Thursday, March 10, 2011

I would "Oslapas" you if I could.

I hate customers like this:

Me: "Okay, I'll need your name to pull up your account, please."

Stupid-Ass Bitch (SAB): "Sure.  It's Jennifer [completely incoherent last name]."

Me: "Okay, Jennifer, and could you please spell your last name for me?"

SAB: "It's easy."  [She says her completely incoherent last name again.]

Me: "I'm not sure how to spell that."

SAB [exasperated]: "Okay.  It's..." [She rattles off the spelling faster than a coked-up hooker.]

Me: "I'm sorry, but all I caught was O-S-L..."

SAB [slowly and deliberately, at first]: "O! S! L!"  [She finishes spelling her last name even faster than the first time.  I hear her say there's a dash mixed in with the letters.]

Me: "Okay, so O-S-L-A-T-A...?  Then?"

SAB: "Oh my god.  It's easy.  Listen.  O-S-L-A-P-A-S-DASH-R-I-G-O-U-L-O-T."

Me: "Thank you.  Jennifer Oslapas-Rigoulot*, correct?"

SAB: "That's what I said the first time.  Jesus..."

*Trust me when I say that this is easier than what her real last name was.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Being a nationally renowned trendsetter, I keep my eyes open for trends both good and bad.  My seal of approval can make or break the acceptance of a trend into acceptable societal circles.  However, despite my influence, even I can’t sway the popularity of trends that sweep through social circles with lower standards.  Crocs are a great example.

You could gather the Croc-adherents together in a conference room and show them a million-dollar presentation with statistics from independent research that conclusively proves that all Croc-wearers will die alone in the back of a K-B Toy Store after drowning in an overturned stockpile of Barbie and Hot Wheels knock-offs.  Even with all that compelling evidence against Crocs, Croc-addicts would leave the presentation with only two thoughts: “My Crocs are so comfortable.” and “I wonder where the nearest K-B Toy Store is.”

Their standards are just that low.  Whether you use reason or scientific evidence or even promise these people that their friends will no longer be embarrassed to be seen with them, nothing can entice these unfortunate souls away from their Crocs or other Crocs-level trends and fads.

Since they are a hopeless cause, I dedicate my trend spotting time to warning the rest of you about these diabolical trends.

Enter the Five Fingers running…shoes.  These…shoes…are becoming quite ubiquitous.  They were originally designed to simulate being barefoot for runners, climbers, and the like.  They’ve been popular in the athletic world for a little while, and that’s fine.  Athletes frequently wear things that they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing outside that realm; e.g., ultra-short shorts, bike shorts (and anything else made either mostly or entirely of Spandex), ankle weights, sweatbands, etc…

Here at Terra Cubus, we spend no less than 88% of each work day sitting on our butts in soul-sucking cubicles.  The other 12% of the day is comprised of our breaks.  Most of us spend the majority of that time also sitting on our butts.  So excluding the time we spend walking to and from the break room and the bathroom, I’d venture a guess that we all spend 95% of each work day butt-sitting.

That being said, people here are beginning to wear the Five Fingers…shoes…to work.

Perhaps, I rationalized, these are people who do a great deal of athletics before work and just continue to wear them so they don’t have to lug around a second pair of shoes.  If that were true, it would imply laziness and complacency, but at least it’s a faintly sensible excuse.  I got a chance to tactfully research this theory not too long ago.

One agent, a very large, bumbling, and socially awkward individual, stood at a microwave in the break room of doom.  Another agent approached.  “Whoa.  What are those?”  He pointed at the…shoes… on the feet of Bumbler.

“They’re running shoes,” he responded in a tone that indicated he was sick of answering that question.

I stepped up, armed with my research query.  “Oh, do you do a lot of running?”


The other employee and I nodded and walked away.  Bumbler’s admission ruled out the only sane reason I could come up with for why someone would wear those kind of…shoes…to their place of employment. 

Bumbler and others like him who wear these shoes seem to walk differently, too.

Before I’d spotted the Bumbler’s shoes that first day, I could tell something was off.  Instead of walking casually around the building, Bumbler was tromping like a stampeding elephant.  This had nothing to do with Bumbler’s heaviness.  I’ve seen big people walk and dance quite gracefully.  In fact, my first yoga instructor was a rather large man who could bend and move in ways that my scrawny ass has never been able to.

