About Me

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Class of it all.

I got thinking today about the middle class of society. This thought came about because I started thinking about whether I was a good cook or not, and then whether I could make a chair.

There is absolutely no nexus between the two of them but maybe it's just the important end result?

So here I am thinking about the middle class. Does it exist? What does it look like? Could it be explained and explored through a show like Masterchef. Perhaps being middle class means having a reasonable amount of skill. Maybe to be middle class you just add up the amount of things you are "reasonably" good at and that determines your status in society. Perhaps it's not about money at all.

I'm thinking there are a number of categories you could be assessed on to determine your class. Your cooking skill, the ability to make a chair, play sport, your language skills and math skills.

After thinking about these, you place yourself in one of three categories depending on how well you can complete that task.

Below are examples to help you figure out your true place. Where do you truly belong?





Monday, June 21, 2010

Sausage Roll Dippers

I really like watching Masterchef. It's relaxing, it's inspiring and it makes me appreciate food a whole lot more. The only problem is that most of the recipes are completely out of my skill set. They look great, and delicious, but I don't have the energy or ability to create something like this:
Each layer, each addition to the dish just gets harder and harder. The above is just a visualisation and is not actually an imaginary dish of asparagus, blueberry, spinach, thyme and cherry. That would be interesting though yes?

The other day I decided to bring Masterchef to my own kitchen by re-creating the gorgeous sausage rolls that they made weeks ago. Lots of them. I took them to work for dinner with a small container of tomato sauce. They looked amazing. They tasted amazing. But as I was eating them at my desk (checking up on Facebook activities!) I realised that each subsequent sausage roll had more and more sauce than the last.

Upon sharing this with friends and colleagues, I realised this was a Universal occurrence. Say you start off with 8 sausage rolls and a container of sauce. The first sausage roll gets dipped in to the sauce, but only gently. By this stage you are thinking that you need to ensure there is enough sauce for all 8 rolls.

By the time you get to the fourth one you realise you can probably pick up the pace a bit. You dip them harder, scooping a little bit.

By the 6th roll you realise you have underestimated the amount of sauce you actually have. In addition to dipping you scooping, you start double dipping.

Suddenly you're on the 8th roll with a huge amount of sauce left. You smother the roll in sauce, scraping it into every corner, digging up every drop of sauce. You start to wonder if you have enough sausage roll with your sauce. I have even graphed this, showing the exponential rise in the amount of sauce on each sausage roll.

My mate also felt the same way about this, and noted that the exact same thing happens to him when he's drunk and goes to McDonalds. The same logic can be applied until the last nugget consists of 90% Sweet & Sour sauce.

Opening a window into my brain, I started thinking about the design flaw of Jam. How I moved on from sausage rolls and Jam is beyond me but it's important. Ever noticed how it never sits on the knife, making the act of spreading jam on toast as impossible as creating a Masterchef meal? The end result is the same though, you just finish with a sticky mess.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Complaint of the Century

The following is an entirely fictional account based on a true story that actually happened to me tonight.

I've never been so glad to get home and get into bed. It's freezing outside but too early to sleep. I'm in my trackies…in bed…the heater is slowly warming up and I have a beer. I've just had one of the worst nights at work you could ever imagine. So I shall tell you about it.

I work in a place that sells things. I was the manager for the day. That is all I am going to tell you. The day had been going pretty well so far and even though I didn't want to be at work, I was glad I had good people around me. We were almost smiling. One guy was smiling because Hawthorn were winning in the AFL. Any regular day.

A customer by the name of Eunice came in. This is the most awful fake name I could possibly give to a character in my fictional stories. She loaded up her cart and made her way to register one. Eunice purchased her items and was happy. So happy in fact that she thought she got good service. She left dancing on rainbows with little bluebirds singing all around her.

Ten minutes later Eunice is back, marching straight back up to register one. Now at this stage we are busy and there are people waiting. Eunice has forgotten something and needs to buy one more. So she tries to push in front of all the other people, who are not happy. The operator on register one tells her to go to the back of the line 6 times. Finally she listens. It becomes apparent that Eunice does not dance on rainbows and sing with bluebirds. She is overweight and deluded to the amount of class she actually has. You know, like Kevin Rudd trying to be cool. Just because you try to act classy does not make you classy.

