You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2006.

The new design scheme at Stupid Pepsi is nautical, for some reason.  If your QA is above 105%, you get a paper fish with the words 105+ club taped to the side hanging over your desk; for more than 20 calls per hour, you get a paper circle with two giant plastic bobbers hanging from it that says 20+ club.  I have one of those signs hanging over my desk because I’m awesome speedy, but since I do not upsell I lack the matching fish.  Instead I have the same old star with streamers and the quote about greatness that I’ve had for months. The two don’t really go together, and the fish doesn’t have any lame quotes about greatness on it, so I really don’t get it.

The whole need for a decorative scheme at all baffles me.  We have to dress like adults for work, but management insist on decorating the place like an elementary school, and rewarding us with junk food.  I’m not upset that I don’t have a fish to go with my bobbers, I’m not going to work harder so that the stuff above my desk matches.  If anything, I’d kind of like to get rid of this crap because everytime I get up I have to limbo walk so it doesn’t hit me in the face.  The streamers don’t hurt, though they tend to stick to my lip gloss, but the bobbers are really problematic.  Is this any way to make people take this job seriously?  Am I just an old crab (nautical) who doesn’t appreciate a brightly colored paper fish, or is it just incredibly stupid of people to pretend this job doesn’t suck because they reward us in “fun” ways.  What do fish and fishing accessories have to do with soda?  I am not inspired.

Friday at Stupid Pepsi, I was watching the clock and working as little as possible when my supervisor dropped a sheet of paper on my desk. This is not unusual, it seems like every day someone is giving me some piece of paper with sales incentives, or upselling tips, sales contests: “Win a free jeans day! Win chips & pop!” Sometimes I like to wear nice pants or a skirt, and drinking pop and eating chips isn’t nearly as exciting as it was when I was eight. No wonder some many full-time people at Stupid Pepsi are morbidly obese. Plus, the only chips they ever give away are either Lays original or sour cream & onion, and the soda’s always warm. I could put it in the fridge, but then someone would steal it.

That’s right, people can buy a can of soda from the machines for $0.25, but they would rather steal it. Not just soda either, HR actually circulated a memo not too long ago asking people to please stop taking lunches that aren’t theirs. I believe it included the phrase “if you open a container that you think is yours and it doesn’t contain what you brought for lunch that day, please return it to where you found it.”

This particular sheet of paper labeled “calls per hour and upsell tracker” was a convoluted grid designed (I guess) to let us record each call and upsell. I snorted derisively at the sight of this and stuck it in a corner of my cube to use as scratch paper. Then comes the Instant Message “Power hour! Track all your calls and upsells for the next hour and whoever does the best wins a prize!” Prizes are rarely specified, and rarely worth trying for, but the supervisors pelt you with IM’s full of exclamation points to try to convince you that this is fun! Sadly, it does seem to work on most people.

Since I was done on 30 minutes and would not be able to participate in the entire “Power hour”, I decided to keep half-assing my way though the afternoon. About 10 minutes later, I get an IM “You need to upsell on every call.” There is no way (that I know of) to tell of an instant message is going out to just me or to everyone. I continue to not upsell. Another 10 minutes goes by and I get the same message again. So I decide to upsell on the next call just so I know for sure.

Naturally, the next call was a Chinese restaurant, and the man I talked to barely spoke English. I managed to get him to try the Lipton green tea with citrus, and felt horrible about it because I’m sure he had no idea what I was saying. As I was finishing up the account, my supervisor snuck up behind me and said “Good job on that upsell, I’m over there listening to you and you need to be upselling every call.” Ew. This woman is the supervisor of about 20-30 people and she has nothing better to do than listen to me for 30 minutes. I’m failing in my quest to be left alone at Stupid Pepsi, which I guess means I need to revamp my strategy. The only problem is, the only way to get them to leave me alone about upselling is to upsell, and I’m just not willing to do that.

This time of year always makes me want to be in England. The biting wind and the damp make me want to curl up in a pub with a spicy bean hot-pot and a pint of Guinness. Strangely, when I was going to school in England was the only time in my (lengthy) college career where I actually felt like a student, or at least what I always envisioned student life being like.

