Viewing posts from July 2015

Comfortably Dumb

CustomerServiceCalling customer service is always a joy, isn’t it? There’s something heartwarming about going through a multi-step automated preliminary screening process before being allowed to speak to a human being who asks you for all the same information, but can’t help you and has to transfer you to someone else. It’s warm, fuzzy corporate moments like this that make me feel, as Pink Floyd so aptly put it, “comfortably numb.”

“This call may be recorded for training purposes.” We’ve all heard that, right? Since no explicit details are ever given as to exactly what kind of training is taking place, I can only imagine the worst. This is a multi-billion dollar company I’m calling, after all. Making their customer service reps better at their jobs has nothing to do with anything. They’re not the ones being trained. We are! Read that statement again and tell me I’m wrong. “This call may be recorded for training purposes.” It’s not all bad, though. We get a discount on our personalized shock collars.

HangOnBut, see, the way to handle this is not to get upset, insulted, or infuriated. Go with it. Roll with the punch. Mess with them. Have fun! So yes, I’d be happy to help you with your training, even though I’m not getting paid to do a job you guys should’ve hired someone to do, and you didn’t ask me if I wanted to do this. I’ll be a good sport.

“Thank you for calling Dysenteria Restaurants. This is James. How may I help you today?”

“I’d like to speak to your Supervisor.”

“Uh, I’m pretty sure I can help you, sir.”

“Honestly, you’ll have fewer nightmares if you just transfer me to your Supervisor right now.”

“We here at Dysenteria International are trained to handle a wide range of customer service issues.”

“Okay. Great. I just ate at one of your 4000 restaurants and the food was worse than any meal I ever had in prison. So–”

“Oh! Wow! My Supervisor just walked in. I’m connecting you right now, sir. Thank you for eating at Dysenteria Restaurants.”

PhoneRageA new voice comes on the phone.

“My name is Miriam. I’m the Supervisor here at Dysenteria Restaurants. With whom am I speaking?”


“And your name, sir?”

“Who wants to know?”

“Sir, if I’m going to help you with your issue, I’d like to know with whom I’m talking.”

“Okay. My name is Zelkinartosa, Emblot.”

“Thank you, Mr. Emblot.”

“Emblot’s my first name. Zelkinartosa’s my last. There was a comma in there.”

“Oh. Well, how do you spell your name?”

“Just the way it sounds.”

“Unfortunately, spelling never was my strong point [laughs]. So can you spell that for me, please?”

“I doubt it. Even after all these years I still get it wrong.”

worstcustomers“Uh…perhaps we can use your mother’s maiden name. Maybe we can start there and cross-reference. What is it?”

“Mom ain’t livin’ no more. That’s why I was in prison.”

“Uh…so what was her maiden name?”

“I got no clue. I didn’t know her when she was single.”

“I don’t think you’re being serious here, Mr. Zel…Zelkin…”

“You’re right. I’m sorry. I apologize.”

“That’s not necessary, but thank you.”

“Hey, you wanna go out?”


And now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to make some more calls.

Til next Tuesday

Brand of Brothers

100000First off, having zoomed by the 100,000 pageviews mark recently, I want to thank you, my readers, from all over the globe including the little one I got when I was in sixth grade, for your support, comments and telling others about the Amusement Park blog. I am very grateful to each and every one of you. Please feel free to send me any feedback you may have, good, bad or the ugly. Thanks, everybody!

I know I’m in the minority here, but I absolutely refuse to wear any kind of clothing that has a company name or logo prominently displayed on it. Especially the ones with letters so big I can see them with my eyes shut. Yet, people willingly pay an extra ten or twenty dollars to wear their branded clothing. Are we so devoid of our own identities that we now have to wear someone else’s? And it’s not even “someone else’s.” It’s a faceless, soulless, multi-billion dollar mega-conglomerate.

brandedbabyThis whole thing’s a scam. Look, when you buy a famous brand’s logoed t-shirt, you pay extra, right? And why? Because it’s a famous brand. Gee, that’s fair. You’re advertising their brand and they’re ripping you off to do it. If that isn’t freakin’ brilliant marketing I don’t know what is.

