rude. If it's the wrong number, just say so!" And I hung up on her. And everyone around me stared, because I never raise my voice on the phone.

The end.

Monday, September 25, 2006

...and men are that they might have joy...

Life is good.

I don't have much to report other than that I'm happy. I can't remember ever being happier, actually.

One of the big things that I learned on my mission was that my happiness does not (and should not!) depend on external things. And I'm sure that's helped... but I feel like everything is finally falling into place.

I'm working. And one of my jobs is a job that I really love. The other job...isn't. But I have made friends there, and they offer me a lot of hours and throw cheesy parties.

I'm doing pretty well spiritually. I'm happy with my new calling. I got home-taught twice! yesterday.

My apartment is nearly finished being painted, and that is a Very Good Thing. I enjoy living with my sister.

I have amazing friends.

I'm going to a concert this week. It's 'Band of Horses' and I'm really looking forward to it.

I'm falling out of like with the guy that I've been interested in. And that will be okay. [Also, I'm discovering that I need to set some different criteria for guys that I want to be interested in. Previously, the qualifications were: 1) intelligence 2) spirituality 3) personality. The problem is, now, 1) to get into BYU in the first place, guys have to be relatively intelligent; 2) They also tend to be members of the Church, although their spirituality does range; 3) Since my mission, I get along with pretty much everyone. So I'm pretty much impressed with basically half of Provo. (Okay, not really. But you get the idea.)] I think I'm finally completely over The Boyfriend, too, which is another Very Good Thing.

I have my phone, so I never feel too stranded or lost. Also, I'm remembering where things are in the Provo/Orem area. And that's always nice.

I'm exercising regularly. (Hm. Maybe that's why I'm happy. Endorphins.) One of my coworkers wants us to start exercising together after work every day, and the idea sounds wonderful to me. Despite my lack of coordination, good workouts are one of my Favorite Things. And I take vitamins again, which makes me feel healthy.

Problems are being worked out. I thought that I was going to have to fly to California a couple weeks ago to keep resolving something, and instead, some deep thought and an extremely productive phone call resulted in a favorable outcome. Which is to say, I didn't have to fly to California and won't in the future, either.

Those are the things that come to mind right now. Life is still very busy, and sometimes very stressful, but overall, I am happy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The End.

My dear readers, I regret to inform you that I won't be around to write for you much longer.

You see, I'll die a miserable death this winter: I'll most certainly freeze to death.

I remember suffering from a severe case of layer-fatigue during my winters in Italy. I hoped that nearly eradicating skirts and dresses from my wardrobe would ameliorate that problem. Avoiding skirts can only do so much good, though-- we're still in September (September!) and I alternate between feeling smothered and feeling freezing cold.

My poor Southern Californian blood is simply not accustomed to these extreme temperatures. As it is, I'll have to buy shoes this weekend. I only own flip-flop sandals, but I fear that I'll lose my toes if I don't bury them in shoes. I'll also buy socks. Who knows if I'll end up buying boots, too.

I'm already drinking hot cocoa every day. Sometimes twice a day. What will I do in December? Or January?

If I am not buried in snow (while, say, waiting for a bus), please do have a nice funeral service for me. Might I suggest hyacinth or hellebore as flowers? They thrive in winter climates, and that might suggest to the people who attend that although I was unable to withstand the cold, there is still hope for them.

Monday, September 18, 2006


O, public transportation:
How do I hate thee?
Let me count the ways.
I hate thee for thy inaccessability,
and for thy excessive cost,
and for thy complete and utter disregard for schedules...

I've had some (adjective) experiences with public transportation lately.

I expected to be a seasoned bus-rider. After all, I've been riding buses for nearly two years now. We used buses for most of my mission. But the buses in Italy have different norms than the buses here. In Italy, people always enter the front doors, and exit in the back. Exiting from the front doors is strongly prohibited. Entering the back doors is, too. And so, when my bus pulls up, I am often over-eager to board the bus. I step up through the front doors, and the bus driver tells me "Wait! Not yet!" because there are people lined up to exit the bus from the same doors. It's poor organization, if you ask me. Sometimes, the bus driver doesn't warn me in time, and people run into me as they try to disembark. It's embarrassing.

Also, in Italy, they expect you to be able to balance. The bus only stops long enough for people to board, and then it keeps going! Here, you board, chat a little, the driver waits for you to find a seat, and then you're late for your transfer bus.

Another difference is: I am nearly convinced that UTA is owned and operated by a private mental institution.

In Italy, public transportation is very mature, and normal people use it as an alternative to high fuel costs and extreme traffic congestion. Here, it seems to be the internal transportation system of the mentally disabled, offered to the public at a cost-- sort of like how you can attend a library that technically isn't your library, but it costs a lot and is inconvenient to get to.

