Sunday, May 15, 2005

Crazy, Complainy Americans

Measure of a man's worth:

4 days a week, 12 hours a day, Jason takes phone calls from Americans who didn't read the contract they signed when they bought their cell phones. 4 days a week, Jason comes home so exhausted and frustrated that it takes almost endless shoulder massage to work the kinks out. He does it because he loves me.

The crazy place where Jason works:

It's Sunday night, Desperate Housewives is on (and for once, I have remembered to watch it), and Jason is still at work for another couple of hours. He works on a team with a bunch of old ladies. They'll probably ask him to go out to the old trucker's hangout for coffee when their shift is over. And like every night for the past 6 months, Jason will politely refuse. This is why a dozen 60 year-old ladies refer to him as "anti-social."

The truth is, Jason works way beneath him. He should rightfully be their supervisor's supervisor, and in Ottawa, he was. But he gave it up and started all over when we moved here. And he'll do it again when we move again, shortly. Such is life.

So for now, he works with old ladies and despite the fact that they've all been there since the dawning of the age of aquarius, they hassle him for help constantly. They hang over his shoulder, fouling up his cubicle with fetid old-lady stench, pointing their greasy fingers all over his screen (Jason is touchy about that), and making it impossible to hear customers over their death-rattle.

Jason's supervisor is a real wanker. His claim to fame is farting on people. Farting on people. That's right. I wrote it twice because it took me at least twice, maybe 40 times hearing it to really believe it. He farted on people. Not on Jason of course, Jason would have punched his lights out, and apparently his supervisor sensed this. But it didn't stop him from doing it to everyone else. He left their cubicles stinking, chuckling like he'd just told the greatest joke ever. And aside from Jason, he was adored by his team. The old ladies fawned over him, brought him gifts, giggled over his every word.

Guess how broken up Jason was that this supervisor left last week. Yeah, not very. The team held a little party for him in the office, they didn't bother telling Jason about this of course. There was cake, so according to Jason, "it wasn't a total waste of time." The smirk on his face when he said this was to die for.

The old ladies have pined for their supervisor all week (there was no one to fart on them!), and by the end of the week they had called him up at home and begged him to have a delicious chicken dinner all together, like the big happy family they pretend to be. Jason declined to participate (this week alone he also declined a trip to the sugar bush, a potluck, and a stitch & bitch, and those are only the tip of the iceberg because generally speaking, they don’t bother inviting him anymore). Instead, Jason and the one other guy on the time who is

a)under 60
b)less dense than the Britney Spears fan club

spent the evening together, getting high (no doilies, no pound cake, no Gold Bond medicated powder), and attempting to laugh about their lot in life.

Ridiculous coworkers of note:

Dora - old lady who came to work one day, saw that someone was sitting at her desk and was so outraged by this, she went right home without saying anything to anyone.

Gayle - reads Harlequinns at work for "research" because she wants to write one in the future, despite the fact that she's barely literate. Also known for asking questions about things that came and went 2 weeks ago, without reintroducing the topic so that no one ever knows what the hell she's talking about.

Thorr - well, his name is Thorr. No viking hat, but still. His skinny runt-like status makes his name both ironical and comical at once.

Serge - 50 year old man who hates perfume wearers, and is always quick with an answer (even though it's never right). Likes to give everyone updates on the mail tracking of various computer parts he's ordered (no one cares). Is known to cry frequently, in frustration. When told to start Internet Explorer by pressing the E on the bottom of the screen, he asked the class "There's no E in start, is there?". Then he cried.

Staring Girl - Jason and Joey don't know her name, but damn do they complain about her. On Tuesdays they have to sit near this woman, who I believe is a little soft in the head. She's not quite 5 feet tall, 40ish, has an elf haircut and the most ridiculous outfits you can imagine: salvation army corduroys tucked into imitation ugg boots, paired with coats that can only be described as 'yak's hair', and that doesn't quite do it justice. She straddles her chair backwards and swivels her chair back and forth so she can stare at Jason, then Joey, over and over for 12 hours at a time.

Customers of note:

Jason: Sir, there are only 2 ways to get out of your contract; either we made a mistake, or you're in the military and being deployed.
Customer: I'm in the military.
J: Where are you going?
C: I don't remember.
J: Well when you remember you need to fax your information into us.
C: Never mind then.

Jason: I'm sorry ma'am, you can't get out of your contract. You read it, you signed your name to it.
C: Well I work in a law office, and I can find a loophole.
J: Uh, okay.
C: Maybe you should just fax that contract to my law firm then.
J: That's fine, what's the fax number?
C: (yelling at her kid in the background) What's the fax at my work? Kid yells: the one for Burger King? Mom says yes.
When Jason faxes it, sure enough, she works at Burger King, also known to Americans as "a law firm."

