Monday, December 15, 2014

if at first you don't succeed....

occasionally, i'll post my most interesting/ridiculous call of the evening.
i really thought my winner this morning would be the woman who thought her water line was broken because she only has cold water coming out of her faucet.*
oh, was i wrong.
we have an account where we handle media clearance calls for an airport system halfway across the country. apparently, they're doing construction at one of the airports, and every tv station in town wants to jump in and cover the story.
one particular station has called me not once, not twice, but thrice.**
call #1: asking for clearance. i gave them the lower level only, to keep them out of the way of construction upstairs.
call #2: cameraman has gotten their van stuck on the lower level. might i be able to hail security to help them back out?
(when i called my contact at the airport, she guessed which station was having the issue- mostly because they'd done the exact same thing a couple of years ago, taking out an antenna and an overhang in the process. needless to say, someone from security was dispatched immediately to provide aid.)
call #3: crew is now upstairs. since work will not begin upstairs until this afternoon, could i give them clearance. (i tried patiently explaining, as kindly as possible, that they were not cleared to be up there, but they were persistent. i called my contact for the account, apologized for the wake-up call, and explained the problem to him.
my instincts were right. logic prevailed.
more importantly, since my caller refused to accept my denial, the account contact was willing to have a chat with the caller, adding the weight of their authority to my words.
*i suggested that her hot water heater might be the more likely culprit.
**every time i use the word "thrice" i want to add something about "chicken soup and rice". i think maybe i read that book a couple times too many during my formative years,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

10-4, good buddy

i can't remember whether i told you or not, but one of my jobs is at an answering service. we answer for a wide variety of businesses. while most of the calls i get during third shift are medical in nature, i also have the ability to get you legal help, mental health assistance, hibachi reservations in three states, someone to take care of just about any water/sewage/heating/air problem you might have and much, much more. 

we also have a few accounts that are fire/safety related. i had an unusual call from one such account last night and, since i'm having kind of a rough evening at work tonight, i figured i'd share it with you.
now, most of the calls on this particular account are from officers who are either letting us know they are 10-41 (beginning their shift) or 10-42 (ending their shift). we simply take down the information and add the message to the queue to be sent to the office in the morning. per the instructions from the office,. all other calls are to be connected or relayed to the supervisor on call.

last night, an officer called in and stated that he was 10-38. i had no idea what this was, so i asked him.

the reply?

"i have to poop."

i don't think i have ever had a grown man utter that phrase to me before, and i can't say i was feeling a huge void in my soul because of it, either. 

he explained that there weren't any appropriate facilities where he was, and he figured he'd be gone for about 20 minutes or so and would call me back upon his return.

rather than make him wait while i dialed the supervisor, i wished him luck and hung up so as not to delay him any further.

the supervisor and i have a good rapport, and when i called him i apologized for bothering him and told him i'd gotten an unusual call and had to pass it along since it was not one of the usual 10-41/10-42 calls.

given the delicate nature of the situation, i simply told him that his officer had called in a 10-38.

"what the heck is a 10-38?"

well, since he asked......

"he has to put this?....take a meeting in his private office."

there was a pause, and then, "oooohhhhhh. tmi."

"well, sir, it's less info than i got."

i told him about the 20-minute ETA and asked if it would be okay if, rather than notifying him of the officer's return, i simply called him if i hadn't heard back from the guy within, say, half an hour, so he could send a search and rescue party. he agreed that that sounded fine.

later, i was telling mama my story and, since she was the third person who'd never heard of a 10-38, she decided to do some research, as surely it did not directly translate to "has to poop".

apparently, some of these codes vary by region. the first translation she found was "stopped suspicious vehicle". this was topped by the charleston, sc translation (and my particular favorite)- "need jaws of life".* there was also a related code, though the exact number escapes me (10-39, maybe?)- "call the coroner".

finally, when i told her where the business was based, she looked up the codes for that city and found that 10-38 is code for "bathroom break". given that the supervisor had no idea what it was, i'm guessing either it's not one of the more commonly used ones, or else maybe he started his career in charleston and was trying to figure out just what had gone down, thinking maybe the officer had gotten his codes mixed up.

*if your situation's that bad, perhaps adding more fiber to your diet will help.

