Let Them Drink Wine!

If you want to make a liberal mad just attack their religion. Now, liberal religion has many facets. Gay marriage, dead babies, food stamps, properly colored presidents, but the underlying truth that permeates it all is Global Warming! Oh my LIVING God! If you want to make a liberal want to buy a gun and shoot up the mall just suggest that mother earth is behaving just as she has for the last four BILLION freaking years!

Al Gore couldn’t really make it as a politician, so he decided to take over the planet instead. Anyway, he flies around in his private jet convincing all these potheads that the earth is changing into a huge microwave. But, you ask, what harm is he doing trying to alert us to something he really believes in? I mean, he really can’t do squat about it, right? WRONG! While he can’t change the temperature one degree he can certainly change your bank account. You see, in the global warming theory you must pay to play. Can’t participate in the end of the world without a program!

I’m not going to get into all the “scientific” data supporting this Looney Tune, but I’d just like to point out a simple fact. Science, as opposed to religion, depends on observation. If you drop a ball to,the ground, and you can subsequently drop said ball twenty more times, you must reason that there must be some unseen force causing the ball to bounce. Voila! Gravity! Wanna know why the “theory” of evolution is still a theory? That’s right, friends and neighbors, it’s still a theory. Well, that because there ain’t no Neanderthals a sipping a Lateé down at the mall, that’s why! You see, you gotta SEE it to prove it.

You can’t prove Global Warming, or cooling from just a hundred years or so of weather reports. Is the earth changing. Why heck yeah! Does it all the time. The planet wobbles through space, chasing the sun, which is chasing the Milky Way, which is chasing all the other results of the Big Bang as they all cork screw through the intergalactic playing field. We are barreling skelter behind a huge hydrogen bomb, and Al Gore is trying to put a thermostat on it! And the call ME a simple ol’ boy!

But, all that doesn’t make any difference to liberals bent on the end of days. Funny how people who don’t believe in God put so much stock in Armageddon. And don’t let California have a drought! DUDES! California IS a drought! Some very slick salesmen convinced a bunch of very gullible people that this desert was the “happening” place to be. So what we ended up with was a stretch of land that was never intended to support more than a few Mexicans and a hand full of crazy prospectors ramping up to a population of millions, and they’re wondering where all the water went. Los Angeles NEVER had any water. They had to pipe it in! Fact, look it up!

In spite of his best efforts, Al Gore will not influence the natural history of planet earth. California had the warmest winter on record? Does SoCal even HAVE a winter? Anyway, Al Gore was the only one bummed out; everybody else got into it. But, the people of California don’t have any water to drink. Then let them drink wine!

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The Big Screw Driver

In my time at Sears I took thousands of calls. I worked in a call center in Round Rock, which is just north of Austin. For those of you who don’t know, Sears vacated the Sears tower long ago, and most corporate business comes out of Texas. I worked at what they called the “fifth” tier. What that entailed was when a customer called in, and got passed around four times, they found their way to US. Now, there were only about thirty-five of “us” in the whole blamed company, and we were all in Round Rock. If that wasn’t high octane enough the Blue Ribbon squad, which sat right behind us, with power somewhere between the CEO and God, was ready, willing, and able to take the customer to the Promised Land.

I hate working in a call center. To be honest, most calls were people who knew that if they complained long and hard enough they would get a sugar cookie out of Sears, and they were right! I figured out early on that if I gave a gift card under sixty-seven dollars that it would placate most customers, and wouldn’t count against my statistics. In spite of that there was more than a few calls where the customer began the call with, “Just let me speak to your supervisor!”

All that having been said, there were three calls that stood out for me. Calls so different that I remember them to this very day. These calls demonstrated for me at least why we were really there. Almost like a reminder from God that in spite of all the technology, and corporate red tape, we are occasionally called to rise above, and be human!

I got a call from Memphis. After my usual greeting I was immediately interrupted by this wonderful southern black voice saying, “Wilbur, I got a problem!” As I set up the screen for her case I asked what the issue was. It seems her washing machine was broken. It was no big deal. What put a monkey wrench in the whole thing was scheduling. Now Sears had an issue. While having the best technicians in the world, Sears couldn’t schedule a Bar Mitzvah in Brooklyn! A good percentage of our calls were people screaming because they had patiently waited out the two weeks required to get a tech out, endured the four hour window on the day of repair, only to get a call telling them the tech was over booked, and they would be rescheduled yet again. That would make Mother Theresa want to throw her washing machine out into the streets of Calcutta! This caller was in that category.

She had seven grandchildren. I could easily see how a broken washer would complicate the day so I began to search for a solutions. I DID have a big stick, though rarely used, that enabled me to force a repair. If I pushed that button the lady’s call would be out ahead of everybody else. When you used it you had to put up with your supervisor crying a river, but it didn’t affect your stats. As I set it up the customer began to chat with me. I had a method where I would initiate conversation in order to calm the customer so that they would not realize the length of the call, and hopefully by the end of the call the customer would be pleased and come away with a positive experience.

