December 13th, 2008

Whale fluke

Something I wanted to say when I was a call center drone and never did:

"Have I asked you a question whose answer has to start with 'Well...'?"

If someone answers a question, especially a yes-or-no question, with the first word "Well," it means they're launching into a story. This drove me NUTS when I worked in a call center with our calls timed (rewards if you average short calls! Maybe. If you jump through these other hoops. And don't have callers who are morons and can't follow directions, delaying you further. NOT THAT I'M BITTER...), because then you're more likely to have to interrupt people, and more likely to piss them off by interrupting. How dare you stop their story! Because, of course, it's all about them. Even back story involved with why they're calling my call center to add minutes to their long-distance phone card.

My dad has a term: "interesting but irrelevant." (A shorter version of that idea I've heard: "Tangent!") I wanted to use that more than once with callers.

Stories are ways of corralling the world. They give more shape to things, helping us understand stuff better. They also can manipulate. I'd feel manipulated when callers started storytelling (especially about what asshats their bank and/or our call center were being). Simply put, I didn't need to know. But they felt compelled to tell me.

So: lesson, Chris. Don't be interesting but irrelevant. Be interesting instead. And be direct. Answer "yes" or "no" when it's called for. Sometimes that's all you need.
Blow My Mind

Well, you were just really damn lucky there, Chris.

I shall share a *headdesk* moment:

Actual agita last month over getting my car's tags renewed in time, efforts involving dropping a few hundred dollars on a repair I needed first, and then I didn't put the new stickers on. I found them on my desk this morning after finally (finally) starting to unearth the damn desk from its piles of papery junk that I'd accumulated. I was being lazy, and because of that I didn't have the new stickers saying my car's street legal. Argh.

Good thing A) I haven't driven much since then and B) no cops noticed those times I have driven. But gee, Chris, shouldn't two tickets for the same reason on my old, then-stranded car back in the summer have been enough reminding?

On the plus side, I have been cleaning. And throwing out unneeded stuff. Always a good time to do that.
Walking

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, Day 7 of 7: Zoo Lights

Longer post about happy stuff this time.

Today (Saturday), because other plans of mine for this weekend had fallen through, I decided to do something else special instead. After taking care of library business, I rode the Max to the Oregon Zoo for Zoo Lights. It was my first time at Zoo Lights since 2004, when I first visited; I was in the mood for pretty, and also in the mood to see the pretty before the weather got teeth-shatteringly cold. Almost all of the zoo gets decorated with light displays, some of them walls of light, others in animal shapes, some of these animated; and the Washington Park and Zoo Railway winds along a path also so decorated. This is hugely popular; I showed up at Zoo Lights' opening at 5, and there were already lines. I rode the train first, and cheerfully regressed. I actually was calling out the names of animals I recognized: "Bat!" "Owl!" "Komodo dragon!" "Triceratops!" I even waved at the other zoo train as it chugged along a lower portion of the railway and said, "Hi, train!"

I didn't stay much longer at the zoo, because I had more errands later (Powell's browsing and grocery shopping), but I ran down to the elephant building to see the baby Asian elephant Samudra. He was not just sleeping, he was sleeping that oh-so-heavy sleep that kids seem so good at, where they're almost flat. Another elephant -- his mother Rose-Tu, I'm guessing -- stood over him, trunk touching his side.

Now, errands are done, I'm back in my own warm place, I'm eating popcorn, and I have groceries. All sorts of good.

(Here's what I said I was happy about last Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.)