After reviewing a l'il sampler of the emails I sent out to staff and fellow managers I've managed to group them into the following categories. Before you proceed you need to know two basic things: we were Team One and our lame-ass name was "The Flock" and that there was an ongoing contest for cleanliness called the "Golden Feather Duster" award. I'm serious, you can't make this shit up.
Unless otherwise noted, these emails were sent to every TSA on our team email list, anywhere from 30 to over 100 people at a time...
(1) "HO-HO-HOLD THE SARCASM":
Dated 12/15/99 Subject: Only ten day 'til Christmas? Whoa.
"Yes, you heard me right, only ten more days 'til the KING OF THE ELVES pays a visit to all you good little doobies. No, I'm not talking about Elvis (or is that Elfvis?), I'm talkin' 'bout da man! 'The Kringle', y'know...Santa!
Well, the 'Clausinator' should be particularly generous to you folks this year since you've all been sooooo good. No, I'm serious, here are the facts: (insert boring stats here) So, from all your ever-lovin' Coaches on Team One, we wish you a joyful Christmas and a looter-free New Year.
P.S. You can use the Christmas card we gave you to play the '100 Dave's of Christmas' Contest. Look at the signatures on the card: only one of them I signed 'David' instead of 'Dave'. Bring this card to a Coach for a special treat!
P.P.S. Don't get too excited about the prize, it ain't like a Ford Windstar or anything."
(2) Cleanliness is... :
Dated 07/17/00. Subject: ...next to Godliness.
"Hello fellow 'Flockerites'! How are you? Good? Good.
Lissen, this is just a semi-friendly (quasi-hostile?) reminder to make sure your stations are in order before y'all run screaming across the parking lot. Just take five minutes before you hit 'make busy' to separate your soft and hard cover catalogs, put your forms in order, and wipe the donair sauce off the keyboard (okay, I just threw in that last one to make sure y'all were paying attention).
Failure to comply will result in the offending parties being tied to a call center chair with the back and arm padding removed while being forced to listen to every CD in the Kid Rock library until you beg to be put out of your misery. Trust me, it won't take long for you to crack. That is all."
"One of the reasons why Team One secured this 'Bronze Downy Award' for a second consecutive year is our comprehensive and well-organized catalog rack! Like a good library, if you need information, its resources are always at your fingertips.
But unlike a library, YOU GOTTA PUT BACK WHAT YOU TAKE and back in the right place.
Failure to do so will result in offenders being restrained and then forced to listen repeatedly to Christina Aguilera's 'Genie In A Bottle' until they black out of loose control of their motor shills, whichever comes first. Thank you and have a nice weekend."
"Hey, folks. This is just a brief nag, er, reminder, to tidy your station just before y'all run screaming across the parking lot.
Failure to take these necessary steps will result in the offender being restrained and then forced to watch 'Savage Garden' videos 'Clockwork Orange'-style until they lose control of their bodily functions. Thank you and take care."
"I must say, for the most part, the members of 'Da Flock' have been quite good about keeping your little nests clean for the 'Platinum Plumage Cleaner' award. Unfortunately there have been a few isolated 'dirty birds' that have 'flown the coop' before cleaning their stations. We, your 'mother hens' ask that you take the time during you last few calls to do some 'preening'. This will hopefully ensure that our chances for the award won't 'fly south' and we will be 'crowing' the good fortunes of our Team come award time. Thank you for your support.
(The proceeding message was the grand prize entry in the 'Atlantic Call Center Most Lame Bird Puns in an Email" award for 1999. The winner was rewarded a solid gold imitation feather duster, a handful of scratch and a kick in the head)"
"The spot check people for this 'Golden Feather' thingie have been all over our section lately like white on rice. Overall it's been a good effort by the team to keep their stations neat, except for a few BAD PEOPLE. If you lose this 'Brass Chicken' cleaning deal 'cuz of a few BAD PEOPLE, I'm not gonna be impressed. Everyone's continued co-operation on this is greatly appreciated. We are watching the BAD PEOPLE. We are giving you one last chance to reform. If you force our hand we will make you wear a ski-do suit made entirely of 'Milk Bones' and throw you into a pack of rabid wolverines."
