Sunday, November 29, 2009

Work:Back to normal, Games: another milestone.

Well, after an extremely relaxing working Thanksgiving, where I took 12 calls in 6 hours, I come back to work after my usual days off (mind you, I work from home, so coming back just meant logging into their systems), and find that call volume has returned to normal, i.e., back to back. Well, I enjoyed it while I could. I'll be working Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, I suspect those will be somewhat different, especially New Year's Eve. I've worked holidays for other such companies. You get callers who are drunk and want to laugh at you for working a holiday. Not fun at all. At least I have Christmas and New Year's Day off!
On a side note, spent my weekend getting one of my characters on World of Warcraft to the magical level 80, which is as high as it goes at the moment. This character is a priest, a healer, whom I hope will be in demand moreso than my undergeared warlock, who never sees any of the end content because she's outperformed by others. This way I can see the different fights and maybe learn a thing or two.
So a fun weekend all around, followed by reality rearing its ugly face again! AAAAH!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wested and Wewaxed

Ok, had a nice10 hour snooze. Ready to face the world of ...not Warcraft. Time to work and not doze off while doing it!
I am, by the way, working Thanksgiving, for 6 hours. Getting time and a half for it, so I won't complain. They say it will be quiet, not so certain about that myself.
Anyway, have a happy Monday!

I hate Sundayszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sundays I have to work a 10 hour shift. The other 4 days I typically work 6 1/2, but the real problem is Sunday come after my days off.
Given that I play and/or write late at night, sometimes well into the morning, starting work early on Sundays is a major pain.
Yes, I know, I should go to bed earlier. I try, but I can't sleep.So by the time I'm tired enough to go to sleep I'd get at best 4-5 hours, and some days, it just doesn't seem worth it. Yesterday, for instance.
Warcraft had several new things going at once, and I was a bit caught up in it.  I played all day and night Saturday, and when Sunday 8am came along, when I usually go to bed, I was still wrapped up in it. Good term for it, by the way, the weather has started to turn cool, and I might have to turn on the heat before too long.
But I digress. Simply put, I stayed up from roughly 4pm Saturday until the time this post comes out, roughly 36 hours straight. Not all playing Warcraft, but a good chunk of it.
Even now, part of me wants to keep playing, while the other part is shutting down...zzzzz.
Huh? Where was I? Oh yeah. Time to hit the sack. I don't have to be at work for another15 hours. That'll about do it.
Oh, and for those "Heathens out there reading this - You know who you are... If any of you has heard from Tim Walters since 1979 let me know. I'd like to touch bases with him.
Good night Neverland!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Leisure time

It's my weekend, and after playing Warcraft until 8am this morning, sleeping for 8 hours (a rarity for me, I usually get 6 or less) and playing Warcraft again for 5 hours, I decided to take a little break and watch a little TV. Now I don't have cable, I have a digital converter box that works some of the time for some of the channels. So most of the time when I want to watch television, I do it online, at Currently, I'm watching this week's episode of CSI. I also watch the new version of 'V' there.
I work during most primetime broadcasts, so it's the perfect web site to get caught up.
I just wish there were a little more variety out there. It's not like you can't throw a commercial in when you're watching.
Let's join the 21st Century and see all TV programming online!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Work: I'm retarded

My life is complete, I've been called 'Retarded' by a customer, who took a holier than thou attitude with me.Just shoot me now! Sad part is he probably makes more money in a single week than I make in a year.

Work: Staffing

I've worked at a number of call centers over the last 8 years, some large, some small, but the management at each has the same mentality: We want you here to take calls, not to sit around waiting for calls.
So here's the current scenario: After days of taking calls back to back, things have slowed down just a little, and I get maybe 10 seconds between calls. Now they're asking for people to not work.
The business part of me says makes sense. The CSR part of me says: 'Gimme a break!'
The business end says we don't make money if you're not on a call. The CSR part of me says: 'I need to breathe!'
It's a dilemma. But since I'm not a manager, I have to go on the side of the CSR. Management: You're putting too much pressure on us CSR's and making the customer wait needlessly! Stop it!
There, now the problem is solved.
Wait, what do you mean it's not. They're not listening to me? How dare they! Why I oughtta...
Finish my damn screenplay and sell it before this job really does drive me insane!

