Backfence, #nerd & a Very Loud Macaw Parrot.

20120924-112454.jpgSo last Saturday night I attended another quarterly event of the Backfence PDX Storytelling series, at McMennamin’s Mission Theatre. The show was it’s usual delightful mix and a whole lot of fun — if you’ve never been to a Backfence show before, I highly recommend you try and get to one of their next shows or try their Backfence podcast.

Each Backfence show has a theme, and this one was for the geek in all of us, HASHTAG NERD (or as I prefer it — “#nerd”). And this show had one unexpected addition to it — me!

Before the end of intermission, you can sign up and offer to tell a ONE-MINTUE ONLY story on the subject of the evening, drop it into a pitcher and they choose five storytellers, with one minute each, on stage. Being I have a big background being a geek-nerd, and had some hilarious experiences in that field, I threw my name in.

And… I got chosen, which was very exciting!

And… I choked.

Well, not so much “choked,” but I got cut off. Though I thought it a short, simple, funny story, I had the time keeper call a very loud, “TIME!” on me. In my defenese, she did not call the 15-seconds warning to me, as she did with others, in which case I would have gracefully wrapped up. But who ever said life, or story telling, was fair?

However, it appears that a number of people wanted to hear the end of my story. Well, o.k. — one guy on Google+. But in the interest of not leaving anyone hanging, ever, herein lies my story and its completion. The parts I told at Backfence are in regular type, parts that i’ve added, including embellishments and that fateful ending that never got heard, are in italics.

* * * * * * * * *

The Dreaded Macaw — Very Loud.So I wore my Dork Forest [podcast] shirt tonight because this is #nerd! Woo-Hoo! So back in the mid-90s while the Internetz were still being created (not by Al Gore), I worked at a software company that claimed their products could drag your dead hard drive back from the dead. Did it work? [hand flipping back & forth gesture] Eehhhhhh… But that’s why we in tech support had jobs! To deal with the fall out of what didn’t work. And it gave us a lot of great stories. Like ONE TIME… a particularly drunk/high customer called, would not take himself off his loud, scratchy speaker phone, blasting in our head pieces as he drunkenly described his problem, and had a gigantic macaw parrot in a cage right next to the computer and speakerphone. Everyone on the tech-support phone queue talked with this guy, they would each give him the same instruction for trying to recover what he needed, and then he would call back a minute later, bouncing from tech to tech, cubicle to cubicle, trying to get someone else to give him a different, quicker answer.

[And now the part I didn’t get to…] And the thing was, this was 11 a.m. in the morning. He was in Ojai, California, we were in Santa Monica, and he was already eight sheets to the wind. The parrot, of course would squawk extremely loudly throughout the phone conversation right into the microphone of the speakerphone, right into our ears, during extremely technical discussion — “BRRAAAAAWWK! SQUAAAAAAACK!!” Then he, the drunk/high guy, not the parrot, would slur through describing his issue with trying to recover a file off his computer, and then say in a very woozy voice, “…and I have to get thissh printed h-out on a deadline… and off to da printer… and get it… BOOOOUUUUUNNND.” he kept repeating that phrase, over and over, and always finishing it the same way, “BOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUNNND.” And then, of course, the parrot would take the refrain on this sad song, amplified right in our ears, “SCRREEEEEEEEEECH! BUH-RRRAAAAAAAAACK!!!”

* * * * * * * * *

This may or may not be me on stage at Backfence PDX about to tell a nerdy parrot story and be cut off — I can neither confirm nor deny.

This may or may not be me on stage at Backfence PDX about to tell a nerdy parrot story and be cut off — I can neither confirm nor deny.

So that’s about all the story I was going to tell. There was more — when the Mr. Drunk/High Guy and Squawky The Macaw finally came around to my phone, I listened to the massive screeching and him going through his, “BOOOOUUUUUNNND” routine about twice, then assumed my “Manager of All Tech Support” voice (I wasn’t the Manager, but we all had some leighway to act like we were to handle special children, like this clown & his bird, when the real Manager was off somewhere — or at least felt like we did. I mean, do you on the other end of the phone know if it’s true or not? No, you do not.). I gave him the same recovery instructions he had gotten from six other phone techs before, still unimplemented by him, and he was not allowed to call back until he had tried what we told him and had results to report, he was not on speaker phone, and the bird had been dealt with. With that, I hung up.


And that took care of it. I felt proud of myself.

For all of five minutes. Until he called back and got some other poor phone sap on the queue and started all over again.

For all I know, this could have been an elaborate “crank yankers” style prank done to torture these phone techs because someone was bored and the phone line was toll free (back then).

This is one of the many reasons I’m happy living in Oregon. If this guy was for real, Southern California seems to have a plethora of these — well off “Creatives” or trust fund sons & daughters who seem to have nothing better to do with their surplus income than blast their mind with substances before the crack of Noon and then make it their mission to make life hell for those servicing them. In Portland, we have a lot of folk hanging around cafés all day, but they’re mainly drinking coffee or tea and doing creative or tech start-up work, and their main issue seems to be what that last fluffy muffin or cupcake is doing to their waist line. They tend to save their recreational time for way after work, and usually not on a school night. Much different.

But then, every comic needs a good parrot story, I feel.


O.k., coming soon! The first of three installments in a row, on my experience at last month’s WordPress WordCamp PDX 2012. Lots of great, chunky info on all this info, plus my encounter with the rarely spotted Matt. Tomorrow. For reals. Promise.

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