Thursday, January 27, 2005

Lots Going On In Firebearland...

So I have been away for a couple days. To answer any questions that may come up:

1) Yes, everything went well, I think. One of those interviews where you just don't know.
2) 43 words per minute. You would think as some one infront of a key board daily, I wouldn't worry about my WPM.
3) She is doing good, everything went well, now I get to baby her for a couple days! Something I don't hate doing, though I may be a little over protective.
4) I do have a new post to help tide everyone over until I am back in full swing. It is over at which you should be visiting everyday anyway!
5) Note that this would be a good time for that guest blog you have been promsing me Steven!

Be safe in the snow and ice! See everyone soon!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Half Heard Quote of the Week!

This week’s half heard quote of the week belongs to Steven. Steven is being slowly put back on the phones (it is like management is expecting to lose a couple phone reps soon! Go figure!) so he is a little rusty. That of course does not stop us from joking with him!

Steven: You aren’t understanding me ma’am. Let’s try it this way. Imagine you and your mother are in an awful car accident. Not to sound gruesome, but you both are killed dead. Who would you want to get your pension?

Actually I was hoping for more detail of the car crash, he has been playing Grand Theft Auto a lot lately.

Now We Are Cooking With Gas!

I heard this from a call center person yesterday, I shall call her Velma. Velma works for a company the supplies natural gas to homes. Most of these calls are run of the mill, billing questions; service turn on's (Strawberry Ice Cream, and mullets) and turn offs (nipple piercing and mullets). Once and a while she gets a gas leak call. Now Velma is a very calm person, never loses her cool. She almost did on this one.

Velma: Thanks for calling “We Got Gas” Company. This is Velma, How may I help you?

NoClueMan: I be needing a guy to come out to my place. I called my plumber about 4 hours ago, but he ain’t made it out yet.

Velma: Do you have a gas leak, sir?

NCM: Nay. Well, not really. I’s took care of the leak, just need to get’em fixed now.

Velma: Ok, sir. Maybe you should explain the situation.

NCM: Sure enough! That dryer of mine was making a lot of racket. I’ve been telling Bernice to let me look at it but she says nope. Well she is down in Charleston with our daughter and grand kids. My daughter has run off and married some confederate boy down there. They had meet on the internet. Seems odd to me, but he’s a nice boy, for a lawyer. Anyway I’s drying my socks, cause I like them toasty and Bernice never can do it right. I hate going outside with damp socks, like em just a little toasty. Well, that dang machine, it started banging, making all that noise again, so I figured I’ld fix it.
I muscled that dang machine away from the wall, and damned if this rubber hose in the back there didn’t break off.

Velma: And this was a gas hose?

NCM: Sure was! The whole place started to smell like gas! So I followed the thang to the shut her off valve, but the dang thing wouldn’t move. So I grabbed my toolbox my
Vise Grip Locking Pliers and clamped them on the end of that hose. Then I called my plumber.

Velma: Umm, sir. That probably is not a complete seal. Are you still in the house? If you are you need to get out right now!

NCM: You’re right there. I could still smell it and heard it hissing. But I took care of it, just need one of your guys to come out here and fix the hose.

Velma: You took care of it? How?

NCM: Well, I didn’t want the house to fill up with gas; dang thing could have blown up! So I just lit the gas coming out of the hose on fire. That way it’s burning off the gas that’s sneaking through!

Velma: Umm, MR NCM. You need to get out of the house right now. You are in a very dangerous situation. I am sending emergency services to your place right now.

NCM: What? Leave the house? It’s fine here! I can’t go out anyway, my socks are still wet! You want me to catch a cold or something?

Velma: Sir, you need to leave right now.

NCM: Ok, but if I catch the flu, I’m going to be suing you! My son in law is a lawyer you know!

As a taxi driver in Portugal once told me, while he was flooring it in reverse trying to beat a train to the railroading crossing. “Don’t worry, be happy.” It was kinda broken English he may have said, “I have a death wish”. Not real sure.
The house did not blow up. Everything had a happy ending.

I meet Velma last night while filling out paperwork for a CSR position. Wow, do I want to work in this call center! I have never heard anyone talk of my current call center by saying “I love my job!” and that is what she did. I have heard stories about people working in call centers where the like when you have high call volume and great customer feedback. I thought it was an urban legend! Seeing this place was like getting a taste of heaven. Will keep everyone up to date on the up coming adventures of Firebear Job Hunting!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Island in the Stream

I know people have been waiting for my vant on the situation at work. I think this is it so sit back, relax and enjoy this look into the life of a Michigan State contract/temp employee. I will warn you, this is as egocentric as it gets. This is about my island, and me. I really am not worried about people outside of this circle.

Currently in Michigan there is a hiring freeze. Budget stuff. So instead there are long term “temps” brought in to help with the work. By long term, we are talking about people working in the same position for 1 ½ to 2 and some at 3 years. The pay is good; the work environment is mostly favorable. (As long as the bright light keeps the shadows away.) Thought is that by staying and doing a good job, you will get hired in when an opening appears.

That theory was shot down last month when 4 long-term temps were passed over for a permanent position, in favor of some one from outside. That is something I have started to get over.

The current wrinkle is that yesterday we were informed of a new Executive Order that all temps working for Michigan State are to be let go by January 30.

