I am currently employed as a receptionist and while I like my job, I've always had a phobia of phones. In addition, my supervisors seem to feel that my position demands a certain amount of perkiness and a cheerful disposition. They encourage me to "improve my phone voice" and be as pleasant and helpful as I can to people calling. I am not a cheerful person. At best, I am grudgingly polite.
My question is: Do you have any suggestions for overcoming my innate distaste for human contact and my natural disposition so that I could better become a soulless, but perky, answerer of phones?
Ah, Allison— I understand completely, for I have not always been the eloquent, compassionate squid to whom you write today. Far from it. Recall back when I first worked advising your sort: At that time I could hardly peck out four lines of your simple grunt-transcription, let alone offer the caliber of insightful, well metered prose which you and your fellows have grown to love and rely upon in all matters of import.
Of course, at that time, my anti-eloquence was complicated and magnified by the great, pulsating Despise which roiled beneath my mantle. There was a time, not so long ago, when I greatly despised you skuttle-monkies, with your strange grunticulations and horrible nobbly forms. It was these negative emotions which crippled my efforts to engage in jovial intercourse with the "Kings of the Crust."
Perhaps at this time you interrogate: "But venerable Squid: how is it that you ever overcame your crippling distaste for the lower phyla?"
I shall tell you: it was love. Not the love of a wife and husband, nor the love of a mister and his mistress, but rather the granite bon homme that exists between comrades of the world.
Several months ago I gave a brief overview of what brought me to this place and occupation. I feel shame to now admit that much of that narrative was bald fabrication, begging with how it was that I came to be in the Lake Superior. In that column, I explained that I had been with in the great and silent Deep, and found myself pursued by a sperm whale (Devilish bastards! Never can a cephalopod capture a moment's respite from the persecution wrought by the Carpenter Fish!), suddenly caught by a warm current, and dragged up towards the horrible surface, where my mantle would surely burst as, freed from the horrible life-preserving embrace of the Bottom, it expanded beyond my capacity to stretch. Fortunately, I was caught by a cold current which arrested my soar, and in that manner I began to acclimate to the lowered pressure of the Heights.
This unbelievable series of co-incidences is unbelievable precisely because it is untrue. I was not being pursued by a whale the day that a soared sky-ward, and was not caught by a freak warm current somehow dragged down-trench, and was not arrested by an equally freakish cold-current.
Yes, yes, I can already hear you agitating: "So tell us a thing we do not know, Mr. Squid!"
I careered surface-ward on that day for I had chosen to terminate my own existence.
I was not persecuted by the brutish cetaceans, but rather by my own brethren. Let it suffice to say that not all squid have my sensitivity. Let it suffice to say that not all squid believe that the humans are worth a single neuron-firing, let alone deep and brooding consideration. Let it suffice to say that most squid doubted the veracity of my claim that you tool-chimps are capable of feeling emotion or engaging in communicative intercourse. Let it suffice to say that my breeding tentacle is not so massive as might impress a female of my kind. Let it suffice to say that my musculature was puny, that the rippling squids swatted my spectacles from upon my visage and smashed them against the silent reefs. Let it suffice to say that I was a 98,000 kilogram weakling. Let it suffice to say that they kicked sand into my countenance, pulled energetically upon my undergarments and forced them to violate my person, aped my clumsy and graceless movements, snapped dampened towels at my posterior and struck my books from my hands at every turn, mocking my slide-rule and boundless knowledge.
Finally I had supped enough of these indignities, and I soared skyward, deathward. But, even the simple act of self-nullificiation was one which I managed to botch. Out of fear I diverged from my path, and hid among the crevices of the continental shelf, slowly wending my way deep into your water table. When I finally surface in the Lake Superior, I sought refuge among the human corpses still interred in the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. There, among these patient, blue foster-folk, I resolved to starve.
I would have died there, flawlessly preserved in the icy depths of the Most of Lakes, had it not been for Fritz, dear sweet Fritz. He came to me, not with any ulterior motives, not with any plan to enslave me or ravage me or turn me to his ends. He happened upon my, completely by accident, and extended to me the nobbly, awkward arm of human friendship. And this, dear friendship, saved my much pitiful life. I was previously lost, but at that time became found; was blind, but henceforth saw with the full clarity of my terrible eyes.
Ha ha. I am forming jests. Please rest assured that, now as forever, I despise you all with the full capacity of my three enormous hearts and am much loved among the Dwellers Below. Additionally, my mating appendage is truly enormous, even among squid, and frequently causes females to swoon simply by offering a vague description of its steely might. As for my poise, elegance and human rapport, these were improved through the thorough and studious completion of the correspondence courses developed by Dale Carnegie. I commend these to you.
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson