I possess a long and rich history of embarrassing myself. Occasionally, I will also have a personal moment in which I will embarrass myself—to myself… and then wonder how long it will be before someone notices what I’m doing or saying should my behavior remain uncorrected.
A recent incident involves my inability to dictate clearly over the phone, or as I prefer to see it, as other’s inability to listen, spell, and/or use common sense. First of all, no one can spell my last name…”S-H-E-H-A-M…” no. “S-E-E-H-N…” nope. “OK, I’ve got it this time, E-H-S.” Click. I am literally so pissed, I just hang up the phone. Unfortunately, this isn’t very efficient.
Because much of my job occurs over the phone, I found myself constantly having to spell out words using other words with unmistakable syllabic emphases to ensure the correct spelling of said word. Initially, this was a HUGE problem for a man with an imagination as vivid as mine, especially when the conversation has gone so poorly that I’m having to spell words with other words. “B” like BUTTHOLE. “I” like I’VE ALREADY TOLD YOU FIVE TIMES , “M” like “MEXICAN,” etc. This becomes problematic when you work for a major corporation and your phone is recorded.
My solution? I memorized the NATO alphabet. “A” like “Anus” became Alpha. “R” like “Retard” became Romeo. So now, every time I tried to spell my last name or give a license number or, God forbid, the last name-license combo, it sounded like I was in the Afghani desert calling in coordinates for an airstrike. At least I was going to stop making wildly inappropriate references over my monitored line…or was I?
The most important thing to do when you know you’re embarrassing yourself is to stay committed to what you’re doing—you’ve got to own it, or else you’ll just end up embarrassing yourself more. But I couldn’t help it…I felt like such an assclown calling out the NATO alphabet that I would revert back and forth between the two…
“ROMEO, SuhhhhhSuhhhh SHIT, XRAY, U…u…you get what I’m saying right?” Now I just sound like someone who is incapable of memorizing 26 words. Well, I don’t give a Shoestring Harry Indigo Thelma.
Ok, now spell it back to me…
In case you want to know what I’m thinking when I’m thinking it—this could be dangerous.
Some take to the road for the freedom. For others, the allure of all the things their mothers warned them about was too much to ignore. Some just wanted easy access to hard drugs and women who hate their fathers and are out to prove it. Finally, some just wanted another man to recognize the value of a quality suit at a discount price.
Last week, metal rock superstar Dave Mustaine took to Facebook to air his beef with Men’s Warehouse and their tardy delivery of a gift card for his “awesome” tour manager. Because nothing says “hey, you’re awesome” quite like…a gift card…to Men’s Warehouse.
Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll…and discount threads? Wait, that’s not how it goes. Well, unless you so happen to be the tour manager for Megadeath. What could be more embarrassing, and frankly, more fitting than giving your long-haired, sweaty tour manager whose wardrobe consists mostly of cutoffs and acid-washed jeans a gift card for discount suits? The answer–admitting it publicly.
Talk about taking the allure of rock n’ roll and making it a day job at Capital One. Rockers dont wear suits. OK maybe Prada or Tom Ford suits…not Men’s Warehouse. I dont even wear those. Rule of thumb: if you can buy a suit designed by Steve Harvey the comedian at the store, you probably should shop someplace else. Men’s Warehouse is the modern day equivalent of a medieval armory, dressing today’s Anglo-Saxon drone in his corporate suit of armor, ready to do battle with ticker symbols and TPS reports (Do I sound bitter?). Do you think Mick Jagger ever went into Men’s Warehouse because someone guaranteed he’d like the way he looked? Does Axl Rose saunter into Jos A Bank looking to make a bold statement before his next show? There is nothing rock n’ roll about Men’s Warehouse. Men’s Warehouse is where men like me lug their broken, battered dreams and delusions of grandeur and exchange them for two-button super 100s and hope its buy one get one free so we can be doubly excited about being boring-ass white guys with shitty white guy jobs that require us to wear these faux-Italian offensive uniforms.
Why, Dave? Why? The answer is because even though you’re a millionaire and you sing songs like “Prince of Darkness” and “She-Wolf” and call your band “Megadeth,” you’re still the guy that wore a Canadian tuxedo to prom. You’ve always thought that short sleeve button downs are a good way to keep cool in the warmer months. You think red shirts are viable alternatives to white shirts and the more buttons your suit has, the better. Dave, you’re a dork. A very wealthy dork who has a way cooler life than me, but still a dork. You clearly have to funds–you could have sprung for Saks or Nordstrom, but your first instinct was to clothe your tour manager in the finest threads, and you knew of no more viable solution than Men’s Warehouse.
