Sunday, January 20, 2008

All Grow'd Up

At about 11:15pm tonight, a few of us decided to call up AVIS and rent a fabulous minivan and spend all day tomorrow tooling around Mexico. I feel like such a grown-up! It's like that moment in college when you're sitting in front of the TV with your feet propped up on the coffee table, a spoonful of Lucky Charms in one hand, a corn dog in the other, and you realize there is no one telling you to go to bed. Such liberation. Although perhaps while I was getting hyped up on sugar and watching late-night reruns of the Simpsons, all the cool kids were rebelling and heading to the border in stolen cars. Guess I might be a late bloomer. Regardless, Tijuana, here I come!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Door-to-Door Lies

So I just told a door-to-door salesman that I didn't want to buy any magazine subscriptions tonight because I was trying to cut down on my paper consumption and I read blogs instead of magazines now. That's not completely the truth, as I have 3 shiny new magazines sitting on my coffee table as I write, the result of a delayed flight last week. I felt bad about lying (mildly, anyway), until he told me he has done research into the matter and found that buying excessive amounts of paper products is good because for every 10 trees chopped down, 12 more are planted. I find this hard to believe.

Any thoughts?

Meet Martin

Within hours of getting my new cell phone number in San Diego, I started getting calls for a man named Martin (usually pronounced "Mar-teeeenh" with a thick accent). They don't come too often, maybe 12 calls in the last 4 months, but enough for me to notice and get mildly annoyed. Perhaps the root of my annoyance is that at least half of these calls have been made during the wee hours of the morning.

I always answer, of course, because if someone's calling me past midnight, the caller on the other end usually has something very important to share with me. So I answer, groggily, only to discover someone yelling in my ear "Mar-teeeeeehn... something in Spanish... Mar-teeeeehn... something else in Spanish...." and so on, at which point I tell them they have the wrong number and to pleeeeease tell everyone they know that Martin has fled the country and no longer has this number. I took Martin to be quite the partier.

That is, until this morning, when I learned the truth about Martin.

Martin is/was an immigration officer.

The man who called at 2 am last night asking for Martin called again this morning to explain that his girlfriend got her visa taken away last night at the Mexican border and he was trying desperately to resolve the matter and if I could just please be kind enough to give him Martin's new phone number he wouldn't bother me again. Poor guy. I told him I didn't know who Martin was and wished him luck. Guess I should stop telling people that Martin has fled the country. They might not think that's very funny after all.

A few weeks ago I was telling my boss that I keep getting calls and text messages (in Spanish) for some guy that used to have my number.

"Is it Armando?" he said quickly. "Because I get calls for him all the time and apparently he owes alot of people alot of money." Glad to know I'm not the only one...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

P is for Plankton

Do you ever have those moments on the phone when someone asks you to spell back to them your name, address, etc. at which point you have to implement the "A as in Apple," "B as in Bob," etc. technique? Since I spend my days on the phone making appointments for people, I do this all the time. And more often then not, I suffer from something I fondly refer to as "brain freeze". It's when my brain turns into mush, rendering my speech completely useless.

Try as I might, when pressed to use this technique, mishaps abound. Usually I can't think of any words at all, leaving me to stutter about sounding a fool, but on the rare occasion that I find a word, it's usually so obscure as to be laughable.

"Um...that's..."E as in Esophagus", "R as in Retch", "I as in Impertinent", "K as in Kartoffel (German for potato)", "A as in Aspartame"...

And so on.

Or worse, I think of a word only to crack myself up at the inappropriateness of it. There's just never a point in which saying "V as in Vagina" or "B as in Blow job" to your mechanic over the phone is acceptable.

It was especially problematic in Hong Kong, as there was already a bit of a language barrier to begin with. Try as I might to choose simple, easily recognizable words, I usually came up with things like "T as in Tallahassee" or "L as in Lollipop." It never went well.

Surely I'm not the only dingbat who suffers from this right...?

PS It's good to be back.