Sunday, January 29, 2012

Message in a Bottle

Or: I Left My Heart at Francisco's

So I went to the movies on Saturday night, and naturally I had my phone silenced during the film. This puts me in stark contrast to the guy next to me, who started getting an alert about 20 minutes from the end of the picture that kept repeating about every three minutes. I'm not sure how long I let this continue before I turned and whispered, "COULD YOU PUT THAT AWAY?!" But I digress.

What I really want to talk about is the voicemail I had waiting for me when I came out of the theater. It was from a St. Paul number that I didn't recognize, and it went like this . . .

INEBRIATED MAN:  Hey, Steve, give me a call.

OK, first of all, my outgoing message clearly says, "Hi, this is Courtney. Leave me a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can." But again, inebriated.

INEBRIATED MAN:  I'm extremely drunk.

Duly noted.

INEBRIATED MAN:  I went to Francisco's house, and he tried to get me drunk. You won't believe it.

Excuse me, tried? He seems to have been wildly successful. And yes, we do believe it.

INEBRIATED MAN:  He's really [mumbles] for me.

I've listened to this message about 20 times, and the best I can make out is "He's really got a thing for me." Which might explain the next sentence.

INEBRIATED MAN:  Oh, I will never go again to his house. Believe me.

Dude, we believe you. (How incredulous is Steve, typically?)

INEBRIATED MAN:  Never . . . never . . . never.

Probably a good idea. Though the emphatic repetition leads me to believe some things may have happened that you're not particularly proud of.

INEBRIATED MAN:  Okay. Call me later, okay?

I do want to call this guy later. Just to check up on him. Just to let him know that his intoxicated ramblings reached across time and space (or across Verizon's network, which is equally complicated) to find me, and that I will cherish this random message long after Francisco has lost interest. It's the least I can do.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spellcheck Shmellcheck

Sometimes, I'm forced to ask myself serious questions. It's not something I particularly enjoy, but I often find it cannot be avoided. Recently, I had to ask a question that, if you're over 30, may also have occurred to you: "Am I just getting old, or is the casual nature of electronic conversation reaching a level that simply spits in the face of common decency?"

Even if you've never considered it in quite those terms, you know what I'm talking about. And if not, here's an example of an email exchange I had with a representative at a large financial institution. It's verbatim.

ME:  Hi there. I talked briefly with [teller name] last week when depositing a check into my business account, and she mentioned that my business could upgrade to an account that would not charge a monthly service fee. Is there a minimum balance we would need to maintain? Please let me know. Thanks!

This, I feel, was an appropriately crafted query with one basic question.

REP:  Hi I just get your email let me know when you wan come and set down whit me  so we can see what options we have for u

I'd just like to point out that this was an official employee of the bank, and not some teenager who wandered in off the street and mistakenly assumed she was tweeting. This person was, for all intents and purposes, the face of the company, which presumably wanted to entice me to put even more of my hard-earned money into its hands.

ME:  I don't have a lot of time during work hours, but I could do 15-20 minutes on Friday if you're available.

REP:  What time so I can ready for u

What I should have done at this point was call "game over" after the refusal to spell out three-letter words or to use punctuation of any kind. But I gave her one more shot, partly because I kind of wanted to meet her face-to-face out of sheer curiosity.

ME:  How about 11:00?

REP:  Hi can you meet me at 12:00pm I have

And that was the end of the message. No joke. Strike three. I resigned myself to the fact that I would never know exactly what her problem was. Instead, I shot a message to the online customer rep and had my issue resolved within 24 hours. Two emails, complete with real sentences!

To the rep, I sent one final reply, in which I delicately explained that I would not be meeting with her, largely due to the confusing and incomplete nature of her communication and suggesting that she strive to be more professional in the future. I wasn't mean, but I think some constructive feedback was needed. The next person might not be so accommodating.

Then again, the next person might have been a teenager who wandered in out of the Twitterverse and was delighted by the refreshingly down-to-earth "communication." If you can call it that.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dear Diary: Aspirin Espionage

It somehow comforts me to know that, at about this time 26 years ago, my mother was attempting to trick me into taking medication. It may interest you to know that she did not abandon these attempts, as I distinctly recall a similar betrayal involving a bowl of icky-tasting "applesauce." Mom, if our poodle could lick off all the peanut butter and spit out the heartworm pill, I'm pretty sure your 7-year-old could detect acetaminophen in her favorite foods.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cutting In

One one of my recent visits to get my hair cut, there was a young guy in the chair behind me who came in with a special request. He was going to be starring in a play, and he needed his hair cut appropriately for the role. His stylist was the most earnest and possibly most oblivious woman I've ever heard try to carry on a conversation. She desperately wanted to participate in a meaningful dialogue, but she jumped to conclusions so quickly that it sounded like this:

MAN:  "I'm in this play . . ."

STYLIST:  "Ohhhhh, so like Shakespeare."

MAN:  "No, this production is set in the Old West, and  . . ."

STYLIST:  "So you're looking for like a 1920s thing."

MAN:  "I think more like the 1890s, but  . . ."

STYLIST:  "Ohhhhh, okay. Can you imagine how gross and dirty people's hair was back then? I suppose it doesn't matter much cuz you'll be wearing a cowboy hat."

MAN:  "Well, actually, my character's from the city. The Ricochet Kid."

STYLIST:  "What?"

MAN:  "I'm known for being able to shoot people by bouncing bullets off of things."

STYLIST: "Ohhhhhhhhhh. So like The Matrix."

MAN: (sigh) "Not exactly."

At this point my stylist stopped snipping away because we both had the giggles. I'm lucky I didn't lose an ear.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolution Retooled

Here we are at the start of a new year, and I've already broken my first resolution: to cease blog posting in favor of spending time on a more substantial writing project. (Which is good news if you're a regular reader and bad news if you're my as-yet-imaginary future novel). 

I initially thought it would be a great idea to take a break, partly because, even though I didn't quite manage 100 posts last year, it sometimes felt like a bit of a chore to put my storytelling muscles to work without knowing who exactly (if anyone) was reading and/or appreciating it. I know that sounds lame. I should be writing simply for writing's sake, yes? Putting myself out there, throwing words together with reckless abandon for the sheer joy of communication, sustained only by my personal pride in a job well done (or so I hope).

And yet, no matter what we do, we like to have some way to measure our progress. Not necessarily to determine whether we've been "successful," but at least to know that our efforts are worthwhile. I don't think it's too awfully self-centered to admit that everyone needs a little validation here and there. But how much is enough? Ay, there's the rub. Is it enough if even one person's day is brightened by something ridiculous I decide to type into this glowing box? After all, isn't it a little bit of a miracle that anyone is even remotely interested in something I have to say in the first place?

Yes. Yes, it is. So, I decided to compromise, and I made two new resolutions. First, to get over myself. Second, to post once a week. That way, my storytelling muscles still get a workout, but I can focus the other days on the as-yet-unnamed literary experiment. Sounds simple enough. But then again, so did setting up the wireless printer that I bought my parents for Christmas. And we all know how that turned out.