Trolling For Tinfoil
Thursday, March 31, 2005
One Who Flew Into the Cuckoos.
I'm stuck all week in the Call Center at work, in my own little personal hell. Behind me sits an irate, "not my job" network type, perpetually put out, put upon, and a general pain in the ass to work with. Sitting next to me is the people-pleasing over-achiever; Brilliant, conscientious, very nice, but the simplicity of answering the phone and filling out the information is totally alien to him. Everything is a major undertaking, sitting hunched over his keyboard muttering under his breath, typing furiously in Notepad. If you were to walk in off the street, you'd think he's defusing a nuclear bomb with 10 seconds left before it blows. He'll spend all morning obsessing over two minor issues that could be solved at the PC, but he has to figure out why this thing won't hold a mapped drive, for the love of god...

Needless to say, it's a major pain in my ass just trying to get simple information out of the network crybaby, Joe NotMyJob. I'm weary of watching him struggle to come to terms with the fact that he's not special, a unique snowflake in the universe. The script-writing superhero is disapearing every 20 minutes striding purposefully down the hall, eager to solve the next printer jam that's appeared on the world crisis monitor.

I have one day to go.
That's it- At leat that's what I tell myself. Anything is tolerable for one day.
One. Day.

Now- To be fair, I'm not super-employee either. I want everything to be fixed now, quickly and without sucking up what's left of my patience. I constantly get annoyed with the fact that I have to fill out electronic forms for almost every call I take, classifying them according to type, location, customer, description, PC name (which can be a real ball-breaker, trying to talk unfamiliar users through the intracies of a command prompted "hostname") and a host of other sub-categories. Oh, sure- We track all this stuff, but the guys who run the database have lost sight of the time it takes to get all this crap. All this looks great come contract evaluation time, but it's getting to be a little tedious.

Now, I'm sure you're saying to yourself; "That doesn't sound that bad.." To be honest? It isn't, in and of itself. However- You have to add a slightly ominous fast-food/intern/temp service vibe to the whole deal. The NOC (Network Operations Center) Rules are printed on a billboard two feet by five feet high, in an office about the size of a hotel room, crammed with four desks and and the Boss' uber-cubicle. Dress code, shift arrival/leave times, break times, no music, no food, no visitors, and other various morale builders are prominently displayed in a suitably obnoxious manner serving to remind us what bad little boys and girls we must be when left to our own devices.

In a small act of defiance, I wrote asterisks on the rules billboard indicating which ones don't apply to the manager (Which is most of them..) in what I thought was erasable marker. Turns out the lamination is pretty porous, and holds on to the color stubbornly refusing to let go. The asterisks finally succumbed after a long battle with many chemicals but was ultimately defeated by nail-polish remover.
I let SuperTech do that. It seemed to mock him, this red ink that would not yield, obviously placed there by his arch-nemisis - The Scribbler. It kept him busy, holding long conversations with himself debating the pros and cons of mineral spirits vs acetone, stroking his beard and furrowing his brow.

I then put important numbers up on the whiteboard, including the networks "NotMyJob" line, instructing callers to "leave message, take nap". Joe NotMyJob came in after luch (10 minutes late..) , did a classic double-take and revised his job description on-the-spot. He never said a word, just stood up and furiously erased the entire board.
It was the most I'd seem him do all day.

I try to suppress thoughts of overpowering them all and making a run for it, but I think they're on to me. I shudder to think what'd happen if I were to fail. Prolly nail me to the billboard on the wall, leaving me there to rot and answer calls until I starved. Maybe I can tunnel out.

Monday, March 28, 2005
Rain, NPR and the Klan
Rain and Mondays don't go well together. The kind of rain we had was a cold, soak-you-to-your-skin-in-a-minute kind of rain, turning the horizon into a soul-sucking shade of gray, giving the pavement the look of used stainless steel. It's an oppressive feeling, the clouds and mist obscuring all the detail and color.For once, I was actually glad there are no windows in my office area.
Driving home at the end of the day was like running a very soggy gauntlet, dodging trucks , squinting thru the sheets of water and spray billowing out from under the trailer, listening to NPR drone on about Methamphetamine use and the Gay community.
I've got to hand it to NPR somedays- They cover things no one else would dare for fear of losing the all important shampoo/car dealership/lasik eye surgery/tampon commercials. They cover the Supreme Court like nobody's business, reading transcripts word-for-word, letting the arguments and decisions speak for themselves- Mostly. I get annoyed at them at times, stabbing the preset buttons on my radio. It's irritating sometimes to hear Nora Rohm-or-whatever-the-hell-her-name-is breathless gushing over some activist in the remote parts of god-knows-where, protesting the evils of corporate something or other. Other times, I shake my head in wry admiration, knowing they must be gritting their teeth reading intentionally dry text covering the current administration. You just know they become nauseous at the thought of all things conservative, but they soldier on, making heroic, semi-sucessful efforts to be impartial.
If you think NPR isn't biased, think again- I mean, it's pretty much a no-brainer if you listen to them regularly, like I do. Their weekend programming is where the "impartial" gets burned to the ground, released from their "news" constraints like kids on the last day of school. Full of clever pseudo-intellectual quiz/comedy shows and a helping of folksy humor, it's contrasted by constant one-liners at the expense of the current administration. Not that the Neo-Cons are above criticism, but it's as if they can't control themselves, like a mild case of tourettes.
Come to think of it- Most of the left seems to be in that state of mind. Impotent rage, a slow smoldering resentment againt the Red States, the Evil Corporate Machines, and the good old stand-by, ready-made to hate- The religious right.
You can't turn on the TV without every jackass in front of a camera making sure all America knows where they stand, that they're hip, with it, and just as cynical and clever as the illuminati. The beautifull people. The A-list. God knows their career would be in the shitter if they didn't demonstrate an ability to deliver zingers- Apparently, it's now a must-have, a standard tool in the arsenal. If you're in front of your nephew's new digital camera or on a million dollar sound stage, you'd better have a couple good old standards, just in case. News or Comedy, doesn't matter. Or- as in Jon Stewart's case, both. That man has all but fellated the entire DNC from that stage, inviting anyone who's ever witten a mimeographed tract dissing the right up on stage for a 10 minute love-fest. He's a bright guy, but it's petty demagoguery disguised as satire. His audience is young, decidedly liberal and adores him. Not that he's not bright, but anyone can preach to the choir and get a reaction. Tell black jokes at a Klan rally and you'd probably get the same reaction, fer cryin' out loud. Both are equally pointless.

Sunday, March 27, 2005
All's quiet on the western front
Things are going well this weekend in my corner- No drama, not too many places to be, the band's off this weekend, and the woman is roaming around the house looking like a homeless waif in clothes far too big for her. She manages to look delicious- even when she's grabbed a fistfull of whatever's in my closet, with absolutley no regard whatsoever for color or function. It's hard to look hot in frayed cutoff sweats and a black t-shirt emblazoned with some inane logo on the front, but she pulls it off somehow.
I haven't even been checking around the web to find things that piss me off. Oh, there's plenty there, and believe me, when I get a hair up my butt, you'll know it- All in all, I'd rather not spoil the mood of the day by looking for sources of irritation. Somedays are just better left to stand on their own merits.

Friday, March 25, 2005
What's Shown vs What the Soldier Sees and Writes

Check out the linky section, if you want to know what’s going on in the minds of the average Joe Soldier over in Iraq- It’s really refreshing to get the perspective from an admittedly biased, but committed source. These guys are out there doing the boot-level diplomacy, running the gauntlet, doing really dirty work 12-16 hours a day, every day. Think about that when you’re sitting in Poly-Sci class, debating the merits of God-knows-what, while these guys are out humping their kits around, peering out the windows of up-armored HUMVEE’s trying to get where they’re going in one piece. It must be a real mental exercise to put things in their proper perspective, to not know where or when death comes from, hidden in plain sight, by people whose justification for murder gives them perverse satisfaction. The mental juggling that one must do just to function under that kind of stress is admirable to say the very least.

I truly think that the insurgency must like what they do. If what I’ve been reading in the blogs from over there are any indication, these guys have made it their life’s calling because they truly enjoy it. The good news is, reports are circulating now that indicate the Iraqis themselves, having grown weary of the death and destruction, have run a few out of town on a rail with lead in their backside. The media isn’t really running with it as much as the soldiers would like, but the soldiers and the media have nothing in common, and there appears to be no love lost between them. The media itself appears obsessed with documenting “the cost of war” in an effort to sell more air time for shampoo commercials. This is pasted in between Terry Schiavo, Martha Stewart and Michael Jackson of course, and all the Majors are breathlessly rehashing the stateside drama. It’s no wonder the average American seems to think the war isn’t going all that well.

In truth, I haven’t the time or the stomach to tell you what I think of the media as a whole, and what they think they’re doing over there, but I do think it will come back to bite them in the ass, some day. There are too many well written accounts right now- let alone those that will be written upon the soldier’s return home- for the media to escape unscathed. I think they’ll not fare so well in the warm afterglow afforded by hindsight. To be fair, I’m sure the Administration will take some hits too, but the majority of those will be served by the journalists and armchair generals, if I were to make any predictions.

Introductions and Salutations

My name is Rob, and I am a nobody, for the most part- This represents my foray into the ranks of the self-indulgent, the ill-informed and the incoherent. I do hereby solemnly swear to be all of the above at one time or another.
You must always keep in mind this single and very important fact: It's my blog, not a doctoral thesis, so if you expect links supporting my various positions, feel free to re-read the part about being ill informed and incoherent. Furthermore, if you feel a need to see proof of why I think or see things the way I do, you're in for some disheartening reading. Again- It's a blog, not an op-ed piece in the New York Times. (Perhaps the NYT is a bad example, since they don't always check their facts either, but you get my drift.) If you feel a need to back-fill my every point, you may well want to go stand with the other wild-eyed pamphleteers on the street corner.
Hence the title- Trolling for the tinfoil hat crowd, waiting for them to come and post vitriolic rebuttals to my inane little missives.

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