There she was looking at her voicemail phone messages that she knew she would never answer completely and staring at emails that she knew would never really go away, and she would wonder….what else am I meant to do?
When I started in the workforce in my early 20s, one of my first jobs was at a call centre. I can’t even recall what we were cold-calling people about. I guess it’s because I couldn’t hack it long enough, and I literally quit on my 4th day before leaving for lunch. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure I told anyone I was quitting. I just told my manager that I wasn’t coming back. Oh man, the courage I used to have in my 20s was relentless. I had NO fear of quitting jobs on the spot. It’s like I had so much trust in the Universe’s plan for me. I knew there were bigger and brighter plans in store for my future.
Back then, the call centre job was and possibly in the eyes of many, still is the least attractive line of work someone can have. Nobody likes the idea of calling random people and asking them for stuff, especially if you have to perform outgoing calls, that’s even worse than receiving incoming ones. In the broader spectrum, any work that required you to interact with people all day and convince them of stuff or serve them food was considered low grade and was left to the highschool kids who were really desperate for cash. These jobs were our default jobs if better ones didn’t pan out. We wanted to secure work that required us to do something meaningful , like create stuff or use our brains and apply our knowledge.
Currently my 9 to 5 does not involve me cold-calling people and pleading that they answer questions for me. Now people come to me to ask me things that they want to know and I tell them. Now I get to sit behind my melamine enclosure and be the Knower and Dispenser of Useful Things. Little tangent here: If you see someone at a desk that means that they have shit to do (like writing for their blog) – put it this way, they do so much stuff that they’ve been entrusted a desk.
In this ever changing world and seeing how fast technology is pervading every facet of our lives, I wonder about how this human to human exchange will evolve and change in the next 10 to 15 years. The introduction of robotics in our daily lives is constantly being discussed in all types of publications and media and you can see the real-world impact in places such as the Amazon warehouse where it’s literally robots fulfilling orders.
and check out Atlas, the Hydraulic Robot.
I’ve noticed that when you call many places now, there is no longer an option to hit ‘0’ and be transferred to someone immediately. Often, you must wait and hear the whole triage message and you are obliged to hit an option.
press 1 if you have 3 hours to spare and hear this message
press 2 if you’ve given up and will go to our obscure website where you won’t see any ‘real’ answers to your questions anyway
press 3 if you have 8 hours to hear this message and possibly wait to speak to a human
Not a word of a lie, we called our local cable company the other day and it took half the day to get resolved. We had to cancel plans and order food. Back to work on Monday, it was like;
Coworker: So what did you do this weekend?
Me: Oh, I called the cable company.
It’s actually happened to me that I phoned a business and they are seemingly upset that I called in to ask a question. They then go on to explain that they have a website to which I want to reply with the following;
Yes, I’ve decided to call in and give you some job security m**ther f**k**r! Remember me when you’re taking orders from a Robot!!!
Also, some institutions like Banks charge a service fee for coming in person and speaking with a human: a penalty for talking to someone?!? Why am I being charged to speak to someone at my bank? These long wait times and additional fees are deterring us from interacting with eachother.
These futile interactions leave me to wonder what will customer service look like in the year 2025? Who will be answering the general inquiries of the future? Will it be a Siri -like hologram that appears when you simply think of a question? Will there even be places to go to do administrative tasks such as renewing your licence or getting a passport? What type of face will be staring at you on the other side of the plastic divider?
What will retail look like in the future? Will there be attractive ex-machina like personas acting as sales bots in stores? How will they be able to read your expressions and glean your interest? This type of robotics stuff has been going on for a while and I’m sure they are just refining it to start their salesbot prototypes any day now. How will these bots catch the nuances of your speech and language or how will they be able to read your body language? Will they have intuition to know when to be aggressive or to allow the customer to stew for a while? These are all very human-like attributes and I’m not sure where I want this idea to go other than to make us aware of where things CAN go.
Here’s a few examples of some androids that were created and featured as Welcome Staff in the International Robot Exhibition in 2015. They were created with a humanoid face to mimic and ‘learn’ human movements.