I can just see Dave Mustaine getting really hyped to take his tour manager into Men’s Warehouse and dragging the really confused bordering on dejected tour manger into the store… “Did you say “heroin?” Oh….you meant herringbone. Where’s the blow….the blowtie, I mean bowtie. always liked those. Where’s the puss…puss…pussome extra socks in my cart, you can never have enough socks. Is that peyote? What do you mean paisley? Does this come in plaid?”
“Thank you for calling today, Mr. Shemahan, I’m very sorry for your problem and I’m going to work to solve your problem today.” The only thing they can hear more clearly than my sobs is the sound of my head banging against the desk.
Just once, I want to call in and have them pronounce my name even phonetically correct– I guess I’ll keep holding out for Irish call centers. Think of how much more fun it would be to call an Irish tech support line– eh, I digress.
I would rather be waterboarded in a dark room in an Eastern Bloc country than have to call a customer support line for any major retailer or utility company. OK, I’m exaggerating a little bit but the latter often feels like a fair comparison to the ordeal that is trying to get what you pay for in this country.
The final insult to the American consumer was the outsourcing of customer service to foreign countries. Its really just as insulting to the poor people who have to work in these places and deal with frustrated ignoramuses like yours truly, but they’re being paid so I’m going to make sure they suffer like the rest of us working folk. “Please enter your account number.” Ok. “Please enter your online account number.” WTF-who’s idea was it to have two account numbers for the same account. Ok. “Please enter your date of birth.” OK. “Please enter the last 6 digits of your Social Security number.” OK I literally have to think about this, and count backwards. I’ve been drinking and this is difficult, why cant you just ask for the last four digits like every other place. OK. “Thank you, your call is being transferred. Please be advised we are experiencing unusually long hold times.” I mean, can you just take that part of the recording down? That message is the equivalent of seeing a “Speed Limit Enforced By Aircraft” sign on the highway. Until a drone shoots a Hellfire missile at the car speeding in front of me, I’m not slowing down, and I will not be intimidated by your bogus hold time warning, either.
“Hello, Mr. Shahehan. Thank you for putting in your information that only you would know. Can you now please confirm your date of birth, home address, mother’s maiden name, name of your second grade teacher, name of the centerfold in the first Playboy you ever looked at, where you were on 9/11, my name, my son’s name and the exact spelling of the Duke Basketball coach’s last name.” Sweet Jesus, all I want to know is why is my channel fuzzy!!!!!!!
Its not surprising that the countries where these call centers are located have a low opinion of Americans. First off, half of these people in these places can hardly put food on their table which probably puts my immediate need for the NFL RedZone channel in a perspective from which I’m slightly removed…as I’m wondering if it will be the next barbecue wing or Coors Light that’s going to put me in my food coma.
The worst part is that companies saw how effectively these scripted calls irritated the consumer past the point of caring about whatever it was he/she called about and adopted the same script for the handful of call centers remaining in the states. Though, sometimes when I call and I get someone in Queens, I wonder if we’re speaking the same language. At least the people overseas pretend to be genuinely concerned and want to help, the American ones don’t even keep up pretenses anymore. Before I can even give an account number, I’m getting transferred to another department who just happens to be closed. The only thing made in America anymore is apathy.
I think we can all be in agreement that the “scripted” parts of the call are the most frustrating, however, no part of the script is more frustrating than the part at the end, when I’ve just realized that 45 minutes of my life are gone and never returning and my problem remains unsolved– I get hit with a “Mr. Shameen, is there anything else I can help you with?”
Really? I mean, I know you have to say it because the call is “being recorded for quality assurance” and you’ll get lashed if you don’t ask me, but how am I supposed to respond when you ask how you can be of further assistance when you’ve been of absolutely no assistance for the 45 minutes? It sends my blood pressure to dangerous levels. That’s like a cardiologist waking me up from surgery, telling me that my pulmonary artery is still 90% clogged but that he found a small mole on my arm and I might want to consider getting it looked at. Thanks for your “help.” Then you want to ask me to complete a survey or sell me the Spanish language channels? To quote the always apropos Chris Farley, “SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, WILL YOU STOP THIS CRUEL GAME!”
