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February 2008 Archives

February 18, 2008

Proving my interest in sociolinguistics and perhaps reasons why I would be terrible in this field

Last summer Elise and Eric got me a job at the Grand Rapids call center for Farmers Insurance. My job as a CSA, Customer Service Associate, had me answer phone calls to file insurance claims for people. These claims were mostly for car accidents- and mostly people filing against one of our customers- but also included home insurance. My information would get passed to an adjuster who would then work with the customer and make it all better.

This job had six weeks of training Monday-Friday 2pm-11pm that started in early June. About halfway through training I accepted the French teaching job at GVSU for the fall semester. I learned that I wouldn't be able to reconcile the two schedules but quickly made myself comfortable with the fact that I'd have lots of money spent training me for six weeks and then I would only actually work for four weeks.

I liked most, maybe half really, of the people I trained with and learned with them why the job was decently paid and had a high turnover. Our trainer was a woman from Texas who claimed Japanese was her first language as her family lived in Japan for a time. She also claimed to speak a half dozen other languages, to have studied physics and philosophy at college, her (college prep) high school wanted her to graduate in 10th grade, she scored a 32 on the ACT but struggled in college (a friend in the class blurted out, "Because high school is easy", and the instructor retorted, "No, it's because I partied too much."), her paraplegic husband she got a separation from during my training wasn't allowed to drive her car and that her parents owned a portable toilet rental company. She announced that if she got too tired or angry she'd get her southern accent again. She did hide it well, but she just plain sounded ign't.

On the first day we received white legal pads to take notes and I took lots of notes. Soon, however, my respect for the instructor had fallen so much that I spent most of my time documenting her ridiculous expressions. I've been waiting for enough time to pass since working there to share the sayings I copied down in the notebook. I'm not trying to mock the way she speaks though I was annoyed by it. I like to think I was more annoyed by her annoying personality and not for my superficial aversion to a southern accent and its unique turns of phrase.

turn around and do something: It was always "you turn around and ..." I think I learned "go and do something" but really you can just say "do something".
in which case: The example I quoted was, "Was it December in which case Seattle got all that rain?" She nearly always used "in which case" in place of "that", "who", "when". It really filled me with rage whenever I heard it. This one isn't a 'southern thing' either. It's an "I use word filler" thing.

Before I continue I'll first concede that working in a mind-numbing customer service corporate environment, but especially TRAINING in one, a person can start to use buzzwords repeatedly and even start to just use words as filler. I blame some of this on her work background and not just her ign'nce. I'll continue.

I really got off on her unnecessary usage of "in which case" but I soon noticed that I didn't think I ever heard her use the word "of". She used "over" in place of "of" and in many other constructions I couldn't figure out.
"along the lines over"
"gives examples over"
"explanation over"
"give the information over"
"they're different over how to recognize"
"training consisted over"
"very self-explanatory over why we do this"
"breakdown over"
"give a list over"
"different divisions over deviations"
"make a list over"
"you know basic information over this"
"guessing game over what it's labeled as"
"an estimate over how much"
"keep track over"
"that gives you a bit over what this is"
"makes a difference over how we deal with"

detrimental: The real definition of this word is "causing harm or injury". She used it in the sense of something being "imperative". "The tip card is so detrimentally important to your job", "How detrimental to the company this is" for example.
"as being the person": No notes here, just a stupid thing to say.
"Go online, log into the internet.": Sounded stupid.
"I don't want sued": Some regions in the US will use this construction instead of, "want to be sued". Cf. "needs washing" vs. "needs washed".
"Nine times out of ten typically what ends up happening": Could be shortened to "Usually".
"little and far between": "Few" and far between perhaps?
"I don't like to combobulate your head"
"The roof is being gone": I wish this tense existed.
asterik: She said this word a lot and sometimes we'd have to say it aloud for some reason. I always made it a point to say "asterISK".
verse: instead of versus
"There's a fine line between the difference"
ve HIC le
CE ment: Like the cement pool the Beverly Hillbillies got.
"I'm cheap and I like money a lot."
"Been there. Done did that."
"At this current time.": She said this all the time! Could be shortened to "now".
"hence why"/"hence if": I'm just convinced once a moron discovers this word they use it extensively and incorrectly.
"same kind of difference"
"just as an fyi": This, coupled with her use of fyi as verb ("I just wanna fyi you on this"), filled me with more rage.
"such as, take for example"
"Take a good example of that one.": I can't figure out what that even means
thought process: Everyone says this too much. Redundant.

CATASTROPHE: She never ONCE pronounced this word correctly. She'd try to say cataclysm, catastrophic or words that rhymed with apostrophe, but not the actual word. After a couple tries she'd say, "CAT".

Also, they gave us a company calendar with the stupidest inspirational messages.

