Customer service gaslight

2018 09 04 - 19:20

Some time ago I had a brief, but validating, interraction with a customer who, and I quote, was "sick of customer service 'positivity'". He complained of the 'cheerfulness', but how he never gets any actual help.

He's not wrong. There is a huge demand from our superiors for what they refer to as 'positive scripting'. Everything must be shaped, scripted, and molded, and packaged in a positive fashion, because gawd forbid a customer hear anything that isn't saccharine. I am not one of those people; but I'm sure that surprises no one. I've been 'coached' to be 'more inviting', but the customer I spoke with was happy I was not. He appreciated that I was blunt, to the point, didn't phrase everything like I was talking to an idiot five year-old, listened to his issue, and actually helped him.

The trouble with the over-positivity, is that it contributes to customers having unrealistic expectations about what you can and can't do; such that, when they do contact you, you spend far more of your time dealing with the fallout of pissed off people than you might have if they'd been told the plain truth to begin with. But, since companies are concerned more with profits than people - despite what they say - getting the fish on the hook is their main objective.

I find the over-positivity frustrating because it's so demeaning and dishonest. I'm not a delicate snowflake that needs to be 'handled'. I just need a rep to get the job done, and not pretend to be my buddy while they do it. I don't even need them to care; because that is not required in order for a person to be efficient and effective.

You might think, of course, that I do not like helping people. I do. I used to volunteer for various organisations, the hospital, etcetera, and found it very redeeming. I simply have no respect for retail, the  entitlement based off factors of money and consumerism, and the fact that it does not make customers responsible for their own actions, nor teach them any kind of shit-happens coping mechanisms.

Of course, there's also the issue that with retail customer service one is expected to take the blame for things one did not do. That's a bit of a problem for a victim of verbal abuse. I'll be jiggered before I'll apologise to a spoilt adult for the shit-sometimes-just-happens mistakes of another person, or the company. I never got paid enough to be the company's 'whipping boy'. If you want reps to take that kind of abuse, you might want to consider paying them more than the legal minimum. Because, right now, you've got yourself a slave population that you put in the way of abuse, and blame when things go wrong that have nothing to do with them. Were retail customer service a noble vocation, a calling, rather than a wageslave middleman punching ground, you might have a more valid argument for taking on blame, but you don't; and you, you corporate shits, should stop trying to make minimum wage earners feel bad for not wanting to take that abuse. You put them in the way of it, give them very little to fight it with, then try to make them feel guilty about hating it or being frustrated by it.

It's a lovely gaslight you've got going there.

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Your kindness buys dignity for you - not for the recipient

2018 08 27 - 15:33

Today a friend is going to help me with something I can't do alone. As a thank-you, I will be taking said friend out for a meal after. The only reason I am able to do this, is because I now make a wage that accommodates such things. Prior, I was lucky if I could take someone out for a coffee - or anything at all - as a thank-you for a favour.

I realise that this may seem trivial, superficial, or mundane; but...

... people need self-determination. In this culture, personal control comes out of having enough money to have that control. Without money, you are dependant on "the kindness of strangers", charity, hand-outs, desperation moves, or nothing at all. Our ability to move within this culture, is dependant on money. If you have no money, you can't move; or, if you can, it's glacial, and fairly lateral. I realise that you think you are kind by donating to food banks, or giving without expectation of return - and you are kind for doing so, and keep doing it; but your kindness buys dignity for you - not for the recipient. Our culture orients itself on purchasing power; and I can tell you from personal experience, that when you spend your entire life needing help, it's finally nice to be in a place where you don't need it, or need so much of it, any longer; a place where you can determine your own path yourself.

Let me put it more simply.

There is a great deal of embarrassment and shame involved in being so broke that you have to borrow money to buy feminine hygiene products. Stop perpetrating a cultural condition that allows things like that to happen.

