Tag Archives: customer service

Zen and the Art of Home Maintenance

Clerk:  Good morning sir! Welcome to Home Depot, is there something I can help you find today?

Me:  Yes, I’m looking for the Zen.

Clerk:  Excuse me?

Me:  The Zen.  Can you tell me where I can find the Zen.

Clerk:  I’m sorry sir, I don’t understand what you are asking, is that like a brand of something?

Me:  No… not a brand… Zen… like in the book…

Clerk:  Uhhhh… the book?

Me:  Yes, the  book… “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”… have you read it?

Clerk:  No sir, I’m only 20, I’ve never heard of that book.

Me:  Oh… well, I haven’t read it all either…  I tried reading it five or six times when I was your age, but could never finish it. It was very complicated. Anyhow, from what I remember, the main character was always able to fix his motorcycle and keep everything in tip-top shape, while his friend’s motorcycle was always breaking down.

Clerk:  Okay… uhhh… so what does that have to do with what brought you in here today?

Me:  Well… everything is breaking.

Clerk:  What do you mean, everything is breaking?

Me:  At my house, everything is breaking. I have this list of things that have broken and need to be fixed, but I just can’t seem to get to all of it anymore.  I used to think it was fun to fix things, but now it’s just not interesting anymore.  Here… look at this list… there’s like fifty things on this list… dishwasher, bedroom screens, window cranks, electrical sockets, storm door window, lawn mower, security light, barn door handle, downstairs shower…

Clerk:  interrupts  Yeah, yeah, okay, I get it…

Me: I was hoping I could find some Zen and that might help me… you know… get everything fixed back up.

Clerk:  Yeah… okay… uhhhh… let me get my manager, maybe he can help.

A few minutes later

Manager: Hello sir! Welcome to Home Depot, how can I help you today?

Me: Well, everything at my house is breaking and I can’t seem to get it all fixed… so I’m looking for the Zen.

Manager: I’m sorry sir, what is the Zen?

Me:  Zen… like in the book…

Manager:  Uhhhh… the book?

Me:  Yes, the  book… “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”… have you read it?

Manager: Ohhhh, I see….. yes, I have read it… you know, sir… it doesn’t really have much to do with Zen… or motorcycle maintenance… or even maintenance in general. It is really an essay on the subject of quality and how quality is the source of our perception of things… you know, rightness and wrongness… it’s about thinking dualistically, separating mind from matter… and how when we have feelings of uncertainty… well, that is the very thing that we should engage, in order to learn more about truth and about ourselves.  You sound like someone who enjoys your home romantically, right? What I mean by that is… you enjoy the experience you feel when you’re in the home or out in the yard, the feeling you get when the wind is whistling through the windows or a soft snowfall is falling outside and a warm fire is crackling in your fireplace. On the other hand, some people enjoy their home classically, they understand and are compelled by the structure of it and all its working parts, how the rooms flow together in a seamless workable format. This was addressed in the book…  see the main character was always focused classically on his motorcycle, the mechanics of it and keeping it well maintained, while his friends were only focused on the romantic part of the journey, the wind in their hair, the picturesque scenery. You see, a person with a classical understanding sees the world and it’s underlying structure, while a person with a romantic understanding sees only the outside appearance, the instant gratification. This is all covered in the book… of course, that endless search for quality is what drove the main character in sane… that’s sort of the premise of the story… what leads him on their bike trip in the first place.  So I don’t think it’s Zen you are after… I think you just need to find that balance between a classical definition of your inner existence and psyche and a romantic definition… and in doing so, attempt to bridge the gap between humanity and science and resolve the metaphysical definition of quality… does that make sense?

Me:  Uhhh… no, not really… so you don’t have Zen?

Manager:  No I’m sorry sir, we don’t have Zen… is there anything else I can help you with?

Me:  Can you tell me where I can find the duct tape?


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The Meaning of Life

Ring… ring…

RECORDING:  You have reached the offices of Meaning of Life Industries.  This phone call may be recorded for quality assurance.  Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.  So that we may direct you to the proper department, please select from the following prompts.

Dial 1 if you have questions about religious conceptions of existence, social ties, consciousness and happiness.

Dial 2 if you have questions about the pursuit of well-being and the related conception of morality.

Dial 3 if you have questions pertaining to the purpose of life and how it may coincide with the achievement of ultimate reality, or a feeling of oneness, or a feeling of sacredness.

