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JobSearchNewspaper_bannerAs I’ve mentioned often, I’ve had a lot of jobs.  Because I’ve also had a variety of positions, I always note how people react when I tell them what I do.  I have this on my mind after coming off a weekend where I met a lot of people, and they asked what I do, and I asked what they do, but it’s something I’ve always noticed and found interesting.  There is always some variance from person to person based on their own perceptions and experiences, but there is a most common reaction for each job.

  • Barnes & Noble, the most common reaction was, “Fun! Wow, so you read a lot?  That must be a great job.” This is usually followed by a small sigh of envy.  This was when I was in my early twenties, so I wonder if the reaction would be different if I still worked there.  My friend and co-worker, The Ausausin, and I used to loathe this reaction and do everything we could to convince the person otherwise.  By this point, we were both quite bitter with our circumstances and the job’s luster had been worn away by horrible management, ridiculous customer demands, and crazy, stalking, and just creepy customers.
  • Tv station, the most common reaction was a wide-eyed, “Really?  That is so cool.  How did you get that job?”  Then there would be a pause where the person would study my face to see if I looked familiar to which I would reply, “I work in production.”  People were fascinated with that job even though it paid the worst and had the worst hours of any position I’ve ever held.  I did enjoy telling people that I worked there, though, because no one had any idea what the job was.  If I was at Barnes & Noble, people could come in and see me working–no mystique there.  With tv station, no one had any idea, and if I did bring them to work, they’d just see a lot of scary-looking equipment and minor, local celebrities.
  • Stupid pepsi–admittedly, when I tell people about this job, I usually say something along the lines of  “I used to work in a call center selling Pepsi products over the phone.” This prompts people to say, “Who doesn’t know about Pepsi that you would have to sell them on it?” Then I explain the situation and how it actually worked, and watch their eyes glaze over.
  • Librarian–this is one that I’m still exploring, obviously.  I read yesterday in one of my library blogs that a woman told a used-car salesman that she was a librarian, and the man laughed out loud, then mumbled something about a dying profession (clearly, she did not buy a car from him).   Thankfully, I haven’t had that reaction yet, but I have encountered a certain amount of skepticism, in particular, when I was in grad school for library science.  I was in the Virgin Islands over the weekend, and I got to chatting with a couple guys on the local bus.  One lived in Puerto Rico, and the other on some other small island, and were the kind of people who talk about buying boats as investments and how great it is to live on a small island in the Caribbean.  When they asked what I did for a living, and I said librarian, the more chatty one said, “Good for you!”  That, or something like that, is the reaction that I get most often.  It’s kind of like if I said that I feed the homeless, or rescue animals or something.  It’s not quite what I expected, but I don’t mind either.

Because this is something I’m intrigued with, I asked The Ausausin, who is now a nurse, how people react when she tells then her job.  “If I just say that I’m a nurse, then they usually seem to feel sorry for me, ‘just a nurse, huh?’ kind of thing.  If I tell them what kind of nurse I am, or what my work actually involves, then people think it’s pretty impressive.”  When my friend the Lutheran minister meets people in social settings, she almost always has to reassure them that she’s not there to judge their choices, just to hang out.

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when_i_grow_up_become_architect_bannerI worked at Barnes & Noble for five years.  During that time, most of my friends also worked, or had worked at Barnes & Noble.  When we got together, we talked about the day to day, the crazy customers, the ridiculous decisions corporate was handing down to ruin our lives, etc, etc.  Then I got a job at tv station, and started hanging out with those people.  Naturally, we talked about tv station, so much so, that another friend, married to a co-worker, said that she didn’t want to hang around with us anymore because it was so boring for her.

Then at the end of a lovely girls’ weekend, my friends from high school told me that all I talked about was work, they didn’t care, and I needed to become interesting again.

Since those interventions, I have been hyper-aware of talking about work.  I realize that it’s inevitable, but absolutely do not want to be a one-dimensional person who only talks about my day-to-day rather than “real” stuff.  This was a particularly difficult thing when I was working at the call center, tv station, coffee shop, and doing very little else.  I wasn’t in school for the first time since I was six, and was working the most hateful job in the world, which left me feeling both angry and brain-dead.  I spent much of that period of my life writing angry blogs, sitting in silence, and feeling sick out of guilt for calling in sick all the time.

Part of the reason I picked librarianship is the variety that it presents.  Since no two days are alike, and each day involves learning something, I figure I can handle only having one job for once in my life–of course, I need to get that one job, but whatever, work in progress.  Even if my position does contain a lot of variety, and I do like talking about it, I fear that it will, inevitably, become all I talk about.  Most of my friends are librarians, and our conversations tend to veer toward the information sciences, but we do talk about other things too! Don’t we?

I haven’t blogged in quite a while, because I haven’t really had anything to say.  I’ve been going to work, coming home, watching LOST, reading, and running–it’s all pretty normal and not worth mentioning.  Naturally, this fills me with the panic that I’m becoming boring or regular, which has always been my fear, which is why I usually try to have too much going on.

