Category Archives: Work

Paul Bunyan Is A B***H

My life is sort of chaotic right now. And not in a good way. It sort of feels like Paul Bunyan picked up my life, shook it around, and left it all topsy-turvy.

Paul Bunyan

That wasn’t very nice of you, Mr. Bunyan. Seriously. Don’t you have trees to plant?

Oh, wait…that’s Johnny Appleseed. My bad.

Anywhoo, without going into great detail, let me reassure you that I am fine, Brian is fine, and our families and friends are all fine. We are just under a great deal of stress (work-related, mostly) and we are busy trying to pick up the pieces from Paul’s rampage.

Needless to say, I’ve been looking for any and all ways to relax lately. One of the ways I put a smile back on my face is to visit one of my very favorite blogs, The Pintester, written by the hilarious Sonja Foust. Her posts are always snort-worthy, so much so that I recently bought and read her book: Vampires and Tantric Sex: How To Publish Your Book Like A Bona Fide Badass (co-written by Lisa Creech Bledsoe).

sonja

Not only did this book teach me valuable stuff, and helped me to create a clearer path toward publishing my own book of badassery, it kept me in stitches for all twelve chapters. It was awesome. All my writer friends should check it out.

But this post isn’t about Sonja’s book. Nay, this post is about me finding my smile again by visiting her blog. When I clicked over this morning, I was already smiling when I realized she’d posted a video blog. (She is my vlog s-hero. They never, ever, ever disappoint.) Then I watched it and realized she was hosting a contest.

Hooray! Contests!

contests

I would have entered if she’d offered me a stale cookie that she found under her couch, because 1) I love cookies and 2) I love entering contests. But when I found out that, through SlimFast Sweepstakes, she was offering a ONE THOUSAND DOLLAR GIFT CARD from SpaFinder.com, I was like, WHAAAAA???

It’s like she knew that we’d been struck by the evil brute Bunyan, and that I needed a reason to keep from drinking a chocolate bourbon milkshake while at work today.

So I entered in all the ways possible (including this here blog post.) You should enter, too! (Except you shouldn’t, because I really want to win. But if you do, I won’t hold it against you. So long as you take me with you on your spa excursion.)

So thanks, Sonja–for the daily chuckles, for my new Book Publishing Bible, for giving me something to aspire to with my own video blogs, and for giving me the opportunity to win a prize that will allow me to soak my tired feet in cucumber-scented water. I love you. *SOB*

I Don’t Wanna

I mentioned in my last post that the internet has felt like a harsh place to be lately. I wish I could say I could simply turn my back on the world wide web and retreat into the peacefulness of my own life, but alas, that is not the case. Because you see, life has been somewhat harsh lately, too.

I’ve dealt with a barrage of hatefulness from my job in the last couple of weeks…from face-to-face interactions where people have hurled such insults that I feared I needed to duck:



To the kind of telephone conversations that make me want to plug my ears:


After eight hours of this sort of behavior, I wind up feeling exhausted, underpaid, under-appreciated, and feeling like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. Or, more appropriately, the weight of the everybody else’s problems on my shoulders.




Emotionally battered and bruised, I tend to shy away from life. I wake up in the mornings in an “I don’t wanna” mood. “I don’t wanna work. I don’t wanna answer the phone. I don’t wanna send late notices. I don’t wanna call her back. I just don’t wanna.”

The don’t wanna’s tend to bleed into my personal life, as well. “I don’t wanna do laundry. I don’t wanna cook dinner. I don’t wanna go anywhere today. I don’t wanna write a blog. I don’t wanna check my email. I just don’t wanna.”

The only thing I’ve wanted to do lately is close my eyes and pretend I’m somewhere else.

 
 
 
…to be continued…
 
Doctor Who images courtesy of bigpicturesphoto.com. Angry birds images courtesy of webdesignhot.com.

My Five Golden Rules (When It Comes to Customer Service)

If you want to be technical about it, I work in the service industry. The majority of my day is filled with answering the phone, fielding the same 15 questions, discussing contracts with new clients, and filling out paperwork.

(That is, when there’s actually a customer to deal with. Otherwise I’ll be playing the Sims 3.)

When you have a job like mine (i.e.: bank teller, receptionist, office manager, even retail and restaurant workers) you deal with the same mundane crap day in and day out. Our jobs are less than thrilling. And yet, part of our job is to solve your problem in a professional, concise, friendly way.

Most of the people I come into contact with are perfectly polite. Some are even friendly. A few are exceptionally friendly.

However, there are those people I encounter on a daily basis who make me want to shoot myself in the face. Or possibly them. Bang bang now you’re dead.