Eunice decides to join the queue at register three where she is served and purchases her extra item. Eunice is not happy and she complains, rather loudly, that register one refused to serve her even though she came back two minutes later. Then she has a go at the person on register one, who in return explains that she was gone for 10 minutes and not two and therefore was not pushing in. Now our work was pretty noisy so this staff member had to raise her voice a bit. There were crying babies and old people yelling at each other about nothing because they are deaf.

Eunice gets mad because she feels she just got yelled at. To make herself feel better, Eunice wants to yell at someone in return. Namely me. Mr Manager? Just Manager. Even though I've seen and heard everything at this point, I walk over to her having taken a deep breath. Knowing you have top deal with an irate customer makes your body go into fight or flight mode. The problem with this is that your body produces an insane amount of adrenalin that you suddenly feel like you can ran as fast as Kenyans.

She starts telling me about how classy she is and she's travelled the world and she is so upset.

Basically I find a polite way of telling her I think she's full of shit but she's not interested in listening. She just wants to talk and demand and talk some more. I get bored, and start imagining things I wish I could say to her. They are different from what I did say to her.

Realising I cannot get rid of this woman I try to tell her to write to head office because clearly nothing is going to satisfy her. And she won't go away. Eunice has turned into Snorlax. You remember Pokemon? Snorlax was that massively fat Pokemon that was useless and wouldn't move. Eunice was Snorlax and I had no PIkachu to shock her death.

Finally, finally, we get her to go away. The whole ordeal took an hour. The adrenalin has been kicking my system for a whole hour. A whole hour of being prepared to fight or fly, and just having to stand there. Suddenly, my body goes into shock. My heart rate lowers but there is still too much adrenalin pumping around. I collapse, and I get the feeling of wanting to cry. Not because I'm sad, but because I think too much adrenalin does that to you. But I'm a man, and I can't cry. Not even weep. So I soldier on for the next 4 hours in my weakened state, finally get home, and crack open a beer.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I would like to mute you.

I have worked in a few call centres in my time. Those of you who haven't can probably consider yourself very lucky.

Call centres have the worst reputation because from the get-go the customer is never happy. The wait time is always too long, the person on the phone has an accent, they don't get what they want. Plus, for many people it is the only way they can raise their voice and truly express their disenchantment. So I do have a soft spot for those who earn their living having to answer call after call after call.

Personally I will try to help the operator who is helping me. If they are helpful and nice I will do good by them and get off the phone as quick as I can. So many of these places are run so strictly on statistics that it is quite a stressful job. I've seen it before, people being gestured to tie up the call because they are averaging too slow. It's all about stats. This makes me sad.

But this blog is not about the sadness I feel for stats. It is a battle flag for all those call centres operators who undoubtedly have had that customer who seems to be failing at life for the simplest of reasons. So I address this to the public. The greater public, but not the great public. Dear public, this is a foolproof guide to help you when you are on the phone "with one of our friendly customer service representatives".

1. Please know what you want.

This is incredibly frustrating. Giggling with embarrassment about forgetting the singer's name whom you so desperately need tickets for is not going to make me feel better. And if you can't pronounce it, make sure you can spell it.

2. Chances are that the person you are on the phone to knows what they are talking about.

It is normal, and our right to question some things. Maybe you have a late fee for paying your phone bill two days late. You could try convince them to overturn it.

You will only get lied to if you're a bitch.

3. Learn what the words "SOLD OUT" mean. It means no more. GONE. There is no more seats left on the plane, there are no hidden boxes of chips out in the back storeroom, they are not producing any more of that wine until next season. I have no idea why someone would be calling up for a packet of chips but its the principle. right?

I've seen it before. The person on the other end of the phone starts to look like this:

4. You will most likely be given a receipt number following your query.

This could also be an order number, an account number, a transaction number, a confirmation number. You need this number. Asking "do I need that?" is kind of mute. If you didn't then they probably wouldn't waste their time getting you to write it down.