Friday, August 01, 2014

dear software installation/tech support guru,

i know you're frustrated. no little bird was needed for this newsflash- it was evident by your third sigh. 

let me point out once again something that may not be obvious, though i already mentioned it somewhere between sighs five and six:

i do not work for a major corporation here.* there are a total of three employees in this company. we do not take up an entire floor of a major high rise. we do not have a dozen "workstations" from which to choose. i have a laptop at my disposal for sending out claims, and a desktop computer running windows 98 for word processing. that is it. 

the reason this software installation is taking so long is not my "slow internet connection". (believe me, time warner charges me a pretty penny for what i've got. granted, it's not at the warp speed necessary to play "world of warcraft" or "diablo 57" or whatever, but the day i'm found playing either of those should be no more than a week before some sort of mental health assessment.) the more likely reason for this sluggish installation is the computer itself. it was not new when i obtained it over six years ago. it does not get tons of heavy use. it is turned on an average of once a week, and i set it to "hibernate" in between. 

you already know that last part, though. i mentioned it when you asked when it was last rebooted. (you know, right before your mini-lecture/admonishment regarding the necessity of rebooting "at least twice a week", delivered in the sort of tone normally reserved for a two year old who has smeared a handful of poop on the bathroom wall.)

hopefully, during this half hour break (during which i have rebooted (after you froze the computer up completely), and reinstalled chrome so you wouldn't have to lower yourself to suffering through internet explorer again), you've had adequate time to cool off, maybe grab a bagel from the cafeteria, and collect your thoughts so maybe you won't act like i am a total idiot** during the second portion of our conversation. 

neither techie nor total luddite

*that's a different job completely.
**i'm not one, nor have i ever been one, according to tests ranging from childhood to the internet quiz i took last week. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

you spin me right round.......

i normally leave political discussions to my sibling. she was, after all, a poli-sci major*, which is one of the many things i admire about her, because i have a pretty low tolerance for the stuff. 

one of the main reasons for this is that i'm not a big fan of fighting, and it seems to me that, when it comes to politics, a lot of folks in congress are too busy getting into pissing contests about how "wrong" the other party is to actually accomplish anything. 

while i'm certain our founding fathers knew there'd be some degree of dissent among the parties, i think that back then, there was less "playing the media" and more of a willingness to compromise. i doubt it's a coincidence that it seems like they might have accomplished a wee bit more than our parties seem able to manage today.

yes, i blame the media. 

(yes, i know how strange that sounds coming from someone with a media-related college degree.)

case in point:

a good friend of mine posted a link to an article on facebook last night, prefaced with a comment expressing her distress at the situation. while i consider her a very good friend of mine, we do not get into political discussions. after reading the article and watching the embedded video, however, i had to comment. 

first, the link:

after which, i commented:

i watched it, and it didn't look like he refused to me. he probably was a bit distracted, and hopped back out to apologize as soon as he realized his error.

after commenting, i scrolled down to the "related articles" that facebook is kind enough to now include and  it looks like my assumption may not be far off.

take a look for yourself:

other folks have since commented on the article and, suffice it to say, i am in the minority here. 

it's the same incident, spun two different ways. 

is the president a "sorry ass, pathetic excuse for a commander and wanna be chief", as one commenter put it, or is he a human being who made a faux pas?  it all depends on which interpretation you choose to believe. 

maybe that's part of the problem. our lives have gotten so busy that we rely on soundbites from talking heads and little blurbs on the internet to get our news, rather than thinking for ourselves. would the outcry be nearly so vehement if just the video of the actual incident were presented initially, without any commentary at all? 

one of the folks in the second video sarcastically pointed out that "maybe this'll be the thing that finally undoes america completely."

the sad thing is, people seem to be getting more outraged over a momentary brain fart than the inability of their congressional representatives to quit piddling around, zip up their big boy (and girl) pants, and actually work together to accomplish something in the interest of bettering the country.

*with a master's degree, as of this spring, in fact!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

(you should be) sorry for party knockin (on the wrong door)

dear hard-partying neighbors,

the thumpa-thumpa-thumpa of that music you're playing from the killer sound system installed in the white sedan* you've parked on the grass between our building and the next for maximum echo has inspired the most interesting dreams this evening. (i've long hoped for one involving jason statham in a nightclub......not so much.) best of luck getting that battery to work in time to move your chariot off the grass before you get ticketed. since i saw someone finally get nailed for taking the handicapped spot the other day (YES!!!!), i look forward to hearing about a fine that'll put a dent in your next hot dog budget.

however, the thumpa-thumpa-thumpa on my door of confused partygoers who realized after practically knocking the thing down that they had the wrong floor (twice) or building (once- does this mean this is an apartment complex equivalent of a block party?) is something i could have done without. next time, please only invite folks literate enough to decipher the address, or intelligent enough to know that their best bet is simply to walk up to one of the folks twerking with a burger in their hand. (i mean, really, isn't that a pretty obvious sign of a party, mental illness, or both?) thanks!

your neighbor who's trying to have a one person, two cat pajama party before work

p.s.- how much weed are you people smoking down there? my apartment is beginning to smell like the set of the next cheech and chong movie.

