Friday, December 10, 2004


last night we heard the gospel of great reversal

one day...
the lame will walk
the poor will be rich
and justice will unseat oppression

last night we heard the gospel of great reversal

sweet Jesus i want to believe
help me in my unbelief

Thursday, December 09, 2004

"just because we serve you, doesn't mean we like you." yet another running diary

11:21 a.m.--we are experiencing a deluge of down home customers who are scrambling out to their pickup trucks to get their credit cards, dialing 1.800.CRISTI (we just throw in the AN in our adds to sound more sacrosanct) with flaming fingers, asking us moronic questions and wanting their packages delivered yesterday. so i don't know how interesting this is going to be.

11:30 a.m.--i just had a caller from two trailers, arkansas. her locale reminded me of one of my favorite jokes.

What's the most seductive line you can utter in Arkansas? still awake?

11:33 a.m.--off to lunch. mmm, trader joe's burritos, of you i never tire!

11:57 a.m.--three minutes left until my entry into hell. by what slight of hand can i keep you entertained? it. in our catalogs, all products are proceeded by two letter catalog prefix. these prefix's help us to figure out which catalog you are using, so that we can fill your mailbox with similar product offers in about a week's time. with that background, i would like to suggest that the worst two prefix's ever are...drumroll...KY and FU. the first doesn't help me to think about "whatever is pure, holy, praiseworthy, etc." and the second prefix expresses my attitude towards customers much too clearly.

the most ridiculous question a customer has ever asked me. "you sound sooo sweet? would you like to date my cousin?" my response: "um, probably not. i'm incredibly picky and probably wouldn't like her."

12:15pm--i just completed the most annoying call of the season. the customer, who obviously had nothing better to do, asked me to perform the most generalized searches in the history of man. i have included a part of the transcript below.

customer: do you have any leather bibles under $20?
  gentry: i am sure that we do. is there a particular translation that you are interested in?
customer: somethin' that is readable. not the kjv.
  gentry: like the niv?
customer: yes. do you have a niv leather bible for under $20?
  gentry: i am sure that we do. let me search for you. while i'm waiting for the results of the search i would like to encourage you to search on on our site you can search for any kind of bible you would be interested in and we have a special bargain center as well!
customer: i don't have time for that. what are you finding?
  gentry: we have an niv pocket bible in leather for $19.99.
customer: no, don't want no pocket bible.
  gentry: ok. unfortunately most leather bibles cost more than $20, but i'll continue to look.

*********call eclipses the five minute mark

  gentry: actually, we do have a niv collegiate bible for $12.99. these are designed for college students, so they are not available in traditional colors. for instance, we have orange, crimson red and purple.
customer: do you have black?
  gentry: no, unfortunately it only comes in college colors.
customer: that's all you have for under $20? for real?
  gentry: ma'am, most leather bibles are more expensive than $20.
customer: i guess if that's all you have, i'll take the first one.
  gentry: ok, the niv pocket bible is the one you're intersted in.
customer: no! i want the college bible. it's for a man. what colors do you have again?
  gentry: we have orange, crimson red and purple.
customer: i'll take purple.
customer: do you have any study bibles?
  gentry: yes, we have thousands. what kind of study bible did you have in mind?
customer: an niv one. for under $20...

*********call eclipses the ten minute mark

customer: so if i ordered those, when would i be charged?
  gentry: ma'am, you would be charged as soon as we could process your credit card and start packaging your order.
customer: can you hold the order till tomorrow?
  gentry: (in his head: quit using your freaking credit card up to the limit, lady!) no, unfortunately we cannot. orders are charged almost immediately.
customer: ok, then, ok. can i have an order number?
  gentry: ma'am, you can use the stock numbers that i provided you when you call to order tomorrow.
customer: you mean i have to call again to order?
  gentry: unfortunately, we cannot place an order without a form of payment. and without placing an order, i cannot provide you with an order number.
customer: i was just thinking that they could hold my order.
  gentry: unfortunately, ma'am, we cannot. our system was not designed to hold orders, but to get them out the door as soon as possible.

************call eclipses the fifteen minute mark.

customer: do y'all have any bookmarks?

