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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 18: The Returning Hero

Dear Journal

As I ascended the grey stairway to the Customer Service Department, I couldn’t help but wonder how my victorious return would be celebrated. Would I get rapturous applause? Would they give me the corner cubicle with the view of the water cooler? Perhaps they’d bestow me with one of those shiny “employee of the month” trophies? I hope printer girl is there to see my triumphant return.

I’m actually pretty excited to get back to my old cubicle; I wonder who Eddie has been annoying since I haven’t been around.

I suppose the guys in the Customer Service Department would want a few words of acceptance, I should work on a speech.

As I turned the corner and entered the Customer Service Department everything seemed to be just as I left it… grey. No “Our Hero” banners, no decorations, no scantily clad maidens to nurse my battle scars.

I think they must be planning a surprise celebration. So I decided to take a seat inside my cubicle and at last I could see at least one thing that has changed… my pile of TPR reports has tripled in size!

I made a thorough inspection of my cubicle. No trophies, no certificates, not even so much as one of those magical sticky post-it thingies recognising my absence. Even my electronic mail had nothing of interest, just several hundred report requests, some photo’s of Doris’s cats in stupid clothes and a ominous sounding chain letter that promised to curse me with 10 years bad luck if I didn’t forward this to 100 other people.

About 2 hours later I finished sending the accursed chain letter to 100 other people. It took so long because I don’t actually know that many people so I had to make a few up. I hope the wizard who created this curse doesn’t find out that Ben Dover isn’t a real person.

I wondered when this surprise celebration was going to take place, when Eddie came by with his “World’s Greatest Lover” Chalice.

“Hi Eddie, it’s good to see you again!”

“What do you mean see you again?” he replied.

“I’ve been away the last 3 days… saving the company from a ferocious 8ft steroidal genius. I also managed to get the server back on line.”

“Oh, didn’t know you were gone”

The realisation that not only would my exploits go unrewarded, but that no one even knew I wasn’t at my desk for the past three days was not as much frustrating as it was depressing.

“Well, did I miss anything?” I asked.

“Doris, bought cake for one of her cat’s birthdays on Tuesday, it was delicious.”

F**k this place…time to start working names off “The List”

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2011 in journal

 

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Chapter 17: The Great Esc

Dear Journal

As I stood beneath the towering hulk that was the infamous Jock Nerd, I noticed the slight glints of light reflecting off the glass “eyes” of molemen and women all around. Their numbers seemed to be increasing by the second as they poked their little neckless heads out from their respective cover.

Jock Nerd continued to hurl what I could only assume to be abuse, but instead of being intimidated by this I simply stared back blankly at him partly in an act of defiance, but mostly as I had no idea what he was saying.

This seemed to enrage the beast even further who picked up a nearby cubicle partition and held it above his side-parted and peroxided head of hair. He waved it around threateningly causing a variety of drawing-pin fastened documents, keepsakes and motivational posters to flutter to the floor.

It was now or never, so I decided now was the better option, given the limited medical aid cover Centrifico Technologies offered. I opened the mysterious elixir and without a second thought I sprayed the clear liquid across the gargantuan intellect’s pimply, well chiselled face to the sound of a collective gasp of a thousand molemen (which incidentally sounds very similar to an asthmatic cat coughing up a hairball.)

The beast dropped the cubicle wall and the slightest glimmer of hope seemed to reflect in the thousand molemen eyes, but just as suddenly he simply sputtered and laughed.

“Is that all you’ve got? Water?” “I was worried you knew of my secret fear of spiders, I’m completely terrified of them. Ever since I was a little boy when my uncle used to come home late at night and come into my room dressed as Spiderman and try climb the walls.”

This sudden openness scared me than any arachnophobia, but it sure was better than being beaten to death with a grey cubicle wall. What could have brought this open confession on? Perhaps the elixir contained a truth serum?

“I’m not really this mean, I just have a hormone imbalance from too many nutritional supplements and from wearing these Power balance bracelets – I’m not stupid, I know they don’t do anything, but the jock in me can’t seem to take it off.”

“I just wish people here would like me and not be scared of me, I wish for once they would invite me to go to nightclubs and bars with them”

It was at this point that my moleman ally spoke up to say that they never go anywhere except to LAN parties, live action role playing parties or Star Trek conventions so that’s why they’ve never invited him.

There was a terribly awkward silence as the two arch enemies appeared to finally be seeing eye to eye to eye to eye to eye (I lost count at this point). While I was quite relieved not to have my brains smeared across a cubicle wall, I was hoping for a little bit more action from this encounter.

The molemen did thank me and raised me up on their shoulders (approximately 3ft in the air) and walked me as far as they could muster (also approximately 3ft). All seemed to be well again in the kingdom of basement level B7; the molemen had found a new champion in Jock Nerd; I had restored peace to the dimly lit land of the molemen and I was told that the server would be online by the time I got back to my desk.

