Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Bottomless Well of Raw Stupidity

Last week, Verizon screwed up and wiped out service for my entire building. This being the Bronx, and Verizon being...well, Verizon, our phones and internet were out for four days or so, during which I was only able to access the internet through the generous offices of the New York Public Library.

Added to this, I am currently doing a temp job in the Human Resources department of a large advertising company. It's not bad work, per se, but I have to agree with Michael Malice, who once said that HR is what sorority girls do with their business degrees. Long story short, I can only get to the library about fifteen minutes before closing, which is why I've been absent lately.

By the way, I was great at making excuses in grade school.

There's a lot to write about, but one thing's been rolling around my head lately, and I need to get it out. Basically, I've been working on the proper epithet for the fine folks at Verizon. This is not as easy as it sounds.

As I mentioned, Verizon knocked out our telephone service then apparently failed to make the leap of logic to figure out that all the complaints that were coming in were all directed from the same building. They then claimed that they had come by for a service call and that our line was fine, when it was still not working. Subsequently, they fixed the problem, but not until we had called them repeatedly and complained until we were blue in the face.

Unfortunately, Verizon is the only company that offers phone service in our area of the Bronx, so we are caught in a difficult place. However, the wife and I have determined that we will switch as soon as possible.

Verizon supposedly is a combination of the words "veritas," which is Latin for "truth," and horizon, which is a popular term with business people who think that they are particularly forward thinking. After a great deal of thought, I have come to the conclusion that Verizon is actually short for "vertical horizon," a somewhat obscure euphemism for the rectal crease.

When I was thinking about the proper epithet for Verizon, my mind initially went to standard terms like "cocksuckers," "butt-pirates," "pillow biters," and "cum-guzzlers." However, I immediately realized that I was using these terms because I grew up in a homophobic environment and, on some level, I revert to form when I am upset. In a calmer moment, I decided that, were Verizon actually staffed with homosexuals, they would run much more smoothly, would take pride in their work, and would have a far more stylish logo.

I briefly played with terms like "idiots," "morons," and the ever-reliable "retards." However, thinking about my two retarded cousins, I recalled that mentally retarded people tend to take their jobs very seriously and do them quite well. In point of fact, calling Verizon "a bunch of drooling, inbred retards" was not only unfair to the many highly-conscientious retarded people out there, but was also giving Verizon too much credit. Even the inbred part was a little more than they deserved, as most of the inbreds that I've met at least have a strong work ethic.

I also played with terms like "dicks," "cocks," "fucksticks," "fuckholes," "stain-sticks," "mindless boobs," and "assholes," but realized that, like my earlier insults, these were unfair. Penises, vaginas, and anuses are fine, respectable organs, and do not deserve to be denegrated. Truth be told, they usually do their jobs to the best of their respective abilities, and comparing them to the folks at Verizon is patently unjust.

I also had a fair amount of completely illogical insults that I could add to the batch: "turd burglar," "butt muncher," "dipstick," and "ass-master." However, these terms were absurd. While they captured the surreal absurdity of Verizon, I think they missed the point somewhat. None of them really touched upon the certain something that makes Verizon the masters of their game.

It became apparent to me that my hatred of Verizon had become a sort of Rohrshak test, holding up a mirror to my own respective prejudices and vocabulary of slurs. To truly find the perfect insult for Verizon, I would need to dig deeper, to come face-to-face with my real problem with them, to dance with the demon, as it were.

And, oddly enough, a demon was a good place to start. When I imagined Verizon's phone employees sitting in a call center, I kept thinking of The Exorcist. Toward the end of the movie, after Father Merrin has had his heart attack, Father Karras is beating on the older priest's chest. The camera cuts to the demon, perched on the edge of the bed, staring at the tableau laid out before her.

In the book, the demon is brilliant, and regards Merrin's death as an unfair cheat. For the book demon, Merrin has escaped from the game, and the demon is infuriated. However, in the movie, William Friedkin took a different tack. As Karras tries to save Merrin, the demon's face is an unfeeling, empty mask of idiocy. It is clear that, denied an adversary to push against, the demon is nothing, a box of mirrors, an endless echo chamber of nothingness, a bottomless well of raw stupidity. It is, in short, the face of a pre-teen boy going into his seventh hour of an MTV Real World marathon.

I realized that I'd found the ultimate metaphor for Verizon. I imagine the soulless, empty stupidity of their call center, the employees staring vacuously out to the middle distance as they half-heartedly rub their genitalia and drool on themselves. These people are beyond humor, beyond sexuality, beyond argument, beyond redemption. I realize that the purest evil, as Friedkin no doubt argued, is the hopelessness of a truly empty mind.

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