I lack real hobbies because my hobby has always been having three jobs and having no time for hobbies.  It seems like everyone has their thing, whether it be gardening, or bird-watching, scrapbooking–granted, I wouldn’t really want to talk to anyone who only wanted to talk about those things, but it’s more the spirit of it that I’m after.  Most likely, I’m overthinking this completely. Often, when I’m having a good conversation with people, I cannot remember what topics we talked about.

The bigger problem is that when I’m not in school, I freak out.  If I don’t have a concrete goal, I feel like I’m floundering.  Even the other day when I was telling Jewish Friend about this panic and she reminded me that I have two jobs, a column, am reading for the Rhode Island Teen Book Award, and am a patron of the arts–all I could think was, she doesn’t get what I mean.

It’s an elusive thing because I don’t really respond well to long-range planning, but at the same time must have something to look forward to.  For now, I’m going to start listening to modern scholar lectures in the car again–starting with Unseen Diversity: The World of Bacteria, and hopefully this will work itself out.

I used to be friends with this guy, Brian, who was obsessed with his dogs.  He worked overnights at a hotel, his boyfriend managed a Taco Bell, and they lived in a trailer, but they had at least 4 purebred dogs.  Because these dogs were purebreds, they were incredibly breakable and prone to illness and indigestion.  One of them, an Italian greyhound, had broken both her front legs jumping off of the couch.  $600 later, she broke both her back legs the same way.  I’m not saying when your pet is broken you shouldn’t fix it, but don’t get such breakable pets maybe.

 After the dog mended, he snuck her into the café at Barnes&Noble so I could meet her.  She was very cute and little, but also painfully skinny, uptight-seeming, and shaking the whole time.  Whether the shaking was from the tension or cold, I don’t know—you just can’t ask a dog that.  I couldn’t really warm to this rigid and anxious dog despite Brian beaming at me, “Isn’t she beautiful?”

 There’s a kid who works at Stupid Pepsi who reminds me of that dog.  His legs aren’t broken, but he’s so tightly wound that you expect him to just keel over from the stress of existing.  He never wears a coat, but always looks like he’s freezing, and I don’t know if he actually does shiver, but I bet he really wants to.  I just want to run up behind him and scream  “relax!” but that would kill him.

 His sister also works at Stupid Pepsi; Kristie, the trainer, the girls with the most nasal voice I’ve ever heard in my life.  She also seems perpetually tense, though, not as bad as him.  They’re both painfully skinny with startled expressions.  Her smiles seem really forced. I’ve never seen him actually smile; his face would probably shatter. What the holidays must be like with that family. 

I punched in late at Stupid Pepsi this morning. The funny thing is, by the time I did punch in, I had been sitting at my desk for 3 minutes. Now, instead of using a timeclock, we have to punch in at our computers—our computers that are not turned on when we come in. For whatever reason, today, I sat down, pushed the on button, and waited. It didn’t turn on. I watched the clock on my phone flip to 8am, then 8:01. I pushed the button again, and then the computer turned on.

The screen to punch in popped up (eventually) asking for my username and password, which I did not know. I stood up in my cubicle and frantically craned my neck around for someone who might know the answer to my question. Finally I directed my query toward Marcus, who I really can’t stand, but I figured at least he’d know. I asked what my password would be set as, and he craned his head around to make sure I was actually talking to him before giving me the information I wanted. My punch in time was recorded at 8:02. Two minutes late is late. Period. Even if shitty software made it happen.

I immediately IMed my supervisor to tell her that it took 3 minutes to get punched in and wasn’t that a little unreasonable, then I pulled out my pocket mirror and began my morning ritual of fishing sleepy junk out of my eye.

She came scampering over to help me right when I was doing some major work cleaning out my right eye and said “It’s the first 2 letters of your last name and your employee ID number.” I couldn’t see her because I had my glasses off, but she sounded funny and also self-important even though she was answering a question I hadn’t asked. I just blinked at her, glanced at my fully operational computer and grabbed my glasses. The reason she sounded funny was because there were thin plastic bands stuck to her teeth. I just stared, wondering if they were some new braces like Tom Cruise had, or a retainer, or what. My experience with orthodontics is very limited and a long time ago, so I’m not sure what a lot of these things that people have in their mouths are. I speculated for entirely too long before I realized that she was waiting for some kind of gratitude.

“I figured it out.” I told her, “but my computer wouldn’t turn on, and then I didn’t know what you just told me, so by the time I did punch in I was 2 minutes late even though I got there on time.”

She looked puzzled, “But you have to get here early.”

“I was early.”

“You have to allow time to punch in.”

I could barely concentrate on the completely insane words she was saying because her voice sounded garbled and restrained like her mouth just didn’t want to let the words out. She sounded like a more gravelly version of Stan’s sister Shelly from South Park. After putting on my glasses, I realized that she had gotten clear braces and was also wearing some kind of new-fashioned retainer which made her impossible to understand.