Now, I’m starting to see that communicating with people is really the last real interaction that the world has before it all turns into a huge android party and we’ve morphed into something other than the organic matter that we are.
In this world of hyperconnectivity, we are not in the custom of appreciating the human to human interaction. I feel like the culture is changing so that we are annoyed at speaking to people. We’d rather not. Like we even joke that friends don’t call eachother anymore – only if it’s an emergency! What IS happening to our human connections? I feel like I’ve had to revisit how I feel about these jobs where people interact and I’m starting to see how valuable they are and that it is truly a skill to talk to people. There is skill in understanding nuances of language, humouristic undertones and sarcasm. These are all very valuable tools used to help people navigate systems and to educate them in better choices. There is also value in having negative exchanges with other humans as this is the only way that other perspectives can be exposed, dissected and ultimately understood. We’ve become a culture that has turned into something so over-niched that we are looking for the exact thing or experience that we want every time. We’ve become so myopic with our errands that we are seeking to buy all types of experiences rather than live through the moment.
With this in mind, I seek your participation in the Organic Interaction Movement (the original social media) known as talking to another person. Next time, give thanks to the barista who knows your order even before you get to the front of the line (Thanks Gianni!) Be grateful for the person behind the counter who is offering you a car wash with your gas yet again, even though he knows you always refuse, pay and go about your business (Yes, I’m talking about you Rajeet!) . When someone asks you if you want your receipt, actually say NO THANK YOU, don’t just walk away as if you’ve been interacting with a NOTHING! Shit, even ghosts get more respect than service people. When people try to make small banter during everyday interactions, make it back because you know you’re human and you sometimes have to do the PEOPLE TALKY thing. Next time you’re waiting extra long for human service, whether it’s in a grocery store line-up or on the phone , savour the time and just think this could be the last time you talk to SOMEBODY and not SOMETHING!
Another little tidbit of where robotics is going:
NOW TELL ME SHIT HASN’T GONE TOO FAR!!!!
This is the Cubicle Philosopher signing off from my melamine tower and wishing that all your experiences be real.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, then you may know that I used to go to a Crossfit box where I would kick-ass on a regular basis, mainly my own. It was truly fun and it was truly fun-filling (new word, I called it!) and I do truly miss it. Due to a change in our family schedule, we’ve had to abandon the Crossfit (for a while) and move on to other modes of fitness. We went back to a functional dynamic gym in our area where we first introduced to tire flips, sledgehammers et al and olympic lifting. Going back to this gym felt like visiting an old friend that you could rely on, always there. Sure, the equipment was old and beaten up but it was reliable and I knew my way around. I was comfortable there. Sure, I was missing the daily WODs but they were soon replaced with Warrior Met-Con classes and Strength and Power sessions. There wasn’t as much noise but there was still some sense of comraderie. I was getting back into a routine when I received an email from our old trusted friendly gym that they were going out of business effective end of January.
What was I going to do Now? I guess I just had to stop working out. The universe does not want me to exert myself and so I shall not transgress that or else the consequences would be catastrophic. As much as I really wanted to accept this, I knew in my heart that I could not give up my fitness for chips and ciders.
= da best thing ever!
I went to check out another place where they do similar functional and resistance classes. I did a couple of those classes at this significantly smaller gym and I liked it, but I kept focusing on what the gym was lacking. ‘It’s not big enough‘ , ‘It’s too busy’, ‘I don’t know anyone here’, ‘It’s a bit out of the way’. Anyhow, I was totally aware that my strength to make excuses was gaining on my squats. After my trial period at that gym, I never returned. Nice place but Nah.
Which brings me to what I think seems the most sensible solution which is the gym that belongs to the University close to our home. It is the most reasonably-priced option and it has all of the latest state of the art equipment. The hours are great, open until 11pm and it is literally a 5 minute walk from our doorstep. Also, they have an Olympic Lifting room. All sounds very good.The only thing is that the classes are mostly cardio driven. So I say with a heavy heart that I might have to work out there….BY MYSELF!
