Saturday, June 28, 2008

No Phone to Call

Hey all,
If you are trying to reach me on my cell phone via text or a call, stop. I lost the stupid thing..... Anyway I filed a claim tonight from a payphone. I should get a new one but apparently they have to investigate first. I will let you all know when I get my phone back. I bought a Tracfone to make the follow up calls for the claim work and when it gets charged and acivated it will be my phone for a while.... Of course I need to use the minutes to make sure I get a replacement phone before I use them to make social calls. What a total pain! Anyway if you get a weird number with a 503 area code calling you I am probably calling, so answer it! I will be sending an email out looking for contact information again since I have lost the phone with all the numbers in it....

I was going to write about the epic last day but I don't feel like it... so too bad!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The calls have stopped...

Hold on one second and let me catch my breath....

I made it! Holler with me people! Free At last! Well kind of.....

Yesterday around 2:30 the phones were shut off at our call center. We were allowed to go home.... as long as our desks were semi-sane and relatively clean. With the promise that we would be in between 8 - 11:30 today(Wednesday). Anyway my desk was clean and I was sitting around chattering... next thing I know I was at Holman's having a pint and a couple sliders. I may have had another pint or two... no one can be sure. From there I went to the library and read a bunch of boring articles that nearly put me to sleep. They were mixing with beer after all and both the articles and the beer were whispering lullabies in my ears. I fought nap time off and read a few of the super boring articles and did a little homework and then went home.....

Today I woke up and headed into work around 10ish. I checked in, printed some pay stubs and deleted emails. I am a wee bit famous at this place because I write silly blog entries about the evilness of corporate America and the place I work(ed). Anyway the readership is not merely fellow co-workers but it includes a few supervisory and managerial types. So my recent rantings have been a wee bit risky... however the management felt I should know that they read them and found them very amusing. Apparently I give them too much credit in some of my previous pontifications.... if I was them I would not admit that the plans we all believe to be true were a fluke. I would instead just accept the theories of my pure evilness. First rule in business... don't admit ineptitude or human oversight. Second rule: Know your role, no matter what happens you are still in a higher position (even when you share the same fate as the masses). Anyway the official story is they did not give us a day off so they could tell us about call volume again. Apparently it was sheer (and terribly convenient) coincidence..... Yeah. Those dang coincidences always laying around making people look culpable!

As far as the rest of the week.... I will be calling in tomorrow to check in at work but I should not have to go in. I hope my sup reads this tonight. One can always use a good conversation starter when you have to sit around taking calls from a group of lay-about malcontents (the only way to truly describe employees who have been waiting for the official lay off date for 6 months). Friday I turn in my badge.... I will no longer have any stinking badges! Yay for me!

To all my cojorts... it has been fun (occasionally) and keep in touch. (Even if we didn't talk much at work) I like hearing from people. Plus.... we need to network. I mean, after all the company did pay a lot of money to send us to class to learn how! Hopefully you all get jobs soon (or not, depending on personal preference)

And to my managerial fans... thanks for reading!

Friday, June 20, 2008

A few clarifications on the recent job events

Some of you may be wondering about my last post. I thought I would clear up some issues that have been brought up.

1. Did they really ask that with 2 weeks left? Yes they really did ask some people to stay longer. They are incompetent.... sounds like a great way for an insurance company to act, no?

2. Were you asked? I was one of the unwanted people that were not asked. I was not brought into any room and I thought I was fairly clear about this when I said: "Then there were those that shouldn't know. The undesirables that were never asked. Guess what, WE KNOW."

I figured the use of the word "WE" when the rest of the blog said "some people" was a very apparent and blatant clue. Apparently it was only blatant for me because I wrote the stupid blog. Live and learn I guess

3. Why weren't you asked? Well to tell you the truth there is no "official" story... I figure it was because I got written up though.

(the italics are internal dialogue which you can skip or read and laugh at)

4. You were written up? Yes I was written up which is why I just said I was written up in the answer to the last question...... have you considered moving to San Antonio? If so I have a fantastic company for you to apply for... your lack of observation skills would be perfect for this company I know of... (I hope you get what I am alluding to here)

5. What are you alluding to? The company I am being laid off from is run by people that are not very good at figuring things out. The company has also set up shop in San Antonio. I am suggesting those that have issues figuring things out have something in comon with the company I am leaving. I am also suggesting the company and you need to work together because you are a shoo-in for upper management.... In case you missed it I am being mean.