"I fixed up our catalog bin again. Please return any expired books you might have and re-unite them with their mates. If you take a catalog, put it back where you found it. Older catalogs are stored down below. Do not cram coverless catalogs in wherever you see a space.
Anyone who does not adhere to the above directive will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.
Thank you, good night and always remember to 'Live La Vida Loca'."
"Okay, who lost their lunch while sitting in the end seat in the 'MM' section? It was gross, there were bits or orange, crackers and what looked like fragments of 'Cheesies' all over the keyboard and monitor! Now we gotta go and call 'Sears carpet Cleaning'. Uuuuugghh.
Seriously, folks, would the person who left a paper bag lunch in this seat on Monday come to the Coaches desk to claim it? I figger you only gots about forty-eight hours before the still-intact cheese and cracker pack goes missing."
(3) Ain't Too Proud To Beg:
Dated 03/27/00. Subject: Bonus four hour shift? And I don't hafta take calls?
"Hey, folks, just a friendly reminder not to miss the new 'Customer Contact' workshop. Remember, attendance is not an option! This ain't such a bad thing, however, 'cuz this is a bonus four-hour shift and it's gonna be a blast!
We'll have videos, skits from the trainers, perception exercises and all kinds of cool stuff.
So, in the words of Mr. T...'Don't be a fool, sucka! Go to the workshop! I pity da fool that don't! Go that is! To the workshop! Don't do drugs!'"
Dated 02/11/00. Subject: Quality Time.
"Are you stressed? Anxious? Looking for an unexpected windfall of 'quality time'? Then boy do we have an offer for you! We're looking for a few hearty TSA's to make the ultimate sacrifice and cut their shifts. Here's the situation (insert boring scheduling info).
Think about the potential in an obligation-free day off! You could go to the park, eat breakfast at McDonalds or read a good magazine for free at Chapters! The sky's the limit!"
(Sung to the tune of 'Let It Snow')
"Ooooooh, the weather outside is mild,
But at Sears, the calls are wild!
It's backed up again, you know.
Please don't go, please don't go, PLEASE DON'T GO!
Well. folks, another week, another pickle of a fix we're in. We really need a few good folks to help us out for our expected call volume from Sunday November 28'th to Saturday December 4'th. Here are the times: (boring list of dates)
Any kind of help during these times would be appreciated (extensions, extra shifts, donated oxygen masks)."
"Seriously. I mean it. No foolin'. I ain't kiddin' now. We are desperate. No, no, no...I mean REALLY desperate. WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! Please don't make us beg...you're gonna...you're gonna make us beg, aren't you? Well...well alright. Here we go. We're begging you now. Watch us beg. A-beggin'- we-will-go, baby!
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SIGN UP FOR AN EXTRA SHIFT!!!!! Here are the times. There are plenty. If you have one little shred of compassion, one tiny iota of pity, please sign up for an extra shift: (boring list of available shifts)
For the love of all that's good and holy, please, please, please try and help us. Sweet mercy, just consider it? Please?"
Dated 12/03/99 Subject: Three guesses.
(sung to the tune of 'Jingle Bells')
"Alarms and bells, tote board spells:
Ten million calls backed up!
Need more staff, please don't laugh,
The country just hung up!"
We need you good folks to continue your excellent efforts volunteering for extra shifts into the week of December 5'th to the 11'th. Here are the times:
Dec 5'th: Short 58 staff.
Dec 6'th: Short 148 bodies.
Dec 7'th: Require additional 110 elves.
Dec 8'th: Need 93 more l'il helpers.
Dec 9'th: 81 people required
Dec 10'th: Missing 84 good little tin soldiers.
Dec 11'th We're short 66...um...TSA's (which, we all now, stands for 'Those Santa Assistants')"
(4) "Here today, gone...today":
(Sent to my fellow Coaches) Dated 02/11/00. Subject: 'That person does not work here nor have they ever.'
"Well, in true 'Orwellian' fashion I have removed any visible trace of ____ _______'s existence and placed it all in the files deep in the 'Ministry of Truth' (I.E. the left-hand side desk drawer).