*sadly, it is too dark for me to take a photo, so i'll do my best to do your hoopty/rolling sound system justice:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

chivalry is not dead

so there i was, in the famous "panel under the steering column fell while i was driving and whacked me in the knee again" pose (i think they cover it in that form of yoga where they induce sweating through the use not of a hot room, but showing you mechanics' bills)- torso in the car, legs sticking out of the car, with my dad on speakerphone while i tried to make some minor repairs. all of a sudden, i hear a car pull up, and a male voice (not my dad's) offering assistance. i turned down the two vaguely not unattractive guys, telling them it was just a minor repair.

"are you sure? you look like you might be having some trouble."

"no, thanks. i've just got a couple of screws loose."

as they pulled away, my dad, who'd heard the whole thing, commented that it must have looked like i'd been struggling. i pointed out to him that i'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that i had my workout clothes on- including a short skirt.

Monday, March 10, 2014

on a musical note....

i try to live in such a way that, when the movie version of my future best selling autobiography comes out and the person in charge of the soundtrack decides to pick a richard marx song to play over the end credits*, "satisfied" seems a more fitting choice than "should've known better" or "don't mean nothing".

*actually, i'd prefer either "everybody wants to rule the world", like in my favorite movie, or "don't you forget about me". (there are several acceptable versions of the latter. however, if justin beiber records a cover of it at any time, it would not qualify as one of them.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

the best medicine?

"good morning. thank you for calling (random medical practice). how may i help you?"

(little old lady) "i'd like to order "islands in the stream" and "you are so beautiful"."

(pause) "uh, well, ma'am. i'm afraid you've reached a medical practice. i'm not sure we can help you with that."

"well, i called 1-800 (other numbers that do not spell "sir-mix-a-lot"*), and that's how i found you."

the first two times, i informed her that i was sorry, but it appeared she may have misdialed. the third time, however, i decided that i'd help her out since it was 3 in the morning, calls were slow, and she was really intent on getting her fix of kenny rogers/dolly parton and joe cocker. 

as it turned out, she was attempting to order a 9 disc collection from time life, which isn't really affiliated with "time" or "life" magazines, but some company called "starvista entertainment". i pulled up their website and gave her the customer service number, but she still found her way back to me. i asked if she had internet access. she said "no". i told her they had a little form i could fill out for her so they could contact her in the morning. unfortunately, she didn't have a phone available, aside from the one she was using in her hospital room. 

yes, really. this little old lady was trying to buy an epic 9-disc set of love songs* she saw on late night tv while laid up in the hospital. 

*of course i checked

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

....and the no good, very bad day

i just woke up from a very brief nap to pins and needles in my left arm (due to a poorly placed kitten) and mildly distressing news regarding my favorite job (you know- the one i actually got a degree for).

i have already decided i'll be purchasing a powerball ticket later, as surely my luck will turn around and balance itself out. 

also, tacos tonight are pretty much a given. tacos make everything better.

hour later addendum: since we last spoke (okay- make that "since i last whined"), i accidentally squirted delightfully aromatic tuna juice all over a fresh pair of jammies while opening what i decided (partway through consumption) may have been a dodgy can. (it wasn't bulging, but tastes a hair off. guess we'll find out what that means in a few hours.)

also, i sustained a minor injury while handling a banana.

yes, you read that last part correctly. 
second addendum, six hours after the previous one (yes, my "lucky" streak continued):

i am pleased to report the tuna has not yet made me regret freeing it from its tiny steel confines earlier and my morning errands were completed mostly without incident (it would have been nice if target had not been completely out of the one thing i needed most- kitty litter). however, on the way to job #3 i stopped at the gas station in an attempt to get the angry little light on my dash to turn off and wound up in a line that was ridiculously long because the other cashier was busy waving around some little remote to adjust the prices at the pumps. you guessed it- the price went up while i was standing in line, waiting to prepay. then, my pump didn't want to give me a discount for paying cash, so i had to return to the cashier four times to get it straightened out before pumping.