Edit: and just like that, we're in queue again. Send too many people home, this happens. Now they're asking people to come back on. Just keep 'em scheduled the way they are. Please!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On a Chicken Wing and a Prayer

Today I ordered one of my favorite combinations from my favorite pizza place, a pizza and chicken strips. I got a call a few minutes later telling me they were out of chicken strips and would I like wings instead. I had to politely tell the manager that I didn't want wings, and to remove the chicken strips from the order.
The pizza came a few minutes later, and the delivery person said the manager told him there would be no charge. Wonderful!
But as I sat down to eat a slice of pizza, I thought about the whole concept of chicken wings and why they seem to take on the popularity they have. It just seems strange to me that the part of the chicken with the least amount of meat, a piddly amount at best, would command such a demand. And then I wondered why on earth restaurants can get away with charging as much as they do for these wings?
I mean you might as well just take a bit of chicken skin, put on all the spices and sauces they add, and serve those, and you'd get almost the same experience, with no bones to throw away.
Anyway, that's what's going through my head at the moment.

Time for a little gaming

All right, work is done for the next 16 hours, let's play a little.
I play the World of Warcraft primarily. It's, as I've said before, an MMORPG. Massively Multiplayer. Thousands of players online on a given server at a given time. Why do those people play? For the gear, or 1337 purplz, in the vernacular. 1337, is slang for 'Leet', or elite. The purplz refers to the color of the title of the gear if you mouse over it. There are 6 tiers of gear: grey - the gear you start out with, junk, sold to vendors within the game to build your gold supply; white - usable by someone, sellable, auctionable, but not generally a money maker; green - pretty good quality gear/weapons/gems. usable by poor people (at least within the game, to make their gear passable for leveling up. Generally of little use at maximum level; blue - better quality gear than green, sells for more in the auction house (where people buy/sell things), and it is coveted at lower levels; purple - the mainstay of raiders and PVP enthusiasts, not the highest level, it's generally bind on pickup, which means if you loot this, you can't sell it on the Auction House. 1337 gear, that has different tiers of just how good it is. Some purplz are more 1337 than others, and you can get laughed at by people who have the better gear. Not the most fun part of Warcraft, at least for me.
The final tier is Legendary - very rare, usually some epic quest chain that you have to follow, that cost much time and gold to finish, and only a few have these. They are generally weapona.
The problem is, with every new patch, with every new expansion, the 1337 gear that you can get from the previous patch/expansion is meaningless. So for those that must be the most 1337  must continually grand their way to better gear. Warcraft will never end for them.
I'm not quite like that. I don't play the game for the gear, or the gold, or be being 1337. I play it because it's fun. I play it because each class, or type of character a player can make, is different. I play it to see what each class can do, to see how to fight each class in battlegrounds - where players fight each other. I play it because I can play it by myself most of the time, and can pick and choose when I want to work with others. Believe it or not there are MMORPG's where you don't have that option. You can't solo your way through content.
I play because each time I level a character I discover a different nuance to the game. It will never end for me, either, but I'm not stuck up about working with someone who has less 1337 gear than me.
So those 1337 people can have their 'fun', and I'll have mine. It is just a game, after all. amiright?

Be Polite

There's a scene in the movie 'The Fifth Element' that I love. The girl, Leeloo, played exquisitely by Milla Jovovich, is cornered in Bruce Willis' taxi, and she says, very meekly, 'Be Polite.'
Well, I tend to have somewhat of a meek character on the phone. If there are things I need to tell the customer, I tend to soften this up, by using terms like 'it looks like...', "it appears...',  'Let me look into that...,' when all the time I know what I'm doing. I do it because not many people like being brusquely told what to do or what I'm doing.
I didn't used to be that way, I used to be very blunt with people, and it wound up getting me into trouble.
Well some people take that meekness to mean I don't know what I'm doing and the advice I give them, which is correct, to be something to be tossed aside. 'Can I speak to someone else?' 'Sure, but they'll tell you the same thing', only maybe they will be more blunt about it.
The bottom line is, I'm trying to be polite and soften the way that I speak and the way that I appear to the customer, and some are seeing it as a sign of weakness, and they, in turn, rather impolitely, make me feel worthless.
'You can't please all of the people all of the time.' Truer words were never spoken.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just smile and nod

