February 11, 2015

Shouldn't Be This Hard

Hmm, that applies to a lot of things. This, however, refers to my experience working as a call center operator.

The opportunity to make a little cash on the side was inviting.  Who doesn't need a little extra "sumpin'-sumpin'"? So the option was a good one.  After all, I am not in the market for a full-time position; I really like being able to do what I want, when I want. And, answering the phone can't be all that hard, right?

Now, a positive to this venture is that you're also able to work from home.  Requisites are: No crying babies; barking dogs; excessive noise, etc.,  I have a dog; therefore working out of the center in Ripley was necessary.

I won't name the company but they have a million ways to ensure that you FAIL to achieve their goals and yours. Scripts are way too long; there are too many upsells (additional offers for the uninformed); dropped calls; no calls.  Did I mention that you only get paid for the number of minutes that you are on the phone? So you may have been available for three hours but only received one call which may, or may not, allow you to get paid. Shall I continue? This venture is solely for the purpose of buying the "wants," flowers, cigs, etc., so, the miserly check for two weeks' effort dampened my enthusiasm for showing on a regular basis.  I had other things to occupy my time rather than carve out time, dress and travel to the center, and sit waiting for a phone to ring. I went AWOL from July until December.

As usual, the bulb went off belatedly (as in late December).  Patches is asleep during the midnight hour.  Why not install an extra line and take calls while he's safely locked away?  I can roll out of the bed, take calls in the comfort of my home, and still have my day to do with as I wish. Line installed. Hmm, only $2.00 extra?  Surely, I can cover that expense. Naturally, a specific phone set and headphones were needed but, hey, I'll make that back, right? Sounds like a plan.

Mid-January, and I'm back to work.  The first few days saw limited calls.  Is this worth it? Then I noticed, in my jammed inbox, a notice to all agents that they needed to be recertified to take calls.  35 minutes later, I'm certified, and waiting.  The calls are rolling in and I'm happy, happy, happy.

But I should have known that Murphy's Law would strike sooner than later and more than once.

First strike:  Received a compliance event for talking too long.  Before you jump to conclusions (because you know that I like to talk), the elderly caller became totally confused and I had to keep repeating the terms and conditions.  She definitely needed the product that she originally called in for.  What to do?  Hang up?  Try for the sale but make sure that she understands?  Well, girls and boys, I tried for the sale which she ultimately turned down. And, I talked too long.  Sheesh. I was in deep depression for the entire day.

Strike two:  Patches appeared by my side during a call.  What the what?  I'd let him out to relieve himself and in my fog (we are talking 4 a.m.), I forgot to secure the latch on his cage AND close the adjoining doors.  You can imagine the prayers being sent up that he wouldn't bark. You can also envision my hustling him back to his quarters at the end of the call. 

I noticed that the computer moved slowly so have started shutting it down the night before.  Checked it around midnight the night before and realized that there was NO service: internet; cable; phone.  Oh, Lord, help me Jesus. Service returned just before I was to log in at 4 a.m.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

But that was only the prelude to what was to come.  This morning, up and ready, coffee, cigs at hand.  Booted up the computer, internet is working fine.  Logged in.  Service is fine and then, POOF. The internet is DOWN!  Are you kidding me?  Run for the mobile jet-pack and it is not working.  Oh, yeah, need money and time added.  Verizon asks: "When is the last time that you used it?"  "You'll need a new sim card, as well."  Lawd, have mercy.  The minutes are ticking and I am missing my commit time. STRIKE THREE!  

One hour and 50 minutes later, service is restored. I have missed one hour and 50 minutes of an opportunity to make money.  AND, I am going to be penalized for not keeping my schedule. Did I mention that I hate Time Warner Cable?  Not my fault, you say? The call center company's viewpoint is that it wasn't their equipment that had a problem.  Point.  Can't be argued.

Lawd, I'm only trying to pick up a little cash on the side.  Shouldn't be this hard.

Be Safe. Be Blessed.

January 23, 2015

Cooking For A Crowd

It was my turn to provide lunch for The Friends of the Lauderdale County Library Board's monthly meeting. The name, alone, is a mouthful and I'm sure that a good mouthful is what they expect.

We know from past experience that:
  1.  Cooking for more than four or six at a time takes me for-ev-er
  2.  I will hyperventilate over whether it will taste good
  3. I will worry as to whether there will be enough
  4. Forget something
  5.  I have spent too much time (and money) on this event.
Made a list and checked it twice.  Moved the hairdresser appointment to the afternoon.  Pulled out bowls and utensils and made sure that they were clean. Packed up stuff, table cloths, paper plates, etc., to tote across the street. "Across the street?  Why didn't you ask that they hold it at the house?"   Ummm, nope.

It's a simple menu...right?  Quiche, soup, salad, punch, cheesecake, pound cake, breads. Please refer to item #1.  Because it takes me for-ev-er, past experience said to get an early start.  That meant do everything possible on Monday.  So, early it is. Chopping and dicing, butter, cream cheese, and eggs are on the counter.  Making homemade potato soup. Potatoes are peeled, diced, and in the crock pot.  Wow, peeling potatoes and cutting them into bite-size pieces is work.  Wonder if I could have used mashed potatoes?   One quiche in the oven; the second is waiting to go in.

I should have enough graham cracker crumbs for the cheesecake crust and cake flour to make the cake. What is this?  WEEVILS in the cake flour? Damn it, everything, beans, flour, sugar, rice, you name it, is in airtight containers...except for the cake flour! Oh well, back to the store.