Sporting goods brands are the worst offenders with their clothing. Wouldn’t you love to have a dollar for every Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, Wilson, The North Face, Columbia, etc. t-shirt, hoodie or baseball cap you’ve seen? Do you realize that there are kids growing up now who have never seen a t-shirt that didn’t have printing on it? And what kind of ego do you need to think that complete strangers are curious to find out what brand of t-shirt you wear? Have you ever wondered which clothing brand they buy? Trust me—wearing this stuff is like answering a question nobody asked.

nike-shoe-carSo suppose you’re walking down the street, you go into a store and—there’s a guy wearing the same brand that you do. What are you supposed to do then? “Hey! That guy has a Nike shirt. I’ve got a Nike shirt! I wonder if he likes to dump toxic waste on the playground as much as I do! Maybe next time we can truckpool!”

When Air Jordan’s came out years ago everybody rushed out and spent $200 on them. Why? Because they’re “Michael Jordan’s”? Well, they couldn’t possibly have been Michael Jordan’s. Look at all the different sizes they came in. So what happened? You paid $200 and were the first kid on your block to wear a pair of Air Jordan’s and your game still sucked. Congratulations.

If you’re ever curious about whose brand of t-shirt I wear, ask. I’ll either tell you or let you read the neck label. But honestly, nobody cares whose brand of clothing you wear any more than we care what brand of hemorrhoid cream you use. Just do yourself a favor—don’t wear a t-shirt promoting either one.

Til next Tuesday…

A Farewell to Arms and Other Body Parts

CountyFairIf you’re ever in the mood to eat great quantities of food you never would otherwise consume, buy things you’d never otherwise buy, risk death and possibly even vomit, then get thee to a county fair. This is pure Americana. The United States at its gluttonous, most disgusting, and unchallengable best.

Like software whose terms and conditions you agree to by simply using it, paying the fair’s entrance fee signals your willingness to abandon all common sense regarding your physical well-being. This is going to be a gastronomic Bear Grylls on juice.

bear-grylls-sickBy definition, a county fair must sell the most egregiously unhealthy foods ever created, and they don’t disappoint. Love deep-fried anything? You’ve found mecca. Enjoy some deep-fried Oreos, sushi, or my personal favorite, deep-fried crème brulee with a soupcon of Mountain Dew. Of course, you can purchase deep fried Snickers, but that to me is sacrilege. You can’t improve upon perfection. Ho-Ho’s could use some help, though, IMHO. Consuming all this makes the heart swell with pride right before it bursts into flames.

And the candy. Oh, the candy! Cotton candy is everywhere in every color. For diabetics and those who want to cut down on their sugar intake, there’s the cotton/polyester blend candy to ease the guilt. There’s also popcorn topped with real butter or the lighter “I Can’t Believe It’s My Left Arm That’s Numb” reclaimed yellow axle grease. Select The Platter Special and you get a large fries.

The livestock area is a mandatory stop. This is where they hold pig races. Why would pigs want to race? They don’t. But fill the air with the smell of bacon and they’re off! “Hey, mom …I think I smell Uncle Harry.”

Judge JudyGoat competitions are a popular, but an even more curious affair. At the risk of being a snob, is there a difference between one goat and another? Is there pride in winning Best in Show? And what about the goat judges? Do they get to put “Judge” on their resumes without detailing their area of expertise? Is this a title that makes it easier to pick up women in a bar? And how does one get to be a goat judge at the county fair level? Do you start working your way up the hierarchy by first judging goats in your apartment complex? Is this a full-time job and do you get a special license plate for your car with special parking privileges? What are the pay scale and retirement benefits? Do you get to party with Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg? Now that I’ve gotten my own interest piqued, I may have to look into this.

Then there are the rides which range from the little trains for the little kids to “rides” that NASA labeled “too extreme” for astronaut training. These are the hard-core body busters, the ones that give new meaning to “Tossed Salad.” This, btw, is recycling at its worst and the main reason I wear rain gear on the Ferris wheel.