I offer evidence:

I saw a old man at the transfer center who was stark raving mad. He would begin talking to people, call them over, and then wouldn't let them leave. A man from the bus company told him that they'd had this conversation before; he wasn't allowed to be on the premises. Why-ever not, he wanted to know? Part of the reason was the bottle that he was clutching in his left hand. Would he please leave? No. But the police would be called. And that didn't matter. Bus Man went off to call the police and the guy kept talking to people. He started asking for money. He told people he wanted water. Could he have money to buy water? People would point to a drinking fountain that was 20 feet away. They would tell him that they didn't have money to give him, but he could use the drinking fountain. And he'd ask them to BRING the drinking fountain to him. Or water from it, anyway. When people said that they didn't have cups, the guy would go off about how all people in Utah are hypocrites! And he would start yelling about it. The police finally arrived as my bus was pulling away.

Interesting things happen ON the bus, too. One man waited until the bus was pulling away from the stop to yell frantically at the driver: "LET ME OFF THE BUS NOW!!!" "I WANT OFF!!"

Or, another guy watched a lady talking to the driver, raised his hand to mimic a gun, and used his finger-gun to shoot at her repeatedly.

Another time, a guy with a really loud voice explained to a woman that the way to raise an IQ (even one of, say, 50? the woman asked...) was to "give the brain credit" for everything that it knows. Because people know things subconsciously, and there are connections there. We just don't give our brains enough credit. [He talked about this for an hour.] I saw him on the bus again a few days ago, and this time he was telling jokes. I wish I remembered some, because they were quality jokes. People around him actually asked him to stop talking.

People are usually friendly, like him. I've found this to be especially true with my bus drivers. They're usually the same every day, and when I'm the only person on the bus, we sometimes chat. This was especially true before I got my ipod. I had a conversation with one of my bus drivers in Italian. And that was pleasant.

Other friendly gestures are less appreciated. On Friday, for example, a guy came up to me while I was waiting for my bus at the transit center. He introduced himself and then said, "I want to go see a movie tonight, but I don't want to go alone. I'll pay for you. Will you go with me?" I told him I was busy, even though I hadn't decided what I was doing that night. It was instinctual, really. There was no conversation to prepare me for his invitation, and I have a natural inclination to refuse date invitation from guys that I don't already know.

Well, I'd better go. It's almost time to catch another bus.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another post.

Last week I had my Personal Industrial Revolution.

I opened a bank account, and the bank is sending me a free ipod (!) sometime soon. I got a cellphone. And then a couple days later, I won another ipod (!) at work. Optimistic filled my little ipod with wonderful music, and now I feel like I'm living in a movie because my life has music playing in the background, all day long. (Ichinichigiu?)

It's so nice to have a phone. I'm so happy to finally have one, that I've downloaded a bunch of stuff. I have games! And I've been downloading ringtones, too. My phone is so personalized. One of my favorite features of the phone is that it has photo caller ID and individuals can have their own ringtones. For example, if Robert Poste were to call, his picture would show up and the ringtone would be a lively tune that I chose and downloaded just for him.

I have the 'California' song (that everyone sang to me in Italy) for my CA people. For my mom and little sister, I have the theme from 'The Hills' because we used to watch it together.

These are good things.

Except...unfortunately, my phone never actually rings.

The first reason is because people seldom call me.

The second reason is because both of my jobs ask that we limit cellphone usage. I keep my phone in my pocket and it vibrates instead of ringing. (It's less exciting than personalized stuff, but still functional.)

Last night, though, it proved to be a problem.

I went to Optimistic's apartment to watch the second half of Apollo 13 and an episode of Arrested Development. And then I left.

I am terribly uncoordinated, but I do love exercise. Before my mission, I had a gym membership and I would often go to the gym, or go running outside at 11ish pm. It was wonderful.

After a year and a half of daily pasta consumption, and two jobs that require a lot of sitting (as opposed to waitressing, which is great exercise), I decided yesterday that it was time to restart with something active.

Earlier in the day, I bought athletic shoes, and I went to Optimistic's apartment with every intention of exercising afterwards. I wore loose athleticish pants that had no pocket, so my phone was in my bag instead.

I exercised, and started walking home in the rain. It felt so nice. (A German saying: Rain makes beautiful.)

A block away from my house, someone honked at me. I thought maybe it would be someone from church, or something, but it turned out to be Optimistic and Robert Poste!

They explained that Lavish had worried I'd been kidnapped because I didn't come home right away.

They had tried calling me. And of course, I didn't hear my phone because it didn't ring.

When I got home, Lavish explained that she worried because I keep being impressed with how nice people in Provo are. I once took a ride from a stranger in a Provo monsoon, and so she worried that I'd taken a ride from a stranger (because of the rain), and that it had turned out to be someone that wasn't nice. ("Couldn't you choose some other time to exercise?!") And that was why she'd dispatched the search party.

The whole thing kind of surprised me, though. I expected all three of them to be asleep. And I'm 1/8 sorry for keeping them from getting to bed earlier, but really I'm 7/8 deeply satisfied. Because I have wonderful friends. If there actually had been a problem, I wouldn't have been dead in some ditch somewhere for a week before people noticed that I was missing. And I was thinking about how lucky/blessed I am to have real friends when I realized that I have another story about this. But it'll be for another time; my break is already over and I need to get back to work.