And so, in an attempt to keep myself from being incarcerated for face shooting, I’ve compiled a list of 5 golden rules that will make your experience with me (and others like me) much more pleasant, as well as effective. (Not to mention, it makes my job easier. And you’ll get to keep your face.)

Golden Rule #1: Be Nice.
No matter what kind of day I’ve had, or what kind of mood I’m in, when you walk into my office, this is what you will see:

I will always greet you with a smile.

How the rest of our meeting will go is solely up to you.

If you are nice to me, offer a kind word, ask how my day has been, you will get better service. I’m much more likely to do you a favor, waive a late fee, or help you out of a sticky situation if you are kind to me.

However, if you choose to be Mrs. Bitchy Pants, you can expect this:

Don’t worry. I’ll still do my job. I’ll take your payment/fill out your lease/answer your questions. But if you’re rude, I’ll be rude back.

Now listen, I know you’ve probably had a bad day. I’m sure that traffic is a nightmare, and you’re hungry, and your middle toe hurts. But here’s the thing: that’s not my problem. If I have to fake that I’m happy to see you every time you walk into the office (even if you smell like old cigarettes and body odor) then the least you can do is pretend to do the same.

It’s social protocol. And also, it’s in the Bible. So be nice.

Golden Rule #2: Don’t Talk Too Much.
I’m all for small talk as much as the next gal. In fact, I’ll often ask about your family/wife/son while I’m processing your payment just to fill in the conversation gaps. (Most of the time I actually care what your answers are.)

However, I do not need your full medical history, life story, or a run down of your family tree in order to do my job.

A little background information is nice. I don’t, however, need to know about your anal polyps.

For some reason, people feel the need to tell me EVERYTHING. Maybe I just have that sort of face. I don’t know. But I could write a volume of books on the stories people tell me.

Anyway, feel free to pepper our brief conversation with a little talk of the weather, or perhaps a brief opinion on the state of the local economy. That’s fantastic. That’s perfect small talk. But when the paperwork is signed and put away, the payment has been processed, and my work is done, I really don’t want to stand in the office and talk about your plumbing problems for a half an hour. I’m sorry for your troubles, but the extent of my expertise has been exhausted. Please seek counsel elsewhere.

Golden Rule #3: Cell Phones Are the Devil.
Other than my husband and a few select people, my Droid 2 is my best friend. It is with me ALL the time, I’m constantly picking it up and checking Facebook or Twitter, playing Angry Birds and Words with Friends, or perusing the internet when I’m too lazy to get up and walk over to the computer.

However, I will NEVER talk on my cell phone when you are in my office. It is rude, inconsiderate, and incredibly irritating.

If you’re in the middle of a conversation, there’s no need to end it. It will take you 2.4 seconds to drop your payment and head for the door. Just ask your buddy to hang on for a second, hand me your check with a polite hello, wait a moment for your receipt, and then pick up right where you left off as you leave.

It’s not rocket science people. The person taking care of business for you just wants to be acknowledged. And they (generally) aren’t interested in hearing you discuss the results of your recent blood tests with your pal Bob on your cell. So don’t be rude, Willis. Turn off that cell phone.

Golden Rule #4: Listen.
Sounds simple, right? You’d be amazed how many people don’t use this elementary skill. I don’t mind answering your question the first time. In fact, I live for it. I don’t even mind repeating myself once or twice, for clarification. I realize I’m giving you a lot of information to digest at once, so let me make sure we understand each other.

However, when I find myself repeating the same basic information 4 or 5 or 10 times over, I begin to get extremely frustrated. Which means you’re edging closer to the “Face Shooting Victim” line.

I typically find that I repeat myself most often with people who: 1) are rifling through their purse, 2) messing with their cell phone, 3) seem to be in a big hurry.

Then there are the occasional “I’m High On More Than Life” people who are so jumped up on their drug of choice, it’s impossible to make them understand anything unless you are willing to talk to them in a Fraggle Rock voice (with supplemental puppet show.)

Just take a quick trip down memory lane, remember what it was like to be in the first grade, and put on your big boy listening ears. It will take us less time to get through the process if I don’t have to tell you when your rent is due eleventy hundred times.

Golden Rule #5: Respect Personal Boundaries.
This particular rule has a myriad of facets. I’m going out on a limb and hoping that those who need this rule will be able to use their best judgement.

For me, it usually presents itself in the means of unusual, prying personal questions.

“Do you live here?”
“How much do you make?”
“What color underwear are you wearing?” (ok that’s a stretch.)

Here’s the thing: If you wouldn’t ask your best friend that question, don’t ask me. We just met. Most likely, the answer is nunya bidness.