6. Who exactly are you talking to when you are insulting your audience? No one in particular. In fact every answer I give springs more questions in my head... so if anything this is all an elaborate rouse to insult myself. What do you think of that Freud Jr.?

7. Who is Freud Jr.? Apparently the part of my mind that has an eternal well of stupid questions waiting to be sprung has a name.

8. Why? I am not talking to you anymore...

The real question 4. So what were you written up for? I had a little disagreement with an agent over how he could speak to me. I thought he was beng rude and disconnected the call. He thought that was rude and the company agreed... so I was written up.

5. Why did you hang up? Is that how you normally handle irate customers? Honestly? Well I wish I could do that to everyone who is rude. In all honesty, that is what they deserve.... there is no justification for reaming someone. But for some odd reason people seem to believe it is acceptable to blow up. Maybe they believe the old adage that "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." The thing is usually the loudest and most obnoxious person does get the attention they desire but why should those that yell get the exceptions. I think sane, calm people should get the breaks. That is how I have always thought and attempted to work. Those that yelled at me had an uphill battle. Those that were calm, rational and polite were given all the breaks I could get away with. Normally those that yell get the "I shall not be moved" side of me. They usually have to go around me to get things accomplished. I usually dig in and hold my stance. The day the agent called I was tired. This job does that, it wears on you but pre-layoffs I would rejuvenate. Post-layoff's I am more like stone being worn away by the Colorado river. My tolerances have lowered and people get more and more exasperating as the last day continues to get closer. This agent caught me on a bad day and instead of arguing I "sent him to the disconnect que". This was a decision I regreted almost immediately and it was also a decision that nearly ended my career earlier then expected.
The company likes to "keep customers happy" and to do that they usually allow themselves to be walked over. Wait.... no they allow their customer service agents to get walked on. They require us to hold a line that they arbitrarily set and we do that and we hear all kinds of fun things because of these policies. Then, after we have said: "I am sorry this is company policy and we can not bend the rules. The rules are the same for everyone!" the company flips the decision and makes us look like morons or worse. They, and hundreds of other companies, are what allows cusomers to actually believe "the customer is always right." The reality is that the customer is usually wrong.

6. Ok I am tired of your soap box! Did anyone (that was asked) say yes to staying? Actually there were 6 people that either said yes or maybe.

7. Is that enough to keep them open? Well I guess it was because they were going to. Then at least 2 people changed their minds and the bottom fell out of that plan.

8. Does that make you feel vindicated? Not really I figure the 4 that said yes to such an awful plan did so for a reason. I wish those 4 even more luck then I do the others during this lay off. Even if I had not been declared unacceptable I would not have taken such an offer. I felt it was not only an insult to the employees to ask but also a really lousy thing to do to someone after telling them for 6 months that they are expendable. Apparently the company sees their employees as salivating dogs that they can toy with, the extra 3 months was a chicken bone they through to us to gobble. Not caring that chicken bones splinter and have hurt and even killed dogs.... What I am saying is I think they have no regard for people's emotional or physical welfare. I think they see us as product to be moved around and I do not like that much. So yeah I am also a little glad this last ditch attempt to demoralize human beings failed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Are you freaking kidding!?

It was January and an entire office was told that all their hard work and dedication to the job was worth nothing. Their job would end in June.... They had been replaced by less expensive employees that were harder workers and could take more calls in a day. The employees were told they were obsolete, outdated and of no further use. They were told to start looking for employment elsewhere.

Hearts were broken, tears were shed and tables were karate chopped. Resumes were honed, interviews were sought and a daily dose of Monster was recieved in hundreds of email accounts. People began to slowly accept their percieved lack of value and accept there job loss. It was a long process and for some, a stressful one. However, it was finally June, and they had two weeks left. Acceptance had long since been attained and people began to eagerly anticipate the end.