No, Bumbler being overweight has nothing to do with the fact that he now clomps around like a frightened wildebeest.  When Bumbler takes a break from a lack of standards and wears actual shoes, he walks with a much lighter step. 

It’s those…shoes.
In the end, I have to chalk this disturbing trend up to the same anomaly behind the Crocs craze: abysmal standards.

So what can you do?  Maybe I’m right and these kinds of people are a lost cause.  But maybe, just maybe, we can appeal to the only emotion they have that could affect this type of apathy and sad-sackness: shame.

Here is a list of questions and comments you can use to evoke feelings of shame.  Some are more passive aggressive while still others are blunter.  Use liberally:
  • How was your marathon this morning?
  • How far do you run during your breaks?
  • Do you run to Taco Bell for lunch?
  • With those…shoes…can you scale our office building?
  • What’s your best time on the mile?
  • Sorry for screaming; I thought you had gangrene on your foot.
  • Clown shoes are less obnoxious than those things.
  • I read a news story about a guy who committed suicide with a pair of those.  Social suicide, that is.
  • Oh, those are those new running…shoes…I’ve heard about!  Doesn’t look like they’re working for you.
  • Are you colorblind, or did you willingly by them in that color?
  • Did the salesman roofie you?
 Even if shame isn’t a strong enough motivator to discourage the spread of this horrifying trend, then at least you’ll get a laugh.  And that’s the least we’re owed from these people for having to suffer like we do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cookie Gorger Chronicles #4

It was the Cookie Gorger’s mission to get all of us second shift employees to agree to gallivant down the street to a local sports bar after work the following week.  I could hear him coercing employees down neighboring aisles.  I even heard, shock of all shocks, two supervisors agree to this planned outing.  The Cookie Gorger turned the corner and walked down my aisle.

I should preface my encounter with the Cookie Gorger by explaining that we had bonded a slight bit due to our mutual disdain for I-SAM.  I-SAM inexplicably clung to the Cookie Gorger like the large-headed man was a mentor or role model.  This clingy nature was present despite the fact that the Cookie Gorger had no desire to hide his annoyance with the scattered and thoughtless moron.  Scowls and glares were plentiful and uncensored.

That being said, our infrequent commiseration about I-SAM led the Cookie Gorger to believe that he and I had a greater bond than we do.

He rounded the cubicle wall at the end of the aisle and spotted me.  He immediately approached, offering only half-assed invitations to those employees he passed on his way to me.  “You’re coming to Uncle Vito’s Pizza Bar and Grill next Thursday night.”

I grimaced and politely declined.

“No, you’re not allowed to say no,” he declared.  “You’re going.”

“I’m not really into bars,” I mumbled, trying to work.

“Not an excuse!  Just come and have one drink.”

“Uh.  But I have to drive home!”

“Then have a soda, but you have to come.”

“Nah, but thanks for the invite.”

The Cookie Gorger wouldn’t have any of that.  “Okay, fine.  Well, if you say you’re not going, then I’ll come over here and harass you every day until you agree to go.”

“Fine,” I replied, a smirk spreading across my face.  “You can come over here and harass me all you want, but for every time you do, then I’ll make fun of your giant head.”

Our nearby teammates laughed and gasped at my hilarious audacity.  “Are you going to let him get away with that?” one coworker asked.

The Cookie Gorger held his hands up.  “Hey, I know I’m a float at the Macy’s Day parade.  I’m under no illusions about that.  So I can take it if you make fun of my head.”  He laughed and started to walk away.

“Oh, by the way,” I yelled out.

The Cookie Gorger turned and took the three or four steps back to my cubicle.  “Yeah?”

“You know how you were complaining a while back about not being able to find a beanie that would fit your head?”

“Well, I think I found one for ya.”

“Oh really.”  His tone indicated he knew that a punchline was approaching.

“Yeah.  I saw it at Canfield’s Sporting Goods in the sleeping bag department.”

The laughter and gasping increased in volume exponentially.  Some cubicle slaves stood up, anxious to see the Cookie Gorger’s response.