5. Have a pen with you. Make sure that it works. The amount of terms I have heard of the following is mind boggling.

"If you have a pen i'll just give you your receipt number."

"I have a pen but it doesn't work"

The logic that someone would hold onto a pen that doesn't work is startling. Who holds onto dud pens? Even more worrying is that it is a universal problem. Being on the phone seems to cancel out the writing power of pens, rendering them useless.

6. Following on from the above, make sure you have something to write on.

"I have a pen, I just don't have anything to write on"

"well it's just your receipt number. Write it on the wall. Or your quilt. Or maybe your shower is dirty and you can write it through the layer of mould starting to grow. OR write it on your child's forehead as a reminder as to how dumb you are.

7. Please keep drunk partners and babies away from the phone.

It is annoying and only makes us want to tell you to fuck off. Or our fingers may accidentally hit the mute button while we curse at you. Or the disconnect button. It will be an accident. Telling your partner to shut the fuck up while you're on the phone is also annoying. If he hits you I'm not likely to sympathise with you.

"WAH WAH. Sorry my three month old won't stop crying."

"I know. The piercing screams echoing in my ears are limiting my care factor"

Friday, June 4, 2010

Be Happy DAMMIT!

Sometimes you can be the happiest person in the world and without any warning, everything changes. Depression is a strange thing and I think it's something that no one really understands. They understand it as it relates to themselves but find it difficult to deal with when a friend or loved one suffers from it.

The problem with depression is that suddenly, the smallest thing can set it off, sending you on a sometimes destructive path of self loathing and unhappy thoughts.
You can go from feeling like this:

to this:

almost instantly.

From there on, it can turn into an avalanche of events that make you feel even worse.

People just don't seem to understand and may think you are merely being a bit of a sook.

Even though the thought is there, sometimes a friend trying to cheer you up is the worst thing.
One method they may take is the childish mocking tone. The one that they think will help you crack a smile. It's a bit like Dory in Finding Nemo.

Another method is the "if I tell them that they are worrying/thinking about nothing then they will be OK." This is equally ineffective.

Then there's the parental approach...

To make things worse, every song on the radio seems like it is talking directly to you and telling you the same thing in between groovy dance beats or moody guitar solos.

It feels like the whole world is against you. Even you are against you and you might find that you are contradicting yourself. Your thoughts change, immediate plans can change, and some things that you care about go out the window.

You know what is affecting you, and sometimes you know what it is going to take to pick you back up again. But it's not always that easy. You struggle on, because that's life, even though you feel like you're falling from the cliff of expectations.

You can never underestimate the effect that a special person can have on you. They seem to know exactly what to do or say...and more importantly what not to do or say. Things can start to feel better almost instantly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dude, where's my calories?

I seem to hover somewhere between the 64-68kg range, depending upon whether I'm wearing clothes or not and whether a pair of my ribs have decided to go out for the night. Anyway, it is in no way attributed to the amount of food I eat. The correlation between the amount of food I eat and how much I weigh is a mystery that continues to baffle doctors, scientists and my mum. Watching what I eat, counting calories etc, is just something I don't need to do. FTW!

I was at work last night and was confronted by a colleague counting the calories of his KFC meal that he had eaten. If you're that serious about counting your calories you don't eat KFC. That's about as clever as putting low fat milk into your double-choc-caramel-swirl-heart-attack-smoothie.

I also got asked by the Finance lady "what is your secret to being so thin? You're so lucky, you have a gift!" Sorry Benita (not her real name) it's more of a curse than a gift. See, I'm a man. I'm supposed to look like a have a small pig of ham inside each of my biceps and an 1890's washboard in my abs. I think this is an accurate representation of how I would look if that was the case.

Thinking about this later it became apparent that there was either one of two things wrong with me. The first, which I dismissed almost instantly, was that I had a tapeworm somewhere in my "food tubes".

The second, more likely explanation, was that I had little leprechauns living in my stomach, stealing my calories using a highly complex series of tubes and harvesting them to make gall stones for when I turn 40.