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» Foot in Mouth Syndrome II

What not to say for a quiet life....
So, about 6 or 7 years ago now, I found myself working for a logistics company in their shiny new head office. It was indeed a lovely building, and I was to be working as a part of their internal helpdesk staff, tasked with resolving all of the minor quirks and queries that our 2000+ users had around our choice of IT systems.

Being fresh through the door, I spent my first week or two being inducted into their setup, shadowing the rest of the team as they took the calls and worked through them to a reasonable solution. All in all, it was a pretty nice gig. Mornings were a little more stressful due to the flood of people who couldn't remember passwords, but apart from that, it was a really enjoyable entry-level job.

As I got into it, and was soon to be promoted to having my own desk, computer and phone (head-spinning times indeed!), I had only to visit one more of the established team to pick up a few bits on one of the more obscure systems. I had been warned previously that he could be a little bit quick-tempered and prickly, but it shouldn't be a problem as I'd only be with him for a couple of days.

So, the day dawned and I went and sat beside him, plugging my phone into the 2nd headset point so that I could quietly shadow his phone calls whilst taking notes. Our other new guy was also destined to be sat there for the same period of time, so there was a sense of solidarity there as our difficult days started.

As I had been warned, our instructor's mood went from tepid to foul within 4 phone calls. Every customer that he hung up from was a twat, every problem stupid and caused by the person who had made the call. I have to admit that I was finding it hard to keep my 'keen-as' attitude amongst all of his complaining and was trying to find a way to lighten the mood. I had noticed a single photograph adorning his cubicle wall, and after a particularly bad phone call, I pointed to it and said:

"Hey mate, what's this picture of? Is it you dressed in drag?"

As soon as I spoke the words I knew how utterly wrong I was. It was obviously not him now that I'd looked at it for more than 2 seconds. It was obviously just a slightly blokish looking woman.

He never looked at me, but he stopped his rant-mid sentance. After about 15 seconds, he looked at the picture and coldly replied.

"Actually, that's my Fiancee."

I worked my mouth a couple of times, wondering how I could undo this train-wreck of a sentance. My fellow trainee was sat with tears of silent mirth rolling down his cheeks at my misfortune. Without ever knowing why, I leaned in towards the photo, looked at it for a few seconds and stammered my follow-up

"N-No, that's impossible. It can't be a woman."

My fellow trainee's mirth was no longer silent, and I had made my first great foe in that particular job.
(Fri 17th Aug 2012, 2:39, More)

» I Quit!

Of jobs and quitting....
I once found myself stuck in the mother of all shitty helpdesk jobs.

A very small firm, no regulation of software releases - dealing with the retail industry, and forcing it's staff to work 14 hours (7am to 9pm) on a Saturday, one weekend in 3. The developers had a fantastic habit of releasing untested software updates to the various retail chains that used the companies hardware / software, and the support (me and 2 others) had to try and pick up the pieces the next day when 400 + stores would call up, telling us to sort it or else.

The managers ground down your soul until you were convinced that this was it, you couldn't do any better and you were going to spend all eternity there, at their whim.

Life was shit.

One Friday, after a particularly crappy incident, when displaying proof of others ineptitude to the managers, I was told to "Sit the fuck down and be grateful that you've still got a job." I wrote my notice by hand, there and then, and handed it to my boss.

I didn't have a job to go to. But fuck it, the dole was better than working in that shit hole. I had never before considered being on benefits, but even the vast quantity of marijuana that I was partaking in at the time wasn't enough to block the pain that place brought upon me.

So, the days moved forwards towards my impending departure. It dawned upon me that I had been slowly destroyed as a human being over 18 months, and my blood began to boil.

As it turned out, I had managed to get my last day as a Saturday, and would leave the place at 9pm on that day.

Preparations were made.

I stopped going to the toilet on Wednesday. I managed to avoid crimping a length off for 3 days, and I increased my food intake until I was barely able to walk, such was the strain placed upon my balloon knot.

Arriving at the office on Saturday, walking like John Wayne, and with a thin sheen of sweat on my forehead, I calmly took my appointed place at my desk and worked. 13.5 hours later, it was time.

They only had 2 single toilets in the building, each one a self contained cubicle with bog and sink. The ground floor was my first target.

As I sat on the throne and gritted my teeth, I wondered if I had made a mistake. My vision went slightly blurry as I strained to unleash the beast within. Thankfully, I was the only person in the building, so no one else could hear my howling as I began giving birth to a U-blocker of epic proportions.

I started to wonder if I was going to need to call the hospital after I was done on that toilet, but, slowly, the pain passed, and I found myself in a position to crimp off a log early, splitting the winnings if you will, and tactically move up to the second toilet located on the first floor.

Thankfully, the second pan-cracker passed more peacefully than his brother, although it too had the desired effect. Soon, both chod bins were loaded with what could only be described as a scale model of the andes mountain range.

I walked slowly back downstairs and finished the last part of my shift. I had shed about 40% of my mass in those 2 toilets, and when the end of the day came, I left, without flushing, and leaving the doors wide open, never to return to that hell hole.

I heard that when the staff for the next shift turned up, not only did the entire building smell like Satan's ringpiece, but the attempt to flush was met with complete failure of the 80's plumbing.

