This Is That Thing I Told You I’d Tell You About

Anyone remember that thing I wrote about the other day? Not the part about getting gross on wine plus beer plus champagne, but the other thing? The thing I couldn’t say?

Welllllll I couldn’t say at the time because I hadn’t mentioned it to my managers yet, and although I sincerely doubt any of them know who/where/what I am on the Internet or have any interest in finding out, I didn’t want to say this thing and have it sit there all weekend because just in case some shit went down, I’d rather have one day between me and my notice and not two or three.

So. The thing. The thing with the notice.

inagarten yes

I guess I went and got a new job. The interviewing has been done, the salary has been approved, the paperwork has been signed and the background check has cleared (no secret Ambien sleep murdering for this lady!). My start date is August 11th, which means I’ve got a couple of weeks to brush up on my dormant Excel skills, get used to wearing jeans to work again, and figuring out the bus route, because although this job is half the distance and can be reached by just one bus, I’m still weird like that and will absolutely be doing a dry run on the bus I’ll catch at the time of day I’ll be catching it.

Because, like I said, weird.

I got into work early today to tell my big boss, and because I’m not quitting completely out of hate or fear of having a complete mental breakdown (hey there, previous employer, destroy anyone else’s life lately?), I was incredibly nervous to the point where I felt like I might pee my pants. That’s what happens when I get nervous. I feel like I have to go to the bathroom really bad, even though the rest of me dehydrates so quickly that my lips stick to my gums. My feet and hands get super cold and sometimes (like today), I shake a little bit. Which probably helped, to be honest, because at least I didn’t seem smug or snide about it. Which I wasn’t, anyway, but I smirk when I smile so I can’t trust anything my asshole face does when I’m not looking.

I think I did a decent job of explaining why I was leaving. The technology gap at my current employer is so vast and, frankly, embarrassing, and I’m afraid that if I stay any longer, those parts of my brain will atrophy and I’ll be unemployable anywhere else. I routinely have to tell my co-workers how to save documents to their desktops. And these people make more than me! And their excuse is “I don’t have a degree for this.” For…what? For right-clicking? For dragging and dropping? Nobody has a degree for that, except maybe the suckers who paid to go to secretary school after 1979.

There are process gaps, as well, in that I work for a reactive – not a proactive – company whose “solutions” often amount to slapping a too-small square of duct tape onto the hull of leaking ocean liner. And because of the technology gap, it’s impossible to affect any positive change to this, because not only are people reluctant to document this information in a way that’s legible or properly stored (ahem, meaning probably not printed out and stuck in some random stack of paper on someone’s desk that looks like the bottom of a birdcage), but they’ve been stuck in this culture for so long that they’re clueless that it can be done in any other way. It’s so frustrating and worrying to me, and I got scared at the thought of staying mired in it for any longer.

It, um, also didn’t help that several of the people in my office can’t understand why they shouldn’t say “retarded” while on the phone to clients, or that they refer to people who speak primarily Spanish as “a Hispanic” or “he speaks Mexican.” Yeah. It’s pretty grim. But like I said, the culture is so antiquated and weird, and for the life of me, I couldn’t see a future in which that would change.

So I applied for a job I wasn’t sure I was qualified to get, and then I interviewed for it, and despite at least one interviewer being visibly distracted by the way I sometimes talk with my hands (I didn’t even get close to whacking her, jeez), I got offered the job and I took it. Obviously I’m a little bit scared to start something new and figure out a whole new social structure, but ultimately it will be good for me, and as long as the company doesn’t fold or lay me off in six months (hey there previous previous employer, that really sucked!), I’ll eventually get the hang of it enough to scrape by. And now I get to spend 30 minutes each way reading on the bus instead of an hour in my car, swearing at traffic.

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Everything’s Comin’ Up Something

You know what’s a bush league move? Drinking half a bottle of wine, then a beer, then half a bottle of champagne, and then another beer and expecting to go to sleep without the room spinning out of control.

Know who made that bush league move last night? Me. Which means that, before I could fall asleep, I had to make the most mature decision of the night and make myself hurl. I haven’t had to do that in a long time – so long that I barely remember it, but I think it must have involved margaritas and also I must have been living in St. Louis – and if nothing else, then at least the discomfort of the spins coupled with older age makes hurling a lot easier than it was when I was 25 and drooling over a toilet thinking “I would be a terrible bulimic.”

