Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blasts, Perhaps Bombs, from the Past: Part I

I was inspired to copy a writer friend o' mine and post things I wrote long ago but are no longer online on my stupid blog. So here is the first installment, "Notes on a Video Training Course," originally published on a Web site called The Cerebral Catalyst in 2006.

Notes from a Video Training Course
by Michael Frissore

For two weeks there were posters all around my company’s four floors and three wings with a Roy Lichtenstein painting with a crying girl saying, “Nobody told me EROC training could be fun!”

That’s because it can’t.

EROC is a group that accredits healthcare companies like the one I work for. Don’t ask me what it stands for; I don’t know. Every year we have to have some kind of training to keep our accreditation. So this year they thought they’d spice it up.

And yippee, indeed. They spiced the ad up, anyway, but the video begins with the president of the company (we’ll call it THC) and some broad talking. About what, I don’t know because I’m busy shouting, “Shut up!” really loudly in my head.

When they finally finish, some awful 70s music brings us to the hiring process at the company. A sea of white faces appears on the screen surrounding one black woman. So, I figured, they must a gonna be a hirin’ her. But, no! They hired Colleen! The smiley white chick!

Thankfully, at orientation, Colleen is joined by two other new hires: Robin, another Caucasian gal, and Carl. In Carl, with his some kind of African accent, we have our black. He looks like a much less freakish Dikembe Mutombo.

Colleen and Robin talk a bit about “confidential information,” and then Carl gets on the microphone. Carl’s voice starts off normal, but gets really loud, then even louder. Carl doesn’t know how to use a microphone. Someone told him to speak up, and he went overboard. Carl is a douche.

Robin then goes on about the “values” and the “vision” of the company. She feels proud about THC’s values and their confidentiality. “I even get a laminated card,” she says. “I think I’ll put it up at my desk.” You do that, Robin. You do that.

She concludes that, “It seems THC does everything the right way.” Robin’s a good girl. But then Carl comes back, shouting, “This is Carl,” as if he grabbed the mike from Robin’s adorable little hands. Shut up, Carl.

Robin, undaunted, tells us that, “Next week I’ll have even more learning.” I’m sure Carl could teach her a lesson.

So far: Fun? No. Hilarious? Yes! And, by the way, we don’t hear from Colleen again. She must not have worked out.

For the next portion of the video, we move to the Data Center Tour. We get more of the same music, which reminds me of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood or ads for trade schools. Or perhaps the PSAs from the 80s that appeared during cartoons, like the “Do a flip for breakfast” ad. Remember that? Anyone? No?

Anyway, Greg from IST, a fascinating man, discusses the “password policy,” of changing passwords every 90 days. Piss off, Greg.

A Chinese guy’s face appears on the screen, but he has Robin’s voice, which freaks me out. She talks about the IST project manager, who, I suppose, is the Chinaman. “He told me about blah blah blah,” Robin says, “then he grabbed my ass.” She takes her complaint to Human Resources, who tell her that, as a new hire, she should shut her gabby mouth.

Nonetheless, this Robin, she loves learning. I myself have learned that there are a lot of hot broads at THC. Either that or we’re so ugly they had to hire actresses.

We then follow Robin as she tours Quality Management. Apparently Carl didn’t work out because we don’t see him again either. Through Robin we learn what happens when a doctor does something to breach his or her contract, and whether he or she can appeal. Perhaps the most fun about the job is finding out a particular doctor has been dealing prescription drugs or molesting patients while they were under. But, by far, Christmas at THC comes when we find a doctor who was caught with child pornography. We don’t want these quacks in our network, mister! Robin agrees.

“It must put people at ease that THC is looking out for them.” THC is kind of like Bill O’Reilly, except it doesn’t cry about the ACLU or sexually harass staffers.

The music in this video is like The Transformers, it shows up every fifteen seconds. I soon start writing lyrics and dancing to it.

We move to the next video, where we immediately see little camera whore Robin peeking at us while a meeting is being filmed. We meet super hot Nicole (Do these chicks actually work here?) and I start adding “hey heys” to the music. Tim, in the cubicle next to me, yawns loudly.

Robin, who will one day become president of THC, appears again, with her dopey smile and glazed over eyes. She looks like a new cult member. Drink the Flavor-Aid, Robin. Good girl. Now put these Nikes on, grab a knife, and cut off the testicles of the gentleman to your left.

At the end we get a whole list of credits, but this is only the first half of the training. We also have to fill out an evaluation. I click “Agree” for every question because only psychotics “strongly agree.” They also ask two very important questions:

Q: What did you like most about the video?

A: The Music

Q: What would you do to improve the course?

A: More cowbell.

Part two really sucks compared to part one, but we do meet another hottie named Jennifer Smith. She’s a member who is very impressed with THC for some reason. We watch her search for Dr. Fine on the company’s web site. She even spells the doctor’s name out loud (“F-I-N-E”), so she doesn’t get confused, the poor thing.

“This is pretty cool,” she says. Get a life, Jennifer.

She doesn’t find Dr. Fine, but she can nominate her as a provider online. “That’s great!” Jennifer says. The truth is that members will, instead, call us bitching that their doctor isn’t on the web site. A customer service rep then tells the member to kill him or herself.

By now I’m almost on the floor laughing. We find out that Dr. Fine is a Negro, so, when her application is reviewed, it is checked and double-checked for a criminal history. Soon enough, Dr. Fine becomes a THC provider.

As the next video begins, I am scatting over the music, in both senses of the word.

We meet Finda, who is in my department and has some kind of accent. She receives a provider’s application and pawns it off to a handsome, strapping gentleman who is kind of boring until you hear him say, “Should I…,” and then it cuts off. A THC production, ladies and gentlemen.

Dr. Fine comes back, declaring, “I think I’m going to like working with THC.” Think again, Doc. Wait until she finds out that reimbursements will put her on a pay level with her Guatemalan housekeeper, or that a confused temp has terminated her contract out of nowhere. See you in court, Doc.

As we near the end of the training, we meet Alinta in customer service. She’s another Noisy Nancy on the mike, and she’s talking to the bloated head of Wayne Newton from Dr. Fine’s office. We hear the pleasant sound of typing upon a keyboard as Alinta fixes Dr. Fine’s issue. The bloated head of Wayne Newton sings “Donka Shane,” and disappears.

And then it just ends. Hello! Where’s the fun that was promised us?

Perhaps next year.

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