12:49: a caller rings through and when i greet her she responds with obvious contempt. i can almost hear her thinking, "i can't believe i have to deal with people in order to place a friggin order!" i think about suggesting that she use the website for quicker service, but stop myself when i realize that they probably haven't run electricity to her mississippi town just yet. i ask her for her customer number and she rattles it off as quickly as possible. i ask for her credit card number, and she does the same thing, hoping that her speed will baffle me, proving, once and for all, what an incompentent, button-pushing monkey i really am.

but i type in the numbers as quick as she says them. "humph..." she replies. she then offers me her first stock number. it is a book simply entitled, Heaven. she is lucky that judgment belongs to the Lord, i muse. then my computer locks up, so i quickly put her on hold. as she listens to the first minute of a bad contemporary christian version of a christmas carol, i know that she burns. as the second minute of the carol begins, she realizes that she's been bested. the rest of the call proceeds without a glitch.

1:08 p.m.-1:48 p.m.--between call book reviews!

i am currently reading three books. i have provided capsule reviews below:

joe dimaggio: a hero's life by Richard Ben Cramer. in the introduction to the fourth chapter, cramer explained DiMag in the following way: "he had that quiet in the bottom of himself--like an absence more than anything they could name--that made him a zero, and a sure bet. they knew joe was going to take care of business because that's all joe did."

after reading that statement i was hooked. with such a solitude of heart, it is little wonder that people were drawn to joe. they weren't attracted by a nebulous characteristic such as mystique; rather, they were attracted to a man who knew himself and was able to act out of his center. i think we all want this solitude of heart and this ability to live out of the center. that's why we are all attracted to people like joe, jesus and the buddha.

i deeply desire such solitude of heart. unfortunately, the bottom of my heart isn't quiet. it is filled with loud, obnoxious, drunken monkeys.

girl meets God by lauren winner. i found a first edition copy of winner's book in the returns barrell yesterday morning. i cracked it open this morning and was immediately attracted to her prose. within three pages, she made me long for the spanish moss and unpretentious intellectualism of oxford, mississippi, thirst for a finger of maker's mark and want to recite an ode while standing before william faulkner's headstone. i doubt that the rest of the book will disappoint.

dark night of the soul by saint john of the cross. these are deep waters. too deep to speak of here.

1:52 p.m.--i am constantly amazed by the number of people who do not know their zip code. this baffles me almost as much as people's tendency to store their credit cards in their pickup trucks.

1:55 p.m.--i'm out like ellen!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

the beverly blotter

on saturday night our karoke queen and condo-mate anita brought down the the beverly citizen. the citizen is a weekly paper that reads like it was written by twelve year olds. thus, it is a constant source of entertainment.

this week we found the police blotter particularly entertaining. thus, following in the tradition of my favorite doctor, i am providing my own top five.

Top Five Entries in the Beverly Blotter:

1. Monday, November 22. "2:36 a.m. Police received a report that a person was sitting in a vehicle for 30 minutes on Essex Street."

2. "8:30 p.m. Youths reported near a Brimbal Avenue fence."

3. Tuesday, November 23. "11:17 p.m. A Thompson Road resident reported that he thought someone was in his home."

4. Wednesday, November 24. "11:16 p.m. A juvenile was throwing furniture on Kernwood Avenue."

5. Thursday, November 25. "12:59 a.m. An unknown vehicle reportedly pulled into a driveway on Trask Street."

Honorable Mention:

Friday, November 26. "3:26 p.m. Police received a report that a man with a gun shot a rat on Park Street."

"8:43 p.m. A Littleton resident reported that she lost a black fanny pack."

Monday, December 06, 2004

an advent prayer

i want you more than a cigarette
      but can't toss this pack quite yet
i don't want to trade the physical
      for the ethereal

so come ye closer
      than the smoke that's in my lungs
calm my shaky fingers
      be the heat upon my tongue

i want to act justly, love mercy, walk in humility
      but abstractions just don't do it for me.

      please come closer.
monday morning inspiration

"man is born broken. he lives by mending. the grace of God is glue."

~Eugene O'Neill, as quoted by Anne Lamott in traveling mercies