It’s magic, it’s gross but it works, and I got a decent night’s sleep that could have lasted longer had I not experienced an 8am half asleep panic over whether or not I had any coffee downstairs, so I woke up, washed my face, cleaned the litter box, and saw a tutorial on how to moonwalk so I practiced that for a few minutes. FYI – it is hard to moonwalk on carpet.

I’m sort of planning to walk over to Goodwill today to maybe buy a few shirts for…something. Something I can’t talk about just yet, but it’s something I’m very excited about to the point where I feeling like jumping up with my fist in the air and exclaiming “Everything’s comin’ up Milhouse!” Excited to the point that I dare not actually do this because there’s no way this kind of good fortune comes my way and there has to be a catch, like maybe I’ll unexpectedly die before it comes to pass, or this is all a big “SIKE, SUCKA!” or something even worse will happen, like the incessant boat horns I’ve been hearing all fucking morning down in the shipping channel are a sinister seaman’s warning about a waterborne zombie apocalypse (instead of some asshole yacht owner pissed that no one’s raising the bridge for him).

So I’m hoping I’ll be this:

victorious milhouse

Even though I’m fully prepared for this:

sad milhouse gif

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The Problem With Retention

A lot of people I follow on the Internet have been posting the audio of the call made by a man named Ryan Block to cancel his Comcast service. The call is supposed to be hilarious and awkward as the customer retention rep asks over and over again for Ryan Block to provide a reason why he is cancelling his service. And it’s a long call, too, which means this rep did not go down without a fight, and at one point sounded more than a tiny bit crazy for insisting to know exactly how Comcast had so failed Ryan Block.

After making the call, Ryan Block posted the below on Twitter:

“Generally good experiences with Comcast…until we canceled. Rep got straight up belligerent. I was able to record some, should I post it?”

Which he then did, and everyone went nuts.

While I’ve certainly been frustrated when attempting to cancel service (T-Mobile comes to mind, because while they’d had no problem overcharging me for years for increasingly shitty customer service and reception, they seemed positively happy to throw free smartphones and a whole bundle of other shit my way even as I told them repeatedly “nope, sorry, I’m getting an iPhone”), in this case, I sympathize far more with the rep. And I’m kind of angry at Ryan Block, who has obviously never worked in customer service because a) he’d be a little more understanding of why a person would be required to record a reason for cancellation and b) have actual knowledge of what “belligerent” actually means, as I guarantee you that rep’s behavior was nothing compared to the abuse they receive from customers every single day.

When he was tweeted by Comcast, Ryan then tried to place himself on the side of the rep, replying “I hope the quick action you take is a thorough evaluation of your culture and policies, and not the termination of the rep.”

Which seems at odds with his initial assessment, but then again, if he doesn’t understand what “belligerent” actually means, he probably has no idea how a giganto-corp like Comcast would react to that specific feedback.

So while the people I follow are mostly reacting with rage towards Comcast, I think it’s slightly misdirected. Yes, Comcast is ultimately at fault. But it’s not about the rep they hired or his repeated requests for a reason, any reason, just something, please, that he could put into his ticket. It’s about their fucked up policies regarding the human beings who work for them and act as receptacles of verbal abuse every day. Companies like Comcast don’t give a shit that their employees might be berated by people like Ryan Block – who, when asked for a reason the first time, explained that it was calls such as this, and by that I assume he meant “generally inconvenient,” that indicated his general dissatisfaction with Comcast – or publicly humiliated when the customer (or, in this case, former customer) is not 100% satisfied based on their expectations. And it’s anyone’s guess as to whether those expectations are reasonable, but most of the time, they’re not.

The problem isn’t with the rep. The rep is trying to keep his job. The rep is trying to work within the most insane policies monitored by the most sadistic individuals based on the most flawed metrics derived from the most asisine customer feedback. Oh yeah, I know. While my 10+ years of customer service work experience have provided me with invaluable insight into human psychology and manners, it has also made me an embittered husk of a woman who knows that, for an overwhelmingly depressing majority of the time, people are awful and managers are worse and nobody gives a shit about the peon who’s doing the grunt work. And the grunt work is sometimes the most demoralizing, desensitizing, unethical work there is.

