Dealing with Overseas Customer Service or Please, come up with more original names!

When I was a kid, I collected comic books. In the storage room of my house, carefully inserted in plastic sleeves and in numerical and alphabetical order, I have boxes and boxes of comics. If it was published between 1975 and 1995, I probably have it or had it at one time in those boxes, carefully preserved and accrueing value. At times, I have sold some of these comics, mainly to make room but more for the need of money at one time or another. The summer before I went to school in England, I spent almost every sunday at my own table at a flea market, selling off duplicate copies of some of my more treasured pieces in my collection. I made $1000 just from those! I was a a happy guy! So, along with this collection, I have an encyclopedic knowledge of the history and characters of the Marvel and DC universes.

So today, one of the first things I had to do at work was call GM for an in-service date for a 2007 Grand Prix that I was stocking into our system. I call these companies every day to get in-service dates so we can know if we do any work to the vehicles, we can claim it under the factory warranty. During the week, I know that if I call during business hours, I will almost always get an American call center, but on the weekends, I know it’s a crap shoot. One of the common practices of the foreign call centers is the “Anglosized Name Change”. We have all encountered this. Someone with an obviously thick Indian accent saying “Thank you for calling chevrolet, dees ees ‘Bob Smeeth’, How may I assist you?”. I will never understand this practice, I know it’s to put the caller at ease, that they are talking to someone who will understand and be able to address their concerns, but come on? why the fake name? Just tell it like it is and move on. We are all in on this particular joke.

Anyway, so here is the conversation I just had:

“Hello, This is Reed Richards, How may I assist you?”

“I’m sorry, what was your name again??”

“Reed Richards.”

“From the Fantastic Four??”


“How are Sue, Johnny and Ben doing today?”

“I’m sorry sir, this is Chevrolet is there something I can help you with?”

This is when I realized that my geekiness had just made me an asshole. Here is this poor guy, just trying to do his job and I’m calling out for naming himself after a superhero. I suddenly felt like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, eagerly correcting and scolding those around me who were clueless to the history of my past comic book obsession. Resigned to my prickishness, I allowed him to walk me through his entire script rather than explain that I have called a million times and all I want is the in-service date.

Yes, we buy lots of these at auction.

No, really? an open re-call? I’ll get right on that.

No, thank YOU for getting me that in-service date.

Humbled, I hung up the phone and started doing some real work, hoping I don’t offend anyone else today…….


Dorkiness or Why the hospital staff knows me so well….

I feel the peer pressure. ‘Everybody’s doing it man! Come on!” But I have to ask a simple question here: Why oh Why is dorkiness equated  with self inflicted injury? Everyone has these lists about dorkiness and all have involved some horrific stories of near maiming and death due to silliness. So rather than mask this as just a list of dorkiness, I’m stating upfront: I’m surprised I’m alive sometimes when I think of the crap I’ve done to myself. This is a list of maiming and mutilation. Yea of weak stomachs, turn away now.

