Telephonic Jungle of DOOM

Lately, I’ve been tasked with calling every single vendor the company has ever worked with and requesting forms from them. In general, I actually try to avoid having to call these companies. Often, a phone call means I must face off against the labyrinthine jungle of automated systems, transferring menus, and holding on the line for the next available agent. When it doesn’t entail skillful navigation of complicated menu systems, it means I must speak with real people (who still sometimes pass me on to an automated system or transfer me from voicemail to voicemail), and against real people, I must be judged as worthy or not.

Most people I speak to on the phone are very courteous and happy to take five minutes to send me the form I am requesting, but every now and then I can hear the paranoia edge into the voice on the other end of the line. The forms I’m requesting are fairly innocuous and in this very unique circumstance, I have no nefarious intentions for them. So it’s quite baffling to me when people suspiciously interrogate me as to my name, company affliation, last known transaction, filing efficiency and shoe size. I’m not certain whether they think I’m trying to scam them, or perhaps sue them, but they hold on to these forms as if their very existence were contained within these small pieces of paper. In these instances, I’ve been advised that I can just let it go – the forms aren’t absolutely vital, more of a “just-in-case” thing, but when this happens, I feel compelled to telephonically chase these people down and verbally beat sense into them.

In some cases, mostly those concerning large corporations, I can bypass the dreaded judgment of other receptionists by utilizing the most glorious of all tools: the INTERNETS. Occasionally, the form is online, waiting for anyone who needs it to swipe it from its downloadable link (which consequently should be indicative of the level of security that these forms should garner).

After I realized this, I tried to find links for all large companies, despite the fact that it probably takes longer to sleuth out the internet than to make a simple phone call. For Office Depot, I found they did have the form available online, but blank and orderable in boxes of 30% Recycled Laser Cut Sheets, Packs of 50 or 100. This was only slightly less than completley useless to me. Even worse is when I finally gave in and called, it was an automated system that wanted me to speak my selection. If Office Depot thinks I’m going to sit at my little desk stupidly over-enunciating two- or three-word phrases repeatedly, they should reconsider the standard, somber office environment they cater to. I sent them an email.

So recently, my days have consisted of following the maps of websites and automated telephone systems and occasionally leaping across pitfalls in the treacherous potential for telephone paranoia. In short, this week, I have become the Indiana Jones of tax forms, venturing into the dark places of the telephone systems to find the oh-so coveted tax identification forms, which of course, not only can, but should be likened to priceless cultural artifacts preserving thousands of years of heritage and history. I can only surmise that those paranoid people I speak to who seem to think I am a con artist/litigator/terrorist must regard their tax forms in this manner. This is a reasonable explanation for their behavior – they’re the spear-wielding naked natives, and they’ve obviously been tricked by a sneaky French man into thinking that I’m the bad guy and should be roasted for the upcoming feast.

all hail the tax form

But of course, every adventure has its shining moments, its warm moments of camaraderie and companionship. This quest has been no different; I have found fleeting friendship in the repetitive, nagging correspondence that I must maintain until my goal is reached. Yes this person has been my Sallah, or Short Round, or that guy at the beginning of Temple of Doom who dresses up like a waiter and gets shot when the party-goers begin extravagantly popping their champagne bottles.

Oh dying waiter-impersonator – as brief as your screen time was, so was the depth of your friendship. And like your brief shining moment of dedication, my fleeting email ‘friendship’ lasted only a short time, but burned bright like a shooting star…

More on this to come – –

As one last side note, I’ve become somewhat of a conoisseur for on-hold tones and music. Classical, jazzy, elevator – I’ve heard it all. My favorite has been Louis Armstrong’s It’s a Wonderful World. My least favorite, so terrible, I had to thrust the phone away from my delicately tasteful ears, sounded like the Poptart Cat.

Short and Sweet-ish

It has been some weeks since my last posting. And in that time, a few rather monumental things have happened – graduation, a job – and several infinitesimal occurrences – office birthday cake, fleeting email friendships, and an aquatic-themed dentistry office.

One of the problems with posting regularly when I wasn’t employed was that I felt I had nothing to post. I spent most of my days sitting at home, perhaps occasionally ruminating on my own existence, but let’s be honest, mostly watching Doctor Who. Now that I have a job, the problem is actually finding the time. Unfortunately I’ve barely had time to write fiction, let alone editorialize my comings and goings.

So I have decided, the time has come for a slimming. I usually overwrite anyways, so from now on, I’ll try to post a few quick snippets everyday. At the very least, shorter things more often. Hopefully, I’ll get used to reigning myself in this way – God knows I am not one for self-discipline or self-restraint.

I’m working on something special for today, but in the meantime, here’s something I think is really cool, that has absolutely nothing to do with what I’ve been talking about. YAY!

retro FTW!