I went to the gym for the second time last night and I fell back into that insecure mode that rears its ugly head once in a while. There’s always a bit of anxiety before entering a ‘new’ gym. You don’t know where everything is, you don’t know who the people are. You’re not too sure about all the pieces of equipment. Even though rationally, you know that you’ve pushed your limits before and that there is heavily-underutilized and bored staff to help you if you really needed it and to be honest, most people at the gym are very nice. Self-defeatist Me just creates these worst case scenarios in my mind and it has them on a re-loop feed.
I realize how whiny and ridiculous I sound as that this is how the majority of the world works out. Yes, Crossfit ruined me in many ways. I grew to love the community and supportive environment. I saw results in that environment. However, I do feel like I’ve been avoiding going down this road for a while now until it’s just staring me in the face, to the point where I can no longer ignore it. I’ve grown too accustomed to the motivational element of working out in a group. The urging eachother on, the high fiving when your’re done, the grunting together – so much good and fun! My inner coach is also saying that that there is something very rewarding about pushing yourself when you are alone that is very gratifying. I must enter this world of self-reflection and growth. I have to be my own CHEERLEADER and COACH at the same time. I have to push myself beyond my own limits. I mean that’s at least what the Rock says, am I right The Rock?
Thanks for chiming in Mr. Rock, Sir!
LET ME TELL YOU (this is the way all crossfitters start a conversation to non-crossfitters by the way) , in Crossfit, I became accustomed to people watching over me and encouraging me to do my last couple of reps even though I felt like my shoulders were going to jump off my body. But for some reason in this gym, where I am the anonymous member, I felt insecure. Where nobody was watching me or keeping an eye on my reps, I felt like a drifting astronaut in space taking clumsy big steps around the place. I thought to myself ‘I can’t work out here! What if I try to get on a rack and I can’t locate the 35 pound bar or I don’t know how to adjust the rack clips? Even though I’ve done it hundreds of times before.
Realistically I knew, as I was hiding by the side of the gym, doing wall balls, that I was letting the worst get the best of me. I tried to tell myself ‘C’mon ! Woman, you have done the Crossfit OPEN TWICE and the first time you did it RX! What the hell is your problem? ‘ My inner coach piped up and said ‘ Get to those squat racks! I don’t care if you don’t do one single squat but you gotta get on one of those racks.’ I went to where the racks were and it looked like they were all taken, I convinced myself to not ask anyone anything! Rational me would have asked around if all the racks were taken but no, I just let the face value of fear intimidate me to NOT ASK ANYONE ANYTHING. Then I defaulted to the rowers where I did 3 stints of 25 cal rows which gave me a nice base sweat but not what I intended to do during this gym session. After my last rowing set, I decided to leave. I walked away but inside I was crawling towards the bathrooms. I was disapointed with myself and went back to the changeroom, put on my jacket and boots and walked home. At the end of the day I did do some kettlebell swings, kettlebell deadlifts, wallballs and rowing but it was not the workout that I had planned. That was the point.
One thing is sure that this is going to be a challenge for me and if I’ve learned anything from Crossfit (there’s that word again!) is that if it scares you, then you should do it. I’m going again tonight after work and this time I will get a hold of self-defeatist me, push her in my gym locker, and keep her there while I take care of my biz.
Oh one more little vignette I forgot to mention happened during my first session at this new gym where a young man comes up to me and says;
‘Excuse MA’AM, Can I borrow your 20’s ?’
MY INNER RESPONSE WAS :
MY OUTER RESPONSE WAS: ‘YES, YOU MAY’
Hope all of your gym tales are good ones 🙂
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE INTELLIGENCE OF YOUR EMOTIONS
I used to do Crossfit. I wrote this piece a while back. I miss it. a lot.
