Monday, May 18, 2009

The Snarchives 11/21/2007: Phoning it in

So: I got a job. This is an eye-opening experience for us privileged Aarkvard University students, in that it forces us to take a step backwards from our massive sense of entitlement and say, "HEY! GIMME BACK MY MASSIVE SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT!"

My place of employment is the Aarkvard Phone Room, so called because it is - get ready - a room with phones in it.* There is also a refrigerator, which, thanks to university president Ephram M. Cloaca's recent Diet Coke Initiative**, would be filled with Diet Coke at all times if, in the words of President Cloaca, "anybody actually put Diet Coke in it". But the thought is there.

Of the work itself - calling unsuspecting Aarkvard alumni, referred to among those of us in The Biz as "prospects" - I can only say it is less than stimulating, rather in the sense that ice is "less than hot". Twice weekly I take part in the Aarkvard Phone-a-Thon, an ancient tradition established in ancient times*** by the great eminent pioneer-type guy Elias U. Phone-a-Thon, who was also responsible for fire, Bisquick, the Car Talk guys, and the sexy green M&M but not the other ones. Shortly before his passing due to a bear-related mauling****, Phone-a-Thon left behind the following guidelines for practitioners of the art that bears his name:

I. Pleasantly greet prospect.
II. Pleasantly introduce yourself as a current Aarkvard student.
III. Pleasantly solicit handsome contribution to Aarkvard Annual Fund.
IV. Pleasantly explain that prospect's failure to make handsome contribution to Aarkvard Annual Fund will result in your pleasantly hunting down and pleasantly cutting prospect.
V. Good!

I guess I shouldn't complain. Per Guideline IV, I have a job that involves travel. But such sojourns grow taxing. This goes double if your prospect has the gall to live in a faraway state such as Nevada, which is far away from everywhere, including Nevada. Furthermore, you try finding a graceful way to explain to your friends just why you have so many Ambiguous Errands To Run.

Such are grueling experiences, to be sure; but they are nothing compared to when I got owned by the little kid. This really happened. As evidence I present the following transcript, which is Authentically True, by which I mean I may or may not***** have made it up:

ME: Hi, there. Is Mrs. Simpkins available?
(Long pause. Breathing on the other end.)
ME: Hello?
LITTLE KID: Who is this?
ME: My name is Nicola. May I speak with Mrs. Simpkins?
LITTLE KID (ominously): Are you a kid or a grown-up?
ME: I'm calling from the Aarkvard University Annual Fund. Is your mother there?
LITTLE KID: Are you a KID or a GROWN-UP?
ME: I...could you just say Aarkvard is calling?
(Really long pause. Heavily suspicious breathing.)
LITTLE KID: What's your mother's name?
ME: I...uh, I...I mean - uh...
LITTLE KID: (Click.)

But worst by far is when you have to hit up parents of current students. This is nothing short of excruciating. You feel so bad asking these people for anything. Ninety-nine percent of the time you get some sweet mom who sighs gravidly and says something like, "Oh, gosh, I'd really love to help you out, but, you know, we're already paying fifty thousand a year for Lauren to attend, and that would be one thing on its own, but it's just been so hard for us ever since Jim's spontaneous combustion last April, and wouldn't you know it, we're still finding bits of him in the strangest places, like that retina in the La-Z-Boy, and then there's little Brandon's iron lung and the dog has diarrhea and never even MIND the time-share and..." At which point you have to inform her, very gently, that you must kill her. That's when she sighs again and says wanly, "Okay, honey. Well, let's make sure you have my correct address," and you really just feel so rude.

Nonetheless it's all worth it at the end of the week, when you receive a paycheck for all your hard work, minus federal taxes, state taxes, municipal taxes, venereal taxes, cinnamon-swirl taxes, moo goo gai taxes, etc. There are others. I could go on and on, but I have to run an errand.

*This sort of convoluted logic is typical of academic institutions. One must learn to cope.
**Initiatives are very popular at Aarkvard (motto: "Death Before Genuine Proactivity").
****At 6:01.
*****Or may.

©2007, Nicola McEldowney
The Snark Ascending

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