Except for this e-mail (which you are not reading) and a few trinkets (which aren't really there anyway) there is absolutely no proof that the person I am not talking about ever didn't exist. We must now collectively decide what not to do about this evidence that isn't real to begin with.
Thank you for listening. Signed, Little Brother."
(5) "I'm just trying to help..."
Dated 07/04/99 Subject: Stealing Team Two's Ideas
(sent to my fellow Coaches) "Team Two keeps a well organized binder containing inserts for the release of every new catalog. We, on the other hand, throw all of these in a folder in the roller drawer and hope to God we can find what we need when we go to look for it.
Well, no more! We have a new binder I stol...er, BORROWED from the warehouse. I threw out all the boring 'Y2K Corporate Emergency Contingency Plan' info I found in there and put a 'Catalog Inserts' note along the spine. That way, all the crap they include in the shrink wrap can be neatly filed away, to be scattered and lost across the call center in a slower, more protracted and organized fashion."
Dated: 05/10/00. Subject: The Gift to Gab.
"TALK TIME. 'ARRRRRRRRRGHH!' The mere mention of this dreadful stat sends shivers down the spine of even the most seasoned TSA. Team Seven has found a revolutionary new way to curtain their 'gab factor': watch the personal talk.
It's okay to be friendly. It's okay to share experiences. But if you customer hangs up knowing any of the following information about you, you may have broken the 'TMI' rule:
- "You want these clothes for you hospital stay, Mrs. Brainsample? Let me tell you, I just got out of the hospital myself last week. I got my gall bladder out. Too bad you can't see the scar; it's scabbing over nicely..."
- "So these shirts are for your son's birthday? I wish I could send something to my son but he's in Rhodesia right now raising lemmings for profit and sport."
- "You think the weather's bad where you're at? My dear, I'm looking out the window now and I've seen three cows and one SLH truck fly by..."
In a case like that, be polite and friendly and say something like: 'Well, it was nice talking to you Mr. Tapedispenser but it's gotten rather busy and I have to take another call now.' Y'know, somethin' nice."
"If you guys wanna place an order for yourselves please use one of the following two methods: (1) Call it in from home. Remember, the classics never die. (2) Write it up on your own time and give it to a neighbor or a Coach to key in.
Hopefully this will standardize the process and cut down on the 'Hey-Look-At-Me-I'm-Wandering-Aimlessly-Around-Trying-To-Find-Someone-To-Order-This-Windsuit-For-Me-But-Nobody-Is-Around'-itis. Which can sometimes be misdiagnosed as 'Hey Why Are You Two Sitting On Not Ready When There's Fifty Customer In the Queue?'-itis.
Any questions? See A Coach. Which, co-incidentally is the title of Part II of my autobiography and sequel to the best-selling 'So, I Got This Lady On The Line...'. You can find it in better bookstores everywhere this summer."
"Just wanted to let you all know , if a customer calls up asking for a number for carpet cleaning, be sure to give them the number in your 'Quick Reference Guide' and NO OTHERS. No others are accurate.
In fact, one of the old numbers we were using now belongs to the good folks at 'Today's Office Supplies'. I guess they didn't appreciate hoards of Sears customers calling up to get an estimate to Scotchguard their ottoman."
"We've caught quite a few of the new employee 'Quick Reference Guides' roaming the aisles. Already they're starting to pack up and attack passer-by's for food and attention. Please, please prevent this tragedy of unloved, unowned QRG's with a revolutionary new medical procedure. Just bring your QRG into our 'Coaches Clinic' and we'll implant the l'il fella with a new high-tech 'name page'. That way if you and your beloved QRG get separated we'll know who to call if it's picked up. Hopefully this will cut down on the sad number if orphaned 'guides without guidance' that are destined to be put to sleep (read chucked in the bin). Please, oh please, won't you do your little part to help?"
"Hey folks. Ever get a call from a guy calling himself 'Mike' who talks incessantly about bras and sounds like he's got twenty or thirty gummi bears in his mouth? In you ever get him again, call one of us Coach-type people and we'll transfer the little freak over to security. Just ask and ye shall receive deliverance from yon weirdo."
