My First and Last Day in Customer Service

I work, or rather worked, at a security system company. We don’t take calls from customers who have had a break-in, or dispatch the police to save a person’s life. In my department, data entry, we simply take calls from the sales representatives and from the installation techs. We just make sure that all the signals are coming from the various devices installed around the house, and run credit checks on people to make sure that they can afford the monthly bill.

A few weeks ago, near the beginning of October, our company finally closed down the last of the sales offices. This meant that there was even less for the morning shift (6-10 AM) to do. Personally, even during our busiest days in the summer, I never got many calls before 8 o’clock, and since school started, I have only been getting about one call every day before my shift ends. I barely noticed when they closed the offices, because honestly, I wasn’t that busy to begin with.

Well, the higher-ups thought that it was unacceptable to have so many people working data entry that early in the morning when all of the sales offices were closed. They began to think up new jobs for us. My manager emailed everybody in data entry a list of about 50 existing customers and their phone numbers. She told us to call these people, and ask them for the names and numbers of people they know that might enjoy the system.

There are two things that are horribly wrong with this idea. First, I started work at 6 AM. Even if I spend all my time calling people on the east coast, I would calling them at 8 AM eastern time. That is early. If somebody called you at 8 AM and tried to get a referral from you, would you be happy? I sure wouldn’t be!

The other thing that you need to realize is that these people have no idea that they will be contacted for referrals. On the contract there is no check box that says, “it is ok to contact me for business purposes” or anything like that. They had no idea, when they signed up for a security system, that we would be calling them at ridiculously early times so that we can con their friends into the same junky system!

So, mostly due to these two reasons, everybody on the morning shift for data entry decided to pretend like we never got the email. We decided that if it came down to it, we would rather quit than continue working for a company that would go to such great lengths to annoy its customers. Another reason for our defiance was that in our mandatory script we were basically forced to lie to the customer. We tell them that if they refer their friends, then their friends will be able to receive the exact same system that they did. However, this is not true. If the person that we got the referral from got a lot of free extras with their system, then it is very doubtful that their friend will get a system half as good. The only system available for our referrals would be the basic system, which is very limited, and very expensive.

That same day, however, I found out that I would be moved over to customer service, along with a few other people from data entry. Customer service deals with people that realize they have a system that is basically worthless, and want to cancel. These people did not read their contract, and failed to see that unless they cancel their service within three days, they are unable to cancel their contract. Well, let me rephrase that, they can cancel, but they have to buy their contract for 80% of their remaining payments. At $45 a month for 3 years, that quickly adds up.

I worked there one day, and then quit. I kept that job because it allowed me to study and do homework. The customer service folk talk to a lot of people. A lot of people. I spent the day listening people angry that they cannot cancel their contracts. Realizing that I would not be able to study, and if I was not studying, I would rather be sleeping, I quit.

I did get, however, some funny stories from my one day in customer service.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

A Novel in Words and Pictures
by Brian Selznick

I heard about this book from the Provo Library’s list of recommended young adult novels. A few weeks ago, the Romgi and I were in the BYU bookstore and saw that it was on sale; I’ve really been wanting a book to read, so the Romgi was nice enough to coerce me into buying it. School has been busy (midterms, yuck) but today I finally got a chance to sit down and read it.

And? I think it’s a great book. The story is not superbly written, and definitely doesn’t compare with my other favorites (Harry Potter, Phantom Tollbooth, Inkspell), but the way everything was presented was fantastic. It really is a novel in words and pictures: Selznick is a great artist and a lot of the book is his drawings. They serve to further the plot, not just illustrate what has already been said. Altogether the book is about 500 pages, but I read it in a little over an hour.

I definitely think you should check it out sometime, because it’s a really unique approach to storytelling.

a hot chocolate kind of day

There is something about fall that makes me long for something. Maybe it is because I have spent 3 of my last 4 falls in Korea… Whenever I am walking around and I look at the colors of the trees, and feel the coolness of the air, in short, those days when it is especially autumn-ish, it makes me feel really nostalgic.

Now I now what you are thinking, “hey, who is this kid, he’s like not even 25 and he is talking about nostalgia??” But I think that you can feel nostalgic at almost any age. How you feel that nostalgia might differ over time, but I believe that even a 7 year old kid can be nostalgic for the days when he didn’t have school.

Back to nostalgia, it seems that when I look at the myriad of colored leaves that autumn has to offer, it reminds me a lot of my freshman year of college. Back in California, I don’t especially remember trees changing colors, and all the leaves falling off the trees. I think that trees feel this “fall” nonsense is superfluous when the coldest they are going to be is about 60 degrees. So when I came to Utah in fall 2002 and the leaves started changing colors a few weeks later, I really began to notice.

In particular, there is this big tree with broad leaves that I passed every day on my walk from the dorms to campus and back. When I noticed that the colors were changing on the tree, I thought it would be fun to get a leaf for each color. So about once a week, I would pick a leaf from the tree. By the first snow I had yellowish green, yellow, orange, red and even brown leaves gathered in my dorm room.

So now, to this day, when I see the leaves beginning to change color, I am reminded of this. And for some reason this makes me want to have hot chocolate. Really good hot chocolate. In fact, I think I can hear the Ghirardelli hazelnut hot chocolate calling my name right now

Putting the "Mika" in Roni

I keep meaning to go to bed, but it just hasn’t happened yet. After sleeping through my alarm this morning and having a long nap after dinner, I don’t really feel tired at all. Sitting at the computer is probably not the best use of my time…surely I have homework to do, dishes to wash, laundry to put away, and so on…

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is that I enjoy doing. I remember once in high school my mom told me that I didn’t have any real interests of my own, and that I just absorbed the identities of my friends. At the time I was highly offended as only teenagers can be, but I’m beginning to wonder if maybe she had a point after all. Many of my favorite books are ones that I read because a close friend loved them; I like making cards, but I only started because Krista was doing it; I really like playing Zelda, but the Romgi talked me into that. Sudoku? Krista. Blogging? Maybe me. Our pets? The Romgi. Saving the world through microcredit? An FHE lesson my dad gave years ago.