In my time, I have been expected to ask incredibly personal and invasive questions of customers, to the point of harassing them when it is clear to everyone except for my company (ahem, the one who’s supposed to care about the profits generated by the experiences of said customers) that all the customer wants to do is get off the goddamn phone. And I didn’t work for a doctor’s office or law firm or any other industry that you’d expect would have access to these facets of a customer’s life. I worked for a consumer goods company. I worked for Big Alcohol. I worked for a company that touted itself as a paragon of good times and relaxation. Meanwhile, my years there caused me to develop migraines and heartburn and one hell of a nasty attitude. And if at any point I’d reacted to a customer’s growing frustration with “I’m sorry, they make me ask this stuff,” I would have been fired immediately. Because companies won’t take the blame for their bad policies. They put that on the employee.

Comcast is no different. Based on my experiences with cable and Internet companies, they’re probably worse. But in my experiences with T-Mobile, Charter, and others, I’ve made sure to emphasize that my problem is not with the rep. My problem is with what the company expects of them. It’s with the absurdly limited knowledge they provide to them. It’s with knowing that there are people doing impossible jobs and getting paid far less than they deserve while the company that employs them is exploiting their desire to support themselves by keeping their jobs.

And it’s with people like Ryan Block, who probably still doesn’t know what “belligerent” means.

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Beet This

Earlier this week, I texted Courtney:

“First CSA e-mail of the yeeeeaaaarrrr!”

She replied:

“I almost forwarded it to you so I could say ‘YEAH!!!!’”

This is about as well as either of us could convey our sentiments, although if I had a non-emoji way of expressing that I wanted to chew my way through the entire summer starting NOW, I would have.

Obviously, we’re very excited about the start of this year’s CSA. Although Courtney is camping out of town and can’t accompany me on the first pickup tomorrow, I am all stocked up on bags for the Sunday ritual of splitting our wares down the middle (at least until we get something I can’t stand like cilantro or cucumbers because Courtney can just have all of that) and, in my house, anyway, figuring out how to store everything with like ingredients so nothing goes to waste. It’s just easier to keep the bok choy in the same bag with the basil and cabbage if all of it’s going into the same dish. There you go. That’s my tip. Somebody give me a cooking show. My knife skills are better than half of the jokers on TV now, anyway.

In addition to local, organic, non-GMO produce tasting better and being more nutritionally and economically valuable, it doesn’t last for two weeks in the vegetable crisper the way Wal-Mart produce does, so you’ve got a lot less time to figure out what to do with it before it transforms into a slightly fermented slime (on the other hand, are we absolutely sure that spinach wine isn’t a thing yet?).

Luckily, I’ve continued to write those weekly menus since our last CSA ended, so I’m already on top of a meal plan for our first pickup:

csa 2014 week 1

Ignore Saturday (today). Graham and I went out for burgers on Thursday and I just fell asleep last night, so those meals from last week’s menu have turned into me eating like a queen for lunch and dinner today, plus there’s the Ballard Seafood and Beer Fest going on this weekend and Nick and I are supposed to wander down there and enjoy this 90-degree heat while everyone else in Seattle complains (okay, I get it, most Seattleites don’t have air-conditioning…but do we really need a severe heat advisory, especially when the humidity levels here are somewhere near zero, you gigantic pussies?).

The heat is supposed to stick around until Tuesday, so everything I’m making uses as little oven and stovetop cooking as possible. Salads are the key here, which is not only a thing Younger Me would never thought she’d say but also it’s helpful that Bastille Day is this Monday which makes this week’s menu feel French as shit.

I’m just thankful that I know what to do with fava beans now. And cabbage. And even beets, which I’ve been doing a lot better with since last year, when I could only dice them as finely as possible before disguising them in a sauce. While I know that we’ve got a few more weeks of lettuces and basil to go, I’m more excited than daunted about how to use it all up this year and hey, um, friends, I would be totally open to trading some of the copious and obscenely fragrant field basil for, I dunno, some drinks sometime? No need to let produce or alcohol go to waste. At least until spinach wine becomes a thing. Let’s work something out.

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Just Desserts

(Not about cake. Sorry.)

A few years ago, the New York Times ran a piece about which drivers are more detrimental to traffic – the speeder-uppers or the wait-and-seers. Or some names like that. I don’t remember exactly and I don’t feel like looking it up, partly because trying to access any old article from the New York Times is a laughable pain in the ass since they think I should be paying a subscription fee (the only more laughable pain in the ass is the Seattle Times, which constantly asks me to select my neighborhood from a pop-up but only lets people read five free articles per month and, like Seattle news anchors, refers to a male suspect as “the guy” and police officers as “cops”).