That was when the company began to realize their plan was not so perfect. The new cheaper employees were newer and cheaper! How could this be?? How could they get what they were paying for??? These employees were not at the quality they had expected them to be at. These employees were not at all like the employees they were firing. They needed more time!!! So they put their tiny lizard like brains together and they came up with a solution. They could ask the tortured employees who were about to be laid off to resign their soul to the devil. They could say: "Hey! We would sure love to have you stay until October! Would you do it if we decided to extend the time?" However some people were not exactly the "toe the Line" kind of players and management said "Lets not ask those people. We do not want people who reacted to being laid off by having trouble getting to work on time, being less patient with irate customers or those that didn't jump when we said too. So we will ask some employees and not others and ask the ones we ask to keep it a secret and the ones we don't like will never know! We are the most geniusy people in the whole world. We are fantastic and no one will think we are the scum of the earth because we are unthinking and unfeeling hypocriticizers!"

So one by one they brought people in and one by one people left disgusted and most people said "NO YOU SANCTIMONIOUS A-- CLOWNS!" Some found themselves over a barrell where they would accept the offer if it was officially given so they could provide health care for loved ones. The offer was made so late that most people have done too much to prepare for not working here that there would be no way they could make it through another 4 months. Most people feel completely bitter and that the question is at its base nothing more then a violation of the ethics the company preaches. A lot of people feel that 6 months is a long time to torture people over percieved performance, call volume, after call work time and having to work Saturdays when there was no future in it for them and these people could not imagine prolonging the torture. Some people asked for an incentive to be offered to offset the inconvenience this would cause. Some were stunned that after all the crap they went through, getting adjusted to being someone the company found lacking in value, that they could not even fathom coming in the next day let alone until October.

Then there were those that shouldn't know. The undesirables that were never asked. Guess what, WE KNOW. The one thing you did well at this call center was create a sense of community. We share the ups and downs and there was no way this would be kept quiet. The sure audacity of the company to make this offer 2 weeks before they were about to let us go and 6 months after they announced that we were irrelevant. I think the general consensus is one I do not want to type here but it can be summed up in two words. The first word is four letters in length and starts with F and the second word is 'OFF!'

Monday, June 16, 2008

A weekend to remember (or Why I want a Wii)

I hope you all had a fantastic Father's Day weekend. I did.... and I even had a big test I had to take. So you know the weekend had a lot to improve for.

My pop came up Friday for a weekend of Father's Day fun! We went to a sushi place that he saw while shopping at IKEA (pronounced icky-uh). They had a happy hour where everything on the rotating track was only a dollar. We ate a lot of things that we may never have tried but it was fun. Then we went looking for a Nintendo Wii because my dad really wanted one after he had played with a grandson in December. The first place we tried did not have one, We hit paydirt at the second place and when we walked out of there we had the Wii, an extra controller (the Wii only comes with 1) and I had bought him an extra game. We did not hook it up because I needed to study for the CBEST test the next morning.

The next morning (after a night of restless sleep) I headed to the University of Portland to take my test. It seemed easier then I had been expecting but I will not really know for sure until the unofficial results are posted June 30th. If you have not had the pleasure of taking the CBEST let me explain it for you. There are three sections: reading, math and writing. The reading and math are multiple choice andf the writing is an essay. I spent a lot of time studying the math because I am rusty and I was a fraid they would expect me to remember formulas. They do.... if I had not reviewed geometry I would be S.O.L. (stuck or lost). The writing consists of writing two essays.... one was a persuasive essay and the other was a personal narrative. They give you 4 hours to complete the entire test and I took 2 hours and 40 minutes.

After the test I headed back home where my dad had set up the Wii. When I came in he wanted me to try out bowling with him. (in case you are not aware the Wii requires you to mimic the motions of what is happening on screen so except for the lack of dorky shoes and a heavy ball you are actually bowling). Anyway I was hooked and wanted to try out more games except both of us were starving and we needed to consume food. So we headed to Old Chicago and had pizza and beer. I love pizza and beer! Then we talked about all kinds of things to do which included getting some dressers from a friend..... and instead ended up back at home playing the Wii. I tried out boxing and tennis. Boxing was very physical and I was sweating and tired after 4 fights. The tennis was fun and physical as well but I was not dead tired after doing that. Then we hooked up the game I bought him, Super Smash Bros. Much to my disappointment this was more like a normal game and involved no jumping, punching or weaving what so ever. It was fun but the Wii is much more fun when you are hopping around looking like an idiot. Then it was dinner time so we stopped playing and headed to the sushi joint again. That place is awesome!