As I began to ascend my the seemingly endless flight of stairs, each storey bathed in increasing levels of natural light I thought back on my journey and whether this would get me one of those extra-curricular performance bonuses that I had been told about for surely I was returning as not only a level 1c Customer Service Analyst, but also…a hero.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in journal

 

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Chapter 15: Of Mice and Molemen

Dear Journal

I stood stunned partly from fear and also due to the faulty wiring in the cubicle. The Moleman could speak, and particularly well I might add. The fact that he had been expecting me unnerved me even further. I needed to know more.

“How do you know who I am?” I asked, trying to mask the slight trembling in my voice.

There was an awkward silence before he replied. “I’ve been reading your Journal, Chris. You really should use a more encrypted file format, otherwise just about anyone could read your work”

“Why on Earth would any sane creature want to read my weekly journal?”

“It’s actually pretty entertaining, but it was because of this journal that I needed your help. You see all is not what it should be down here in the IT department. A great evil has descended upon us and I fear that only someone with your skills can defeat it”

I wasn’t sure what skills he was referring to, I hoped that it was my adventuring and dragon slaying and not my ability to type out TPR reports and alphabetise customer complaints. Nevertheless, I was so excited to hear of this perilous evil that I giggled like a school girl, which I fear may have made him second guess his decision to request my help.

Trying to hide my excitement I asked what exactly was this “great evil”. His response seemed ludicrous at first, but the terror in his shiny little slit eyes spoke the truth, a truth that was further magnified by his two gigantic glass eyes that were slowly sliding down his nose. He responded with only two words “Jock Nerd”.

I knew vaguely what these terms meant in isolation, but had never heard of a “Jock Nerd”, in fact as far I was concerned Jocks and Nerds had always been mortal enemies and never been allowed to intermingle let alone interbreed.

“I can see you are struggling to believe me,” said the rodent-like IT guy”, but I will show you the foul beast if you would just walk this way”.

He then scurry around on the floor taking cover behind cubicle walls and old monitors, I wasn’t sure I could actually emulate such a feat, but I did as was instructed as difficult as it was.

As we scurried through the dimly lit passages I noticed the gleaming of several pairs of eyes reflecting their respective monitors. Hundreds and hundreds of cubicles each filled with molemen and women (not that I could actually tell the difference). There were hundreds of them and yet they were all in grave fear of this “Jock Nerd”.

And then suddenly our scurrying came to an abrupt halt as behind a pile of discarded ink cartridges. I took a moment to catch my breath before poking my head from my inky vantage point.

And there he stood… more Giant than Mole, a towering mass of brains and muscles… I could only manage but whisper his name… “Jock Nerd”

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2011 in journal

 

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Chapter 14: Land of the Molemen

Dear Journal

As I approached the stairwell that lead to the bowels of Centrifico Technologies a sudden and terrible realisation came over me. It was a strange sensation, unlike any I had felt before. I felt a sense of purpose, for the first time in my career here.

I descended each step cautiously, but urged on by the responsibility of this task, knowing full well that without me those TPR forms would never be completed, and then I would have to fill in a RQ27 form resulting in our customers getting a further 1% rebate on their accounts for late delivery. The horror of which was unimaginable.

I didn’t quite know what that meant, but it was all the motivation I needed, as the RQ27 report sounded even more tedious. Besides, I’m sure everyone would be very grateful if I succeeded, (well except our customers who would prefer the 1% rebate).

The stairs seemed to descend into the very Earth itself. Each level was hotter and darker than the level above, until finally I reached the lowest floor, basement level B7… the myths were true! Although this brought very little consolation as my mind wandered through the many other myths that shrouded this labyrinth, most notably that a species of 4 eyed “molemen” ruled this land, and that no one had ever left here alive.

I moved through the darkened corridors slowly and with great caution. The cubicles seemed very similar to ours except outside each lay strewn a graveyard of computer hardware. Monitors; keyboards; old speakers, and various other pieces of gadgetry, some of which appeared to predate civilization itself, lay piled outside the cubicles.

I had to find a way to get to the cause of the server malfunction. I managed to summon the courage to peer inside one of the cubicles armed only with my mysterious elixir that Rudy the Janitor had bestowed on me. I still had no idea what I was supposed to do with this elixir, but one thing that working at Centrifico Technologies has taught me is nobody actually knows what they are supposed to be doing; that and don’t eat the chicken mayo from the canteen.

I searched through the empty cubicle, which was littered with half eaten meals, empty soda cans and with more pirated DVD’s than one could imagine. It was at this point that I realised I was not alone in the cubicle.

Someone else was in there. Something…

My heart began to race as I slowly turned around ready to see my end.

There in the “doorway” stood a creature which fit the description many had given me of one of those “molemen”. He was about 5foot, had long greasy hair that was tied back into a pony tail andfour eyes – two of which appeared to be made of glass and two that looked like two horizontal coin slots as they squinted to see me in the dim glow of the PC.

He wore a t-shirt that had written some strange coded language. From what I could make out between the coffee stains and burger crumbs it appeared to read “n00b pwn-age ftw!” I had little time to try decipher this message as he inched closer towards me, presumably as he had picked up my scent.

