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I’m a valet… maybe…

This is one of those stories that requires a little… or rather… A lot of back story.

Back at the end of March, I applied for a job with a valet parking company. They held the group interview yesterday. This is the short vlog entry I made before I went out.

I was offered the job. 

I had to change my hair and shave…

I was excited and did it… I even made a silly vlog episode about it…

Well… tonight, they called me in an attempt to schedule me… I missed the call… but I got the voicemail and fell apart. My face flushed, my joints are achey, chest is tight, can’t relax, heart is racing, my neck is SOOO tense, my brain feels like it’s too big for my head, head ache… You know how it is… straight up anxiety attack.

I… I don’t think I am going to be able to take the job.

It goes a lonnnnggg way back.

Back in 2006, I moved to Orlando, FL because Timber was living there and told me that it was an awesome place to live. He was partly right. I did Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios for a couple years. I met some great friends, and had some great times…

HOWEVER, like all of us… I needed a job… sooo…

It wasn’t this call center, but it could have been.

I worked at the customer service center for ***COMPANY NAME REDACTED***.  This was  my own personal hell. This company is a MAJOR retailer. The call center I worked in was deidcated to the installation and repair of appliances. I worked in the call center for a few months in the repair department. They promoted me to “escalated complaints.”

When an installation or repair did not go right, they were handled by the department that handled it. If it kept going wrong, and the customer became unmanageable and a manager could not handle it: it got shipped over to my department. We were (supposedly) empowered to handle customer’s issues and get them taken care of. That is, provided that they were in the right. There were a great many of them that were not in the right.

My problems started when it came out that I used to be a contractor and used to install appliances for another company. So, I became the “Go to guy” for answers of why things worked the way they do. I was able to explain it simply, and the case worker would call the customer and let them know our decision based on the information at hand.

There were 3 people in the department that caused problems. One of them would not call her difficult customers back. When she took calls for other agent’s she wouldn’t read them the comments on their account (which would explain what she needed to say), she wouldn’t forward messages along, and she was just lazy. #2 was a religious nut that insisted on sending religious themed emails. The third one was… well… a wussy… she never wanted to tell the customers no… even when we were in the right in a specific instance.

Now, the problem got worse because of the way the department was run. Each of us was required to work a certain number of cases. The tracking system had no way to track who had modified the files in the system. So… #3 would reassign the cases she did not want to deal with to another agent. Typically, to me… So… after months of a customer being neglected by Trac… by #3, a customer was assigned to me, and I caught the full brunt of their fury…

Yup… That was my job. 

So… I spent two years of my life getting yelled at for 50+ hours a week. Then, the high end management of ***COMANY REDACTED***, decided that they were going to change the way things were done and remove all of our authority and power to help the customers. So it got worse. Then #3 started lying to her customers telling them that I was supposed to handle them…

Allow me to clarify things a bit. As I have mentioned, ad nauseum, I have Asperger’s Syndrome. One of the things that i have noticed about people with AS is that we resonate very loudly with the concept of truth. So… in a situation where an issue is based in fact, whether or not the customer agrees, I would stand by my guns… Like I was told to do.

After two years of dealing with rude, loud, insulting, aggressive and irrational people who had no respect for the truth of the matter (Not to mention were a bunch of entitled butt-munches)… I lost it. I had a documented psychotic break. Well… Let me reword that. I had a mental breakdown. They put me in an inpatient facility and on anti-psychotic medications. Then I went into an outpatient mental program for 8 weeks.

I recovered. Went back to work at ***COMPANY NAME REDACTED*** and told them that I needed to be in a different department, which they refused to accommodate and the stress built up and they noticed it before another break and fired me on my birthday.

I was on unemployment for a while and then moved back home to New Orleans.

Within a couple weeks, I got a job at a local Inn as the property manager. I moved in and started checking customers in, cleaning rooms and taking customer’s reservations. Within about 6 months, dealing with PISSY customers, a racist co-owner and a lazy other co-owner (leave me alone, I know it’s grammatically incorrect), I started to slip again.

This is the exact opposite of what I was feeling.

While I was doing this, I was working on my films. I had been hired by the owners and told that my time was mine… they lied… but I was unable to really do that… The stress caused me to crack a little…

Fortunately, before I completely broke. They awarded me disability, and I was able to get out of there.

A couple years later, my friend Will needed a driver for his mental health clinic. I took that job. Within 3 months… I was cracking again… So… I had to quit that job.

Each time I have started to break… it has taken longer… and longer… and LONGER… to recover.

So… I was excited yesterday when they gave me the job… There was a little bit of anxiety over changing my hair and having to shave my face for it. We fear change… especially when it’s not on our own terms. (no, I am not claiming to have multiple personalities… “We fear change” is a line from a movie I saw years ago)

I filled out all of the paperwork last night (I respect the parking company very much… they are completely paperless). Today, the manager called me to get me scheduled and I lost it. All of the symptoms I listed earlier…

I don’t think I can do it. I honestly don’t think I can.

Part of it is the stress of knowing I am going to be out in the world surrounded by people. Part of it is it is customer service, the source of horror in my life. Part of it is knowing I am going to be outside… on Canal Street, in New Orleans… That’s a lot of noise and light… wayyyy too overwhelming.

I am honestly getting clammy hands and a thundering heart beat, can’t breath deeply just writing about it.

Then comes the issue that truly terrifies me. We’re talking a mortal terror… If I break this time, I fear I may not be coming back. The last time, it took almost 8 months to get back to being me… Actually… I’m still not completely functional…

I’m scared… That stress is going to break me… and then…I won’t come back. Is it silly? Probably… but I am on disability because of the things wrong with my brain.

The damage has been done… I can’t take anymore.

I am afraid that I won’t be a match for this stuff in a chess game.

Images in this issue SHAMELESSLY stolen from the following sources:
http://www.balitangamerica.tv/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/philippine+call+center.jpg
http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/anger-how-5.jpg
http://dailywicca.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Stress_Relief1.jpg
http://www.slimmingsolutions.co.uk/slimmingblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/high+cholesterol+diet+can+cause+brain+damage_2965_800260713_0_0_7001671_300.jpg

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