We walked around the shopping area surrounding the sushi place because it was sunny and once again talked about what to do that evening. We entertained the idea of riding the max and heading downtown but my dad did not seem terribly motivated so we ended up back at home. We tried out baseball, golf and the third disc of games which included the funniest game ever. It involved cow racing.... cows that were super fast and could jump. It was completely ridiculous! I continued my boxing career and manged 4 knock outs and one win by decision before I was too tired to continue that. Then it was time to callit a night and I was out like a light. The next morning we went for breakfast at the Daily and returned home where I convinced my dad to play baseball, bowling and tennis as a 2 player game. We were evenly matched for the baseball and bowling but my dad needs a little work on his tennis game. Then he packed up (I attempted to use a jedi mind trick to convince him to leave the Wii behind but it failed) and then we headed to Barnes and Noble. We read for quite a while and then he ended up needing to go home so we had a late lunch at Noodles and he left. I walked from Noodles to the max station and hopped on the rail and rode to the max station near my house.

I met up with my roommate and we watched the basketball game before heading to Harold and Kumar Rscape from Guantanamo Bay.... which was very funny. It was not appropriate at all but it was funny.

Anyway I have come to the conclusion that I need a Wii and at the same time I have realized a Wii would be bad. Time evaporated while I played it and even though I was very active it still kept me indoors a lot on a fantastic weekend. I have way too much homework to do at this time and the Wii would only derail my educational endeavors. I think the Wii is something I will get some time after this class where I have to write huge and excessively long papers. I also feel the Wii is something I should get when I am not about to be laid off..... It was super fun though. I am having detachment problems and I keep wishing I was boxing imainary foes instead of arguing with irate customers.... stupid work and all that working I have to do!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The plan

A company announces they will be laying off people in June. It's January. It takes a little while for the employees to get back up and running. It is what most people would call a "recovery period" and it is needed when someone's future is smashed with a sledge hammer. Naturally, even as work resumes, the employees morale is not quite fully intact even after the recovery period and they are not very driven to perform at the same level they had before. This is a problem for the managers because they need to instill some drive in the driveless. So they manufacture a problem "We might be let go early if we do not maintain our numbers!" This falls on partially deaf ears but the workers kind of come back in line. The company thinks they should just be the same motivated workers they used to be but people secretly don't care anymore. As a result the management starts to fire people for performance and for a day or two that works. The problem is the employees still lack drive because no matter what they do they will still end up unemployed. Either way the survivors limp along keeping management just barely off their backs.

The 60 day notice finally arrives in April and things go downhill fast. Now that these people are within the 60 day bubble they feel even less motivated. So the mangaement fires more people and writes up a whole bunch more. Still the people do the bare minimum and some do even less. The threat of being let go early sounds like an alluring option at this point and loses its effectiveness.

The employees find themselves to only have 15 days left on the phone and they begin to completely ignore the statistics and the management's expectations. They think "Who cares?" They have hung in for 6 months and they are done. Management does not share this particular view. They have established stats for these employees and by golly they are going to get these slackers to adhere to them! The question is "how?"

The management thinks back over the last 6 months and realize firing people did not work. Nor did harping at them. Micro-management barely worked when the employees had job security so that was out. Threatening them had kind of work but how do you threaten someone who has nothing left to lose. The management went into emergency meetings to come up with a plan. While they did so the numbers tanked as the employees gabbed and ignored the stats. Some even engaged in a ridiculous email campaign that entertained most, if not all of the employees. The next week the management came in with a new vigor and wrote people up for stupid reasons (like using email to actually email people) and began to harp at people. The employees concluded the management (who are also laid off) were absolutely crazy (and of course they are as it is a qualifier for being a manager).

The next day was when they revealed their evil scheme. It was quite ingenious really and most people failed to see the hook. What was the enticement? An additional day off would be given to everyone so that the employees could "look for that elusive new job." The employees excitedly discussed what day they had with their neighbors and sublimely floated through the day.

The day after the "magical day off plan" the management yanked on the fishing pole and hooked them all. You see, in order to get the day off the people had to maintain the stats while other people were off. If people slacked they may lose their day off and no one wanted that. So micro-management veers its ugly head once again. Management notified those that were slacking by handing out a sheet of paper broken into stats of every half hour. Those that are doing fine do not get one. Then the threat goes out.... If the employees do not adhere to the stats management expects, the day off will be lost for all. The sheets of paper being handed out point out those that may end up losing the day off for the entire office and fingers can be pointed. So people that used to toe the line begin to adhere and those that never have get nagged and they bitch about it a lot but they adhere as much as they ever have (which is not much).

