Hornets made a nest in my car.
Called in sick.
Nothing short of a delicate haiku can express how royally ticked off I am right now. The accompanying rage comic (aptly named) is just icing on the cake.
* * *
Dressed for work.
Hornets made a nest in my car.
Called in sick.
My banker is a troll. I don't mean the type that hide under bridges and exact a fee if you so much as look in their direction, but that's a close approximation.
Unless you're stuffing your money under a mattress, you probably have a bank account. Chances are you've probably also set foot in a bank. If you're still nodding your head so far, you might agree with me when I tell you that customer service at most banks is abysmal.
Years ago, when I had an account at TrollBank, I was one of the first to sign up for their new investment brokerage service. When other banks were offering savings accounts with 0.15% yearly gains, they touted an impressive 5% yield. My interest piqued, I went for their bait and swallowed the hook whole.
It turned out that the brokerage arm was in fact a wholly-owned subsidiary of the parent bank. They had similar names. TrollBank, the parent banking company, had spawned TrollBanque, an investment house. Both entities were so interrelated that they shared retail space -- every standalone TrollBank sectioned off a portion of its office space to TrollBanque. In fact, the TrollBanque investment specialist had access to my deposit accounts from his computer. He was rather eager to wire funds from TrollBank checking account into my brand-new TrollBanque investment fund.
Despite the companies' symbiotic relationship, they were two separate entities. No employee of TrollBank could be said to also be an employee of TrollBanque, and vice versa. This all became painfully apparent when I needed to withdraw my invested funds. Although the investment specialist did not hesitate to oblige, the money was slow in coming. A week went by and my demand account at TrollBank was not funded. Flat broke and with the rent coming due soon, I was getting desperate.
I paid a visit to my local TrollBank and pulled the supervisor aside. When I told her of the problems with my investment account, she cut me off and directed me to the TrollBanque supervisor, whose office was the next door over. I sat for an hour with the supervisor for TrollBanque, whose only recommendation was that I speak with the TrollBank supervisor, the lady with whom I'd first spoken, but by then she'd already gone out to lunch.
Frustrated and without an inkling as to where my money had gone, I stormed out of TrollBank and dialed their customer service hotline. A plan was forming in my mind like craggy thunderheads priming up for a storm. After navigating their labyrinth of an automated phone menu, I was patched through to "Steve." By his accent I knew that he was speaking from somewhere on the other side of the world, and also that his name was not really Steve.
When "Steve" could not help me, I escalated the call. After another eternity on hold, a brusque man with a thick Boston accent came on the line. He said the money had been held up due to an accounting technicality. This was a lie, I knew, as TrollBank was likely holding onto my cash for a few more days to make money off of it. Banks don't simply forget where they put their customers' money.
The man's voice went up an octave as though he'd uncovered a leprechaun's buried gold.
"Oh hey," he said. "It looks like you made some interest on your money these past few days." His pitch dropped. "Not much though."
I could picture him rolling his eyes as he said that last part.
"How much?" I asked.
"Eleven cents. I'll wire it in to your checking account."
"Don't," I said. "My account is closed."
Fingers struck a keyboard on the other end of the line. "No, I see here that your account is still open."
"Send me a check," I insisted.
The man laughed. Discreetly, but still he laughed. "The postage stamp alone is more than the amount of the check."
"All right," the man relented. "We'll send you a check."
The check for eleven cents came the very next day via overnight delivery. Why anyone would spend upward of twenty dollars to express-deliver a check for eleven cents puzzles me to this day.
The day I received it, I tacked the eleven cent check to my refrigerator door. It hung there for weeks like some sort of exotic big-game trophy. In my mind, the eleven cents the check represented held far less value than the check itself. Banks, you see, are highly regulated entities. They have to account for every penny of their customers' money, or else the government comes down on them hard.
For the long string of weeks between when I got the check and when I cashed it, some poor sap at TrollBanque was losing sleep over how the bank's ledgers didn't balance by eleven cents.
That type of satisfaction is worth far more than just a dime and a penny.