“Well played, sir,” he said, nodding with a smile.  “Well played, indeed.”  With that, he retreated back to his cubicle dungeon on the other side of the building.

Afterward, there was a mini revolt in which several employees declared that they would not be going to Uncle Vito’s unless I went as well.  It was the closest I’d ever been to popular.  In the end, I agreed to go.  As much as I loathe the Cookie Gorger, single-handedly destroying both his self-esteem and his post-work party just seemed cruel.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Thank God He's Not a Butcher

Based on today’s events, I would be worried for I-SAM if he ever got a job at a butcher shop.

 Mr. and Mrs. Catalina walked into the I-SAM Butchery to attend a course offered by the owner/proprietor.  “Hi there!”

 I-SAM walked up to the counter and wiped his bloody hands on a bright white apron.  “What can I get for you today?"

The Catalinas held up a flier.  “We’re here for the 3pm cooking class on how to properly butcher and cook chicken feet for dim sum.”

“Excellent!”  I-SAM held out a hand.  Mr. and Mrs. Catalina looked at the appendage.  It was dry, rough in appearance, and stained red, perhaps permanently.  Mr. Catalina smiled, cleared his throat, then grasped I-SAM’s hand with a hesitancy usually reserved for virgin bungee jumpers.  “I think you’re going to have a lot of fun today.  What prompted you to come in for the class?”

Mr. Catalina smiled.  Keeping his red-smeared hand open and away from his body, he answered.  “Um, well, we do like dim sum.”

“And I like chicken,” Mrs. Catalina explained, ignoring Mr. Catalina’s elbow nudges.

“I love chicken,” I-SAM said, laughing through his nose.  “They have beaks, you know!”

I-SAM guided them back to the classroom area.  “Just join the others.  I’ve got a few more orders to prep and then I’ll be back here to begin the class.”  With that, I-SAM walked off into the back of the store.  The Catalinas stepped into a kitchen area with multiple stoves and prepping tables.  The two stood there and peered around the room at the rest of the adults in attendance.  They were all quiet, and many of them had one red hand.

Mr. Catalina looked down at his hand.  “It’s itching,” he whispered.

The missus rifled through her purse.  “Here, you baby.”  She handed him a tissue.  The others in the room looked at her with longing.  Sensing that this was a moment that would either define her as a bitch or an angel, Mrs. Catalina offered tissues to the other afflicted patrons.  They all accepted the offer without a second thought.

Several minutes later, I-SAM walked into the room with a box of chicken feet.  He passed out five or six feet to each cook.  “All right!”  I-SAM took his place behind a metal table at the far end of the room.  The rest of the class was standing at their tables in a semi-circle facing the educator.  “So today we’re going to learn how to properly butcher and cook chicken feet for dim sum.  I know it will be difficult, but I hope none of you will chicken out.”
I-SAM paused to allow time for his nasally laughter to bounce around the otherwise silent room.  “Okay, so I’ve already washed the feet,” he started.  "So what I’ll do is run through the instructions once and then let you all try it on your own."

The fearless butcher pulled a chicken foot from the bucket and narrated his actions as he performed them.  “So the first thing I want to do is cut off the toenails.  Once I’ve done that, I’ll cut the foot into quarters like so.  Next, I’ll roll the quarters in some malt sugar.  From there we’ll fry them up, but we can wait to do that once you all have some feet prepared.  Go ahead and give those steps a try!”

The students worked their knives at varying degrees of skill.  One lady in particular was struggling.  I-SAM went over to help her.  “Okay, so watch me do it up close.  You’re going to cut the nails off.”  Five quick chops.  “Then you’ll cut the foot into quarters like so.”  Three smooth cuts.  “Now roll the quarters in the malt sugar.”  The cuts landed in a bowl of malt sugar.

“That’s odd,” I-SAM said.  “There shouldn’t be any blood.”  He looked down and noticed he was missing his entire left hand.  He erupted in a most jovial laughter.  No one else thought it was funny, especially not the student he was assisting, who had passed out long before I-SAM had completed the up-close demonstration.

“Well, I’ll be!  Looks like I mistook my hand for a chicken’s foot.  Lesson number two is don’t do that!