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Low Vision

2018 08 20 - 20:34

I was compelled by one of my eye doctors to see a low vision specialist today - one of those folk from the CNIB who discusses the availability of various assistive devices - none of which I've ever used, as most of them were more trouble to integrate into my life than it was for me to just cope without them.

We talked about the issue of trying to have people understand that glasses don't correct vision all the time, especially with severe cases like myself. I mentioned to her something that someone said to me once, about how there's only one key that will fit a lock; so the glasses I have are the key that fit my lock. Stronger glasses won't help me see better, any more than bigger shoes would help me walk better.

She did show me this awesome text enlarger that, while useless to me for every day reading, would be completely awesome for reading labelling on packages - this reader can even change the colour of the text/background on the screen it has, to make things more legible - switching from a white on black, to black on white, to yellow on black, and a few other colour combos. I think I'm going to get one of those. A little less of a pain in the ass than my current method of taking a picture with my phone and zooming in to read.

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I can find better things to lie about than my sexual preferences

2018 08 14 - 03:27

I was just reminded of a time, many moons since, when I was - I kid you not - lectured at by a gay man that I absolutely must be a lesbian. His reasoning? I had short hair and wasn't wearing make-up. He absolutely refused to believe me. Now, let's get one thing straight (other than myself), there's nothing wrong with being a lesbian - and I certainly wasn't offended or upset about being called a lesbian - I just don't happen to be one. I still can't, to this day, understand what this guy was on about. If he was looking for an ally, he'd have had one; but the categorical refusal to accept what I said, was sure not winning him a friend that day. It was like he was trying to convince me I was a lesbian, and wasn't far off outright calling me a liar - and that's the part that pissed me off. Believe me, I can find better things to lie about than my sexual preferences.

Yes, I'm very dull. I'm a monogamous-preferring cis hetero. But clearly, to that guy, all the men I'd to that point known in a Biblical fashion, must have been a hallucination.

On a side note, the reason I didn't - and still don't - wear make-up, is because it's hard to apply something evenly or well, when you really can't see the left side of your face properly - or, indeed, really at all; and seeing the right side is questionable as well. I have never actually learned to apply anything other than lipstick.

I'll tell you what, Guy Whose Name I Can't Remember; the first time I acquaint myself with a vagina that isn't my own, I'll hunt you up and let you know.

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Union to 'vigorously' defend any teacher who defies province by teaching current sex-ed curriculum

2018 08 13 - 22:27

The union that represents Ontario elementary public school teachers vowed to "vigorously defend" any educator who uses the modernized sex-ed curriculum in the classroom this school year in defiance of the province's decision to impose an outdated version.

In a fit of narrow-minded post-election pique, the Ontario government revoked a studied and reformed sex education curriculum that was rolled out in 2015 to replace one that hadn't been updated since 1998. This old curriculum didn't include any information on consent, gender-identity, or homosexuality. They claim they pulled it so it could be reviewed by teachers, parents, and professionals. However, the 2015 curriculum had been reviewed by teachers, parents, and professionals. The government pulled it to pander to a voter base more concerned with antiquated, right-wing blindness, than opening its eyes to the realities of the current era.

Many teachers, schools, and boards, were deciding on their own to continue to teach the revamped 2015 curriculum regardless of what the government said, and for this I applaud them. Now, the teachers union has stepped in saying that it will defend any teachers who do decided to teach the upated curriculum against any government backlash they might face, and for that I applaud them.

The commentary from many quarters, however, is still that knee-jerk idiocy of parents should be teaching their kids about sex. Why? Why should parents do it? It's medical information. How many parents, as well, are anywhere remotely equipped to deal with questions and concepts of same-sex partnerships, cyberbullying, transgender issues, consent? Especially since some of the kids being taught that information in school, might need to defend themselves against the very parents some think should be the only ones allowed to teach their children about sexuality and sex.