February 29, 2008

Unfinished equation

I celebrate Leap Day. After fighting my self-diagnosed S.A.D. the past few months I've started to feel better and am centering my good moods around this 'holiday'. (And also wishing Dennis Farina, Tony Robbins and Ja Rule a Happy 16th, 12th and 8th Birthday respectively. Whoa, those are the same years my dad, mom and brother were born!)

When we had some solid sunshine for a few days last week I spent an hour or so lying on the kitchen floor absorbing as much sun as possible. The next morning I got a cup of coffee before work and I felt upbeat and was extremely pleasant to others all day. I felt a constant rush of energy and all week I couldn't stop talking or plotting. I actually had things to write down.

I also believed that I developed a sort of super sensory perception. I anticipated the needs of others, what people were going to say and what I should do.

Example. I went to Subway for lunch to get a sandwich. While waiting I saw some new green spread. I thought it would be delightful on my Veggie Delight. I asked what the spread was and a worker said it was Avocado spread, but it didn't look like it. Still waiting I saw an sign for their new Chicken Florentine sandwich with spinach/artichoke spread.

Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be absolutely insane if they wouldn't allow me to put that on my sandwich? What if I even asked to pay extra for it but they wouldn't do it?" That'd be silly.

I ordered my 6" Veggie Delight (I now see that it's spelled Delite. If they're going to simplify it, why not be ridiculous and call it Deee-Lite) on Italian Herbs and Cheese bread with Provolone cheese. I then asked,
"And could I get some of that spinach/artichoke spread on there too?"
"No, sorry," the sandiwch artist told me.
"It's just for the Chicken Florentine."
"Can I pay extra for it?"
"Sorry. No."
"Okay. I'll have lettuce, spinach, tomato-"
"And it has to be warmed up," she added.
"Pickles, green pepper, cucumber-"
"It's the rules from the top."
"Banana peppers, black olives, salt and pepper mix." I think the woman believed I was fuming the whole time but I don't think I acted like it. I did end up writing a letter to Subway asking to allow the spread be put on all the sandwiches but I wasn't going to yell at an employee who had no control over the policy. I shared the story with Seth and he asked me if I'd considered that I may be developing super-human powers.

I put two and two together and realized that the solar radiation from the previous day triggered something inside me. The sudden melatonin blockage and surge of serotonin allowed me to perceive the world with more accuracy. Further discussion with Rae and Seth and brief research led me to conclude that I have harnessed the power of quantum computing inside my body. I'm able to process every qubit in my immediate surroundings and deduce the immediate future. I don't know how. At the present I believe this to be unerringly true. Upon viewing last night's episode of Lost (with respect to Vonnegut, Picard and others) I'm considering becoming unstuck in time for some real progress in ramping up my abilities and laying the foundations of my time religion.

The main point is I'm convinced that I'm out of winter's rut, fingers crossed, and am celebrating it on Leap Day. I'm making the end of February my official New Year as I'm of no use between December and March. I got a haircut and a free 5 minute session at the tanning salon to combat the snow (and my long hair) and maybe even increase my powers. I also have Leap Year resolutions:

    *  HEALTH
          o stop picking at/biting nails/cuticles/skin on fingers
          o  become a better vegetarian
                +  organic
                + greener lifestyle
                + veganism
                + lose car
          o do yoga twice a week (days off)
                + sign up for a yoga class
          o be around cigarette smoke less often
          o  do cleanses/fasts when possible
          o drink less

          o learn to walk on hands, do standing flip (help soon coming from recent friends
          o apply to grad school
                + UM Flint
                + look into linguistics programs
          o   learn computer prgramming
                + css, html, ajax
                + flash
                + ruby, objective C
                + timmerize it!
          o learn spanish
          o stay up on french
          o poster bedroom walls with alphabets, basics of various languages
          o read more about physics, robotics, astronomy

    • apply to Peace Corps
      • South America
    • visit New York
    • write
      • spruce up blog
      • hypermarché of ideas
      • short stories
    • perform
      • improv?
      • puppets?
      • Professing Caoímhin's "Ours" series
      • practice trumpet
    • monkey tattoo
    • stick around for November elections
    • write/call people who are far away once a week
    • dress dichromatically, live omnichromatically (sounds ridiculous written.  maybe period.)
    • catalogue possessions and whittle them down

Happy Leap Day, everyone. To close I have two recent conversations and a picture of Larry David.

Conversation I had over the phone at work the other day with a very nice customer:
"Thank you so much for helping me. Oh and what was your name?"
"Oh ha. I'm, uh, Kevin." (mumbled)
"Thank you, Imakevin." (said like "i'm a kevin" but more natural as if it could be an actual name)

Conversation I had near the library today with a homeless-looking person who can, possibly, only perceive time in quarter-hour increments:
"Can you tell me what time it is?"
"It's 1:26," I tell him as I continue walking and pull my phone out.
"Okay, so that's like 1:30?"
"Uhh, what? Oh, yeah. It's 1:30."
"Great. Thanks."

About February 2008

This page contains all entries posted to spacebase in February 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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