You see, today I-SAM was assisting a customer with purchasing a product from our website.  She was unable to figure it out and required more in-depth assistance.  As such, I-SAM decided to sign into her web account and order the product for her.  That would have been great if only he hadn’t signed into his own personal account instead.

What makes this truly sad is that the billing and shipping addresses on the order were the customer’s.  Because I-SAM had purchased products under his own account in the past, he would have seen his contact information during this process.  At that point, I-SAM had to make the conscious decision to change his own details to the customer’s.

Clearly I-SAM is missing a few brain cells.  Perhaps he huffed in grade school.  Glue was really popular back then.  Let’s just be grateful that he didn’t decide to work toward a career in teaching home economics at some underfunded high school.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bathroom Encounter

I had spent the better part of the day working on a special project, so I hadn’t been on the phone at all.  Just before lunch, I stepped into the restroom and stood at the urinal.  The beautiful feeling of finally evacuating a full bladder was tainted by the sudden presence of I-SAM in the restroom.

“Hi, PJ!  How were calls today?” he asked in an unusually chipper voice.  Much like he always does the few times I’ve spotted him in the filthy restroom, I-SAM went into a stall to pee.  I’m not sure if he has urinal-phobia, or if he’s paranoid about someone trying to take a look-see.

“I was doing a special project, so I haven’t taken any calls yet today,” I replied.  I hate being spoken to while I’m peeing.  Is nothing sacred?  The urinal is not a water cooler.  I shouldn’t have to try to focus on a conversation while I’m pissing.

“Oh!”  I-SAM spewed out that nervous, socially awkward laugh of his.

“So I guess that means I had really great calls,” I joked.  Additional goofy laughter echoed around the bathroom amid the sounds of pee hitting water.  I rushed as much as one can rush their bladder.

“Um, well, I took some really good calls today, eh, you know, if you were wondering.”

“Good job!  That’s great to hear,” I said.  A moment later, I grimaced.  What I said could have just as easily applied to his fervent urinating.

As I zipped up, I-SAM kept talking – to himself or to me, I still don’t know.  “Yes, I took some great calls.  I did a great job today.”  His voice trailed off and the toilet flushed.

I’d hoped his potty break would’ve lasted.  Much as I hate talking while I’m peeing, I’m also not a big fan of post-pee banter.  Why do people insist on being social in the bathroom?  “Hi, I just pooped, and that’s why the bathroom smells like the swamps of hell.  How’s your day going?  What about this weather?  Enjoy your pee!”

As I began the process of washing my hands, I-SAM did the same in his own “special” way.

He stood at the far sink waving one hand under the automatic paper towel dispenser.  In a feat of flexibility I didn’t think he had in him, I-SAM reached over with the other hand and waved it under the automatic soap dispenser.  Towel after towel dropped down toward the floor.  Squirt after squirt of soap filled his right hand.

He eventually got the amount of soap he wanted and at that point, he rubbed his hands together vigorously.  He never once waved a hand under the faucet.  The soap looked sticky and caked on by the time he reached for the long, draping collection of paper towels.

Still leaving the water out of it, I-SAM wiped his soapy hands off with the massive paper towel ball he’d made.  Even as he tossed the soaped up paper in the trash and I stepped through the door to leave, I still heard no water.

I’ve often imagined I-SAM having a hamster in a wheel rather than the traditional grey, fleshy type of brain.  Now I’m rethinking that image.  A hamster running in a wheel would probably be more productive than the brain that I-SAM has been, uh, blessed(?) with.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A World of Lunacy

I work with a young man whom I like to call I-SAM.  This stands for “I Suck At My…”  When I first started training him, I was calling him I-SAM-J where the J stood for “Job.”  As time went on and I was able to interact with him more and more, it became clear that I-SAM sucks at far more than just his job.

On multiple occasions, he’s voluntarily admitted that he sucks at school, finance, and any number of other things. 

I’m pretty sure that there’s something wrong with him.  When it was determined that I would be his floor trainer, the woman who taught his class of newly hired agents approached me and wished me luck.  She said that she actually approached one of the HR witches to ask why he was hired.

We all know the answer to that.  The HR Coven is not here to make our lives easier.  They’re here to make sure that no one sues the company.  They do this while simultaneously devouring employees’ souls.  It’s pretty clever, if you ask me.