Meanwhile, I’m going to open another bottle of bourbon and start looking at well-priced shacks in Montana where I could pen a manifesto…
Notariaty and immortality– something all human beings long for in some form or fashion. Thus, when an individual is memorialized by his/her society, it could be considered the ultimate honor for a distinguished existence. That is, unless your memorialization causes those who would otherwise remember you fondly to curse your name and the mere mention of your existence.
In the year 2000, the United States Mint, in its infinite wisdom, decided to issue a coin with a $1 value commemorating Sacagawea and her contribution to the Lewis and Clark expedition of the Louisiana Purchase. The “Sacagawea Dollar” was born, and the US Mint launched an aggressive marketing campaign including print media and television ads, along with partnerships with Wal-Mart and General Mills.
I cant decide if either a racist mole, buried deep in the heart of the Treasury Department had it out for Native Americans and/or women and wanted to mock their respective contributions to society by creating a worthless tender with their face on it, or someone actually thought this was a good idea.
I was leaving a parking garage the other week, and when I handed the attendant/scholar a $10 bill, I received 5 Sacagawea dollars as change. My brother owed me $10 once many years ago and tried paying me back with the money from our family’s Monopoly game– this felt eerily similar.
After pleading with the attendant for single dollars, I was refused and the chorus of car horns behind me indicated that I was alone in my quest to demand widely accepted legal tender.
So, on the empty city streets at roughly 9 PM on a Tuesday, I do what I always do when I’m irritated–figure out how I can make other people irritated by the same thing so I’ll have something to occupy myself with. I googled “Sacagawea Dollar” and that’s when I discovered the Treasury’s partnership with Wal-Mart to market the coin–so I decided to head to belly of the beast to test the strength of this partnership, between worthless Sacagawea dollars and a clientele most of whom have never heard of Sacagawea and were probably wondering why their quarters looked strange.
It was everything I hoped it would be– and more. I approached a cashier and asked if she had ever heard of the Sacagawea dollar- “SACK UH WHAT?” SAC-A-GAW-EA. “SACK UH JEWS…WHAT”. Really? Sack of Jews? Yes, I have a backpack filled with Hebrews. NO- THIS COIN. “Oh the Indian dollar. Nah we ain’t take those.” Guess who else “ain’t take those”…vending machines, street vendors (reaaallly didnt like it), and Wendy’s.
I’d like to congratulate our elected officials and government employees on a job well done– 12 years later and no one knows what the hell that thing is or who Sacagawea is. Even my iPad doesn’t know because it keeps highlighting her name as a misspelling.
Also, let’s not forget that most Native American tribes bartered, and didn’t use currency until we came along and forced them to. Classy move, America. That’s like memorializing the peril of slavery with a new line of wheelbarrows and sunscreen.
Rather than look at them in my change bin each day as a reminder of our government’s idiocy and cause undue aggression toward a long-since-deceased Native American woman, I sent them as a donation to Sacagawea State Park. I hope they accept the coins–the irony would be more than I could bear, otherwise.
I have recently been moved to another part of the office (still not in storage) and the woman next to me was told she could listen to the radio at “a reasonable volume.” This poses a serious problem for me.
As anyone who knows me well is aware, music is my obsession. I have a sizable collection, have been listening to rock music since the womb, and embarrassingly to say, can recite the words to better than 80% of what I hear on pop/rock radio. Also, when I hear a song I’m especially fond of, I’m incapable of paying attention to what I’m doing and subconsciously start mouthing the words and swaying from side to side in my chair. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the phone, someone is talking to me at my desk, or I’m in the middle of the hallway: if I can hear it, I’m going to break it down. Some gross offenses to corporate decorum in recent days have been at the hands of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” Gladys Knight and The Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia,” and Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young.” There was also an incident last week during a Michael Jackson song…but we don’t need to go into that. Frankly, the FCC should investigate radio jockeys who play Billy Jean during the work week. God help this place if her Lite 98 radio ever plays “Shout” or “Superstition.”
Unfortunately, the radio station also plays commercials, which brings me to my most recent outburst and the cause for this post. Apparently, the Broadway adaptation of “The Lion King” is opening in Richmond and they are advertising it on the radio. This would not be a problem, except for the opening of the advertisement is the African woman yelling the Swahili “NAAAAANTS INGONYAMA” beginning part from the “Circle of Life” song.