5 NON FITNESS related reasons to convince your friends to join a Crossfit Box….NOW!
Are you the fitness black sheep of your crew? Are all your friends raving about the newest yoga studio while you can’t stop talking about your latest PR? When you drop Crossfit acroynms such as WOD and AMRAP, do your pals look at you like you have 3 heads? They don’t understand you anymore and it leaves you wishing they would know how good it feels to be part of a box. There’s so much you want to share with them but you know the glory of your anecdotes would be lost or fall on plain acknowledgment smiles. Aside from your abs which your friends can see are slowly making their way to be sculpted like Mount Rushmore, there are some other benefits of joining these unique places referred to as The Box. Share these reasons with them and hopefully they too will be chanting the Crossfit mantras in no time.
#1 SENSE OF COMMUNITY
Ok, so there’s a reason why your friend cannot stop talking about Crossfit. One of those reasons is the feeling of belonging to a Community. The camaraderie that is fostered in a box is undeniable and I’ll explain why. In what other environment would you experience such grueling challenges in front of other people. There is no other place where it is conceivable that you may see someone puke during or after a workout (Mythbuster: Puking does not ALWAYS occur after a WOD. As a matter of fact, I’ve NEVER seen it happen but have been close to experiencing it myself). There is no other venue where you see your peers attempt daunting tasks and succeed or fail. The wodding together equals the sustaining together which forms the bond. The WODs force everyone to check their ego at the door. Whether you are lifting 35 or 135, your participation is what makes the box unique and powerful. The maneuvers demand respect for your coaches who in turn appreciate and learn from your participation. You will notice that Crossfit boxes hold many activities outside of gym hours, such as fundraisers, competitions, event planning, potlucks, and even good Ol’ barbecues at the box. This affinity to hang out is not typical in another common setting such as your workplace. I don’t know about you but I bolt out of my office and when I was at a regular gym, I didn’t want to stay any longer than I had to.
# 2 FEELING ACCOMPLISHED
Okay, I know I said the reasons would be non-fitness related and so this one might be cheating. Sue me. You will try things that you have never tried or would never otherwise try in your life. Tell me when else would you be in a position to flip tires, or use sledgehammers? When else would you do handstands or participate in a bear crawl race? Never. Most of us, if we weren’t at a box, would either be home doing home stuff or at a globo gym (globo gym = a typical gym franchise in your neighbourhood. There are probably 3 within a 5 mile radius from where you are now), looking and walking around aimlessly, getting on a machine here and there. Maybe we’d get on a weight machine once in a while just to feel like we’ve really done something that day. In a box, you WILL be challenged no matter what. There’s no place to hide in a box. It’s a wide open space with heavy things and metal poles nailed to the ground. Once you enter, you must face the music, and then your WOD is done, and you FEEL ACCOMPLISHED! This is an invaluable feeling that we do not experience frequently. When else do you get this feeling? I don’t feel like this at work, because there’s just more tasks to be done the next day. Doing house chores does not give us this feeling because we know that our work will be unraveled in a few days. The feeling of having completed something, especially a physical task, cannot be achieved in any other way. Where else would you learn to do Olympic lifting? Snatches, Cleans et al? Ask anyone who’s just executed a perfect snatch and tell me if they don’t tell you that they’ve just performed magic?
# 3 CONSTANT LEARNING
At my box, there’s two beat-up couches that are by the lounge area where people stay post or pre-Wod and chat whenever they can. There is a lot of honest exchange that happens in this area where people relay ideas about self-improvement. Everyone there wants to know what to eat to feel better or perform better. There’s insight tossed around that is based on people’s personal experience. There’s conversations about how to perform movements better and how to gain strength. Everyone wants to improve on something and there’s an implicit understanding that everyone wants to see you achieve your goals. The mentorship that you receive from your Coaches and peers is invaluable. The conversations will range from Supplements to Sex, it’s amazing! Again, this is not a typical range of discourse that would occur in any other place where there is not copious amounts of alcohol.