The idea of moralising whether or not children are taught a thing, should be far down the list of concerns - certainly much, much lower than the fact that these things are happening to kids right now, and they need to be given the tools to deal with them. I sure as hell wouldn't ever have talked about any of these matters with the person raising me who was also the person emotionally abusing me; who also, coincidentally, was the same person who tried to sexually molest me. And as for the other half of that pair, they were very ill-educated, and would have had absolutely no clue what to do had I gone to them with any issue at all. That person wouldn't even explain my period to me, but gave me a pamphlet and left me to figure it out on my own. Possibly if she'd had a conversation with my mother when she was 15, my mother might not have got pregnant with me. My mother, for the record, didn't know how she'd become pregnant, as no one ever explained the birds and bees to her. But teenage pregnancy is the least of the worries of the modern age.

What happened to me, however, is far from the point. Why we're still trying to moralise these issues in this day and age, is an antiquated, short-sighted knee-jerk. Teaching children the proper names for body parts is not dirty, and is not immoral. Teaching your kids how to say no, gives them empowerment and self-determination, and is not immoral. Teaching a girl that it's called 'vagina', is not immediately going to make her go out and insert a penis into it - or anything else, for that matter, and is not immoral. I can state, for a fact, that girls with proper information are far less likely to engage in pubescent sex, become victimised, or get pregnant. I've seen it, many times, with my very own eyes, with the children of family and friends.

If you're worried that hearing about a penis is going to make your son gay, I've got news for you - the penis wasn't making your son gay, he was already gay before he heard about the penis. Almost every single person I know who's gay, trans, or any version of either or both, knew at a very young age that they were, as one gay friend once put it, 'different'; and they knew these things in an era when there was no one to turn to, no one to ask questions of, no one to get support from, and turning to parents tended to result in moral, emotional, and physical abandonment - as has happened with someone I know personally, whose parent won't acknowledge their transition and won't speak to them at all. If nothing else, those folks need to know that what they're going through is not wrong, and that there's someone out there who will listen to them and help them and support them.

None of this curriculum has anything to do with you or your morality - this is about educating your kids for reality. Why on earth would you be so dead set against that? Do you hate your kids that much that you want to keep them ignorant, unable to cope, and unable to find help for whatever they're questioning or experiencing? What on earth are you so afraid of? It's just information - like proper names and actual medical facts - none of those things are evil, immoral, or harmful. If you have a moral issue with your children being informed, I suggest you get over it for the sake of your children, because they are being abused, and victimised, and are questioning, and they need help, all the information they can get, and not a wall of silence or ignorance. These things aren't waiting for your children to be 'ready' (or for you to be). Any 1950s Disney morality, doesn't trump the needs of your children.

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I prefer

2018 08 08 - 01:05

humour to comedy
tea to coffee
being a night person to being a day person
Friday to Saturday
Hafiz to Rumi
bar shows to arena shows
beer to wine
pepper to salt
punk to metal
cool days to warm
urban to rural
crunchy peanut butter to smooth
spring/autumn to summer/winter
political left to political right
social liberalism to social conservativism
atheism to religion
subtle to gross
black to white
Dune to LoTR
blunt/direct to overly careful
trains to planes
navel to clementine
green grapes to red/purple
savoury to sweet
drama to comedy
clever to crude
chicken to turkey
Austen to Bronte
being guest to host
pie to cake
milk chocolate to dark
flat shoes to heels
tree shade to sunbathing
reading while sitting to lounging
The Clash to the Sex Pistols
Madam Secretary to Scandal
abstract/surrealism to realism
acrylic to oil
printmaking to painting

This list subject to alteration without notice. The management appreciates your business.