Most of my calls at work are people who are upset because their phones don't work. To a degree I can understand that, you're paying for something and it's not working. But some people act as if the world were about to end and it's all my fault.
One typical scenario: Customer calls because they can't surf the internet on their phone. The problem is, they're on that phone, and I can't do any other troubleshooting unless I call then back on a different phone.
'I don't have another phone.'
or 'I'm on the road, can't you just fix it on your end?'
I'm sorry that society has come down to the fact that people only have one phone and it's wireless. As a matter of fact and for working purposes, I have a landline. I also have an emergency cell. The weird part is: as these customers are waiting to get on, the system is telling them the same thing I tell them. If you are calling from the phone that is having the problem, please call from a different phone.
And sometimes, the problem is not on our end, and there are things we need to do on the phone to get it working again. That's just the plain harsh fact of PDA's.
A few years back, before broadband became inexpensive enough to use, people used modems to connect to the internet. Archaic by our standards today, but back then it was great! Except when you had a problem. You'd have to call tech support using the same phone you just disconnected from the Internet, and they'd tell you the same things I'm telling customers now. We can't help you unless you're online, which you can't do when you're on the line you're calling from.
Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
A few pointers to get the best of customer service:
1. Don't call in when you're angry: 'You won't like me when I'm angry.' That's true for any form of customer service/tech support. We won't like you.
2. If you must call in when you're angry, don't take it out on the rep. Would you like being yelled at 40 times a day? Neither do we!
3. Don't rattle off your information as if you're Chef Ramsey testing his cooks! You'll usually wind up repeating yourself.
4. Don't insult your rep. It may sound silly, but there are those that like to say things like 'Are you deaf?'

Those are just a few of the things I go through on a daily basis. If you won't put up with rude reps why should I put up with rude customers? Yet I just smile and nod through most of it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Job: Professional waiter

Those of you who know what I do for a living will look at that and go 'Huh?' Let me explain.
I work tech support for a large mobile network service provider. I work with Palms and Blackberries, helping people get their phones to do what they want to do.
The job is relatively simple, the troubleshooting steps are laid out pretty precisely. I would not rate the job itself as particularly difficult.
The customers are another matter. Most are impatient, rude, and think they know my job better than I do. Fix your own damn phone if you feel that way.
But getting back to the title, the process for fixing the issues our customers have is time consuming. Once we get deep into the process, it usually involves waiting, and more waiting. Hence the term professional waiter. I do not wait tables. I do not want to wait tables. I have enough issues with talking to people on the phone without seeing them in person. Plus I don't have the physical capacity to wait tables.
Just as well, I'd rather be this kind of waiter, and can do things like type this blog while I'm on a call, than the other type where I don't get a moment's rest.
And there's the added advantage of working from home. I love this! If I'm on a long call, I can hop off, grab a drink and be back before the customer knows I'm gone. And during breaks and lunch I can turn on the TV and relax on the couch.
More people should work this way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Intro Part V - Personal

All right. We've covered some of the basics of my life - very basic, so let's get personal. What would you like to know? I feel like I'm in an interview and I've never been good at interviews, because of the aforementioned dislike for talking, and because I'm basically a shy, awkward person.
Back when I was 10, I lived in Tampa Florida, and there were 3 girls in the neighborhood who teased me ruthlessly because I was shy. 'Shy Boy, Shy Boy', they'd chant. It hurt. I've tried to put how I feel in writing, either in a short story form, or in a script, and it's just too painful, too personal. Yet I feel it's a story that needs to be told, so one of these days I'll write it.
Yet there have been times I've tried to break out of my shell, later to discover it just wasn't me. I'm not meant to be the life of the party. So I've stopped trying.
Another thing that doesn't help my ability to come out of my shell is the numbers of moves I've made. It started I guess at birth because I was born in France, to an Air Force pilot and his wife. My father died when I was a year old (literally 2 days after my birthday), in a plane crash. My mother took us back to the states, and we moved from New Hampshire to North Carolina before my 5th birthday.
Then she went and married another Air Force pilot, and the merry go round started fresh. From North Carolina to Arizona, Arizona to Florida, Florida to England, England to Alabama, when I graduated high school.
Then I went to college in Florida, never finished school, moved to a different part of Florida, then to Nevada, Massachussetts, Connecticut, New York, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Virgina, and finally back to North Carolina, where I've lived for about as long as any other place.
I suppose I've been 'searching for myself.' trying to feel comfortable somewhere. But I've never really called someplace home, and that stems from my childhood.
It could not be helped. Most of my other family members have been able to settle down from when they turned adults, I just was never able to adjust. I don't consider it a bad thing. I've probably seen more of the U.S. than most people. But I have a sense of restlessness when I stay in one place too long.
I wish I could travel more, actually visiting places rather than living someplace for a while then moving on. If I could make a living writing, I could do that, or if I could find some way to telecommute that would be ideal, but I guess for now I'll just have to settle in. One thing about this current job: I can do it from almost anywhere!

