Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Left Coast Lament...

I feel guilty even posting this, but if lament was a legit expression for the psalmists, who am I to quibble?

I’ve wandered down this path you pointed out,
asking few questions, trusting you to guide.
Now, it seems we’re lost, or,
rather, I’m lost and you took off.
Where am I? How did I get here?
How can I get back to where I should be, wherever that is?

You made this trip seem appealing, but it’s sucked.
Sure, great weather and all,
but so what?
Where have you brought me?
I know where you brought her;
that we can all see clearly.
Am I an afterthought? A tag along?
Feels like it.

I probably shouldn’t blame you, but I do.
Hate to admit it, but what’s the use in lying about it?

Where have you gone?
When are you coming back?
Your silence is thick like the fog in the harbor.
I hate to hear the nothing,
but nothing’s what I’ve got.
Nothing but her, and a promise from you.

I guess you want me to wait, to trust.
Honestly? That sucks.
I feel like you owe me.
I busted my ass. For what, exactly?
A series of rejections? Data entry? Sounds swell.

I am proud past arrogant. Disgusting.
Show me what you want me to see.
Teach me what I didn’t learn in the books.
Make me who I need to be.
Past faithfulness should create some trust in me.
But I’ve only got frustration.
Please be faithful now.
Please be faithful soon.
I hate being

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dancing with the Elephant...

I went to the DMV yesterday. (No, this will not be a DMV rant.) I don’t particularly care for trips to the DMV, but, all things considered, yesterday’s wasn’t too bad.

I had to take the written test for renewals. I knew of this test. I chose not to study. I am, after all, simply a native Californian returning home from the front lines of theological conflict. I failed the first time.

I missed two questions that I hesitated on and chose against my original instinct. (I know, I know. The original instinct is usually the one to go with. Unless you’re George Costanza, in which case every instinct you’ve ever had is wrong, and, therefore, you should do the opposite.) You can take the test up to three times without paying again. I passed the second one.

But it isn’t the test or anything else about the DMV experience itself that causes me to write about it. Rather, the paperwork I filled out previous to my appointment is sticking in my mind.

While filling out the paperwork, I made two decisions that caused me a little deliberation (three if you count the question: “Weight?”). The first was whether I wished to register as an organ donor. Ever since Mickey Mantle campaigned for people to become organ donors in the wake of his life-threatening issues in the mid-90s, I had always contemplated it. Yet, there is something totally different about officially designating it on my driver’s license. Facing that blank box, I wrestled with some significant questions. A little glimpse at my fragile psyche as I weighed my options:

What if I die and other people get all my pieces? Will they all have to give my parts back to me at the resurrection? If so, will they get stuck with their defective parts again? Could I really do that to someone? (These are the actual concerns that crossed my mind. I couldn’t make this stuff up.)

In the end, I concluded that everyone will be okay once they get their glorified body, so I might as well make someone’s life better prior to all that. I checked the “Yes! I want to be an organ donor box” and felt like that was the “pro-life” thing to do.

The second question was not as easily resolved. In fact, I’m still thinking about my decision. As I registered to vote, one section asked if I wished to claim affiliation with a political party, and, if I did, which would be my party of choice.

Understand, that at almost any other time in my 29 years previous to this moment, I would never have hesitated on this question. Yet, recently, my affiliation with the elephant has caused me a little concern, a little embarrassment, and not a little head shaking.

For the first time in my life, I thought seriously about turning my back on the Republicans and checking the “I do not wish to claim affiliation with any political party” box. That would teach them a lesson, right? When the long-time faithful begin turning away, they notice, right? They stop doing stupid and embarrassing stuff, right? As I debated, I envisioned me leaving the party, followed within hours by a pleading, if nearly unintelligible phone call from Governor Schwarzenegger begging me to return. I also envisioned a congratulatory phone call from Michael Moore, a rather chilling thought, to be honest.

The choice was tough: does the situation call for me to behave like Luther and break all ties, or like Wesley and seek to be a catalyst for change from within?

In the end, I decided I was more Wesley than Luther: I checked the “Republican” box. I concluded four things—See? Luther would have had 95!—that helped me make my decision:

1. Nobody in the GOP would notice if I left.
2. Since my convictions aren’t determined by party affiliation and I choose to vote my convictions rather than the party line, I wasn’t selling out by staying with the party.
3. Remaining in the party, seeking to change it from within, seemed the more honorable thing to do. This party—like Gotham City—is not beyond saving.
4. If I switched, what uncomfortable topic could come up at dinner parties that could possibly parallel the tension introduced whenever the divided political affiliations in my home are mentioned?

I decided to dance with the one that brought me, no matter how ugly her behavior after we arrived at the dance. Maybe someday I’ll want a different dance partner, but for now I’m content to straighten my bow tie and head back out to the floor. Hopefully soon, she’ll learn a new dance step or two. Maybe I can help.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wire to Wire Waste of Time...

I just got off the phone with my wireless company. Stunning example of customer service and efficiency. Here’s the play-by-play:

My cell phone rings. Hmm, 1-800 number.

Me: “Hello?”
Automated voice: “Hello, this is your wireless company, calling about your account. Please return our call at 1-800-…”
Why did they just call me only to tell me to call them? This is stupid. Why not just put a person on the phone and then I don’t have to call them back?

I call the number:
Automated voice: “Thank you for calling your wireless company, if you are calling about account number ----------, please press one, if you are calling about a different account number, please enter it now, beginning with the area code.”
I press one.
Automated voice: “Please enter the account number, beginning with the area code.”
But I just pressed one!
I enter the account number, beginning with the area code.

Automated voice: “Thank you. If you are calling to pay your bill, press one. If you are calling about new services, press two. If you are calling to report a lost or stolen phone, press three. If you are calling to get a report of your available minutes, press four. If you would like to speak to a customer service representative, press five.”
I have no idea which number to push! You people called me.
I press five.

Automated voice: “If you are calling to speak to a customer service representative about a billing error, press one. If you are calling to speak to a customer service representative about payment options, press two. If you are calling to speak to a customer service representative about any other issue, press three.”
I don’t know why I’m calling! YOU CALLED ME!
I press three.

Female voice: “Hello, could I please have the number of the account you are calling about?”
I already gave it to you twice!
Me: “Sure, it’s ----------“
Female voice: “Thank you. And I have some security questions for you…”
To make sure that the person who returned the phone call you made to me is really me? Are there impostors out there who would gladly go through this inane procedure in my place?

After the security questions:
Female voice: “How can I help you today, sir?”
Me: “I have no idea. You called me.”
Female voice: “Oh, right. Let me see what that call was regarding. Sometimes the system calls people for various reasons. It says here that you may be eligible for free upgrades to your phone.”
Me: “What? We just got these two months ago.”
Female voice: “Oh, yes, I see here that you just started your service in April of 2007. In that case, you will be eligible for a free upgrade at the end of 2008.”
2008?! YOU CALLED ME ABOUT 2008?!
Me: “Okay.”
Female voice: “Yeah, it looks like the system called you about the upgrades. Also, your account is current and your bill is up to date.”
Me: “Great.”
Female voice: “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
Me: “No.”
Female voice: “Well thank you for calling the wireless company and you have a great day.”
Me: “Sure thing.”

Does that interaction/business model make sense to anyone?