She told me that her daughter had been killed years ago in a drive by shooting, leaving seven children to be raised by grandmother. The pressure had led her into a heart attack, but she had survived, and the kids were getting up in age now. I told her I was very empathetic to her plight, and that was important because “empathy” was one of those things that would kick up your stats. I could empathize with Hitler! I said, “Bet that wears you out having to look after all them kids,” and she said, “No, Wilbur, I took care of them, now they take care of me, but they do need the washing machine.” She got it the very next day!

Then there was this lady in Pensacola. Seems she had this refrigerator situated in her bedroom. I Crappith Thee Not! Right beside her bed, and it had this funny noise. As I looked at her account I could see page after page of cancelled trouble calls, seemingly ignoring her issue. I immediately scheduled a priority call, but upon concluding, I rang up the unit in her area to find out just why they had ignored a customer in such a rude fashion.

A call from corporate was the absolute worse thing that could happen to a Sears manager. That stick I mentioned before was not my only one. As a senior manager in Round Rock I had a golf bag FULL of sticks, and I was ready to play eighteen holes at any given moment. And right around the isle from where I sat was the “STAC” team, which was the section In charge of ALL Sears repairs. They were a bunch of beer drinking Austin Bikers so obnoxious that customers were never allowed to even speak with them, and I would serve up a store or unit manager to them without a second thought!

I asked the unit manager what was in his mind. He had cancelled about one hundred service calls, and was too stupid to even cover his tracks. The man just laughed. With my finger poised above the button that would end his life as he knew it, he explained. It seems the lady was elderly. That made me madder. He continued telling me that she had a debilitating mental condition that caused her to think the refrigerator was producing a noise, making her fear it was failing. It seems that they had run call after call, always finding the appliance was in perfect working condition, yet the repair requests came week after week. Then the manager devised a plan. The call would come in and he would immediately cancel it so as not to fill up the scheduling, which was bad enough already. There was an agreement among the techs. WhomEVER found themselves in Mrs. Simmons neighborhood on Friday near quitting time would swing by and do her “repair.” She always had coffee ready, and the refrigerator was always “fixed!”

Save your fork, I always save the best for last. In New York there was an old lady. Now, we have hot summers in Texas, but it seems that New York City is right up there next to us because as the summer progressed our phone lines would fail from all the calls up there concerning air conditioning. I don’t think think they even know what central air is because it was always these little rinky-dink window units we had done away with long ago. Again, scheduling! That and location. The lady lived in some kind of brown stone walk up (they apparently hadn’t come upon elevators either. When the tech arrived he would invariably find difficult parking, and if he did find it the foreboding long hike up the stairs would lead to the job being labeled, “Not at home!”

While I was sending a notice to the manager of the unit, raining the appropriate bowling balls down upon him, the lady began to cry. I’ll never forget what she said. “My husband, Frank, died three months ago. I never had these problems because he had a big screw driver, and he could fix anything!” I put her on hold, and called the unit. I told the manager that I was making this call a priority, and I didn’t care if that tech had to carry a new window unit up to that apartment I’d better NOT see a “not at home” on my screen the next day! Oh, and one more thing. Have the tech put a big screw driver in his back pocket! I’m sure the old lady has passed by now, and I’d be willing to bet as she entered the gates of heaven, Frank was waiting there . . . With his big screw driver!

September 11

September 11

Today is my birthday. When you get up around my age, birthdays tend to come a lot faster than they used to. I have noticed that I’m looking a bit older these days, but I’m happy that I’m aging like Sean Connery. I seem to have accumulated some knowledge about women, too. In high school I was a nerd. I was the only one who went on the obligatory trip to Mexico and couldn’t find a date down there, and I HAD the five dollars. Now THAT’S a nerd, folks!

I had an interesting chat with my granddaughter, Puck, yesterday. She’s seven, and I told her today was my birthday. She asked me if I was going to die. Now, you first reaction to a question like that from a child is to wonder what she sees that you don’t. Then you find yourself staring into the mirror for the longest time while you brush your teeth. And about that, how did I end up with “old guy” mouth? My teeth are all healthy, but just old!

Anyway, Puck told me she loved me. Then she said that if I was to go ahead and kick the bucket today she wanted to have me cremated so I could be with her always. As an added feature she would give a scoop of me to her four little brothers so I could be with THEM, too. I feel it’s only fair too mention Puck’s real name is Carrie.

I used to be a good Catholic, but as I learned more about women I strayed from the party line a bit. You know you’re over the hill when you can legally date a woman who was born after you got your first divorce. One thing I’ve learned about young women is they can’t drink, and that flaw has served me well over the last few years. (Lord, I’m sorry I did that, I’ll try not to do that in the future.) One girl I’d like to get drunk is Wendy Davis. I mean, with her views on abortion you KNOW what she likes to do, right?

About the only thing of historical significance that ever happened on my birthday until 2001 was Patton disobeying orders, invading Germany ANYWAY, and sending a picture to Omar Bradley, taken from behind, of him pee peeing in the Rhine. There was some saint who’s feast day was my birthday. He had a limp like me, but never really did anything. Guess he was a nerd, too. My birthday is starting to be called, “Freedom Day,” which, after four divorces I can totally relate to.