I love the Lion King film. I loved the Lion King play. The first CD I ever owned was The Lion King soundtrack. I’m considering buying the Lion King blu-ray just incase my little cousin comes to visit and he wants to watch it. In fact, one of the only reasons I would consider having kids is so I could go out and buy other Disney movies without feeling ashamed of myself. Anyhow, back to the commercial…
At first, I’m in disbelief. Then I hear it again, verifying that it is, in fact, the only Swahilli chant I know. Then, I heard it a third time…
And I yelled it… like I was outdoors, or like I was Rafiki himself, holding the baby Simba for the whole Pride to behold. Only, I wasn’t outdoors nor am I a fictitious Baboon living in the Serengeti. I am an employee of a major corporation…and I was indoors…and everyone wondered how I got my job and what kind of medication I forgot to take that afternoon.
*** I am willfully violating my long-standing policy of writing anything but satire on this blog. The gravity of current events and the lack of a permanent home for my op/eds compel me to make this difficult decision. ***
Osama bin Laden is dead. On first hearing the news, I reacted as if it was a non-event and marginalized his death as insignificant to the operational functionality of al-Qaeda and serving as nothing more than inspiration to fanatics to commit further harm to our troops and our citizens. It took talking to a friend and seeing the people pour into Lafayette Park and into Times Square and Ground Zero to realize how I used that marginalizing to make myself feel better over the passing years that he remained unpunished for his crimes. I had convinced myself that him dying in some cave of kidney failure was sufficient and that a public display of justice was unnecessary, if not harmful.
In the past nearly ten years of war, from “mission accomplished,” to Abu Ghraib, the failure to find WMDs in Iraq, the nearly 6,000 servicemen and women lost, the endless politicizing, the constant hostility of debate, and the anguish that comes with fighting a faceless enemy who wears no uniform, it has been an unbelievable catharsis to put the proper face back on our enemy. The face that taunted us for years prior to 9/11, mocked our beloved dead, and continued to finance and inspire new ambassadors of hatred has finally fallen. How fitting that he lived (and died) not as he preached. Not as the nomadic jihadist, braving the elements and surviving by the support of his followers, but isolated in a million-dollar mansion compound, living in relative luxury with servants while his followers sleep in caves and starve. I hope in his final moments, when he knew it was over, he felt 1/10 of the terror the people on Flight 93 felt.
What a relief that he was tried, convicted, sentenced, and buried in a twelve-hour period. After the sham that was Saddam Hussein’s trial, the ridiculous rants that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is allowed to put on record in his military tribunals, the nonsense about trying other Gitmo detainees in US Courts, I welcome this old-fashioned justice. Holding someone accountable to your own ideals and justice system is irrelevant if that person has spent a lifetime fighting those very ideals. Sometimes it is necessary to fight fire with fire.
On another note, while watching the crowds in Washington and New York, I couldn’t help but notice most of the people in the streets are young people; people for whom 9/11 permanently changed their understanding of the world. Often maligned as “Generation Me” and the narcissists who tweet and facebook, who don’t understand the value of hard-work, who have lead the most privileged existence in the history of the Earth, it was good to see “us” let off a little steam. We lost parents, brothers, sisters, friends that day. We’ve continued to lose them in the wars that followed. We’ve borne the brunt of the combat operations and have become the most battle-hardened generation perhaps in our nation’s history. More importantly, we had the safety and security that our parents and grandparents had the privilege of having the majority of their lives ripped from us in our adolescence. Our generation has faced a long and painful test and we have answered with the same bravery and dignity that the “greatest generation” and others showed in their times of trial. The men and women of our generation serving in the armed forces have earned us the right to stand with our forefathers as shepherds of the precious gift of democracy.
Finally, the president called the death of bin Laden “the most significant event to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaeda.” I disagree. Seeing fingers stained purple with ballot ink in countries that haven’t seen an election in generations. Seeing Afghani and Iraqi girls go to school with parents and teachers who know they could be killed for their participation, but attend anyway. And now, to see these oppressed people pour into the street in demonstration against oppressive regimes across the region, these are the most poignant victories. His death may strike a lethal blow to al-Qaeda as we know it, but the wars waged by courageous individuals every day against the fear he spread across the Arab world gives me much more hope for the future than his demise. He is one man and there will be others like him, but as long as we fight against and support those who fight against the evil men like Osama bin Laden spread, their own ideology will be their undoing.
The death of Osama bin Laden feels good. The evidence of his dogma losing its grip on the region feels good. After nearly ten years of war, we are completing our mission. We are seeing progress, and progress feels good.