Gramma

When I was little, there were three things I would always do when I first got to my grandma’s house. We went there pretty often; she lived only a couple of hours away so at least once a month we probably made it down to Santa Cruz for a couple of days. Every time we arrived, my brothers and I would race into the house – lock little kids into a small enclosed space like a minivan for two hours, and they’re bound to race anywhere as soon as you let them out. We would happily burst into the house and hug our grandma and our aunt, and then as soon as greetings were over, we’d race, very carefully, into the living room to commence the first of the three rituals.

The living room was a room full of relics and artifacts, pristine and well-kept. It was a room of oppositions, furnished in shades of black and white, soft with a big couch and lush carpet, but hard with ebony tables and a stone fireplace. My grandma kept trinkets in this room, decorating the shelves and the end tables with things like a huge golden platter, or a framed page of the Qur’an. Because of the delicate baubles everywhere, we were discouraged from playing there, except when we first arrived, because we had to check paperweight table. In front of the huge bay window, there was a small table with only a lamp and a myriad of paperweights. Each of the grandchildren and great nephews and great nieces were allowed to pick a paperweight and put their name on it with a little piece of masking tape stuck to the bottom. We were each allowed to pick one. Some day it would be ours to keep. I don’t know why we always had to check on them. But whenever we arrived, we rushed to the paperweight table to pick up our paperweights, check our names, stare into the swirls of glass and crystal. We’d inspect the other paperweights too, and then we’d put them carefully back, and forget about them for the rest of the stay.

This was a ritual my brothers and I all took part in. The other two things I always did when I first got to my grandma’s house, I did alone. I always admired my grandma’s collection of jewelry boxes and jewelry. She had a long dresser against the far wall of her bedroom, and along the whole length of it were jewelry boxes. Some were large, intricate chests, some were small delicate music boxes. I would check every single drawer, and play the songs in the music boxes and just marvel at the pretty of it all. There was one small pink box, made of a soft stone, and inside she kept a golden heart pendant. She promised it to me, and it felt special because it lived in her house with all of her other treasure. After she died, I found out she had more boxes, more jewelry hidden away in her closet and cabinets. When we spilled it all out over the floor to divide it between the girls left in our family, it was like something out of a treasure-hunting movie.

The last thing I always did when I got to my grandma’s house was pure magic, the stuff of elves and fairies. As soon as we had settled in, my grandma would always say to me, “Flopsy has been waiting for you. You better go find him! He’s probably hiding.” And I would race through the house, from room to room, flinging open closet doors and dropping to the ground in a heap to check under beds. Every time, he’d be hiding in a different place like the sneaky animal he was. The whole time I was at my grandma’s, he’d be with me. When I got older, I realized Flopsy couldn’t hide himself every time I came over. My grandma or my aunt had hidden him, just so I could find him as soon as I arrived. Flopsy, being a stuffed rabbit with rather large ears, never would’ve been able to open the closets I always found him hiding in. The door knobs were a good three feet above his head.

My grandma was the kindly matriarch of the family, the uniting force that brought us all together every year. Her holiday dinners were no event to be trifled with, every dish cooked to perfection, every place setting laid out with precision. Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only times our entire family was together at one time, and everyone would sit around talking over each other. We used to joke that people not raised in the family had to learn how to carry on at least three conversations simultaneously, since at all times several discussions would be going on across the entire room and at very loud volumes. We haven’t done that since my grandma died.

When I see pictures of my grandma when she was young, she looks like something out of a movie from the 40s – glamourous, beautiful, confident. She was a nurse and she traveled the world – my dad was born in Saudi Arabia, and our house is peppered with Arabian coffee pots and a scimitar or two. Also a camel saddle. When I knew her, she had the appearance of a gentle old lady who had lived a full life. But she also smoked like a chimney, had a glass of scotch everyday at 5:00 PM and was an avid follower of the 49ers, the Giants, and the Sopranos. She was also the best bullshitter I’ve ever played cards with, and apparently a poker player of great prowess. She was, in short, an incredible woman.

My grandma put me through college. The money she left to our family paid for tuition for me and my brothers, something we probably wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. I wish she could’ve seen me walk the stage.

Thanks Gramma. 

I miss you, and I know you’d be proud. 

Bigger on the Inside

Remember when I said to check back about those balloons? If you haven’t already seen it, here’s what happened to them:

Inflata-TARDIS

Check out the Where’s the TARDIS website (above) to see the finished product.

We wanted to build it in the desert, because how awesome would that be, right? But we ran out of time shooting the project we were actually out there for and unfortunately our TARDIS fell to the wayside. But it got to take a picture against a city skyline and on Wilshire, in the exact same spot as Iron Man’s test flight fiasco in the first movie.

Swooping through Wilshire at about Veteran

Same place, slightly different angle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you haven’t already liked it, please do, we could win. It’s pretty awesome, and it was a lot of fun. Also I’ve got a fez. Fezzes are cool.