A Day at the Call Center
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"Good morning, Sir. Yes, you have reached Uncle Merl's Discount Emporium, how may I assist you? I'm sorry, this is tech support, we don't handle sales. No, Sir, I can't direct you to sales without a reference. I don't care if your friend says I did a few days ago, I'm not doing it now. Because the last time I did someone got sold something she wasn't supposed to have. Sir, I do not appreciate this sort of language. Goodbye."

Mr. Sami was not having a good day.

Though Mr. Sami only rarely had good days, this one was no ordinary bad day, he thought. It was a bad day with expectations, with dreams. It aspired to be the best bad day it could be, a day so absolutely terrible other bad days will tell stories about it to their children.

Mr. Sami had somewhat of a flair for the dramatic.

Mr. Sami was a tech support supervisor at Uncle Merl's Discount Emporium, top provider of all products mysterious and magical, or so the company claimed at least. As far as Mr. Sami was concerned, they were the top peddlers of overpriced crap that broke down every ten minutes, often disastrously. Say what you will about Marshall, Carter, and Dark and their business practices, at least their products worked as intended most of the time. Every time one of Merl's crappy dehumanizers or shoddy levitators crashed and burned, it meant more work for him. Like right now.

"So, Ma'am, what seems to be the problem with your Luxetron 3000? It's too bright? Ma'am, you are aware the Luxetron is a device made to dispel magical darkness? No Ma'am, it is not supposed to be used as a tanning lamp, it's all in the manual. Page 23."

And sometimes, the product was just fine and the customer was an idiot.

"Ma'am, let me transfer you to our luxomancy expert. Please hold." Mr. Sami rose from his cubicle, and scanned the office for the tip of a pointy hat. "Hey Dan, call for you on line 5! Another moron using the Luxetron as a tanning lamp!"

A voice replied from the cubicle sporting the pointy tip. "Do not disturb Danerius the Magnificent! He is at work peering into the very fabric of the arcane stream!"

"Finish your goddamn Freecell game later and answer the bloody phone!"

A tall, white haired figure rose from the cubicle, the majestic appearance of his robes only slightly spoiled by the flowery tie he chose to wear over them. "You shall pay dearly for this interruption, Sami. I shall inflict upon you a hex most foul for this transgression!" His threats might have been more credible if Dan didn't make them every time he had to answer a call.

"Yeah, threaten a shaman with a curse, that's a real bright idea, Dan. Now if you don't mind, I have another call."

Mr. Sami sat down at his desk went back to work. In the following two hours, he had to deal with one of their patented Snoozebooks malfunctioning and causing people to mildly explode ("If I were you, Sir, I'd take my daughter to the hospital, they might still be able to reattach that foot. No, Sir, the book is non-refundable"), a customer complaining about the new Durandal series ("It's a new model, Sir, some bugs are bound to occur. Yes, I do realize not being able to cut through the skin of large lizards is a pretty major bug. No, we do not cover medical expenses of injuries caused by our products, you signed a disclaimer") and Bob the warlock trying to fix the copier with dark rituals again ("Let go of the mouse blood and ram skull and call tech support, Bob, seriously"). Only four more hours till quitting time. He needed a break.

Mr. Sami went outside for a smoke, taking care to avoid Mr. Jamu's office. He still hasn't filled his performance report for this quarter, and his boss did not take kindly to tardiness. Jamu might be his cousin, but that got him no breaks with the man. Outside, he saw Sarah from the legal department huddled under a puffy coat, her hands shaking from the cold. "Rough day?" he asked.

"You can say that again. Bernstein's in a foul mood."


"He said someone screwed up and left a trail leading to one of our more… questionable ventures. Now the spooks are sniffing around, asking questions."

This was Sami's fault, though nobody knew it. He knew he shouldn't have transferred that lady to sales without a reference, but she asked so nicely. No one ever asked Mr. Sami for anything nicely. Luckily for him, he managed to cover that mistake up by getting rid of the sales rep with a particularly nasty curse.

"Please, those idiots couldn't spot an anomaly in a single word dictionary," (one of their more useless products, Mr. Sami thought) "besides, I thought Bernstein said they had a man on the inside to take care of that sort of thing."

Being involved in the distribution of anomalous objects was never completely safe. Some people objected to Merl's selling some of his more… unique products. Dangerous people. To be honest, the spooks scared Sami, but he couldn't let Sarah know that. He was really only in the business because of his father anyway.

Sarah just shrugged and lit another cigarette. Sami couldn't help but notice how fine she looked today. Maybe it was time for him to finally man up and ask her out. "Say Sarah, are you doing anything tonight?"

This caught her attention. "I'm always doing something. Why, what did you have in mind?"

Sami shifted around uncomfortably, he really wasn't very good at this sort of thing. "I thought maybe we could hang out at my place, I could cook you some of my world famous gumbo." He nervously tried to scratch his nose, remembered he had a lacquered wooden mask on, and slid his hands to his pockets, hoping Sarah didn't notice.

Sarah just smiled. "Sounds like fun. I'll be there at eight." She finished her smoke and went back inside.

Sami gleamed under his mask. Maybe this day wasn't going to be so bad after all. He'd have to stop at the supermarket to get some groceries for the gumbo, maybe get a new aftershave…

The sudden sound of motors and rotors woke him from his day dream. The parking lot was now filled with black cars and jeeps, and several black helicopters circled the skies around the office. Men in discreet clothing emerged from the assembled vehicles, and several made their way directly to him. One of them, a particularly large man in an ill fitting grey suit, grabbed Sami and slapped a pair of handcuffs on him, and proceeded to drag him to the back seat of a nearby van.

"Couldn't spot an anomaly in a single word dictionary, eh?" the man said, a smug look on his face. "Oh, and Agent Stanton wanted me to thank you for selling her that Discloser. She says it was very handy."

Sami just sighed. Well, at least now I won't have to fill that performance sheet, he thought.

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