Freshman year at MSUM I lived in a shitty dorm, shared the bathroom with a bunch of strangers, and suffered the indignities that come with being a freshman who suspects that everyone can tell you have no idea where you’re going. That year I was a student–full stop. I had no job, school was my job, and as a result, I watched more TV and ate more pizza than any other time in my life. I tried the college stuff: I went to keg parties, ate in the cafeteria, met strange people, gained weight–all the standard things that college kids do. It didn’t feel right; I didn’t feel like I was really in college, just high school with no one to do my dishes for me.

In England, I lived in a shittier dorm that was too small for the furniture in it (I had to move the chair to open either the hall door or closet door, they couldn’t be open at the same time), I ate terrible cafeteria food mostly consisting of overcooked potatoes served as both entrée and side dish, went to noisy, sweaty dance clubs wearing foot-crippling shoes and got ignored by boys because I’m not slutty enough, and I froze the entire time I was there. It was perfect.

Maybe what made the experience was the fact that I had professors who were completely consumed with the subjects they taught. They were the kind of people who loved what they were teaching and seemed to regard lectures as more of an opportunity for story-telling than just passing time until the next exam. I imagined that they spoke of nothing else even to their families and friends, but were well-liked regardless because they made everything so damn interesting. As a result, I got perfect grades, did no homework, and still remember so much 18th century English history that I scare myself a little.

I’ll wax nostalgic about Moorhead and the excellent experiences/professors I’ve had after I leave, but it’s still not the same. It’s spooky that I can think of a place I lived for 5 weeks (can you even say you lived there after only 5 weeks?) as home, more so than a place I’ve lived for 8 years.

About a year ago, I noticed myself making quiet grunting noises when I would do things that required small amounts of effort i.e. getting out of a sitting position or struggling to get my shoes off. I noticed this, but it didn’t really register. Since it was just happening independent of my conscious effort, I thought it was just one of those things. I was getting into my car one day and as I plunked myself into the drivers seat I let out yet another involuntary grunt–kind of like Maria Sharapova, but not nearly as loud or pointy. My brother, sitting in the passenger seat nodded knowingly, “Ah, the Tieman grunt, you have it too.”

All I could do was blink and ask, “Bah?”

“The Tieman grunt,” he insisted, “Dad does that all of the time, so do I.”

I was never aware that my dad was a grunter, or that this was some family trait. Also, why is my brother proud of this? Upon reflection, though, I can easily recall the sound of my dad grunting more than most. It can be handily explained away by saying “He runs ten miles a day, he’s always sore.” No, because when you run ten miles every day, you stop being sore after a while. This explanation is a complete lie, and an excuse for something that may just be “Tieman.” How else would I manage to pick up my father’s traits when I rarely see him? Is this something in my DNA? Can grunting be in a person’s DNA?

So that happened. It blew my mind. I’m more like my father than I realized. That fact was punctuated by my brother smugly asserting “You really are your father’s daughter, aren’t you?” Apparently, of all of the people in my family, I’m most like my dad, and my maternal grandfather.

So this grunting thing has gotten out of control. Now I feel like I’m grunting every time I move. Also, it’s not hard for me to move around. I don’t have arthritis, or any other kind of muscular wasting disease. There is certainly no reason to grunt when I turn on a light..but I do.

The grunting is really just then first indicator of a larger problem. When I’m home alone, I constantly make noise. I have whole conversations with Watson (cat). I sing in the shower, while I do dishes, and while I cook–basically, I constantly make sounds. Maybe I was initially only grunting in private and that made its way into the public sector of my life. What’s next? Am I going to be that asshole that sings constantly and makes everyone uncomfortable? Or the girl who uses baby talk and everyone just pretends it’s normal? Where does it stop?

This whole phenomenon is irritating, and alarming, but mostly I just want to understand it. Am I desperately seeking attention? Validation that yes, actually, my life is challenging when a door is heavy and I must open it, and it’s hard to get up when sitting is easy and comfortable. Or am I just the victim or some idiotic family curse?