We work in a call center.

“I got here early, but couldn’t punch in until I was late, does that seriously count?” I was starting to get really pissed off. In what kind of world do you have to get to work early because you have to allow for 3 minutes of punching in time?

“I think it’ll be okay.” she told me and flounced off to impart her limited and wet-sounding wisdom to some other poor sucker who had probably been struggling to punch in for 10 minutes.

I gave my two weeks notice at Stupid Pepsi last Monday.  After passing my drug screening, and receiving my copy of the background check that told me I am the most boring person who ever lived; I knew it was only a matter of time before I got the formal job offer from the job that will rid me forever of the phrase “I see you do very well with…”

 Finally, with 30 minutes left of my shift that fateful day, I got the voicemail offering me the job.  I did a ridiculous little hopping dance in the coatroom where I sneak off to check voicemails when I’m supposed to be working (no more!), and booked it out to the sales floor to make my leaving official and not just a beautiful dream.

 When I told my supervisor, the look of shock on her face was absolute.  Finally, after an incredibly awkward pause that I felt I should fill, but didn’t know with what since I’d said all I really had to say, she managed a completely incredulous, “Why?”  Considering that I had accidentally said to her about a week before that I needed to get a real job, I found her total surprise a little over-the-top.

 What I said was, “I found a new job.”  What I thought was, Do you not know that this job sucks?  Why would you be surprised that someone wants to leave?  Maybe she was surprised that I was actually giving notice instead of just not showing.  Maybe she’s a complete moron who actually thinks this is a good job for someone with a Master’s degree.  Maybe she likes what she does and wakes up in the morning without thinking: I can’t believe this is what I have to do all day.  I want to die.  Is anyone that simple?

 “I’m sorry.”  I told her.

“We’ll miss you.” she said as I walked back to my cubicle.

There is a woman who works at Stupid Pepsi who has been pregnant since I started. The only problem is that I’ve been there for a year and a half.  I can’t decide if she’s pulling a Britney Spears, or if she just hasn’t lost the weight, or if she’s built in the weirdest way possible where all her weight settles into a bowling ball-sized lump in the middle of her torso.

 The entire time I’ve been aware of her, she has not changed size, but I think she disappeared for a while, during which time I assumed she’d given birth, now I don’t know.  I’ve got to know for sure.  It’s really bugging me (when I happen to see her, which isn’t very often, so she could have just been not gone when I though she had been gone, and rather, just not seen by me. I really don’t think about it otherwise, but I really have nothing else to think about at Stupid Pepsi)

Even if I haven’t completely freaked her out with my not-so-subtle puzzled glances, I don’t think I can weasel my way into her good graces and ask what the hell is going on with her stomach.  Plus, making friends even for the purpose of information extraction flies on the face of my quest to be left alone.  My plan right now is to find out when she takes break, and sit close enough to hear her.  I imagine that as soon as I do this she’ll immediately say something like, “Man! Am I glad that’s all over.  Now if I could just lose the damn weight that’s collected around my middle making me look like I’m still pregnant, I’d be happy.”

The woman who sits in the “suite” to my left hasn’t been to work for at least a month. I didn’t notice that she’d been gone until about 3 weeks passed, but to be fair, she’s very, very quiet. Darla, who sits across from me doesn’t know why this woman has been gone so long. Darla watches too many medical shows and suspects Munchausen syndrome because the woman said something about having to go to the ER all the time for seizures or something like that. It doesn’t seem plausible, apparently, that this woman could actually be having seizures, she must be making it up for attention.

So the woman has been gone, but now she’s back, which means I can’t help myself to her lotion anymore. That’s right, I don’t care about her health at all, I just want her lotion. I feel bad about helping myself to her stuff when I don’t even know her name, but my hands just get so dry! Plus she’s got the good non-greasy, but thick Jergens that really works. If I had the foresight to bring my own lotion, I’d probably share it with her, I mean, if she asked.

I now have 3 options:

1. I can make friends with her and ask to borrow the lotion, and maybe also find out what the hell is really wrong with her.

2. I can remember to bring my own lotion (which seems really unlike me).

3. I can wait until she goes on break, and sneak over and take it. I’m going with option 3, it’s just easier.

If she does have some serious medical malady maybe she’ll be gone again soon. She looks pink-cheeked and healthy, but I can hear pills rattling around followed by a wet-sounding coughing, so she can’t be 100%.

My brother said to me the other day, “You’re been different since you started working at Pepsi.” In the context of the conversation that meant “you’ve been supremely unhappy there, and I’m sorry for you;” maybe it also means “you’ve become a terrible person who wishes her co-workers ill because you can’t be bothered to bring in your own lotion.” Maybe I’m being too sensitive about this, I was probably always a terrible person.

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.

* 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