Taking several deep breaths I eventually managed to summon the strength to speak.

“My name is Chris and I need to speak to someone about the Server crash”.

Surprisingly, the beast not only seemed to understand me, but replied in perfect English (these molemen must have been studying our culture for many years now).

“I know who you are Chris”

“We’ve been expecting you”

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in journal

 

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Chapter 13: The IT Department

Dear Journal

I’m busy preparing for my trip to the Dungeon known as the IT department. I have never been nor do I know anyone else who has ever been and returned alive, let alone knows how to get there in the first place. Rumours have it that there is only one person who is allowed safe passage to IT and that is Rudy the Janitor. I must find this Man of the Mop and learn his secrets.

I approach the cleaning services office which incidentally was the dirtiest office in the building. It was filled with all sorts of unnamed bottles with various types of warnings and skulls on the labels. I walked as silently and as stealthily as I could past the graveyard of mops, buckets and chemicals. Surely some potent concoctions existed in these bottles, but my fear got the best of me and I decided to keep my hands to myself.

As silent as I thought I was, someone had heard me. An eerie call came from behind the service desk. “WHO’S THERE?” I SAID I’D CLEAN THAT TOILET AFTER LUNCH!” he shouted before poking his head over the service counter.

I told him that my name was Chris, but he interrupted me saying that he already knew who I was. That I was the one who was stealing all the office supplies to make traps and destroying printer supplies to make sure the printer goddess would return.

I thought he was going to report me or ask for some sort of bribe to maintain his silence, but instead he thanked me for trying to get printer girl to return sooner and admired my ingenuity.

He then stood up and made his way towards me. As he hobbled closer I was struck by the strangest mix of cleaning chemicals, none of which hid the smell of sweat that had soaked into his faded blue overalls. This brought back terrible memories of my performance review with Mr Berkley so to avoid a similar result I took a few steps back and held my breath.

He asked what I was doing in his office, to which I explained that I sought out the IT department. He laughed, a terrible, phlegm-filled laugh, which was only interrupted by the most soul-chilling “death rattle” of a cough that could only be caused by innumerable years of exposure to dangerous cleaning chemicals. He then hobbled towards a large cabinet and handed me a small bottle of clear liquid.

He explained to me that finding the IT department isn’t the problem the problem is getting out of there. He said that this elixir would allow me to escape unharmed from the dungeon of IT.

I didn’t know what it was or when to use it, he may have explained it to me but I was starting to hallucinate from all the chemicals and I can’t imagine holding my breath was helping matters. But at least I hadn’t thrown up yet.

And so I went about my journey into the bowels of the earth…into the IT department.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2011 in journal

 

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Chapter 12: Server Down – The IT hits the fan

Dear Journal

Today appeared to start as any other day, as the drones at Centrifico Technologies passed through the turnstiles at work. They all paced lifelessly towards their respective cubicles and went about their routines.

At this stage my routine comprises typing out reports, drinking coffee, staring at the clock and filing things. Sometimes just to be rebellious I even do two things at once. Like stare at the clock while filing something or drinking coffee while typing reports. I think that is an example of the “potential” Mr Berkley said he saw in me.

I’m so well entrenched in this routine that I’m struggling to find time to maintain the booby traps in my cubicle which has caused me some painful self-injury as I often forget where they have been placed. I can’t even remember the last time I had a chance to plot against the evil wizard in the airduct and my List of office assassinations has seen very little activity. That is the thrill-a-minute world of a Customer Services Analyst.

It was just as I was clicking “save” on my 231st TPR form for the day that a strange little window appeared on my screen saying “Could not Write to Disk. Server Error”
Perhaps through ignorance, but most certainly through defiance I tried several more times only to be met with the same, increasingly annoying little window. Its triumphant little “beep” seemed to tease me each time. I would certainly put it on the list if it were capable of being assassinated… or if I could remember where I put my damn list. I think it’s in the third drawer.

It is NOT in the third drawer, but my spring-loaded staple trap is and is working fine. I am typing a lot slower with one hand bandaged.

I use my fully functioning hand to call IT help desk and am answered by a lovely young lady with a British accent who informs me that all the operators are busy at this time and that my call will be answered in approximately 3 hours and 12 minutes. Her accent became rather robotic when informing me of the waiting time, but I have been told that robotic tendencies are common amongst the British and I presume desirable in IT.

I am then played a medley of recent chart topping hits all played by soothing pan pipes although the songs are difficult to enjoy with that robotic British lady constantly interrupting me to remind me of how important my call is and that I should stay on the line. She probably has the worst job here at Centrifico Technologies… which is saying a lot I might add.

After about 45 minutes my ear is starting to ache and I’m starting to feel less important that the Robot Brit had originally led me to believe. So I decided to go to the IT department myself. I had no idea where exactly the IT department was but I had been informed it was in the basement, underground.

DEEP UNDERGROUND.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in journal

 

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