Intro Part IV - Playing

Okay, so far we've briefly discussed some of  my writing and my job. In this blog we're going to briefly discuss what I do in my spare time, which is play World of Warcraft.
I actually have two accounts with it, and have been known to dual-box from time to time, though not much recently. If you don't know what dual-boxing is, well simply put it's playing two accounts at the same time.
Warcraft is what is called an MMORPG, short for Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game. And by massively, we're talking as many as 11 million subscribers. Oh, not all at once or on the same realm, but on each realm you can have many thousands of players at the same time. it's fun from that perspective.
What draws me in is a combination of the storyline and the fact that you can do so much by yourself.
And that's true with a lot of the online games out there. I've played a few, trying to get a feel for different games and their differences. Some are better than others, some just look better, but play awfully.
Anyway, that's what I do in my spare time. Not much of a life? Eh, it could always be worse. I could actually succeed in my writing and get caught up in the Hollywood scene That would be worse!

Intro Part III - My Job(s)

As I stated in my first post, I consider my calling in life to be writing. I am a writer, whether successful or not is a matter of opinion.
Yet since I do not make any real money from it, I must turn to other ways to make ends meet. Over my entire life I've had many types of jobs. I've tried so many different jobs, in an effort to find something that I'm not only good at, but feel comfortable doing. So far, writing is the only thing that has truly made me feel comfortable.
I'll go into details of past jobs as the blog progresses, but for now, let it be known that I work in customer service, in the current case, technical support. I work from home, which is convenient in most ways, but does have a few down points, but that's for another blog.
The thing about customer service/tech support is that I'm fairly good at it. I'm generally polite, though some people have tried their best to push my buttons. I have a fairly calm demeanor, and a great deal of patience.
But I hate talking on the phone. I REALLLLLLLLY hate talking on the phone. But it does pay the bills, and in this economy, I don't have a lot of choice. To give you an indication of just how much I hate talking - in general not just on the phone - if it weren't for this job and others like it, I wouldn't talk at all. Seriously. I hate the sound of my voice. I've heard people say I sound young. Yeah, like a teenager who's voice is changing. If you'd like to hear a sample, just check out my youtube videos.
In all, I'd rather be sending emails, using IM's and using technology in general than using my voice.
Yet somehow I muddle through a job that requires me to talk 40 hours a week.
I'm good at it. I don't enjoy it. I'd rather be writing or playing. But that's the subject of another blog!

Intro Part II - My Writing

This is a continuation of my initial post, which basically introduced me, and let you know the types of things I'll be writing about.
In this post I'll discuss the type of writing I do, as well as some specific examples of my writing.
First, I will write in most genres if I feel I have a compelling story to tell. I prefer the fantasy/science fiction story because that lets my imagination roam far from the norm. But I've also been known to dabble in erotica, but I won't post examples here.
Some finished products: 2 novels in scifi/fantasy: Theater Boy, and The Timmons Incident, both available from Publish America.
I'm currently working on the script for a potential TV series based on those novels. I may post updates on that as I go along.
I have other ideas floating around my head: New Rome, an Alternate History book, with the main plot a Roman 'Renaissance Man' finds himself in North Carolina in the 1st Century CE.
I'll post more as I can find my notes.

First things first

Hi, welcome to my blog. The name of this blog is 'Rants and Ravings of a Sane Person.' I just want to get it out of the way that I am sane, but occasionally I like to complain about various aspects of my life, whether personal, business, or things in the news. This is my outlet.
A little bit about myself: My name is Michael Fox. I write. You've never heard of me (not yet), but hopefully you will soon enough.
But since writing doesn't pay the bills yet, I also work as a technical support agent for a wireless phone company that won't be revealed.
I also like to play computer games, such as 'World of Warcraft', and I also like to surf the web using Facebook and other social networking site.
So some of my blogs will be about writing, some will be about working, and some will be about playing.
The last aspect of my life is the personal stuff: things that happened to me today, unrelated to work, writing and playing.
So sit back and read, and I hope you enjoy the ride!