  • When I was 6, I watched an episode of the old Superman tv show (in re runs for the smart asses who come up with any age jokes). Immediately inspired by the daring-do of our hero Superman, I immediately went outside, climbed on top of the picnic table. Now would be a good time to point out that the picnic table was situated over a cement patio. I looked in through the kitchen window at my mom and with arms outstretched I yelled “Look MOM!!! I’m SUPERMAN!!!” And with that, I took a flying leap. Gravity is a cruel mistress and one I hadn’t been properly introduced to until that day. I landed face first onto the concrete slab. All of my baby teeth broke in half and literally blew out of my face through a lovely gash in my cheek. I was unconscious of course, and don’t remember anything of that day or the rest of that month. I suffered a severe concussion and I think the count was 60 stitches to repair my face. The only thing I have to remind me of that old scar is a tiny portion of it on my upper cheek.
  • When I was 7, I decided it would be a fabulous idea to ride my bike barefoot. Ah, the joy of feeling the cool breeze between your toes as you cruise around the neighborhoood. I really do reccomend it, but be carefull. Don’t go popping wheelies like I did. I popped a wheelie in my friend Justin’s yard. He had been daring me and daring me all night, so finally, I pulled an epic wheelie, going fully vertical with the bike. Unfortunately, the bike didn’t want to stay upright and own I crashed. As I was heading to the earth, my bare foot caught the spokes of the front wheel which were still spinning away. I felt a slight tug and I looked down in time to see the ball and heel of my right foot get sliced off. They spent 2 hours scraping rocks and fressh cut grass from the wound. Maybe it wasn’t two hours, but certainly seemed that way.
  • Also when I was 7, I started experimanting with cooking. I would help my mom prep veggies, roast chickens, boil pasta. I was a fast learner but the one thing I didn’t learn right away was technique and proper equipment for the job at hand. So one night, I’m skinning carrots with a paring knife. I was holding the carrots out in front of me and slicing away with the knife. Suddenly, the knife mistook my left forefinger for the carrot, a common mistake, I’m sure. The blade easily sliced through the finger and into the knuckle, breaking the bone and severing the nerve endings. I remember the pain was so excrucutiating that I ran around the house uncontrollably, shaking my hand to and fro hoping the pain would go away but all that did was redecorate portions of the house with a splat of color here and there. They re-attached my finger and it still works, but I have no feeling in it. This one finger has been the source of the most hospital visits since that day. It has been broken 4 times, sliced or cut so deeply as to require stitches at least 7 times and dislocated 10 times.
  • When you are a kid, your best friends can come from some of your worst experiences. My best friend in elementery school was Jerry. But he wasn’t always my best friend, in fact, the way he introduced himself to me, well, you would think we were enemies. On a dare, someone asked him to load his lunchbox with rocks and hit someone with it. So he went out into the shoolyard, found the biggest rocks he could find and jammed them into his Battle Star Galactica Lunchbox, the one with the Cylons on the front and when you opened it up, the inside had, written in red, “Intruder Alert!” and “By Your Command!”. As we were being let out for the day, he spied me in the hall in front of him. Without a second thought, he hauled back and then smashed the back of my head with the loaded lunchbox. Severe concussion later, we were best of friends.
  • On a hot summer day when I was just going into 4th grade, I decided to make stovetop stuffing for myself, an easy meal to make and I was pretty confident in my cooking abilities at that point. The problem is, nobody had every explained heat stroke. With no A/C and a temperature of 90+ degrees, I started boiling the water for my stuffing. One of the symptoms of heat stroke is disorientation and loss of consciousness. Standing in front of the stove, with the boiling water in front of me and the heat of the day all around me, I got a bit woozy. I remember not being able to stop myself as I fell forward. I reached out for the first thing I saw, which was the boiling pan of water. The pan flipped over spilling its contents of boiling water, butter, bread crumbs and seasonings (mmm, can almost smell it just thinking about it) onto my right foot. Skin does a funny thing when its boiled and I don’t reccomend anyone trying this trick to find out how funny. Second and third degree burns later, I was still hungry.
  • I’m skipping lots of other dorky injuries here and going straight to high school. My freshman year, I used to play with knives. Now, don’t panic, I’m not a weirdo. And for those with a wee bit of a fetish, no, I’m not into ‘knife play’. Someone had given me a butterfly knife and I became obsessed with being able to open and the close thing with lightning speed. I didn’t feel like a bad ass, I wasn’t being macho. I have OCD and when someone showed me how to use that knife and the steps involved in opening and closing it, well, I just had to learn that for myself and it became a repetitive habit. Opening and closing, flicking it around my hand, tossing it half opened from one hand to another. I like to say I was quite good. Then one day, I slipped. The phone rang while I was juggling this thing around and I got up to answer it. Funny thing about coffee tables, they are never in the way unless you have something breakable, hot or dangerous in your hands. I tripped and fell face first, strecthing out my hands to stop myself, I forgot the blade was in my right hand. I didn’t notice until I got up that my arm was all wet and my hand felt strange. I looked at the back of my hand and there was a large bump sticking up and to the outside part of my hand, slowly turning purple. I turned my hand over, it felt heavier somehow and thats when I saw the hilt of the blade sticking out of my had, the blade itself buried in my palm. I laughed, I couldn’t feel a thing. I wrapped my hand in a towel and called my mom at work to let her now I was going to the hospital. The pulled the blade out and 12 stitches later, my hand was good as new, just a patch of scar tissue in the base of my palm to remind me and to remind all you kids out there: Never Play With Knives!!!!

So I guess I had a funfilled childhood and I didn’t even mention the life threatening asthma, the fights, the bullying, being kicked by horse, almost drowning, electrocuting myself by peeing on an electric fence….ah, good times.

Strangeness from the search archive…

“my little sister is growing big boobs”

 I know I have mentioned boobs in the past. I’m a big fan, a cheerleader for the power of boobs in all their incarnations. But how the hell did THAT search term come up with my blog?? I looked way back to the beginning of this blog, stories of my trip to Monhegan Island, Boston, my good friends in the band Sirsy and even my more recent posts about my sisters death and my strange food encounters and silliness from the past few months….how in the hell does that search term relate to my blog?? I’m almost offended.

The flip side to this is: why is that searcher so interested in their sisters boobs? Is there some sort of implied incest situation happening here? Which again, brings me to my own blog: do I mention incest anywhere??? I think NOT! I almost wish I could contact the searcher and suggest that perhaps they need some counseling….