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Bertrand's Constraint

2018 08 04 - 21:35

I'm a huge fan of constrained writing, of which there are so many forms, I'm not going to get into them here. That said, you'll find that some of the most common forms of constraint are restricting numbers of words used, restricting to a rhyming scheme, using words without a certain letter, or imposing some other form of order on your own original writing or the writing of another. Hence, what follows. This poem was created using the last three words of each paragraph of Bertrand Russell's 1922 speech "Free Thought and Official Propaganda". While I mixed the order of the groups of words, each group of three words appears in its original order from the essay. As an aside, McMaster University has Bertrand Russell's entire library in its archive - desk, chair, letters, books, and all - which is open for perusal by anyone who either attends or works at the university. One of Albert Einstein's last letters is part of that library - the slice of Einstein's brain McMaster has, is elsewhere. :)

the present Government
or a Bolshevik
are now outgrowing
camouflage of democracy
still exposes people
their religious beliefs
superstition if possible
on both sides
full of doubt
attitude of science
will to believe
its exact opposite
hypocrites or fools
opinion is created
regime is founded
from this misfortune
a single organization
can be inculcated
circulation of newspapers
systems of education
form of persecution
the sole cause
of the law
schemes of scoundrels
should have starved
exceptionally bad case
of their diminution

a Buddhist country
in its infancy
at its essence
subtle and elusive
avoid offensive obtrusiveness
these in turn
do at present
do the work
to discuss cures
or a Trust
very good case
can be met
aims of education
introduce the millennium
destinies of mankind

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Balancing Act

2018 07 11 - 18:28

It occurs to me to wonder why a 'balanced budget' is an end goal at all. It's a phrase that only sounds good in a sound bite. Budgets only balance in an accountant's wet dream; and, balance doesn't necessarily mean anyone's going to benefit in any way at all.

Cutting services to pad the pockets of the rich, balances a budget - but it isn't any favour to those who need those services.

Balancing a budget only serves the budget - not the people who have to live under it. Quality of life should win out; and any business knows, sometimes you need to run a deficit.

Balancing a budget is a buzzword that's easy to use to 'scare' or 'hype' people with, because the average person really doesn't dig behind the face value of most of what's presented to them.

Balancing a budget doesn't mean there wasn't enough money there to begin with, or that there'll be enough money after the hatchetman gets through with his 'balancing' act.

I don't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut if a budget is balanced - I want to know that people are taken care of, that what money is there is being used wisely or at least for decent reasons, and that the government isn't merely a population of twats.

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Since when does a corporation's right to make money, trump a human's right to eat?

2018 06 08 - 18:48

This was posted as a comment elsewhere, but I thought I'd share it:

There are so many issues that need to be addressed with precarity and wages; not the least of them being eradicating the entire idea that (as an example, for the sake of argument) service industry jobs should continue to be relegated to the 'lower class' as we have put them.

You aren't supposed to want to do that your entire working life; you're supposed to go to university and get a better job. Well, I hate to burst the dream bubble of the folks for whom that sort of thinking is a viable lifeplan, people with the means of having the luxury to think that way, but the world of employment doesn't work that way. Not everyone can go to university - and not just for reasons related to money. It's just not meant for everyone, nor does every single person want it. Some folks want a simple job they can leave at the end of the day. Some folks are not able to do work that's more complex. And, frankly, these lovely university-educated jobs that we're all supposed to be striving for, don't exist in the numbers that we need them to in order to satisfy this 'dream'. I did it. I went to university. I ended up twenty-four thousand dollars in debt with an education I was happy to have, but it's done me no favours employment-wise. I come from a generation that, when young, still had the advantage to think that a university education was an automatic stepping-stone to employment. What they should have told us, is that it will make you employable, it just won't (necessarily) get you employed.

Service jobs are no longer the temporary stepping stone to bigger and better things that we used to see them as. This is what there is. This is all that some folks can get. We must take the labour that's available to us, and hold on to it, because there's nothing else out there. Temp jobs become permanent jobs, because the ladder has no more rungs on it.

I know people who have children with varying levels of Autism which is going to greatly impact the work they do. Do these kids deserve to live in poverty because they might not be able to do something more? Do I deserve to work only shit jobs, and get paid a slave wage, because life dealt me a disability that prevents me from aiming for certain kinds of other work?

