On not fooling anyone

google-deepmind-artificial-intelligenceSo I got a phone call at work the other day.  I answered it and was greeted with a couple of seconds of silence before the person on the other end asked for some sort of manager– in charge of marketing, maybe?– that our specific store doesn’t have.  I explained that we’re corporately owned (this type of phone call, at least the initial part, happens more often than you’d think) and that not only did I not know the name of the person who was in charge of marketing, they likely weren’t called the “marketing manager,” and they were also almost certainly in Denver and not Indiana.

A brief moment of silence again.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that,” the person on the other end says.  “Can you repeat your answer?”

Huh.

“I’m talking to a robot, aren’t I?” I said.

A brief moment of silence.

“No.  This is a living person,” the robot on the other end lies.  At which point I hung up on it and it didn’t call back.  I briefly regretted not asking it what the main ingredient was in tomato soup as a quick Turing test and then went on with my day.

Your question for today:  Even assuming that we live in a world where a voice-recognition computer program is the tool you want to use to determine who runs marketing for various local furniture stores, why would you a) program that computer to lie about being a computer when challenged, and if you choose to program the computer to lie, why would you program it to lie in such an unconvincing manner?  No actual living person would have answered like that.  Not one, anywhere.

Theories are welcome.

Proof of life

24dc9ee…I’m here, I promise.  It’s been a hell of a long week, honestly– Sunday was spent doing mostly nothing at work and trying to recover from the case of 24-hour Con Crud that I came home with, Monday and Tuesday were the Longest Days Ever at work, and then Wednesday and yesterday I pretty much sat around the house playing Nioh.  I managed to get out tonight; the three of us went to dinner and then selected pumpkins at a local patch; there will likely be some sort of carving thing happening on Sunday night, so there’s a post right there.

Actually, Monday’s shenanigans deserve at least a brief mention, if only in a holy shit I survived that sort of way.  We sell beds, right?  We also sell what we, perhaps too grandly, are supposed to call top-of-bed products and most of us just call bedding, because saying top-of-bed products is Goddamned stupid.

Anyway, we’re clearancing out all of our bedding.  All of it.  Every last piece.  We’re doing it because we’re bringing in an entirely new line of stuff, and the old stuff has to go before the new stuff comes in.  As you do.  Selling bedding has always been fun, because in addition to the usual commission we make a substantial number of points on it too.  We get paid 20% of our points (which we can get for a variety of reasons) at the end of every week, meaning it’s not only basically immediate money but it’s good money– you can make $20 on a $100 bed set, and our bed sets went up to $300.

As of Sunday, we were still paying out full points for bedding.  Which meant when I sold a set of bedding for– get this– $24.99, that money basically went straight into my pocket.  So I was actually pretty damn excited about the idea of steering every single person who walked in the door toward buying bedding, and making up for several weeks of low pay.

And then they turned points off on Monday, meaning that where I was expecting to make about $20 a sale I made $1.25 instead, and instead of the usual three or four sales for a Monday I had twenty-nine, well over half of which involved stripping a bed and bagging everything up.  By myself, since I was the only person on my side of the store.

And then Tuesday I did it again, only with eighteen sales instead of 29, because most of the good shit got sold on Monday.

So yeah.  I’ve been tired.  Real tired.  I’ll try and post more next week.

Action vs. Reaction

IF you take up an hour and a half of my time on a busy-as-fuck Sunday to purchase twenty-five different vases, all of which are heavy, some of which lack price tags (and therefore I need to figure out what they are) and all of which are on clearance and may or may not be ringing up correctly;

and IF I manage to keep a smile on my face and the murder in my heart at bay during this process, while you spend a hundred and twenty-five dollars to purchase items originally valued at nearly six hundred and fifty dollars, earning myself the grand total of six dollars and twenty-five cents in the process;

and IF I have to keep a running total of what the computer is charging you and what it ought to be charging you, and tell my manager “just fucking trust me” under my breath when I call him over to authorize the additional $77 in discounts that the computer should have given you but didn’t;

and IF another employee and I carry each and every one of those, again, twenty-five vases to your vehicle and wrap them carefully in paper so that they do not damage each other;

and IF my reaction to you calling me two days later and accusing me of getting your discounts wrong is not to laugh and hang up the phone or call you names but to carefully annotate a printout of your invoice documenting each of the extra discounts I applied and how, in fact, the computer appears to have applied an extra dollar and fifty-seven cents that I did not personally approve to your account, meaning you saved even more money;

and IF after going to that extra work, you still don’t believe me, I offer to take a picture of said calculations, now annotated even further so that my chicken-scratch is comprehensible to an outsider, and send it to you on your cell phone so that you can see where every dime of your money went;

and IF you then call me at eight fucking forty-five at night, on my personal goddamned cell phone, while I am enjoying the fifteen minutes that I get to spend with my six-year-old son in between me getting home from work on a Tuesday and him going to bed, in order to berate me further about said discounts and how you don’t understand my calculations;

well, THEN, you should probably expect a somewhat less-than-entirely-polite response.

The End.

middle-finger-poster-flag-6185-p

On hubris and honesty

So I just had a job interview.  For a job back at my old district.  Not a teaching position, mind you, but teacher salary and mostly teacher schedule, and I’d have my goddamn weekends back.  And I was in this weird place throughout the entire interview where part of me was like Look, literally ask any fucker I’ve ever worked with in this district and they’ll tell you I’m the best person for this job and the rest of me was both trying to rein that part in, because who talks like that, and simultaneously trying to prevent myself from literally begging for the job.

And here’s the thing: I am, if not literally the most qualified person for the job– although I might be– a really fucking solid candidate, and this shit’s perfectly 100% in my wheelhouse.  And there’s nothing wrong with doing my damnedest to make that clear, but when combined with my fucking neediness that I’m trying to keep under control, because I need to not be selling furniture and working 17.5 hours every weekend anymore, it can get out of control quickly.

And then– get this– on the way out of the elevator, after ascertaining that one way or another there will be a second round of interviews and this isn’t happening in the next few days and I need to be patient, I ran into a friend of mine who was there to interview for the same job.  Who, in fact, I had listed as a reference on my application.

Luckily, she was also interviewing for a couple of other positions under the same umbrella, which made me feel a bit better, because– and I say this with full knowledge that she reads the blog and occasionally comments here– a good part of my brain was going I will step over your body if I have to for this while we were talking in the hallway, and I kinda prefer it if that part of my brain stays locked away, right?  That part of my brain is why I don’t drink, because it’s best for everyone if it never gets let out.

Fuck it, she’s known me for years, this is probably not a surprising reaction.

But yeah.  I think that went well.  But I’d prefer to know now, please, so if karma would take my toiling in the furniture mines into account and get this shit moving along, that’d be dandy, thanks.


My new book, Tales: The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 3 is now available for pre-order on Amazon!  Just $2.99 for the ebook edition!