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Chapter 30: Newbies are People Too

Dear Journal, now that my dad is out the way, hunting down the evil wizard in the air duct, this has given me a chance to get to know the new recruits a little better.

I started talking to the new guys about why they decided to work at Centrifico technologies and they all seemed to go into a trance and started reciting the same line “Centrifico Technologies is one of the leading technology firms in the world and was rated amongst the top employers to work for”. They then seemed to “snap out of it” and appeared confused as to where they were and what had just happened.

Strangely, no matter how much I asked the new guys about what their interests were and what they did for fun, they kept asking if this was in fact the best time to be talking about “non work related affairs” and it was then suggested that this conversation be postponed until a designated break period.

The astounding thing was that even though they had only been on the job for a few days, they had processed as many TPR forms as I could do in a month and to make matters worse they appeared to enjoy it. I’m starting to run out of work to give them and this is already after I made up the new “regulation” that these reports needed to be completed in triplicate and in three different languages. (I had originally told them four “different” languages till I was told by Charlie that “Spanish” and “Mexican” are the same language – smart ass).

I couldn’t seem to identify with these kids, until I finally made the starting realization that they must in fact be robots. They don’t appear to eat or take any breaks. I’ve never seen any of them ever go to the bathroom (not even to take a nap or avoid work for a half hour like a normal person) and the things these kids can do with a computer would put the molemen in the IT department to shame.

The only apparent positive coming from their robotic level of activity is that I have almost no work to do and the department is way ahead of schedule. This fact has not gone unnoticed and in true Centrifico Technology spirit, I am the one who is getting all the praise, despite the fact that I haven’t lifted a finger except to try and make more work for these little cyborgs.

I don’t know what it means, but Mr Berkley has invited me to a departmental golf day this Friday as a reward. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, but hey, at least it’s not work.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2011 in journal

 

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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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Chapter 25: Small Town Living

Dear Journal

It’s been several hours now with my parents at my apartment although it feels like several eternities. They only way I have managed to accurately keep track of the time is due to my mother’s clockwork routine.

It must be approximately 4h30pm as she is on her fifth glass of wine and has finished cleaning the house (again) and has started dinner, having just finished baking 2 cakes and some cookies. She appears to be worried that I am looking dangerously thin (she should meet Eddie the coffee dwarf).

My dad continues to sit in silence in my favourite (well only) recliner occasionally asking questions, although I think “What is the point of it all?” is supposed to be rhetorical.

I have decided that for the sake of sanity and my waist line, that it would be best to show my parents a bit of the city tomorrow. You see my parents have never really spent much time outside of the small town where I grew up (except my father who allegedly had adventures all across the globe – although never spoke of the city. Perhaps dragons, demons and damsels in distress prefer to keep their escapades to more rural backdrops).

The town I grew up in was well interesting to say the most. Generally when I ask anyone if they’ve ever been there they usual answered “Never heard of it” or “Once, by accident”. I didn’t really fit in with the local adventuring community, for one my name “Chris” didn’t really inspire many when surrounded with the other kids who had cool adventuring names like “Aragonoth”, “Lyndengard” or “Salamindaran”.

It was a typical small town with small town ways and whose citizens shared small town beliefs. They believed in the sanctity of marriage, of respecting your elders and that technology was the devil. Heck, when they tried to erect a cell phone tower near the town they only let it stand long enough to hang the entire construction crew before burning it to the ground. To be honest I’m not sure why they even tried to get cell phone reception in the town since no one believed in cell phones, although to be fair they didn’t believe in a lot of things. They still think that Asian people are a bedtime story told to scare children. (Maybe taking my parents into the city isn’t such a great idea)

My father was always the talk of the town, the most bravest adventurest adventurer that ever ever’ed (their words not mine). While I was never really into the whole adventuring thing, but at least I’ve finally found something that I’m good (well adequate) at, maybe I should show him around work, let him see what I really do. At the very least I’ll have someone with whom to share my pain

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in journal

 

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Chapter 24: Mom and Dad

Dear Journal

I stood in the door way in utter disbelief. Surely the stress of work had finally gotten to my brain.

“Well are you going to let us in or just stand there like some gaping idiot?” the figment that looked like my mom remarked.

“um, yes, of course, please come in”. I replied still not quite aware of what was happening.

The figment that looked like my father stood as ominously and overbearing as I remember him and as he looked through my humble apartment I could sense his shame and disappointment despite the fact that he hadn’t said a word.

My maternal apparition made her way to the kitchen and was quick to criticise how full the sink was and how empty the cupboards were, but no sooner had these critiques had left her lips and she was washing dishes and stocking the cupboards with food. This apparition was too accurate not to be my mother.

She was from a different era to woman these days. She grew up under the regime of the “three C’s”; Cooking; Cleaning and Criticising. I couldn’t remember a day growing up where the house wasn’t clean or in the process of being cleaned; where there wasn’t food on the table or in the process of being made or where I wasn’t being criticised for doing something or for not doing something else.

If these figures were in fact mirages or apparitions of my parents they had really done their homework, for while my mother cooked and cleaned my father continued his routine, by making himself comfortable on the couch while wallowing in his disappointment of me.

My father was a great adventurer and had travelled the globe saving princesses, slaying dragons and felling entire armies before his arthritic wrist and high blood pressure put him into early retirement. He now lives vicariously through my two siblings. My older brother; who owns his own adventuring academy and has trained some of the greatest adventurers of the modern age most of whom have survival shows on the Discovery Channel; and my youngest sister, who my mother keeps referring to as the “great sorceress”, even though I keep telling her they’re called Pharmacists.

Then there’s me… the great and mighty Customer Service Analyst. I bet my dad doesn’t even care that I once completed 362 TPR reports in under 2 hours (a company best) or that I saved the molemen in IT from the terrible Jock Nerd.

Still he just sits there, grunting and yawning, occasionally moving to scratch himself (unfortunately without warning) a few second of looking around disappointingly, then a great sigh of shame before repeating the routine.

It really is like being a child again, except without the homework and beatings. As much as their presence is uncomfortable and making it difficult to keep childhood memories repressed, it is great to be out of the office… and to be eating something besides canteen food and take-aways.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in journal

 

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