This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Brrrrrrrr: explained

Posted by: James Lileks under Gripes, Technology Updated: July 15, 2014 - 12:17 PM

No, it’s not a Polar Vortex. Discovery.com:

Typhoon Neoguri, which battered southern Japan with strong wind and rains last week, likely set off the wacky weather pattern that is interfering with the jet stream over the Midwest.

Wacky? What’s next, zany tornados? Madcap thunderstorms?

Strictly speaking, the cold front is not a polar vortex, according to experts. The impending cold front is called a "high meridional event," but there are some similarities.

"It's the same general circulation pattern, but the effects are extremely different," Bob Oravec, a senior forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) Weather Prediction Center, told Live Science. "In the summer, if you go outside in 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) below normal weather, you won't really care, but in the winter, the effects were significantly different because it was already so cold.”

Ahem. We care. We really do. We just get a little summer. Seems cruel to add fall so early. Then again, well:

I was there yesterday. Deserted. For some peculiar reason people aren’t just stocking up on glue pens yet.

I know that glue pens will be on the list of supplies; they always are. Sent daughter to school last year with a package of three. At the end of the year they were unopened. I don’t know where they are now; I do know I will buy three more in a month or so. They will be Elmer brand, because I like Elmer the Borden Bull. In the old 1940s ads he’s a blustering, hectoring, ill-tempered, impulsive fellow, constantly sputtering dismay over his wife Elsie’s monomaniacal shilling for Borden products, but I think there was some underlying tension over her high public profile. Elmer worked in an office - we know this because he was frequently depicted leaving the house with a briefcase, and while it’s possible he wandered the streets, alarming people - a bull, standing erect, wearing a hat, walking around as if he had to get in early to work on the Johnson Contract would be unnerving - but perhaps he knew that Elsie brought in the cream, so to speak. I don’t know if she set him up in the glue business, or if he started it himself after the calves were out of the house and she divorced him.

PLEASE DON’T GO The most astonishing customer assistance call ever recorded for future generations to understand how you can combine cheerfulness, anonymity and Kafkaesque bureaucracy. It’s a Mobius strip. Embedding isn't working for some reason, so here it is. It's mortifying.

“Why do you want to do this?”

“Because that’s what we want to do.”

“Why?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“But why do you want to leave?”

After four minutes you suspect it’s a hoax, because the the caller is too calm, and the Comcast rep isn’t just indifference to the customer, he becomes the needy, whiny partner you can’t break up with easily, but must endure several conversations. NO ONE ELSE WILL LOVE YOU LIKE I DO!

The OP describes the backstory:

This recording picks up roughly 10 minutes into the call, whereby she and I have already played along and given a myriad of reasons and explanations as to why we are canceling (which is why I simply stopped answering the rep's repeated question -- it was clear the only sufficient answer was "Okay, please don't disconnect our service after all.”).

In the comments he is described as the Mother Theresa of Comcast Disconnect Requestors, and that’s about right.

Then again, the Awl has some sympathy for the fellow doing the begging.

. . . overnight my sympathies shifted: If you understand this call as a desperate interaction between two people, rather than a business transaction between a customer and a company, the pain is mutual. The customer service rep is trapped in an impossible position, in which any cancellation, even one he can't control, will reflect poorly on his performance. By the time news of this lost customer reaches his supervisor, it will be data—it will be the wrong data, and it will likely be factored into a score, or a record, that is either directly or indirectly tied to his compensation or continued employment. It's bad, very bad, for this rep to record a cancellation with no reason, or with a reason the script should theoretically be able to answer.

True. The guy could have made up a reason - say, “knobby-fleshed demons are streaming from my modem, praising Baal and making my Bibles burst into flames,” but he didn't have to, and if he wanted to go all Bartleby on the guy, that’s that.

Comcast seems to know this is a PR disaster: here’s their statement.

We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize.  The way in which our representative communicated with him is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action.  While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.

Picture the service rep standing in the middle of the office as his commanding manager ripped off his service patches. Well, there’s nothing left for him but personal appearances in bars that have D-list media celebrities. Bad news; David Brent cancelled. We’ll have to go with the Comcast rep.

VotD Made in Minnesota: the great bands of the 80s revisited, with trips back to the old locales.

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