"Remember a little while back when a bunch of people's e-mail nearly exploded because no-one knew how to delete anything? Well, after we got that all rectified, we have a new problemo.
Y'see all of us also has something called a note-log. It's where old email (sent and received) goes to retire, kinda like a cyberspace Palm Beach. Trouble is, the little buggers eat up memory like Oprah eats hams."
(6) The Enforcer:
Dated 10/18/99. Subject: Touche Pas
"Yello. Just want to let y'all know, if you sit at a workstation with one of the new computers DON'T CHANGE ANY OF THE SETTINGS! I've selected optimal screen savers and other stuff so if any screen shows different, I'm gonna hafta put the smack down on the little jabroni who did it.
Ahem. In other news, the new chairs have a 'rocking' feature if you pull out one of the bars. I recommend you don't use it , but if you do, FOR THE LOVE OF THE ALMIGHTY, make sure you push the bar back in so the seats and back lock. I don't want anybody to be doin' no 'Cirque du Soleil' action when they go to sit down. Alright? Alright."
"Arrrr, t'was a cold one this mornin', eh, Ned?"
The moral of this fish story: the weather's gettin' nippy and heavy coats will soon be surfacing. Make sure they don't come ashore upstairs. Keep 'em in the coat-room unless ye wants to be keel-hauled."
(sent to a fellow Coach) "Hey, Chico. _____ and ______ claim that there are several dress code offenders in the call center tonight. It would seem that these people are under the mistaken impression that we collect money for 'Track Suit Day' and not 'Jean's Day'. If your headache gets worse and you want to channel your rage you may want to hunt down and destroy these scum. P.S. if you leave blood on the carpets and be a dear and at least TRY to clean it up."
(7) I Clearly Have No Creative Outlet:
Dated 08/06/99 Subject: Collectors Item
(sent to my fellow Coaches) "Hey, folks! ___ ______ was auctioning off three mint copies of 'Catalog 57' (issue one!) so I bought one. It cost us all of our 'Ideas @ Work' money but I think it was worth the investment. You'll find it in the right-side filing drawer, sealed up in a mylar crystal polybag and mounted on an acid-free diamond-cut backing board.
P.S. I called an appraiser friend of mine and he assures me that even though I paid $225.00 for it, it's worth at least three times that on the internet."
Dated 09/19/99 Subject: Revealing a mystery...
(written to one of our staff who'd left work in a rush the previous night)
"Reading fleetly 'tween the calls
Phone and clock upon the walls
Scream in your ear 'You must take flight!'
Alight in carriage, bold and bright.
Epiphany strike, a thought declare:
'I left my book and notes back there!'
Dawn a class comes, naught to show.
'I'll skip the damn'd thing, I WILL NOT GO!
So knowledge gain'd and lesson learn'd
Accoutrement all I must confirm
Before the mad dash to the brink
FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, JUST ONCE, PLEASE THINK!
Sorry, I couldn't resist. You'll find your Edgar Allan Poe book and binder at the Coaches desk.
P.S. Make sure you read 'The Tell-Tale Heart'. Good stuff."
"And so it begins. I know we're all still writing '1999' on our credit applications, but AFTER that, we'll come to the realization that IT'S THE YEAR 2000, BABY! I don't know about y'all but when I was back in school and we had to write about the year 2000 I had us all wearing gold lamé jumpsuits and coming to work in hover-cars. As it turn out, I'm still wearing the same crappy clothes and driving a Toyota Tercel. What a letdown."
Dated: 10/03/99 Subject: T-Shirt
(sent to my fellow Coaches) "One of ________'s newly hatched goslings didn't get a 'Wish Book' t-shirt. That's why a shirt is sitting in the right hand drawer by the black book. If Pamela Anderson...er...Lee....er..._________ shows up asking for her t-shirt, giver her that one.
Signed...The Team One Ministry for the Fair Distribution of Seasonal Self-Promotional Clothing.
P.S. If Pamela ANDERSON does come looking for a t-shirt, tell her I was awarded said article of clothing legally by our justice system and she should be able to by a new one from all the alimony I'm sending."
It's that time of year when we begin to think about Christmas, which, in turn conjures up thoughts of our ANNUAL CHARITY DRIVE. Last year our efforts were incredibly sucessful. This year we hope to surpass our achievement with the help of the following theme:
'Y2K: Party or Panic?'
Starting next week, 'The Flock' will begin to assemble two gift baskets, all centered around the 'Event of the Century'. For the 'Party' basket (great for the fun-lovers in our midst) we're asking for items that will help the winner have the best New Years celebration ever! Please let good taste and common sense prevail in your donations. In other words, nothing that costs under a dollar at 'A Buck or Two', no free gifts from 'Sister Sarah's' (http://local.canadaspace.com/listings/nova_scotia/halifax/miscellaneous_retail/sister_sarahs_adult_store1/) and no alchohol content (we hafta make at least a TOKEN effort to protect our semi-innocent underage TSA's here!)
The second basket will be 'Panic' themed and will be filled with the kinda stuff to make the end of the world more tolerable. For this basket think 'preparation and relaxation', i.e. candles, non-perishable food items, preserves, a good book, first aid stuff, bath oils, home barricade kit, sawed-off shotgun, riot gear...okay, I'm getting carried away now, but you know what I mean."
Dated 01/17/99 Subject: Tote that barge, lift that bale!
(sent to my fellow Coaches) "I came in at 7 am on Sunday and no-one was here. Then _____ ____ showed up a half-hour later. We played checkers until 10:30 am when we nearly trampled to death by a stampede of two other TSA's.
The point of all this is that I cleaned out all the stations from KK to NN. I smell a spot check a-brewin'! Let me tellya, I found some interesting stuff in my travels: three pens obviously stolen from our desk drawer, a 'Chocolate Lip Smacker' and something that resembled a piece of a donair. Everything (except the brown thing) is neatly stored away in the desk drawer.
P.S. I hear Team Five WIPED DOWN THE LEGS OF THEIR CHAIRS! Perhaps if someone is feeling ambitious we could stea...er, BORROW this idea. Let it be known, if we don't win this 'Golden Shop-Vac' award I'm gonna be upset! Lot's o' luv."
(9) Shameless Self-Promotion:
Dated 02/02/00 Subject: I RULE!
(sent to my fellow Coaches) "Well, I managed to do two reviews, fix _________'s availability, remind ____ and _____ about their discount cards, answer a slew of hands, take a transfer call, return _____'s money and make a pound cake from scratch all at the same time!
Someone wanna chip in and get me a Sears staff shirt with a big red 'S' on it? Heh, heh.
And no, ______, the 'S' doesn't stand for what you think it stands for."
Dated 08/24/00 Subject: Correction...
In my prior note I mentioned that my last day at Sears would be August 8'th. This was written before my funding was declined for my special project. I was planning to convert the photocopy machine by the Chebucto Room into a fully functional Time Machine. this would have allowed me to retroactively avoid working for the better part of August.
However, despite my best efforts, the likelihood of transforming our old Xerox workhorse into a device used to alter space ant chronology has proven to be a bit trickier than originally surmised. I guess I watched too many episodes of 'MacGyver' in the 80's.
So, my last day wil be, in actuality, Monday August 28'th. Sorry for the confusion.
P.S. If any of you find Team Two's 'Spring and Summer' booklet can you please turn it in. _____ _____ has been unable to sleep lately and seems increasingly prone to fits of random violence."
Even when threatening my staff to clean up after themselves I sound happy in these emails, don't I? Don't I sound like someone who likes his job? Someone who actually digs coming to work and is clearly committed to stay with the company for the long haul?
So, you're probably asking yourself, what's with this last note telling people that I'm leaving?
In the last few parts of this series you'll see that I wasn't exactly given a choice. Little did I know that despite being unquestionably loyal to Sears and contrary to what we were being told to our faces, the coldest sort of betrayal was looming that would take this naive and unquestioning corporate puppet and turn him into the forever wary and disillusioned contrarian who's typing this right now.
Check back soon for the dramatic and sad conclusion...
FAIL: To paraphrase Mike Myers as Dieter from Sprockets: "This video is more boring then being ALIVE!"