So back to I-SAM.  I try to be empathetic with him because he’s definitely got some mental issues.  He’s readily disclosed to me that he has ADD, but who doesn’t get diagnosed with that these days?  Not to make light of a real problem, but I told him in no uncertain terms that ADD is not an excuse for sucking at your job.

I’m all for the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Let’s put up those ramps and elevators and shit.  But disabled or not, if someone can’t effectively carry out their duties, why keep them hired on?  You’re not going to hire a quadriplegic to work in a warehouse stocking trucks, are you?  So if someone’s numbskullery is so profound that they can’t even retain the smallest factoid, fire them!

While training him for the three weeks I was cursed, I went over a specific fact with I-SAM every single day.  It came up during work several times, so there were a handful of days during which we reviewed this fact more than once.  By the end of my three week hell with him, he was still unable to repeat this fact on his own.

Think of it like this.  When you were in high school taking Spanish class, they told you that “Hello!” in Spanish was <<¡Hola!>>  How many repetitions of that word did it really take before you remembered it?

The fact I was trying to teach I-SAM was, for all intents and purposes, as simple as teaching him the Spanish word for “Hello.”

By the end of the three weeks, his retention rate was about as good as a frat brother’s memory after getting black-out drunk at a Greek mixer.  He can’t even remember the first sip of Everclear, let alone where the facial marker-tattoos and strange ass pain came from.  I was granted a reprieve and I-SAM was handed off to another agent who spent an additional two weeks training him.

Back around Thanksgiving, he turned to face me (we were sitting next to each other at the time, much to my chagrin) and said, “Do you think I should drink this?”

I turned to face him.  “What?”

He pointed at a large 2-Liter bottle of Coca Cola that had roughly ¼ of its contents left.  “I think I’m just going to finish this off.  Do you think that’s okay?”

“What do you mean?  Is it not yours?”

“I don’t know.  I’m not really sure.”

“How do you not know whether it’s yours?”  I was, of course, completely taken aback.

“Well, it’s been here for a while.  I think my desk mate wants me to have it.”

We share desks with people who work opposing shifts, but most people don’t usually leave giant bottles of soda for their desk mates to finish up.  “Did he email you or leave you a note telling you that he was giving it to you?”  I was trying to reason with I-SAM, but I should have known that reasoning with insanity is futile.  And before you get snippy, I’m not referring to the ADD as insanity.  I’m referring to his insanity as insanity.

“No, but I’m pretty sure he wants me to have it.  I think I’ll just chug it.”

He is his own man and lives in his own world.  It’s just unfortunate that his world is fucking insane.

Friday, December 31, 2010


It's the end of the year, and I'm reflecting.  If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you may remember my post earlier this year about New Year's resolutions. More specifically, what mine was.

I'm happy to say that I kept that resolution!

It was a successful year, overall.  I got a promotion, went on my first business trip, got back together with my ex (who wasn't my ex when the year started), paid off my car, and retained all of my sanity.  Most of my sanity.

Some of my sanity.

Did you keep your resolutions?  If not, I do suggest you read the blog entry I linked to up there and think about your resolutions for 2011 before you lock yourself in.

I've decided that my 2011 resolution will be similar to last year's: try harder, get your shit together, and blame someone else.  Yes, this upcoming year will be all about reusing this old, worn out year.

Why fuck with the formula when it works so well?  Sure there were hiccups and bumps, but I can either do the same thing over again or put in the extra time fine-tuning a system that doesn't really need to be fine-tuned.

I mean, I can add using my fingers, so why memorize the answers?  That's just extra brain stores I can't use on something else.  What's eight plus four?  I have no clue, but a quick count out on my fingers tells me it's twelve.  If I'm subtle enough, you can't even see my fingers tick.  In extremely sensitive situations I'll look down and count visually.  Although that can be more difficult due to my inability to pay much attention to anything.

In any case, per my resolution, if I count an extra finger or get the answer wrong for any other reason, I'll just blame someone else.  "No, you asked what eight plus four was."

I hope you enjoyed your 2010.  Please keep Terra Cubus in mind as I try to get back into the groove of writing after such a busy Holiday season.  Happy New Year, everyone!