CountyFairGraphicThings you won’t see at a county fair:


A Weight Watchers information booth.


Valet parking.

Personal grooming aids

The Kardashians.




People who cover their sneezes.

Weddings (well, maybe)

Green salad

Clogged artery repair kit.

FairCowsThings you might see at a county fair:

Extra gluten food stands.

Endangered animal crackers.

People in shorts who shouldn’t be

Misspelled tattoos.

Invisible ink tattoos


No tooth

Suggested items for next year:

Home burial kits

Drive-thru cremation franchise opportunities

Mosquito farms

Lung cleaner

Til next Tuesday…

3 Reasons for California’s Drought

2012movieCalifornia will not fall into the Pacific Ocean, as once predicted. Thanks to the drought, it will crack like old paint and blow away in the wind. It’s The Dust Bowl, Western Edition.

Anyone who has ever lived in California, especially Los Angeles where I lived for most of my life, is not surprised that the state is out of water. Too many people and too many vegetables. Yes, sometimes it is hard to tell which are which.

To survive in Los Angeles you need two basic essentials—water and an agent. The irony is that the drought has finally shown the Land of Excess just which one is more important. Uh, that would be water (I’m only stating this because that is still not a universal opinion). Even with 840 miles of coastline, the state is still as dry as a martini. Its license plate slogan ought to be changed from The Golden State to “Water, Water Everywhere…” And there actually is water, water everywhere. Unfortunately, it’s undrinkable and in backyard swimming pools.

DroughtWhich leads us to Reason #1 for California’s drought. 

Not Everybody Needs a Pool. The problem is everybody has a pool. People who can’t swim have a pool. If you live at the beach you have a pool. Even if you don’t want a pool, you have a pool. When my then-wife and I were looking for a house back in the 1980’s, we couldn’t find a nice house without a pool. We weren’t necessarily looking for one, but when you find a house you like and a pool is already there, there’s no sense filling it in unless you’re going to convert it to a barbecue so you can roast a couple of buffalos and maybe an ear of corn and an onion or two. 

Oranges4saleThe pool we owned was average in size, rectangular and 12 feet at the deep end. It was nice, but hardly impressive. Our next door neighbor, who sold oranges out of a shopping cart at our freeway exit, had a bigger one. 

20,000 gallons is a lot of water. That’s what our pool held. To put that in perspective, my car holds about 15 gallons of gas. I’d have to fill the tank 1,333.33 times to equal 20,000 gallons. Since I average about 27 miles per gallon around town (the car, not me, though I come close) I could drive 540,000 miles—half a million miles—on that “poolful” of gas. That’s to the moon and back. Naturally, I’m not going to drive to the moon. At least not til gas prices come down.

EepyBirdReason #2: Too Many Automatic Sprinklers. The fact that this makes the list shows you how stupid some people are. The thing is, you don’t need to leave the automatic sprinklers on when it’s raining. Your lawn and gardens don’t care where the water comes from. You could feed them the water from Three Mile Island and they wouldn’t care. Unfortunately, sprinklers that are on when it rains are such a common occurrence in L.A. that it’s now punishable by a stiff fine and water boarding using the run-off from your own yard. 

carwashguyReason #3: Too Many Car Washes. With nearly 13 million people in the Greater Los Angeles area, there are at least twice as many cars. And all of those cars are cleaned in either driveways or car washes. Lots of car washes use recycled water, which is commendable. Even the topless car washes that no longer exist used recycled water. Surprisingly, even in environmentally-conscious Los Angeles, that wasn’t their main draw. In fact, those topless establishments wasted far more water than other places because guys—and women—would get their cars washed, dried, then get back in line. I only went there once. It was way too expensive for me. I paid $9.99 for the car wash and gave a $20 tip. Please don’t ask me if it was worth it.

The bottom line is this: the California drought could have been prevented. It wasn’t, and now it’s here for the foreseeable future. That being said, as bad as it is living in a drought with rationed water, which we had to do in the early ‘90s, it still beats snow any day.

Til next Tuesday

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