* my cat is seriously mad at me, and can be really rude
* I haven’t had to buy toilet paper in ages
* People keep telling me I’m “skinny,” which I think may be a code that actually means “haggard”
* If I have a night off, the thought of going out, even to a movie, sounds exhausting. I would prefer to stay home and groom myself or do laundry
* When I tell people I have three jobs they are completely horrified–always. It’s the great equalizer
* In my quest to catch up on sleep I may have actually slept too much resulting in some weird waking dream state where I look dazed and probably stupid most of the time
* I exert approx. 1/3 less effort at each job since starting this crazy experiment
* I want to write more now than I have in a long time because is seems forbidden and impractical
* I promise people I will call them back soon, but actually it takes forever
* I haven’t spoken to my mother in six weeks and I’m sure she’s fuming and waiting for me to call her
* I don’t feel like I have any more money than I did before because right when I got the third job I encountered a whole new expensive problem
* This list sounds really whiny
* I long to be at home when I..m at work, but once I get there I don’t know what to do with myself
* I’m really glad that at 2 of my jobs I can sometimes sit and read books, and at Stupid Pepsi I can read trashy magazines and write out my blogs and lists on a notepad provided for me by PepsiAmericas that I have never used for actual work, but I will demand is replaced immediately after I use it up
* I’m really sick of reading celebrity gossip magazines, and of reading about TV shows I’ve never seen
* I’ve started to act put upon and a little whiny, as evidenced by this list, and I don’t like it
* I must be better organized than I thought because I haven’t had any scheduling snafus yet. Well, there’s the one two weeks from now, but I have plenty of time to work that out

Monday I had no ambition. To be honest, my ambition at Stupid Pepsi has been waning considerably over the past couple months. I sigh heavily a lot more, I actually read trashy magazines while taking orders, and encourage people to leave me on hold so I don’t have to do work, but look like I’m working. I roll my eyes at my computer–regularly.

Monday, I seriously considered walking out, which I have never done. I wanted to grab my purse, and leave,not clean up after myself at all, and never come back. I don’t know what was made that day some much worse than usual–no one was rude to me, the calls were slow enough that I still made it through OK magazine in about an hour–but nothing made me happy. I managed to convince myself, like I always do, that being more poor would make me sadder than staying at Stupid Pepsi; and I toughed it out by taking extremely long breaks and drinking a lot of crappy cappuccino from the “café diem” machine.

Then something amazing happened.

Around 1:15 I was giving myself a pep-talk and blowing on cappuccino number 3 or 4 to cool it off when I realized that someone was standing behind my suite (cubicle). It was Kristy, the trainer, the girl with the most nasal voice I’ve ever heard in my life who is always perky but in the most insincere way possible though I don’t ever doubt that she means it. Weird. Anyway, she asked if a trainee could sit with me. I must have made a horrified face because she quickly assured me that I would merely listen while he made the calls for me.

So I managed to get out of an hour of work and all I had to do was sit next to an overeager guy who smelled like a sweaty cigarette, and listen to him tell me about this book he almost wrote once and about his home theater–so preferable to making calls. I would have listened to this guy tell me about his first time if it meant I wouldn’t have to call any more accounts and say “I see you do well with your regular Pepsi, we also have available the Wild Cherry Pepsi, which is our most popular flavored cola and does very well in your area. Would you like to add on a case of that today to increase your profits?”

The really fascinating thing about the whole experience was the way the kid tried. He was using the stupid notecards we had to make in training class, he mentioned the “penny-profits” formula, he upsold every damn call and seemed genuinely upset when people declined his offers. It was bizarre.

The only reason I upsell is to avoid getting into trouble thus furthering my quest to be left alone. This kid was all about it, and it was awful to have to listen to. He talked forever; he just kept going and people listened politely while I sat behind him and probably looked horrified. I thought no wonder people are rude to me, if I had to listen to that crap every week I’d be a total asshole. The trainee assured me when he sat down that he sucked at this job, so I thought we were kindred spirits–but no more.

Then he started hitting on me, staring at my modest chest and assuring me that “Maybe Jessica Simpson is beautiful, but I need more than just a pretty face”.

It was still preferable to making calls.