Why nobody ever reports anything to anyone, anywhere

If you’re a consumer, in which category I include ordinary members of organizations, citizens, enlisted men in the service etc., there is no point in telling the organization about a problem.

Try telling the call center at your telephone company about a problem with the phone’s software. Try telling the sad vest-wearing people at the megastore that the paint cans are all leaking. Experiment by pointing out a hugely embarrassing typo in the ads for your bank. It’s almost always pointless. Some combination of corporate hostility, personal resentment from the underling you encounter, “policies,” and the complete inability of “first line customer service” to communicate with functional parts of the organization occurs.

There are exceptions. 911, for example; they’re always glad to hear about an oil slick on the freeway or the smell of natural gas, or even the leaky paint can. Individuals who run small stores or one-person open source software projects are generally grateful and responsive to help. Journalists, when you contact them directly, like to fix errors and typos.

My example today is LJ. Once, there was a community of some kind for reporting problems, followed by a bugzilla installation, followed now by an RT installation. RT is a great piece of software. I reported on Sept. 22 that a good chunk of my comment emails were blank. No one took the bug and there were no replies; the problem continued. On november 30 someone categorized the bug but did not take it or assign it. Today I added some helpful information. It’s dead. A useful and necessary feature is totally broken, but submitting this information as an ordinary user is totally pointless.

I wonder what the minimum size is for an organization so that consumers are sealed off from any attempt to provide useful feedback from the bottom up? With big companies it appears to be a point of pride now that the call center droids and email answerers are forbidden to communicate with anyone. And even with a well-intentioned application of bug tracking software, it’s just ennui reporting anything.

Our municipal drains were insufficient for today’s inch of rain.

Hurray, I got to see mahakala today! She was at D’s for a bit this afternoon, where I fled after my shrink appointment. It was Old Home Week as other people I rarely see also showed up. Then off to the Indian Burial Ground Coffee House of Doom to see catamorphism and David, who were really nice. We gabbled about big ideas for a while. Amazingly, I was not dragged to Hell by slimy green arms or held down while Morlocks carved swastikas into my nuts or anything. Maybe that curse was a one-time thing. About the coffee house, not catamorphism, silly.

Ate some pasta and an omelette. The cat is freakin’ neurotic lately, clingy and demanding and making that weird barking sound she only makes when she’s demanding something. A fair amount of remedial cat cuddle was necessary to get her back into a humming pleasant state.

After shrinkage I took some photos down the street at the shuttered and crumbling Children’s Nuthouse on Dover. There’s no more reliable source of undergraduate-literary-magazine style urban decay ‘n’ despair than a closed mental institution!

745 Dover Drive #1

The rest of the set is here on Flickr if you need more anomie ‘n’ ennui.

I myself was doing great today until sometime after I came home and then the bad mood 16-ton weight fell on me. Oops.

Classic patio scene.

Sitting at the bar next to A.J. and talking with Michelle, bla bla, half-reading a book.

In walks this woman who is so hot as to cause a readjustment of the Universal Hotness Index, one flaming screaming hot PIECE OF ASS, probably about 19 years old. I skip a few beats from pure lust, and A.J. notices. He turns around back and says “Holy shit.” I smile at her nervously, she smiles back in a very pleasant way and goes back out.

A.J. says “Dude! That was for YOU!”

“She is seven years old,” I reply.

After a few more conversations and 100 pages of reading, I head to my car. Miss. Jesus H. Christ My Spleen Just Exploded With Lust From Looking at You is sitting with Tommy “Aloysius” Dougherty, who has been “39” for ten years or so. He’s being all artistic, and soulful, and poetical, and shit.

Didn’t I see this same exact scene in 1996? And every weekend since?

Door to Door (slight return)

Another college guy showed up at the door with the exact same spiel.

ME: You guys already hit me up.

HIM: It’s not what you think, we’re not selling magazines.

ME: Right, you’re selling books!

HIM: …yes. Did he have something like… ::shows brochure::

ME: Right, exactly. Books for kids, in the hospital.

HIM: Well, crap. I’m just around the corner on Francisco. No one around here is in my class! What the heck?

There’s a pause and the poor guy looks genuinely lost.

ME: I’m not sure he was at UCLA like you. Maybe he is at a different school that’s doing the fundraiser.

HIM: Oh man, yeah. Crap. Yeah.

ME: So, anyway, this area has had the pitch already. Sorry.

HIM: Thanks, man. ::wanders off sadly::

History Lesson: Let’s not play soldier.

Looking for information on military units like the one Bob served with in Vietnam is incredibly frustrating. Bob was in a special warfare unit in the Navy. This means that he was a UDT, or a SEAL, or a “Navy Scout” or something. So he was in one of these shadowy things like the “Maritime Studies Group” or “Studies and Observations Group” that were just killing machines. When you look for that stuff on the web there’s this mountain of macho horseshit to plow through. The official histories and some sites run by veterans are there, of course.

But good God, the fixation this country has on elite military units! Message board fights about who a real SEAL is, dissing of various public figures about their war records, lots of debunking of people who claim to be SEALs or Special Forces or whatever but aren’t. Every meathead in the country claims either to be a SEAL or claims to know all about them and have the real scoop, unlike those other poseurs. Regular soldiers aren’t enough; the poor bastards may get blown up, shot, underpaid, mistreated, and dumped to die but they don’t have flaming death’s head patches and special medals and really really cool face paint.

You know what that is? It’s pathetic. Bob killed so many innocent people and saw so many unspeakable things in his time at war that he spent the next 25 years marinated in Crown Royal and wreaking havoc on himself and everyone else. It was a nauseating, terrifying Hell that makes a very unlikely craggy cynical old bastard like Bob tear up and flinch when he sees a Vietnamese person to this day. Special Forces, in his case, meant an especially bad war that made him an especially bad person. If these web warriors and message board heroes had to see any of that they’d never stop shitting their Dockers. I suppose they have an image of a straight-jawed Hollywood actor heroically cutting down uniformed bad guys and saving his buddies. The reality was more like a gang of maniacs blowing up and burning houses and schools and hospitals, and one of the maniacs is you.

Dude Ranch Nation gives me ennui.