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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Chapter 29: The Assignment

Dear Journal, so after showing the new guys around the exciting features and monuments of our department it was time to give them their first assignments. Obviously some of them had heard that I was in charge of assignments as my desk was now cluttered by more than just the usual unfinished TPR forms, but with several gifts of chocolate.

I don’t know why they were trying so hard to impress me with these tokens (although I was not about to refuse any gift of chocolate) because there were no particularly good assignments.

To Charlie, I gave TPR forms to cross reference and alphabetize. To Rajeshevastetten…something (his name tag is so long I give up saying it about a third of the way in) I gave TPR forms to cross reference and alphabetize and to Cynthia I gave the task of double checking Charlie and Rajesheva…um, Rajesh’s work.

I couldn’t believe the excitement and fervor to which the three of them took on their new assignments, immediately calculating the most efficient way to handle the workload productively. They reminded me of myself, well except for the fact that I spent the first 3 months of my time here not knowing what the heck I was doing (and the next 6 months just pretending I knew). The truth was I was sort of upset to know that this excitement would soon wear off, as it does with everyone in the Customer Service Department (usually after a day or two in the Call Centre).

The task still remained of giving my dearest father an assignment that would have him out of the way and most importantly, too busy to be criticizing me, which was going to be difficult since he has been known to, at times when I was a child, sleep walk into my room and criticize me while he was sleeping. The doctors called it “sleepcritting” and supposedly he was the first and only known person to suffer from it. He patently denies it even after watching the Discovery Channel episode starring him, although he does still accept the donations from the sleep disorder support group that was founded.

Regardless I decided to tell him about the Wizard in the Air duct above my cubicle and how success could only be accomplished by someone with his “amazing talents” (luckily he hasn’t heard of sarcasm – a skill I have learned to excel at here at Centrifico Technologies).

Faster than I could delegate a TPR form to Charlie or Rajesh, he was collecting supplies from the stationery cupboard, fashioning makeshift weaponry and preparing himself for his mission.

I don’t know if the air duct Wizard exists or not, but if he does he is about to meet a very nasty surprise…

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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in journal

 

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Chapter 28: Fresh Meat

Dear Journal, after the initial shock of my father being one of the new recruits in our department I was met with another shock in that I was to “look after” them and “show them the ropes”. I wasn’t sure which “ropes” I was supposed to show them. I thought we weren’t allowed rope at work since that guy in the call centre who “accidently tripped off his chair one day and fell into a noose that happened to be attached to the airduct above him and fell asleep” and then “retired with immediate effect to live happily ever after in the Caribbean”. At least that’s what I read in the company memo that was sent out.

Regardless, and ropeless, I decided to show the group around the department. They all seemed very excited by fixtures such as the plastic fern in the corner, the water cooler and of course the “Just for Laughs ‘n Fun” notice board, which to mention it, never really ever had anything “laughable” or “fun” on it, as every joke or cartoon employees put on the board was swiftly removed by Mr Berkley who deemed these jokes a diversion from work (although I had thought that was actually the point).

Nevertheless the board remained and was almost permanently covered in sign-up sheets for one of Doris’s animal welfare campaigns. It’s not that I have anything against animal welfare; I just think that no animal would want to degrade itself by posing in miniature costumes to raise money. She’s basically a “pet pimp” but I’ll have to address that at another stage for I have more important things to show the new guys.

They all seem so bright eyed and inquisitive and generally in awe of my every word. Well, almost all of them, as my father sticks to his genetic condition of rolling his eyes at everything I say, sighing at everything I show the group and reminding them all that I used to wet my bed as a teenager.

As we continue our tour of the office I show the group my cubicle in all its grey and cluttered glory. After a few remarks from my father about how I never had a girlfriend my entire life, interspersed with anecdotes of how I was always picked last for sports, I tell the group to go grab some coffee.

It was at that point that my father pulled me aside and told me I was doing a “great job” and I should “keep up the good work”. I wasn’t sure how to take this after the past half hour of embarrassing stories and well, 27 years of ridicule, but I felt it might have to do with the fact that I was in charge of giving the new guys their assignments for the first week.

I hadn’t really thought about what to give each of the recruits to do, since I was pretty much set on just delegating my own work to each one of them, but I thought that this was my opportunity to give my dad something really suited to his “unique” skill set. So I reached into the top draw of my desk and hauled out “The List” which I had been meaning to work through.

Top of the list… The Evil Wizard in the Air Duct.

“Thanks dad” I said. “I’m so glad you’re enjoying my work, because I have a very special project I need you to take care of”.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in journal

 

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Chapter 27: Back to Work

Dear Journal

So today is the first working day of the new year and I must admit part of me is actually looking forward to being back, the other 99.9% is still sane and knows that the sooner I get out of Centrifico Technologies and get a real job the better.

Regardless, the first day back seems interesting so far. Eddie is already four cups of coffee down, Mr Berkley is busy handing out work assignments and Doris has “welcome back” postcards for everyone featuring pictures of her cats dressed up in little suits. It’s pretty cute – nauseatingly so.

We start the day with a team meeting in the customer department meeting room which for some reason is called the Gumball Room, despite the fact that there are no gumballs or candy of any sorts anywhere near there, but I suppose “boring grey cube” room, although a more accurate description, probably doesn’t instil fake corporate happiness as much as Gumballs do.

We all gathered round waiting for Mr Berkley to address us. He started by quoting some trite slogan about the importance of customer service and how the work we do here is changing the world. Frankly, I don’t think the thousands of sales reports I generate and TPR forms I fill in are changing the world, but then again, as I am reminded more often than I care to remember, I’m not paid to think (or very much at all).

He then finished his speech and held for applause which was not forthcoming and so started a round of applause by himself. It was quite humorous, in a terribly sad sort of way.

He then proceeded to welcome some new staff members to our department. As each one of them was called into the room, there was unique and yet oddly recognisable quality to each of them which I had not seen for quite some time – the characteristic of hope and honourable ambition.

I remember those days, my first, here at in the Customer Service department – young, fresh faced and ready to change the world; the days before I knew of TPR forms, Coffee dwarves, Air Duct Wizards and Molemen; days of ignorance and innocence.

It was only as Mr Berkley welcomed the final new recruit that my heart began to sink completely to the bottom of my bowels – an anatomical feat I must add. In stepped a man who unlike the others seemed experienced, battle-hardened and single minded. He was taller and stronger than any of the new recruits and as I looked at him I had a terrible feeling that my days at Centrifico Technologies were sure to change.

All I could do in that moment was to feebly ask “Dad? What are you doing here?”

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in journal

 

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Chapter 26: Father/Son Day

Dear Journal today I decided to take my old man to work as he seemed to be tired of complaining about the same old things and thought he could use something new to complain about and naturally work seemed like the natural choice.

It wasn’t difficult getting him through security as it was still office holidays and as expected my father commented about the flimsy defences at work, at least we had something in common.

We walked through the magnificent glass building showing him all the statues and awards (on other people’s desks)

I showed him around the Customer Service department, the fake trees, my cubicle, I tried passing off Eddie’s “World’s Greatest Lover” Chalice as my own, but he didn’t fall for that. After about 2 and a half minutes I had shown him everything in the office, even my collection of “liberated” stationery and make shift booby traps. Unimpressed.

The office was completely deserted except for the one security guard, who seemed overly suspicious of my being at work during the holidays, and Mr Berkley who apparently did in fact enjoy being at the office more than being at home.

I don’t know whether he heard me or smelt another living being, but he immediately walked into my cubicle to check up on me.

“Ah Chris, my boy! Glad to see you’re putting in some extra hours! You remind me of me at your age. Never wasting my time with friends and family, always putting the extra hours where it counts, at the office.”

“Um, yes, of course. Afternoon sir, this is my father…” before I could even introduce my father, he and Mr Berkley were shaking hands and sharing stories about me. I drifted in and out about what they were saying, but the terms “wasted potential”, “lucky to be here” and “disappointment” seemed to pop up all to frequently.

Before I knew it the two of them were sharing a cup of coffee in Mr Berkley’s office. I tried joining them, but as soon as I entered the office, the conversation stopped abruptly, the both stared at me and the entire department fell completely silent. Even the buzzing of the air-conditioning appeared to stop. All I could hear was the deafening silence of being an unwelcome (which in my mind sounds like a cricket riding a tumbleweed).

“I’ll… um…wait in the car” I mumbled sheepishly into my chest as I walked out.

And as I walked to the car and sat in the blazing heat of my chariot, alone, I couldn’t help but think…”It’s nice to see dad making friends” (even if it is with Mr Berkley)

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in journal

 

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