Dial 4 if you have questions arising out of the fundamental disharmony between the individual’s search for meaning and the apparent meaninglessness of the universe.

Dial 5 if you have questions about the premise that the happiness of the individual person is inextricably linked to the well-being of humanity, as a whole, in part, because humans are social animals, who find meaning in personal relations, and because cultural progress benefits everybody living in the culture and which largely translates as ceasing to endlessly reflect on the self, instead of engaging in life and which on the whole results in the therapeutic response that the question of the meaning of life evaporates if one is fully engaged in life.

ME:  Panic…

RECORDING: Or, you may dial zero at any time to speak to a customer service agent.

ME: Dials zero

Ring… ring…

AGENT: Hello, thank you for calling Meaning of Life Industries, this is Raju, can I get your name please.

ME: Steve

AGENT: Hi Steve, how can I help you today?  Do you have a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general?

ME: Ummmm…. no, I’d just like to talk to someone.

AGENT: Okay, I can help you with that.  Are you trying to understand how scientific contributions can focus on describing related empirical facts about the universe?

ME: No… umm… I don’t think so… I’m just feeling kind of lost some days lately.

AGENT: I understand… I’ll be more than happy to help you with that. Are you having questions about the symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, conceptions of God, the existence of God, the soul, or the afterlife?

ME: No… ummm… uhhh… none of those things. I do have a job change coming up…

AGENT: Okay, it would be my sincerest pleasure to help you with that.  Do you find yourself focusing less on humankind’s relationship to God and more on the relationship between individuals and their society?

ME: Uhhh… no… uhh… I’m not sure about that… I write a blog called Brown Road Chronicles and I feel like somehow I should try to take it to the next level… whatever that is.

AGENT: Okay, I am driven with intense joy to help you with that.  We find that is common amongst bloggers, that a lot of them start writing because they are searching for something more meaningful. Let me ask… are you aware that happiness depends upon being self-sufficient and master of one’s mental attitude while suffering is a consequence of false judgments of value, which cause negative emotions and a concomitant vicious character?

ME: Ummm… uhhh… I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that… but my wife thinks maybe I’m just having a little bit of a midlife crisis.

AGENT: Yes, I understand… and I would be incredibly, fantasmically, delighted to help you with that.  Steve, I think maybe we should schedule an appointment for you to have a consultation with one of our Meaning of Life Associates.  Do you have a preference who you’d like to see?

ME: Ummm… no… I don’t know who the choices are.

AGENT: Well, our current staff includes Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, Epicurus, Nietzsche, Camus and Confucius.

ME: Oh my… I didn’t think all those people were still alive… are those people still alive?

AGENT: No sir, they are not alive… our actual Meaning of Life Associates are… well… we call them “philosopher helpers”… kind of like the Santa Claus you’ve perhaps seen at your local mall.

ME: Oh… okay… well, I don’t know… I guess whoever is available.

AGENT: Okay, good… my whole human consciousness and purpose of life thrives on me helping you with that. We can see who has an open appointment available.  Do you have a preference of which facility you would like to visit… Mt. Everest, Kilimanjaro, Fuji or Kangchenjunga?

ME: Kangchen… what… I’m sorry, what was that last one?

AGENT: Kangchenjunga.

ME: Oh my… where is that?

AGENT: That would be on the border between India and Nepal.

ME: Oh my… ummm… isn’t there anything closer. Don’t you have any offices in Michigan?

AGENT: No, I’m sorry sir, all of our offices are at the tops of mountains. I’m pretty sure there are no mountains in Michigan.

ME: Oh… I see… well, I’m sorry, I don’t think I can get to any of those places… but thank you for your time anyway.

AGENT: Well, I’m sorry I couldn’t help you sir, if you’d like I can transfer you to our automated Meaning of Life, self-help line.

ME: Okay, I guess that would be alright…

AGENT: I’ll transfer you now, thank you for calling Meaning of Life Industries.

Ring… ring…

RECORDING: You have reached the Meaning of Life Industries automated self-help line.  Due to an overwhelming volume of bloggers calling our lines, we are experiencing excessive delays.  Approximate wait time is ten years.

Or, you may dial zero at any time to speak to a customer service agent….


*Thank you to Wikipedia for clarifying what the meaning of life… really means.



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