Compelling Evidence for the Nonexistence of the Universe, Chapter 1 Part 3

Chaos

Chapter 1: The Phone Interview

Part 3

Lucky Travel was a hub for a whole bunch of the kind of low budget cruises and trips to Branson, Missouri you find on the ads in magazines aimed at lonely old people. It was founded in the 1960s and although I could never get management to admit it, judging from the faded promotional materials in the break room I’m pretty sure the name was an attempt to make fun of Chinese people.

The phone beeped again.

“Thank you for calling Lucky Travel, where your luck is only just beginning. My name is Darius, how can I help you?”

“Hi, my name is Sarah. Sarah Longmire.”

“Hi, Sarah. What can I do for you today?”

“Sarah Longmire. Longmire with an L.”

“Sarah Longmire, got it. Thank you for that. What can I do for you.”

“Loooongmire. As in, the word long? Long Island Iced Tea? Are you looking this up?”

I’d been at Lucky Travel for almost two years. I would use the cliché and say they were long years, but in your thirties the useless years aren’t long. The hours on the job are long, and the days stretch in front of you like Olympus Mons on the horizon when you forgot to pack your Martian climbing gear. But the years themselves speed right past you with a bad Mexican accent. You barely notice when they’re gone.

Beep.

“Thank you for calling Lucky Travel, where your luck is only just beginning. My name is Darius, how can I help you?”

“Yeah, you sell boats?”

“No, sir, we arrange travel packages to exotic destinations.” And many, many more boring ones. I didn’t say that.

“Travel packages for boats, right? Boat packages?”

“We offer a variety of cruises, yes.”

“Right. Great. I’m interested in buying a boat. What do you got?”

Lucky Travel had three tiers of customer service. The first tier for the new hires was called the Welcome Wagon. It involved giving general information and setting appointments for sales reps to call prospective customers back. It was a fairly easy and low-stress job. The customers tended to be in a good mood because they hadn’t spent any money and no one had screwed them yet. The third tier was Sales. Sales was pretty high pressure because there were quotas, but there were also commissions. Good sales people could make a lot of money.

The middle tier was Customer Support. They “promoted” employees to CS who had been there a while but who weren’t good enough for sales. It mostly involved listening to the complaints of people who had already bought packages and pretending to do something to fix them. I’d been moved into Customer Support a few months after I started. It took only a few days to realize that I’d been “promoted” to the mail room in Siberia.

“Hey, Darius, you got a break coming up?”

“Hmm?” I took my phone off of available and spun around to look at the speaker. It was Mike from accounting. He wasn’t really from accounting; I have idea why we called him that. “No, I don’t have a break for 45 minutes.”

“Well take one now,” said Mike. “I want to go light up.” He spoke in his usual carrying voice, like he was speaking about something more casual than illicit drug use during work. Like the state of his underwear, which he also spoke about far too loudly in inappropriate places.

I sighed. “Mike, I can’t take a break. And I can’t get high at work.”

“Come on, dog,” he said. “I’m jonesing. And everyone else is busy.”

How flattering. “Sorry. Some of us actually need this job.”

Mike’s father, Adam Prince, was the owner or manager or something of both Ultrafoods supermarkets in Ducksburg. Mike only worked at Lucky because his father was under the delusion that lying to lonely old people about sub-part vacation packages for 8 hours a day would teach him a work ethic. So Mike didn’t care if he got canned. The worst part of it was that he was 19 years old, had been here for about six months, and was already in sales.

“Suit yourself,” said Mike. “If you change your mind I’ll be spliffing it real by the dumpster.”

“Which one?”

“The good one.”

I pretended to know what that meant and got back on the phones.

Beep.

“Thank you for calling Lucky Travel, where your luck is only just beginning. My name is Darius, how can I help you?”

It seems weird, thinking about to that moment, that nothing more dramatic than words followed that beep. Like the water-cooler exploding into pudding. Or a flash of colors in my field of vision that blasted my mind into a torrent of unfathomably beautiful chaos. But that didn’t happen. It was just two words. Two words that I had no idea would both save and ruin my life.

“Hello Dendrite.”
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