Cheesecake in the oven.  Have I been in the kitchen ALL day?  Yep.  I told you that it takes me for-ev-er.  Still have the pound cake to make. There must be something that I can do where I can sit down and take a load off.  The back is starting to hurt, as well as the feet.  What happened to my rug at the sink? What happened to the pizza pan? What happened to...?

Up early on Tuesday morning. Have to make the salad, reheat the quiche and soup. Double check the utensils, yada. I found enough boxes and bags to carry everything, even a small centerpiece. I am bone-tired and the back is KILLING me.  The car is packed. I certainly hope that there is a space close to the door and that there is rolling cart available. Space available, yes. Cart, no. Fortunately, I was able to get some help in unloading and setting up.

It's SHOW TIME!  "Smells good."  "Never had salmon quiche before." "What salad dressing did you use?"  And, naturally, there was too much food.  But a roll of foil and paper plates made short shrift of that. The only things to return home (besides dirty containers) were the remains of the potato soup and some pound cake.

Thank goodness for the help of the contractor in unloading when I got home.  Otherwise, the stuff would still be in the car.

I've had my turn.  Next delivery!

Be Safe.  Be Blessed. 

January 11, 2015

The Rear View Mirror

Well, that's a catchy way of saying "see ya', 2014." It is done, over, gone. 2015 is officially in charge. And was 2014 a good year?  The rear view mirror says: "Damn Skippy."

My health continued to be relatively good.  A few minor blips associated with old age, a few extra pounds, but overall, I'm good. Finances? Could always be better. However, I'm not homeless or hungry so that's good, too. Family? They're good. Spirituality?  I'm keeping the faith in my own fashion. No church membership on the horizon. Country?  Now that is something that is definitely not under my control.  Lots of room for improvement.

So what did happen in 2014?

Traveled to Arizona but didn't get to meet the "wicked witch of the West," Governor Jan Brewer.  I had a finger to wag under her nose.  Went to Tucson, with a side trip to Tombstone. How could you be within an hour's drive and not see the OK Corral or Boot Hill Cemetery? True fans of western movies, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, etc., understand. Which was most interesting, Missy?  Tombstone...without a doubt. Although I did meet some interesting people in Tucson, one of whom turned me on to Malcolm Gladwell, an author I had not read.

Left Walmart.  Never had to take medication, regularly, before I went back to the Ripley store. Hip pain, shoulder pain, back pain.  Pain medicine before going to work, while at work, after work.  Get out of here!  And now you want me to climb ladders and wash windows?  Didn't sign on for that at my age. The irony, of course, is that I wrecked my knee climbing a ladder at home.  Key word:  at home.

Decided to try my hand at being a call center operator.  Not bad but you won't get rich either. Pays better if you can do it from home. The whole purpose of this exercise was to take care of the "wants."  You know, hair, nails, cigs.  If it can't do that....

Participated in the planning of a very successful political forum for local and state candidates.  Held a tea for two candidates running for county mayor and a judicial position.  Am I aspiring to become a "king maker"?  Naw, but I understand the importance of being involved.  I continue to be disappointed in my neighbors for the amount of apathy they display.  You can't complain if you don't vote.  I fail to understand why the local Democratic Party chapter folded tent and became invisible for the November election. The majority of my choices failed in their election bid.  Picking a winner doesn't seem to be my strong suit. Makes me think of my poor choices in picking football winners, as well.

Step Back In Time  went off well even though the weather meant that we had to bring it inside. My brother came to participate in the festivities. I was honored to have Darren Despoli, creator of the Alex Haley Tribute web site and Alex Haley's grandson, Michael Baker, join the guests.  Folks always find the kitchen. Patches was locked safely away in the back.

Added to my bona fides as an upstanding citizen of this town with my selection to the Ripley Gas and Water Board and the board of The Friends of Lauderdale County Library. Add that to the DEVCO board and the West Tennessee Business and Community Leaders organization and I think my calendar is full.

"And what's going on with the business, Missy?" Well, that is an area of disappointment, primarily on my end.  I need to devote more time to its establishment and less time to freebies or other people's affairs. 'Nuff said.

Death and illness took a few friends and acquaintances.  My good neighbor, Terry Ford, is having a terrible time with his illness. I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Gisela Prather, my good friend, former church secretary for The Greater First Baptist Church, in Washington, D.C. Gisela was secretary for forever. Lawd, Lawd,  the wealth of knowledge that she possessed on its history.  I treasure the German dolls she gave me before I left. The death of Marion Barry rocked everyone's world.  Love him or hate him, Marion brought significant change to my hometown.  I am thankful that I can testify to the positive effect that he had.

"And the house?"  Serendipity is both the love and bane of my life. Just as one project comes to completion, something else falls apart. The roof over the front bathroom started to leak again and the ceiling needs replacing...again. Thankfully, this didn't happen until after my party. I think that I know the problem.  We'll see.  The soiled, off-white, living room furniture is now a very pretty gray, thanks to the wizardry of Sheila Conrad, upholsterer extraordinaire. Hmm, gray and yellow are becoming predominant colors in the household. The dining room floor needs repair. The master bedroom is done, finally, and the guest room redone.  Storm doors at the entry, with screens. Great for ventilation.  If only the vendor would return to replace the screens with the glass panels. Water pipe froze and broke in the laundry room.  A heater is now running full force out there. So is everything neat and orderly? Is that a rhetorical question?  There's always tomorrow.  

So looking into the rear view mirror, 2014 was a very good year.  Driving forward into 2015 with great expectations.

Be Safe. Be Blessed.