So what things are Roni-ish? I would like to bake and cook, but constraints of time, money, and talent get in the way. I’d like to learn photography, but I don’t think my work would be anything much compared to what others do. I think part of the problem is I realize there are many people with exceptional skill, and my attempts at hobby-ing couldn’t begin to reach those levels of achievement. I’m torn, though, because I really do want to do something that is enjoyable in and of itself, without comparison to what anyone else can do; besides, how can I get better if I never try?

What I’m thinking of doing is getting a long-letter penpal. Apparently there is an actual group of people, women mainly, who want to correspond through lengthy paper letters. I love the idea, because it reminds me of Anne’s letter-writing. I think it would be fun to have a “snail mail” friend, especially since so much of my contact with people is through email and blogs. It could be nice to get a long letter in the mail every few weeks.

So…is that an ok Roni thing to do? Can you think of anything I do that makes me me?


Though this isn’t exactly breaking news, the company that makes the Pop’ables brand candies, Masterfoods, has decided to no longer produce these delectable little morsels! They have been out of production since 2006, which could explain why they have been so hard to get a hold of. This is truly a cause to mourn! These malt-ball sized treats were easily the best of the snickers line! I feel robbed as a consumer because I have been denied the pleasure of ever again tasting the soft nugget and caramel mixed with just the right amount of salted peanutty goodness! They were just the right size, and were amazingly addictive. Maybe the company cut production because the sweet little guys were just too good to be true…

Downgrade? or Upgrade?

As you may have known, we got our hands on a free copy of the Vista Home Basic upgrade installation disc a few weeks ago and I put it on our desktop pc while the Romgi was at work one day. I will agree that it makes Windows look a bit nicer, but since we had the lowliest of the lowest versions, not much was changed from XP – except that now almost all of our computer’s thinking power was constantly being used.

The Romgi went out and bought new memory to double what was in the computer before, which meant that our upgrade was no longer free. It did speed things up, of course, but with all the stupid security popups and permissions problems, not to mention the continual delay caused by trying to delete files…I was losing my mind! Computers are not meant to be that slow. I realize this isn’t a new desktop – the Romgi got it when we started college – but it ought to be able to function with 1GB of memory…

So today, when I was finally over my battle with the stomach flu, I read a lot of articles and forum posts about how to get rid of Vista. Unfortunately, there’s no way to just get rid of the upgrade and go back to the pre-Vista computer. If you buy a computer that comes with Vista Business Edition already installed, the manufacturer may offer a free downgrade to XP, but there are no downgrade rights for Vista Home users. Microsoft says this is because they feel it would be extremely unlikely that a home user would have any reason to want to downgrade. (Don’t they read the internet?!?)

That being the case, I copied all of our documents, music, photos, game files, etc., to the other two computers in our apartment. After the Romgi came home from class he went through the files on the desktop again to make sure I got everything important; then we crossed our fingers and completely wiped the hard drive clean. It seemed to go well, so we stuck in the XP installation cd and hoped for the best.

And now…it feels so nice! Like coming out of a hot shower after you’ve been camping. Ahhh. I have plainly confessed to the Romgi that it was my fault for installing Vista to begin with, and I am very sorry to have caused so much trouble; but on the whole, I think the computer is working better now that it has less (much less!) junk on it, whether in the form of useless programs or useless operating systems.

I do agree with many dissatisfied Vista customers, going back to XP is not really much of a downgrade. Maybe if I’d had a really cool version of Vista I would have seen a big improvement from XP, and maybe Microsoft is steadfastly working on the bugs, but I don’t think I’ll be interested in “upgrading” for quite some time.

Leaping Lizards!

Roni and I have had Mu for over a year now and he still seems to be doing new things all the time. Last night Roni wasn’t feeling well, so she went to bed early. I stayed up and fed Mu, Remington and Puppy their food. I like to let Mu run around because he is pretty easy to spot not matter where he goes. Remington is still a bit small to let him run around all day. Mu, however, is big enough that I can let him wander without worrying too much about how to find him later.

Anyways, back to the story. I took Mu out of his two-story condo in order to feed him. He was REALLY hungry today, even though he ate yesterday. Usually his appetite goes in waves. So after downing about 20-30 crickets, I let him wander around the living room while I brushed my teeth and looked up ways that we could grow our own food for him (if he keeps eating 30 crickets a day, we will have to buy about $3 of crickets a day in order to feed him and Remington).

I started to get tired so I hunted Mu down and put him back in his cage. He went in without much of a struggle this time. Mu is a bit emo and can get a bit upset when you pick him up to put him back in his cage; he likes to run around. So I put him back, and then go to turn off the computer when I hear what sounds like a bird chirping. Now, you may be thinking, AHA! it was just the crickets! But Mu ate almost all the crickets, and the only ones left weren’t big enough to be able to chirp. So I looked over to Mu’s cage, and he is sitting there moodily looking out of his cage. Then, while I am looking at him, he opens his mouth, tilts his head up and moves his throat while he makes the chirping sound again! It was pretty wild. I’ve never heard him chirp before, and everything that I had read up to this point had never mentioned chinese water dragon vocalization before. I kind of hope he does it again when Roni is not dead asleep, so she can hear it too!