Saturday, November 25, 2017

Homebody Dad #1


David Livingston was sitting in his cubicle listening to a call. Every few seconds he would pause and write something down then start the call up again. While listening, he faintly heard his name being said. He stopped the call, took off his headset and turned to see his supervisor standing behind him.

“Glad to see you monitoring some calls. We have a few concerns about some of the calls you’ve been scoring.”

“Really? Why cuz?”

“Well,” the supervisor sat down and opened a small three-ring binder. “These are the more pressing concerns. We audited these calls and found glaring examples of protocol being skipped over.”

“What? Really?”

“Like this call. She neglected to read one of the scripts, didn’t give out a phone number, and didn’t verify the caller’s ZIP code.”

David took the paper and looked at it. “I remember this call. There were three scripts she neglected to read. I marked her down on two of them.”

“Even if you don’t mark her down, we’d like you to list what script was skipped.”

“That seems unnecessarily malicious,” David said. “As far as the phone number, it was a number that wouldn’t have helped the caller. She pointed that out during the call. As for the ZIP verification, I know. I chose not to include that because that would’ve lowered her score to a 1 which means she would’ve gotten a verbal warning. I noted that she needs to verify the ZIP code and that next time I wouldn’t overlook it.”

“What we’d really like to do is have the CSR say ‘There is a number you can call. I’m not sure if it will help you but let me give it to you.’ See?”

“But then they are giving useless information to the caller which is also something we score down on, and makes the call longer, which we also score down on.”

“You get scored less heavily on those though. Better safe than sorry.”

David gave his supervisor an odd look. “Bottom line, you want me to start being nitpicky over the calls? Start throwing the hammer down? Show that there is no longer a Mr. Nice Guy?”

“We just want you to do your job,” the supervisor sighed and stood up to leave.

“‘We just want you to do your job,’” David mocked.

“Did you have any questions?” his supervisor popped up over the cubicle wall.

“No. I’m good,” David quickly said.

David got home and parked in the back in the alley. He got out slower than he normally did, weighed down by what he was told at work.

“David, guess what?” Milo Story, a neighbor and good friend of David’s came over from across the alley. “I finally went downtown and got approved to start bottling and selling my beer.”

Several years ago, Milo had started brewing his own beer in his basement and since then it had kind of become a big organization and he had been talking about getting a license to bottle and sell it for several months now.

“Congrats, man,” David shook Milo’s hand. “Let me know if you need my help. I want to support you in any way I can.”

“I need investors so if you know anyone who would like to get in on the ground floor, let me know.”

“I will. See you later,” David waved and headed to his house.

David went in and walked through to the living room. Their nanny, Rose, was sitting on the couch watching TV. A vacuum cleaner hung on the front window curtains. “Hi, Mr. Livingstone,” Rose said.

“Hey, Rose. How was Oliver?”

“A perfect angel like always. He ate at 9, 1, and 2:30 and I put him down for a nap at 3:15. We watched that new show on Nick Junior. It was okay. I think Nick Junior has better shows than Disney. You would think that Disney would be better but Nick Junior, I think, tries harder.”

“Yeah, I see that. I always liked Nick Junior when Sophie and Lucy were little. Did you ever get that thing on the bottom of your foot looked at?”

“Oh, yes. I did.”

“That’s good. What was it? Wart? Corn? Blister?”


“Oh. Of course,” David shrugged. “Rose? Why is the vacuum hanging on the curtain?”

“There was a spider on the curtain and I didn’t want to use a tissue or something that could leave a smudge on the curtain so I tried to vacuum the spider up. It didn’t quite work out.”

“I see. Just use a tissue or napkin next time. Or just ignore it.”

“You’re the boss,” Rose shook her head. She got up off the couch. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr. Livingstone.”

“See you, Rose. Have a good evening.”

David went upstairs and into the attic. “Where would they be?” he asked himself quietly. He moved a couple of boxes and opened a plastic tub. Inside was a bunch of comic-related books and magazines. Packed away with them was a manila folder with David’s own comic strip in it.

He had drawn the comics through high school and part way through college. As he flipped through what he had drawn, he chuckled at a couple of them. The art left much to be desired--not much more than stick figures but he thought they had potential. Even if they didn’t look good, they were kind of funny although he may have been biased.

He heard the door open and someone come home. He gathered his comics and went downstairs. He saw his oldest daughter, Sophia, and wife Alison, standing in the kitchen. “Hey, Sophia. What are you doing home, honey?” David gave his wife a quick peck on the cheek.

“I had to go pick up our daughter--son--from school. She...He hit another student.”

“What? Why?”

“He kept calling me a girl,” Sophia said.

“But you…” David began but Alison interrupted.

“Michael has decided to identify as male,” Alison said.

“Okay,” David sighed. “That still doesn’t mean you hit other students.”

“He was being stupid and made me angry.”

“I understand. But you will soon figure out that a lot of things are stupid and will make you angry. There are a lot of stupid people in this world especially on things like this but just remember that most people you meet in life will support you no matter what. Okay?”

“Okay,” Michael nodded. “I’m going up to my room.”

“All right,” David said. “Leave your phone.”

“What? Why?”

“You hit a kid today. You’re grounded. Three days.”

“Okay,” Michael huffed and laid his phone on the kitchen counter.

“What brought all this on? He left here as a girl,” David asked.

“I don’t know. You know Michael hasn’t felt comfortable in quite a while. This is just where those feeling ended up,” Alison said. David leaned down and rested his head on the counter. “Bad day at work?”

“Not really. Things just got all piled up today. My boss wants me to be more of a, well, I don’t want to use the word Nazi but I don’t know what word even comes close.”

“You’ve been unhappy with this job for awhile now haven’t you?”

David nodded. “I wanted to ask you something. Since you went back to work, I have been thinking about cutting back my time at the call center.”

“You mean quitting because they don’t allow people to cut back on time.”


“Look, David, I get it. You hate your job but it’s been really nice having your extra income these last few months. We could still make it but it’d be tighter.”

“I was thinking of that. We’d save money by not hiring Rose and Milo is going to start bottling and selling his beer and he’s looking for investors.”

“So we won’t even have what we have saved up over the last year or so? Just so you can drink with your best friend?”

“You don’t seem to approve,” David said. “We’ll start making money as more people buy but, I agree, it may be awhile which is why I have plan B.”

“Begging in the streets?”

“No. Creating a webcomic.”

“Oh. Begging on the Internet.”

“During high school I used to draw a comic strip and I think it has potential,” David slid the folder of comics toward his wife.

She opened it and began flipping through them. “I remember you saying that you drew these. You’ve never shown them to me before.”

“They were always put away or I forgot I saved them. Anyway, with ad revenue and maybe donations from fans we could maybe clear a few dollars a month. I know it’s not ideal but I think it’ll work.”

“You’ve thought a lot about this,” Alison said.

“It’s been a busy half hour.”

“We can try it. Six month trial? We can go from there. Okay?” she wrapped her arms around David’s torso.

“Really? Oh, thank you, hon,” he kissed her. “I’m gonna go wake up Oliver, change my clothes, and sketch some ideas before we make dinner.”

“Okay,” she chuckled and watched him run upstairs. She went into the living room. “David? Why is the vacuum hanging on the curtains?”