Anyway, I think the point of the article was that the people who speed ahead to try to get ahead of traffic were nearly equally at fault with the people who wait for their turn. On one hand, the speeder-uppers are dangerous and selfish and cause sudden spasms of traffic blockage due to their inability to just wait a goddamn minute. On the other hand, the wait-and-seers eventually get defensive against the actions of the speeder-uppers and try their best to deny them a space in the line.

It’s possible that, from my tone, you’ve guessed that I am a wait-and-seer. The few times where I may have been mistaken for a speeder-upper is when I’m in a new city, am unfamiliar with a traffic pattern, and have been pushed to the very end of a disappearing lane because the other wait-and-seers were so sick of the speeder-uppers that none of them will let me in the entire time. Mostly I think I am a wait-and-seer because I was raised Midwestern, Catholic, and poor, and not only am I supposed to be humble and long-suffering, but I also have no expectation that anything will ever get better and I’m just going to have to sit here and be patient about it. Self-righteously patient, of course, but patient all the same.

What bugs a wait-and-seer the most is the apparent sense of privilege held by the speeder-uppers. Those people who don’t see why they should have to wait in line or give everyone else a fair shot. There’s an arrogance and aggression to the speeder-upper that a wait-and-seer cannot comprehend, a sense of entitlement endemic in the “me first” mentality that feels poisonous at heart. I think about this a lot because I’m in traffic a lot, which means that I think about my own death at the hands of some Audi driver who couldn’t just get in fucking line with everyone else and had to run me nine stories off the edge of the Seattle Viaduct.

But it’s not just about traffic.

It seems evident to me that all of this “me first” is really about a culture of deserving, and if you look around, you’ll notice that a hell of a lot of people do things, buy things, say things, etc. because they have convinced themselves that whatever reward they get from it is what they feel they deserve. I deserve to be the first in this line. I deserve this expensive car. I deserve this piece of cake, this extra square footage, this affair.

But it’s not really about what that one person deserves. Like, it’s not about how you deserve something for yourself. It’s really about you deserving something more than another person deserves something, and all of the convoluted mental gymnastics required to convince yourself of this. That you are more deserving of something – of anything – than another human being.

And the more I thought about that, the more it made me feel sick. For one, I thought about how pervasive the culture of deserving seems to be. It goes beyond regular circumstance or even competition. It is everywhere, it is reflected in everything, and rather than it being a natural extension of our survival instinct, to me, it feels more like an excuse mechanism for behavior that we know is either inadvisable or just plain reprehensible.

For two, I thought about how hard it must be to avoid the culture of deserving, and how, if you’re raising a kid, you could even begin to try to keep them separate from it. I thought about my nephew, who probably doesn’t know yet about the things adults will do to get ahead or guarantee they get what they’ve convinced themselves they deserve. He hasn’t figured it out but I’m not telling him; I mean, I believe in being straight with the kid but I’m not one for crushing spirits (no matter what you read about me). But also, I’m afraid that he’s already experiencing it, and most frightfully, I worry that he’s already practicing it without even realizing it. I mean, has anyone told him how shitty it is to put people down so you can feel better about yourself? And I don’t just mean saying “don’t do that,” but actually explained why it’s shitty and what it does to society in general and what that behavior says about the person who perpetrates it?

For three, I thought about how exhausting it already is to be as vigilant as I am about everything I’m doing wrong. I’m honest with myself, okay, I do a lot of things wrong. I do things lazy and stupid and unwillingly sometimes. I’m basically being my own Thought Police, so imagine how much more exhausting it is to think “hey, I should be able to get ahead here” and then counter myself with “um, okay, asshole.”

But maybe we could all do with a little more Thought Policing. Maybe we could all be a little more self-righteously patient. Maybe we could all learn to sit there and stew and wonder what other things we could be doing with our time if only we weren’t wishing that everyone else thought they deserved a little bit less.

Posted in I Just Can't | 3 Comments

Puke Surprise

I’m sure there are plenty of ways to feel awake and energized in the morning, but for me, nothing compares to stepping in and then cleaning up a fresh pile of cat puke. I dunno, there’s just something about the semi-wet squish of partially-digested food between your toes and the ninja-like time management required in allowing the carpet cleaner to set – but not calcify! – before you delicately blot it and the puke remnants with a smelly rag that jazzes me in a way that coffee doesn’t.