Quite a brilliant plan.... my hats off to the management.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The harrowing tale of my wayward roommate

Recently my friend and room mate, Chad, decided to get himself in the paper. Those of you in Oregon may have heard about it. He was in the news a lot the last 2 days. Unfortunately he unwisely chose to be in the paper for getting lost while hiking and not for winning the lottery or saving a kitten from a burning building. It seems my roommate has a penchant for hiking. He has gone on several hikes, weather permitting, and continues to try new trails he finds in his little trail guide book. He always goes and comes back and has a grand time but last Sunday he decided to get lost. He spent the night shivering in 30 degree weather in a t-shirt, shorts and wet socks. In case you are not aware that would not be any fun what so ever and most people might even use the phrase "This sucks!" if they were in a similar situation. Now as a disclaimer the news has done the story and you can read about it on all kinds of Oregon news sites if you want to read the doctored version. Try the Oregonian, a newspaper up here. What I am about to tell you is for the benefit of my roommate as he is tired of telling the story. What I am about to tell you is nothing but the truth. You will only get the truth here. I write this story because the people that read this blog deserve the truth! I am dedicated to the truth!

First off my roommate does not hike. He doesn't even own shoes! You can't hike without shoes, it's a fact! So let's get rid of this pesky rumor that he was hiking. He wasn't. So how did he get 4,000 feet up on mountain? Well let me tell you. It starts Saturday night.

I was in class pretending to listen (Sorry Tony, but I am going for factual in this story). I was staring out the window at a few spots of sun and thinking about the weather forecast saying sun would come in on Sunday. I was looking outside wondering if they got it wrong again. At that very moment my roomie was calling to let me know he was going to visit a few friends that just awoke from hibernation. Yes I just said hibernation.... they are bears.

It is not weird that he has friends that are bears! He was born and raised in Oregon and everyone that was born and raised here are assigned a foster bear family. They get together in the summer and eat rabbits and berries. It is great fun. I tried to tag along last summer and one of them accidentally ate my arm off. Don't worry, it grew back but that was one heck of a week. Anyway he left the message while I stared away at the wall completely entranced. When I got home and he was not there I was not worried at all. When I got out of class he was already chomping on a rabbit and having a grand ol' time with the bears.

Knowing that bears don't wear watches I did not expect him to give me a time that he would be back. So when I awoke Sunday morning it was no big... I mean bears are awesome companions and you never want to leave them so he usually spends all weekend with them when he goes to visit. So I went about my business on Sunday which included trading in old video games so I could get new video games, spending money at the new pirate shop Captain Henry's and going for a bike ride. It was on this bike ride when I got the call.

Chad was on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere! He was wearing shorts and a tshirt and wet shoes (Shoes he doesn't even own!). He was surrounded by snow and it was starting to get dark. So how did he get from the comfort of the bears home to alone on top of a snow covered mountain? Here is what he told me:

The last thing he remembers he was going to Starbucks with Sir Chomps-A-Lot (the bear that ate my arm). Sir Chomps-A-Lot loves coffee! He is an addict! If you see him he will be shaking due to the constant caffeine buzz. Anyway there he was talking to Sir Chomps-A-Lot when a bright light appeared in the sky and sucked him toward a flying saucer! Yeah I said it, Chad was abducted by ALIENS!

So there he was inside the alien ship and the aliens were playing War's Lowrider at high volume. Suddenly he heard a voice in his head. It was an alien reciting the Gettysburg address. Then he was gassed and fell asleep. Hours later he woke up in the woods and he called me. I advised him he had to avoid telling the truth since telling the emergency people about aliens and bears is a sure fire way to go to the loony bin! So we concocted the hiking story. (No emergency person is invited to hang out with bears and due to that they deny their ability to talk and entertain. They are jealous!) Anyway after a night in the woods he was helicoptered out.

Poor Sir Chomps-A-Lot was nearly catatonic with fright! He kept calling me every hour checking to see if Chad had been rescued. When Chad was rescued Sir Chomps-A-Lot vowed revenge and has went on an interplanetary hunt for those aliens. He is going to completely open a can o'-whoop a-- on him!

(PS. I only write this because my roommate is fine and only suffers from a slight case of embarrassment)