Customer: Yes, I'd like to make an insurance claim for a lost phone.
Jason: Sir, I can tell that you're calling me from the phone...are you sure it's lost?
Custumer hung up.

Customer: I'm having a problem with my cellphone.
Jason: Okay, no problem. Can you take the battery out of it and tell me what happens?
Phone goes dead.
This happens a few times a week.

Customer: I have a $700 phone bill for calling France and I'm not paying it!!
Jason: Sir, did you make those calls?
C: Yes.
J: Well then shouldn't you pay for them?
C: No. You guys shouldn't have let me called! You fuckers should have blocked it!

Jason: Can I get the last 4 digits of your social security to confirm your id please?
Customer: No you cannot. That's an invasion of my privacy! What's the last 4 digits of your social security?
J: I don't have one sir.
C: Well you're working there illegally then!
J: No, sir, I'm not American.
C: Oh.

Customer: I am not paying my phone bill, it's for $300!
Jason: Did you make the calls?
C: No. Someone must have cloned my phone and is making calls on my account and I'm not paying for it.
J: Which calls did you not make?
J: Are you sure? Because that number is listed as your home phone number, and usually thieves don't call your house.
Customer hung up.

Customer: How come I never get my bill on time? The crackers always get theirs!
Jason: Uhhhh.

Customer: Why can't I get a dial tone on my cell phone?
Jason: Cell phones don't have dial tones sir. Just dial and press send.
Customer: @#%&$!!!!!

Customer: Jeez, it took you long enough to answer.
Jason: Sorry about the wait. Can I get your area code?
Jason: Sorry, can I get that area code again?
Jason: Your area code has 5 digits?
C: Yeah, what are you, stupid?
J: Are you sure that's not your zip code? I need your area code.
C: Oh you mean my area code. XXX

Customer: I pay my grandson's bill, and there's some charges here I don't recognize.
Jason: The first one is for a song.
C: Song? What song?
J: P.I.M.P.
J: The second charge is for the girl of the month club.
C: What's that?
J: It's uh, a service, um, that sends pictures. Of girls....

Jason worked for a Canadian company before this, so the contrast is pretty painful at times. How can Americans be so crude?

- People often ask him if he is white "because I don't understand ebonics."
- Jason can hear toilets flushing when he's talking to customers.
- People call him to ask which states they've called, as if Jason is their personal geographical service: "which one is AZ? OR? RI? BC? Where the hell is BC?"
- Calling Jason racist because the company doesn't give free minutes on Martin Luther King Day.
- Parents who say they will "beat their kids with their phone" for racking up huge bills texting and downloading ring tones.
- Men who ask women to talk to other men because "he'll know what he's doing."
- Men who ask to talk to women, and want them to recite this month's specials while they breathe heavily into the phone.

Yup, there surely were not any of these problems with Canadian customers. Canadians are all please and thank you. But to be fair, Jason says that from what he's seen, a lot of Americans get a bad rap. New Yorkers, for example, despite a reputation for rudeness, are often the nicest, but they like to emphasize that they'll be paying with their PLATINUM Visas.

New Jersey - also surprisingly nice, as long as you're efficient.
Florida - often involves lengthy explanations of cellphones to the elderly.
California - everyone is a "bizness" man, "I can't be missing these phone calls! I'm in bizness!"
Texas - like to haggle over pennies.
Georgia - most bad phone calls come from here - motto at Jason's work is "I'm going to get yelled at if it's from Georgia."
Carolinas - customers are laid back.
Massachusetts - most likely to swear at you.
Hawaii - everyone is your best friend.
Michigan - can immediately spot the Canadian accent and are quick to point out that employees are "so polite!" and that "we love your side of Niagara Falls!"

So Jason puts up with a lot when he goes to work. But he has a tender heart and I admire his attitude - he's never "just doing his job." He really does try to help people out, especially if the phone call did not start with an irate customer yelling "you fucking assholes, you're all gonna die!" (it happens more often than you'd think). And he has a good sense of humour about it. I know that I would never last more than 5 minutes in that kind of job. He shows so much restraint, but I would be slamming the phone down at best, and cussing up a storm right back at worst. But that's my nature, and a big part of why Jason works outside the home and why I stay at home. Plus, I get to wear Eeyore pajama pants and no one yells at me when I drop daiquiris all over the keyboard at 10am and have to give up work for the day so it can "air out." And now that the nice weather is here, you can bet that spillage will increase tenfold, and that poor Jason will continue to be cussed out by crazy, complainy Americans.

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