My physical, and lab work came in last week and I’m fit as a fiddle. In former days, I would rise in the morning and say an “Our Father,” maybe throw in a few “Hail Mary’s,” for good measure, and charge into the morning. These days I sit on the edge of the bed, wish my shoes weren’t so far away, and just say, “DAMN!” My memory is intact. (DAMN!)

I detest birthday parties, but a few gifts drifted in. One was a box of Oliva cigars. I got a thirty pack of beer to go with them. Frenchi sent me a note saying good things come to those who wait. I’m so glad she’s of age! There was no cake. (I hate cake!) About the most exciting thing coming up this week is the arrival of a cold front on Friday, and if you’re a Texan you can appreciate that. I ran out of Aleve, and I need to address that situation, but I’m regular, and that’s always nice.

I remember my old business partner, W C Dorrill, who died at eighty-nine or so. If there was ever a type number one capitalist it was him. When I asked him how he viewed getting so old he said, “I wake up each day, reach for the paper, look at the obituaries, and if I don’t see my name, I get up!

Frank and his Big Scewdriver

by Wilbur Witt

During my time at Sears Holdings as a Customer Solutions manager I took thousands of calls from customers trying to resolve various issues arising from purchases they had made at Sears, or the coordination of repairs of item so purchased, but one call in particular stands out to me. It was in the middle of summer, heat waves were baking the northeast, and especially New York City. Air conditioners, strained beyond their capacity were failing all,over the city, and we were having to work very hard to route technicians to each call with the waiting list as long as two weeks in some cases.

I received a call one afternoon from an elderly lady living in New York. Her one window air conditioner had stopped working. I was on what they called the “third tier” which was a special group, only in Austin, that got escalated calls where at least three Sears employees had failed to satisfy the customer’s needs. This woman’s needs were simple. She was over eighty years old, lived on the third floor of am old brownstone, on a crowded street, and the men who had been dispatched didn’t want the hassle so they were consistently marking her as a “not at home,” and she continued to bake in a three room walk up that was never designed for this kind of heat.

As I looked at the list of work orders that had not been completed she began to tell me everything about her situation. I already knew it was bad, old lady in an apartment with ninety plus heat, but she told me that a year ago her husband of over fifty years, Frank, had passed away.

“I don’t know how to do this. Frank always handled things. He bought the insurance from Sears and everything. Should I go and meet them in the street? Frank always took care of everything, and if her was here with his big screw driver he’d already have fixed this.” Then, she began to sob uncontrollably. I asked her to allow me to put her on a brief hold.

“You will be back, right. All the others put me on hold and never come back.”. I assured her I would most certainly return. Being on the third level wielded a certain amount of power. There were only a couple hundred or so of us, but we sat very near the source of power at Sears, and we had an entire tool box we could use to solve problems, or exercise pressure. I was a task master at the political end. I would use real rules, arm twisting, and outright bluffs if need be.

I called the unit in New York City and got the manager. I began cordially by letting him know that this lady had been passed over at least three times. I reminded him that she had a protection plan on her air conditioner. He started to give me all the excuses about the overflow of calls, the heat, her location, the difficulty of access, and I cut him off. This Yankee thought it was hot in the Bronx, try Austin, Texas.

“Oh, silly me, I guess I didn’t make myself clear. Ok. If there isn’t cold air blowing on Miss Edna by six o’clock tonight I’m going to deactivate the crew that has the work order I just struck, after I deactivate YOU!”

Long silence. Of course, he wanted my name, location, and division. I gave it to him. Another long silence. “”Ok. I’ll get it done.”

“Have the tech bring another unit with him. It’s a small ‘110’ air conditioner. My fifteen year old grand daughter could carry. That way I won’t have to expect her to wait three more weeks for parts.”

He told me he would arrange that too. “And, one more thing, make sure the guy takes a big screw driver, make sure Edna sees it.”

“Why.”

“Don’t question me, just do it!”

“I’m going to file a report on this.”

“I’m sure you will.”

I went back and told Edna to alert the person in her lobby about the arrival of the repairman. After that I went to break. Sears had an elite team of senior techs who oversaw all repairs nationwide, and yes, they are in Austin, too. The call center is built around them, literally! They sat in the middle of the building, and all the rest of us were positioned around them. The public was never allowed to speak to them, and that was a good thing because most of them were a bunch or grizzly old bikers who had worked construction all their lives. I had coffee with one of them and told him what had just transpired. He told me to send him the case and he would watch over it after I ended my shift. If that unit manager in New York thought I was an asshole he just hadn’t met Gary yet!

The next day was my midweek day off, but when I returned on Friday I immediately checked Edna’s work order. I was very pleased to see that it had been completed. I left Sears right after that, but I think about Edna now and then. By now I suppose she’s passed on, but I know as she goes through the gates of heaven Frank won’t be too hard to find. He’ll be waiting for her, with his big screwdriver.