Let’s keep things general, folks. You don’t need to know about my personal business unless it’s relevant to the current conversation. (IE: you smell the cake I’m baking and ask, “Hey, lady, what’s that awesome smell coming from your apartment?” In which case I’m happy to answer, “That’s my brother’s birthday cake that you smell, and yes, it will be amazingly fantastic.”)

In that same vein, a word to the wise: CLOSED typically means CLOSED. If you get here 10 minutes after 5, and the CLOSED sign is hanging on my door, that means your problem is no longer my problem (until 9:00 tomorrow morning.) Banging on my door until your fist is bloody isn’t going to change that. So just suck it up, realize you were late, and come back tomorrow.

Before 5.

Because that boundary isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Truly, readers, 98.9% of the time, my encounter with a new customer is going to be brief, helpful, and pleasant. But it never hurts to spread a little knowledge around. I don’t think most people who have never worked in the service industry realize how *annoying* customer service can be. So, if my little list of Golden Rules can help, I’m happy to spread the word.

OH—and don’t forget to tip your waitress. (At least 15%, ya cheapskates.)

**On advice from my father-in-law, I’m editing this post to say, officially, that I would never shoot anyone in the face. In fact, I don’t even own a firearm. So shooting someone would be physically impossible. Unless I was to shoot them with pretend lasers from my eyes. So don’t sue me.**

My Brain Won’t Do What I Tell It To

My job requires occasional confrontations. Not the pleasant kind that leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy, but the kind that makes you want to close yourself into a quiet room and scream into a pillow. I’ve done a lot to try and curb the “Insta-Rage” that comes along with dealing with rude, sullen, hateful people. My latest idea….meditation.

“Abby,” I said to myself, “you should try to learn how to meditate. Yeah. That’s a GREAT idea. You know, learn to zero in on silencing your mind, quieting your anger, summon some patience.”


Great! Fantastic! It’s an idea, let’s make it happen! So I bought a book.

(This should not surprise you. I’ve mentioned before that I’m an avid reader, and I believe in at least 2 other previous posts I’ve bought a book to solve a problem. The book store is my proverbial therapist.)

So, I’m reading this book…

And I’m learning a lot of stuff. The origin of meditation, who uses it and who doesn’t, what to expect when expecting  the first time you try to quiet your mind, etc. Then I get to the first exercise.

“Sit and relax. Close your eyes and turn your attention inward…Watch the thoughts that pass through your awareness…Don’t judge them, or attempt to hang on to them. Just watch. Notice the nature and content of your thoughts..”

I’ve totally got this. Meditation isn’t so hard. I’m practically a freakin’ guru already. Okie dokie, moving on….

“Notice how one thought leads to another, and how quickly a chain of associations is set up. Notice how these associations sometimes follow a single theme, or go off at a tangent into a quite different set of considerations. Notice how intent your mind seems on distracting your attention…”

Abby’s stream of thoughts, decoded: To set the tone…for some reason the first thought that pops into my head is of that recent Nissan commercial with the polar bear, which always makes me sad. Global warming is not cool…And for that matter, we really need some world peace up in here, too…Hmmm. What should I make for dinner tonight? Maybe a nice grilled chicken with some roasted potatoes. Or B might like some steak caesar….Is my phone ringing? No, wait, I imagined that. I wonder what’s going to happen next on Gilmore Girls? Lorelai just up and left the hunky teacher…but she should really be with Luke anyway. OMG—is today the 16th? It IS…I have a hair appointment with LeeAnn at 5. Shoot. I’ve got to finish up this blog, and fast….What should I blog about tomorrow? Cats? Facebook? Flowers? I like flowers. Man, I could really go for a huge cheeseburger right about now. Ooooh….cheeseburger from Five Guys…NO! No cheeseburgers!! I’m eating healthy, remember!?!?


Wow. That was intense. I mean, I know I think a lot, but how am I supposed to shut my brain up long enough to actually find my “calm and peaceful center?” Well, let’s see what the next step is…the book will tell me what to do.

“Try not to hang on to pleasant thoughts, or push unpleasant ones away. Just watch. Now go one step further and ask yourself, “Who is it who is watching?”



Yep. Ya lost me, Dr. Fontana.

Maybe meditation’s not for me.

*All of today’s quotes were pulled from “Learn to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Self-Discovery and Fulfillment” by David Fontana, PhD. I’m sure he’s totally qualified and knows exactly what he’s talking about, so if you read this, David, don’t sue me for having the opinion that basic meditation philosophy may be lost on me and my cluttered brain.*