Some people also don't think that youth should get paid the same wage as an adult, for doing the same work. There's another classist concept that needs to be eradicated. Work of equal pay for work of equal value, assuming they're doing the work equally well, doesn't just apply to gender. It applies to everyone; or should.

Speaking of education, we need to stop making it such a horror-show for young people. We have turned graduating from university into a ritualised debt. No kid should leave school at the age of 22, tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Who's paying that off on an entry level wage, especially with rents the way they are? My student loan payments were initially $450 a month, and that was when minimum wage was $10.75 an hour. That's a generous version of $10.75, if it can pay bills and debts and leave you enough for food. Way back in the misty dawn of time, people used to have to pay for high school if they wanted their kids to do that past grade 8. At some point, the government realised that in order for anyone to survive, to get work, a high school education was becoming necessary, so they took the step to include it in their funding, as they had with primary education. It is LONG past the time when post-secondary training - whether that be university, college, specialised training, or apprenticeship - has become necessary in order for anyone to gain footing in the work world. It should be covered.

And before anyone has a cow about people abusing the system, let me point out that every system gets abused. Also, it's pretty easy to build in safeties to ensure that the system is used, not abused. Such as: Require that a person keep a certain average, or they have to pay for that term/year/whatever. The sort of people who would wish the heavy continued burden of education debt on a kid as some sort of grotesque rite of passage, especially since "if I had to do it, they have to do it", is a small-minded ass who, hopefully, isn't homeless like many university students in Canada are. Yes, that's right, there are homeless students in Canadian universities, sleeping in lounges on campus because they can't afford a place to live. How is that providing a means of success to that person? Let me help you out: It Isn't.

We also have to get rid of the idea that anyone who's living a low-income life, deserves to be poor, and deserves to be grateful to be poor. It's a disgusting attitude, but that's going to be a hard battle to fight.

Businesses thrive because of demand, not because their workers get paid low wages so a company's profit margin can survive. Businesses thrive because people spend money at them, so you need to give them money to do that spending. The rich do not drive the economy. Trickle-down economics is a farce. As Nick Hanauer puts it (paraphrased), "I make a thousand times the median wage, but I don't spend a thousand times more on clothing, or eating out at restaurants." (Nick Hanauer is a billionaire venture capitalist in the US, who is a vocal supporter of a living wage. Watch his TED talks.) It never fails to stun me, how much people are willing to do to sanctify a company's profit margin, rather than support quality of life. Since when does a corporation's right to make money, trump a human's right to eat? Why do we do this to each other?

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Fahrenheit 451 (2018) (film) - contains spoilers

2018 05 21 - 18:54

HBO recently released a new film adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" - one of my favourite pieces of dystopian fiction - and I can honestly say that this film version


I'm about to plot-drop and completely expose the ending, so if you don't want it spoiled for you, don't keep reading


isn't worth the paper it wasn't printed on. I don't even care that it strayed drastically from the book; but, what was not pleasing, was how weak it was, and how much of a damp cliche it was to end the film with a bird flying into the distance as a symbol of freedom. What see-spot-run bag of tropes did you people dip your fingers into to come up with that one?

The one thing that was interesting, is that they included an indictment of automation, of how we are doing the damage to ourselves by creating 'bots to do our work for us, to do our thinking for us, to choose things for us, to know things for us, so that in the end we are responsible for our own downfall by creating our own idiot race out of ourselves. Also, nice job sneaking a shot from the original film in during the opening credits. I should also point out that their use of symbols to convey a story, rather than cartoons as the original film had, was interesting and very of-the-now.

There was no 'brain' in it, no smarts; only limp-dick social commentary that fell utterly flat. They turned the whole thing into a bad action film reality show the audience votes you off the island thing.

All in all, I could have spent a better use of that time cleaning hair out of a drain trap.

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