while pumping gas, i noticed that the new tire i bought a month ago looked awfully low. i thought about getting it checked out, but the way my luck was running....better leave that task for another day.

a little while later, whilst grabbing recycling from the trunk of my car after leaving job #3, i stood up and whacked my head into the trunk lid. i was on the phone at the time, and after i explained the sudden inspiration behind some rather colorful language, this was the response:

"go directly to taco bell. do not pass go. do not collect $200."

thankfully, i'd already scrapped my plan to go rollerblading at the canal. there's no need to risk near-certain (the way things are going) injury a few days before the princess half marathon.
i sincerely hope this is just a case of "monday, one day late", due to yesterday being a holiday.

Monday, January 13, 2014

how may i assist you?

when i find myself biting my tongue at work, it's usually because i'm dealing with a customer of the water department who's distressed because their water has been turned off for nonpayment and the city didn't show up on the day they finally paid to turn it back on. (inevitably, they have their grandmother and at least three children in the home, and every one needs a bath or to flush the toilet or something.)

i have a terrible time resisting the urge to point out that such a crisis could be averted simply by paying the bill on time, but somehow i do.

i had a call this morning that tested me for a slightly different reason.

we also answer for several mental health facilities and practices, and a woman called in the wee hours of the morning to seek assistance from the office. she said her issue "wasn't really an emergency", but she was still quite upset, so i asked what was going on, in an effort to determine whether or not she actually needed to speak with a counselor.

without using the derogatory term she uttered (unless she was using an old term for a cigarette), this woman's issue was that she wanted assistance finding a place to live simply because she met her new male neighbor, who happened to have dating preferences that were alarmingly similar to her own. 

it was all i could do to keep from pointing out that she clearly needed mental health assistance. somehow, i was able to very politely suggest that perhaps the office had the right resources to help her out if she called back when they were open. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

the hothouse flowers vs. old man winter

the cold does strange things to people- especially when they aren't used to it.

first, let me preface this post by saying that, of the five states i've lived in, this is the only one that hasn't had snow by now. i understand that the natives aren't used to things falling from the sky. (in fact, it's a lesson i learned not long after i first moved here 13 1/2 years ago. i was amazed by how many folks seemed to go catatonic behind the wheel when anything- even rain- fell out of the sky.)

the first strange call came last night, and i'm going to shamelessly copy and paste what i posted to facebook:

i just fielded a call from a woman at a housing development who was distressed because her heater was broken. since the development is picky about what constitutes an emergency (especially at 3am), i asked her what the temperature was inside her home.

"80 degrees"

"okay, ma'am. is your thermostat set at 80 degrees, or is the temperature in your home right now 80 degrees?"

"the thermostat is set for 80 degrees, and it says it's 80 degrees in here, but it feels cold and i have small children. my heat only comes on for a minute, and then it shuts itself off. how long will it take for someone to come fix it?"

i explained to her that this was not something the office would consider an emergency, but i'd sent a message to the office and ask them to give her a call in the morning.

"they won't fix it tonight? will they at least give us another place to stay?"


i thought maybe this was an isolated incident. however, it appears i was horribly mistaken.

when i covered at the radio station earlier, one of the main topics of conversation was the weather. it does not get very cold in south carolina (especially in the central and southern parts of the state) often, and the predicted overnight low of 19 degrees had everyone in a tizzy.

before coming into work this evening, i briefly wondered aloud if there would be any more strange calls regarding heating issues.

two hours into my shift, i've already had a call from a gentleman who was disappointed that it was only 75 degrees in his apartment (he had the thermostat cranked to 80), as well as a lady who was distraught because it was "only" 78 degrees in her residence. the former also made a point to emphasize that his unit was running constantly, which concerned him because it was "probably bad for the environment". (it was all i could do to refrain from pointing out that if he were really that concerned about being "environmentally friendly", perhaps he should throw on a sweater and turn the thermostat down to 68 or less.)

before the night is through, i fully anticipate getting at least two more calls of this nature. if my caffeine lets me down, i'm afraid i might slip and actually use the phrase "suck it up, buttercup" sometime before heading home to my comfortably 65-degree domicile.