Apologies for length, but it was a 3 day accumulation....
(Thu 22nd May 2008, 14:22, More)

» Silly Achievements

I won £30 in a nightclub fruit machine.
Really, that's about the long and short of it, but there is some context here if you'll allow me to explain:

(Wavy lines ensue)

Around about the turn of the Millenium, a much younger version of me worked in a nightclub in the town of Swindon, behind the bar. It was a 2nd job for me, because I was always utterly, utterly skint at the time. This worked in a couple ways, because it meant that I was behind the bar most nights, but on the odd night off, or a Sunday, I could go have a few drinks at one of the other fine establishments that Swindon had to offer in the late 90's.

On one such Sunday, I met up at the usual jump-off point for an evening's drinking, but I was in trouble as I only had about 3 pounds to my name, and it was two pounds to the only nightclub that was open on Sunday, and then 60p drinks all evening. I thought I'd be able to blag a few from some mates, but it was looking like a light evening was on the cards.

I spied one of my work buddies at our usual table, minus a drink. A quick conversation established that we were both skint. When the doors opened at 6:30pm, we were ushered into the club, paid the lady at the door, and then grabbed our one and only guaranteed drink for the evening. with our meagre 44p change each, we wandered over to the comfy seating area and propped ourselves over a railing, hoping to catch the eye of a fine-looking damsel or two.

My fellow skintee, Danny leaned over and shouted. "Give us 40p, would'ya?"

To whit I replied: "No."

He pointed at the fruit machine in the corner. "It takes 20p coins, we can get 4 spins on that if you give me your change."

I looked at my options. 44p wasn't going to get me either a taxi, or a kebab. Maybe, just maybe we'd get a couple quid from the machine and take the edge of the couple mile walk home. I dug deep into my pocket and handed Danny my last 20 pence coins.

We sauntered over to the machine and deposited the coins, starting the sequnce of lights that seemed even brighter in the otherwise low-lit room. I leaned against the side of the machine, expecting failure and secretly hoping for success. 1st spin, nothing, same for the 2nd.

On the third spin, 2 jackpot signs appeared on the line and Danny was gifted a nudge by the machine. It was exactly what was needed. A small light explosion went off on the front of the machine and it started to spit out pound coins. My WKD Irn-Bru went everywhere as I jumped for joy. But it didn't end there. The replay button was flashing on yes/no, and danny called it beautifully. Back to back jackpots on a nightclub fruit machine. 30 quid all in. I looked at the pile of coins, and my mind thought of greasy foodstuffs and a comfortable ride back to my house. But I was 18, so that didn't happen.

We took it straight to the bar and spent it all on more WKD Irn-Bru. I woke up in a bush at 3am with my bare feet poking out the top, my shoes having been nicked by a passer by and thrown on a nearby roof. Longest walk home, ever.

TL;DR: See the title
(Tue 21st Oct 2014, 23:32, More)

» Ignorance

Somewhat like a rabbit....
My wife is German - this has presented many opportunities for both of us to play on our respective ignorance of the others cultural nuances. However, my favourite, and by far one of her most sublimely played efforts was during the very early days of our relationship.

I had gone to visit her little corner of Bavaria, a region known as the Spessart, it's a really lovely part of the world, and there was plenty to see and do during my time there.

One day we visited a nice little castle sat amidst the forest. It is known as WasserSchloss Mespelbrunn (literally water-castle Mespelbrunn) due to having an excellent moat around it. Part of that day included a tour of the castle, with its many historical weapons and stuffed deer heads in various rooms. In one particular room, the plaques were much smaller than I expected them to be, and instead of deer heads mounted on them, they appeared to have rabbit heads. Closer inspection revealed that these rabbits did in fact have antlers. Perplexed, I turned to my wife and pointed at them, cusriously enquiring as to their origin. She looked up at them, and said in an offhand way:

"Oh, they're just Wolpertingers, they're pretty common in Bavaria."

I was astounded. I'd never even heard of such wonderous little rabbit/deer hybrids! I immediately asked a bunch of questions about where we might see them, were there any tame ones? Could people keep them as pets? Wifey answered them all in that serious tone that Germans do so well (and not making the animal sound as elaborate as the wikipedia article above) and suggested that I keep an eye out for them when we had a stroll around the forest later that day.

I spend the rest of my time there trying to track down a Wolpertinger whenever we were out and about, to no avail.

Eventually, I went back to the UK and was sat catching up with my friends and family on a rare sunny Sunday afternoon. Conversation turned to my trip to Germany and I talked about how nice the trip was, where we'd gone, and the mysterious Wolpertinger.

It was the giant laughter that accompanied my all-to-serious description of the animal, including my efforts to track one down that eventually lead me to realise that I had been completely led down the garden path by my good lady. I was impressed by how well she'd played that one.

tl;dr - Germans do have a sense of humour.
(Thu 30th Aug 2012, 23:29, More)

» Good Advice

On Writing.....
I've been struggling to write a sci-fi book for some time, and was particularly stuck at one point where there was quite literally nothing happening on the page. I expressed my concern at my literary ineptitude to a friend of mine, whose reply helped thoroughly.

He said;

"In many things in life, when your subject is dull you can either; a) Set fire to it, b)Blow it up, c)Take its clothes off, or d)add ninjas."
This was swiftly followed up by a long frown and additional advice of
"Don't do 'c' if you're writing about someone's Gran though."

It's proven useful a few times.
(Fri 21st May 2010, 3:56, More)
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