Since opening our doors, we've culled through plenty of letters from job-seekers here at the Syndicate. Usually we forward them on to our Human Resources Department, which happens to share office space with our paper shredding vendor. On an unrelated point, we've not had any job candidate interviews since we relocated our HR department, but that's likely an unrelated point.
Some letters never make it out our door. Out of the reams of paper that cross our desks each day, we keep a select few in our main office. These get copied and circulated, posted up in break rooms and on cafeteria refrigerators us to laugh at.
If you're starting to think we're insensitive for making light of others' joblessness, we ask you to hold your judgment for a moment. You should keep in mind two things: (1) the authors of these letters wrote us inquiring about staff writer positions, and (2) these people write letters as well as we draw, and that's saying plenty.
We've reproduced one such job seeker's letter below. Line by line, we'll parse what it says to get at what it really means to say.
Dear Sir or Madam:
Right off the bat, this candidate gets it wrong because he doesn't know whether we're men or women. We'll forgive him (or her) this and move on, as there's still a chance to net an "A" for effort.
My objective is to secure a rewarding position at your company.
By which is meant: "Hey, hiring manager, you're so dumb that I have to tell you why I'm writing you, as if sending you my résumé weren't enough of a giveaway."
I am a very hardworking, dedicated, and motivated man. Just ask any of my references. I'm accomplished and results-driven.
Ah, so our candidate is male, as if that would influence our hiring decision any. The rest of this phrase means: "I have no skills applicable to your business but am desperate enough to cold call you on the off-chance you'll write back." And that bit about being accomplished and results-driven means he would punt his own mother in the teeth if enough money were offered.
As a team player, I work best in a collaborative environment.
That's a loaded statement. Saying you're a team player is shorthand for: "I don't know how to do anything, so I pass everything off to other people." And knowing how to work in a collaborative environment means he's good at blaming others for his failures while taking credit for their achievements.
In light of these, he does appear to have management potential.
I strive for challenging work.
"Please hire me, I'll do anything."
While I'm best suited for the senior supervisory analyst job, I'm also available for any other positions.
What the hell is a senior supervisory analyst? We're not sure there's such a position in our corporate structure. That aside, the sentence above parses out to: "While I would prefer the job that pays the most, I really am that hard-up for cash that I'll mop your floors if you let me."
Current market bellwethers indicate a clear paradigm shift in the global economy...
"I have no idea what I'm saying, so here are some big words."
...and I am uniquely positioned to leverage my individual attributes to our mutual benefit.
"I went to college. Hire me."
My primary motivator is the sense of satisfaction I get after a job well done.
Such a lie. Our accountants would go into ecstatic fits if everyone who worked here were paid in personal satisfaction and not money. Banks would sure have a hard time cashing those checks, but that's beside the point.
I invite you to briefly peruse my two-page resume. You will see that because of the fact that my accomplishments speak for themselves, I would make for a fine addition to your team.
Ugh. So many errors per square inch of page that someone ought to develop a specialized unit of measurement to track them. Something like:
Dunce Coefficient = (Errors / Surface Area of a Page) x Number of Pages
First, he uses the word "peruse" in a sense contrary to what the word means. To peruse means to perform an in-depth analysis of something. If we understand him correctly, he'd invite us to take a cursory yet thorough review of his materials? Unfortunately, his "invitation" did not come with an RSVP section where we could decline with regrets.
And his resume is two pages long -- that's twice as long as it needs to be, unless the three letters after his name are Ph.D.
Something else bears mentioning: "...because of the fact that my accomplishments..." We'd love to call this candidate in for an interview just to ask, "So, which of your accomplishments is because of the fiction?"
I would be happy to supply references upon your request.
Earlier in the letter he stressed how all his references would vouch for him, and yet he doesn't have the decency to identify those references for us. We understand discretion is the better part of valor, especially when your job references are CIA agents or international spies. Chances are his references are his parents, so why the secrecy?
That letter was painful. Our bosses sent us home with hazard pay after reading it. Thankfully, our nausea had passed in a few hours and we were back to work the following morning. To this day, the letter hangs on an office whiteboard. We use it to haze new employees.
We did eventually call this candidate in for an interview. It lasted all of three minutes. Check out the comic strip below to see how it went.