Ok, I am an intelligent man. I know that both of these are so beyond my control that there is no use in dwelling on them. My office is currently trying to get something done to keep us. I believe that is true, but I don’t know how good of a chance there is. I am also not sure I like the options. We will either be extended in our current job and position, and/or they will be able to open up more positions to hire some people permanently. I have a couple problems with these options.

Extending our contracts keeps us in the same situation we are in now. Unsure where we are going. I need a goal to work toward, and that leaves me with no goal. My shattered goal was getting hired in to the state and that died a horrible death. Which of course leads to opening up more positions. Does not thrill me either. We have been shown that even with our experience, knowledge and high numbers, we can and will get passed over for an unknown person from outside of the office that may or may not help the call center.

All that can be done is play by it by ear. Lots of finger pointing going from the governor to the union. I know the union sees the temps as a threat and I can see why, just do the math. I am rounding my numbers to make it easier.

Averaging out, the temps do 40% of the calls in a day. That leaves 60% of the calls for the remaining 25 call center employees. Maggie, Hispanic Wonder Woman, takes 10% on her own. That leaves 24 people for 50%. Let’s remove another 4 people for customer walk ins and answering emails. So that means every permanent employee takes an average of 2.5% of the calls and the temps take and average of 6.6% of the calls. And Maggie’s 10%.

With numbers like this I can see why the perms are threatened! The temps take all their work and they have to spend the time walking around, chatting with each other, and stressing on people doing the work! We temps are evil, evil people! They need to chase us off before someone gets the bright idea to hire 6 more temps! (hmmmm another 6 temps= another 40%, Maggie’s 10% leaving 10% of calls for the remaining 20 people to take, wow! That so works!)

Now welcome to our island. Made up of temps, perms, and one Puerto Rican. This group has gotten us through many trials at work. More a family then a work group. None better. I always knew we would get broken up sooner or later. I just did not expect it to be the governor who did it. I mean really, I know she reads my blog, but from the comments she has left me, I thought she enjoyed it.

We got it beat though. We are to close to be broken up. Does not matter if we are not working together, we are a team and will stay that way. Too many times have I lost contact with co-worker once I was not seeing them every day. That isn’t going to happen. We are, and will always be the island. I am sure the where ever we end up there will be plenty to blog about!

Tomorrow is Penguin Thursday. Be there. Something long in coming, Friday, January 21, 2004 we will have “THE ISLAND PARTY”. At the Metro, 9 PM, get with me for details. Whether it will be one last hurray, or just a time to party hearty doesn’t matter. A night of drinking and (hari) karaoke is long deserved!


Monday, January 10, 2005

United We Blog

Something that is always in the back of my mind is the chance that the wrong person will take offense to my blog and what I say about work. That is what happen to this gentleman at his blog The Woolamaloo Gazette.

Give it a read and show your support. -bear

Friday, January 07, 2005

Lying is bad, mmmmkay?

I can not stand liars. When you are president or a governor or a supervisor in a call center or the spouse of a member trying to get information, just tell the truth! You may not get the response you want, but I will be a lot more willing to deal with you.

Of course if you are going to lie, then at least be alittle creative about it. By all means, use a little common sense people! My example this week:

Me: (In my ever pleasant voice, because I love my job, and continue to work ever hard and at the best of my ability even if I have been told that a person who has never worked in my call center before is better qualified then me to do my job, with my top numbers in the office except for Maggie who is Puerto Rican and talks really fast, and no I am not cynical but if anyone out there is looking for a call center rep who answers an average of 80- 100 calls a day and has reached numbers topping 130 at times then drop me an email.) Good morning, this is Larry; may I have your name please?

NotRuth: (Very deep male voice) Yes, this is Ruth.

Me: (Thinking, maybe he said Rudy or something) What can I do for you?

NotRuth: I need to change my address.

Me: (At this point I have the account up and see the name Ruth) And your name again?

NotRuth: Ruth.

Me: And your birthdate?

NotRuth: uh, January 2 uh (I hear papers being shuffled in the background) 1934.

Me: (Trying to be clever) And your name again?

NotRuth: Ruth

Me: (I am out of ideas at this point, and really don’t want go through this with him. So I come up with a creative way to get the truth out.) This does not sound like Ruth.

NotRuth: uh I'm her husband.

Me: (We have very specific rules about this, I can not take or give information to him. I don’t agree with this but not my call and since I do not want to lose my job…) Ok, sir, is Ruth around, I can not take the address change from anyone but her.

NotRuth: Now you listen here, boy! She can’t come to the phone…

Me: Ok sir, then have her call us or put the change in writing. Thank you.

NotRuth: But I had to wait 45 minutes on the phone! I just want to change an address! (Actually at this point he sounded very girly, should have tried that at the beginning)

Me: You have a nice day, sir!


I do have to note that the Demon dHairy moved to the other side of the office this week. The island will miss his humor and companionship. He helped us prepare for the coming storms. He will always be considered part of the island in our eyes. He is welcome to visit and of course always welcome at the Penguin and the upcoming Island Sledding Day. On his part, he has offered to let Steven visit him and feed his fish any time that he wants.

We of course worry who will be moved into the empty cubicle. Not much to be said on that. I just hope they are willing to put up with laughter, friendship, bad jokes, and Winston not wearing pants.

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Location: Lansing, Michigan, United States

Desert Shield/storm vet. I am the one at work who comes up with the ideas on filling up those non-work hours. (ok, who is up for canoeing this weekend?) After several wrong turns, have finally found the love of my life.

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