Probably because I also spilled my coffee this morning, and if the cat puke hadn’t been enough to wake me up, certainly the irrational fear of a fried laptop and phone would have handled it.

On the plus side, I’ve determined that Kroger produces an effective carpet-cleaning product at an affordable, store-brand price. I’m sure it’s riddled with carcinogens and other earth-destroying chemicals, but at the rate The Cat is puking, I can’t clean up every mess with the lime extract bio-friendly stuff Martha Stewart made me buy. It’s a very good product, as well, but if my previous experience concerning The Cat’s puking habits are any indication, I’m in for another couple of weeks of him being a FUCKING ASSHOLE who has nothing better to do than puke twice a day until I spend $150 for the vet to palpate a turd in his intestines and recommend blood work to determine the problem.

There is no problem is what I’m saying. The Cat did this when we moved into our last place, too. He wants to assert some diabolical measure of control and he gets his rocks off by watching me crouch over a pile of his sick for ten minutes a day, and when I finally break because I can’t take any more ruined carpet, I take him to the vet, get a stomach cramp over how much I have to pay them, and without any medication or procedures or treatment, he is suddenly cured and walks around like nothing ever happened.

Like I said, he’s a fucking asshole.

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Mystery Fireworks Jesus

By posting this, I hope that, thanks to the magic of the Internet, the person responsible for last night’s fireworks display at the Ballard Community Center ball field will be to see the following message:


Ever since the Eyre-Porter household up and went vacationing in California, the Seattle family has been wondering what we were supposed to do for the 4th of July. Last year was great, but Josh and Chris were in town for the rib-off and drunken amble across Eastlake to see the Lake Union fireworks display. I mean, we could have gone over there again, but it’s weird when your friends are gone and plus the drive back home is just murder (an hour to get from Eastlake to Fremont when you have to pee the whole time?!?!).

So this year, Graham and I decided to have our first mini-BBQ, both to welcome people to the new place and to celebrate the 4th of July. We apologized that there would be no fireworks, but there would at least be food and possibly a drunken game of ping pong on the permanent outdoor tables at the community center next door.

And there was food. If any St. Louis natives-turned-expats are reading this, you should know that while I am normally terrible at giving advice re: homesickness or relationships, I can at least tell you this much: find someone who can grill pork steaks. Even if this is their only culinary talent (and Graham has many culinary talents, just so you know), find someone who can grill the shit out of a pork steak and, as a bonus, make a kickass homemade barbecue sauce because every perfectly charred bite will be like sweating your ass off on a patio back home, cicadas droning in your ears and a longneck Budweiser dripping condensation onto the picnic table at your elbows. But, you know, in a good way.

So. Graham grilled the pork steaks with the homemade barbecue sauce, and I assembled the finished parts of my menu/prep list below, and Luke, Courtney, and Mike shared it with us and then we decided to get in some ping pong before it got too dark to play.

preplist 070414

We figured there would be a few people setting off fireworks at the ball field next to the ping pong tables. Maybe a few roman candles and bottle rockets. What we did not figure was the man we began to refer to as the President of Ballard, who, with no community backing or sanction that we could ascertain, dropped what must have been a couple grand on a fireworks display that he set up and detonated at the far end of the ball field and it. was. SPECTACULAR.

It was a terrific surprise and a wonderful display that this person seems to have paid for with their own money and for no reason other than making people happy (plus possibly his own pyromania but still). As Mike said, it was comparable to any city display with “most of the boom with none of the traffic,” and I could not have been more pleased to be able to call this very generous firebug my neighbor.

Apparently there are a few community threads started by major grumps who want to know why the cops didn’t show up and put a stop to it, but I made sure to contribute to a different thread thanking this person for their efforts.

As I noted in my comment, my favorite part was looking out across the ball field and seeing this person’s silhouette (well, I assume it was this person, although it could have been the random bystander who exclaimed “YEAAAAHHHH” at every explosion because you could tell he loved America most of all) against the glowing smoke, arms stretched upwards in celebration, as if he was a fireworks wizard who was exulting at his incredible ability to make things go boom.

That was my favorite part of a really incredible display, and whether we call him the President of Ballard or Mystery Fireworks Jesus, I hope he can start saving for next year (or that I can meet him and kick in $50) soon.

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