# 4 BADASS IMAGE OF CROSSFIT
C’mon say what you will but when you tell people that you do Crossfit, they know you’re a badass. They know that you don’t subscribe to the buy workout clothes for the sake of looking like you workout culture . You are viewed as a hardcore DO-er of things, not just a SAY-er. This perception will indulge your confidence and you will feel motivated to keep improving on your skills. You have chosen and are paying to step out of your comfort zone and as a result people will notice and ask you stuff about working out, nutrition, and about other aspects of their lives on which they wish to improve. Even though you are not a coach or a trainer they figure ‘Hey she/he does Crossfit and they haven’t died, they must be doing something right?’ This perception inspires others to change how they do things and whether or not you see it, there is a ripple effect that surrounds you.
Doing Crossfit means that you are not willing to settle for a mediocre way of challenging yourself. You are willing to put your body and mind through some heavy challenges. You will notice that this discernment will bleed into your life. You will approach new tasks and new methods in your life with the same courage that made you try Crossfit in the first place. All of a sudden other seemingly daunting tasks in your life don’t appear to be so insurmountable. Heck, you might even ask that cutie at the coffee shop out on a date, start a fundraiser at work, or buy high heels. You will try new things because whatever it is, it can’t be as bad as FILTHY FIFTY (a series of 50 reps of various movements, it’s God awful!). Crossfit has given your life a shake and you’ve begun to question the rationale of how you operate and that is part of the evolutionary process of being human.
#6 CONNECTING WITH PRIMAL SELF
Yes, yes, you know the connection between Crossfit and Paleo, but this is not where I’m going with this, I promise. Your ancestors moved in many different awkward ways, not for the purpose of making Regionals, but for Survival and in the grand scheme to increase the prospects of their family’s future. Our current world of computers, sofas, and Ketchup flavoured Doritos (I was suprisingly intrigued when I saw them by the checkout counter today) has turned us into a shell of what we used to be. Think about it, would you be able to outrun a bear now? Or carry some timber back to the nesting ground acres away? These types of tasks are in your gene pool but have been dormant for all your life. It’s time to reawaken them. Don’t ask why? Just do it. (Insert Nike Royalties here) For the sake of all the sacrifices of humanity, do something to honour and further the strength gene of humankind. I guarantee that when you are mid-Wod and feel like you cannot push further, but you do, and finish, you will feel this connection to both your past and future at the same time, both your history and destiny.
#7 BEING IN THE MOMENT
This concept is not new to most of us. This phrase is given so much lip service that it’s practically a branding slogan now. We’ve all tried to achieve this ‘in the moment’ oasis in Yoga class, only to have our brain wander to our next meal, that cute sweater you saw on the way to class, and that comment you made earlier today which left you hoping you haven’t pissed off your boss. When you are performing a rep in your WOD, there is no other option but to be in the moment. Being mentally elsewhere will result in you not fulfilling your rep. At this time, there is no other place to be but firing your neurons together and executing your rep. And if you want to execute it properly, then there is even more brain juice required. The overwhelming effort that you make during your execution will snatch all of your attention and oblige you to focus on the task at hand. Most of us who work in offices are constantly thinking of something else, other than what’s in front of us. As a matter of fact, the concept of multi-tasking requires this of us and is seen as a ‘positive’ attribute of an employee. Many of us are required to handle battling deadlines, be pulled into adhoc meetings, while deflecting ongoing distractions in order to remain employed. When you are in mid-Wod, there is just ONE task and your Body is relying on your Brain to focus on that ONE rep. Your mind -body awareness is crucial for working together to get you through the movement at hand.
# 8 LEARNING TO COPE WITH FAILURE
Unless you are JAY-Z or Richard Branson, the life we lead is pretty predictable. We go to the same places to do groceries, we pay the same bills, we are in the same place between the hours of 9am to 5pm EVERYDAY. We may try a new place for lunch once in a while, but that’s only when we’re feeling adventurous. We’ve created a nice hub of security for ourselves that offers us comfort which is necessary and important. However, we are now realizing that there are other feelings that we are meant to experience such as rational fear, fulfillment, joy, and pain. None of these can be achieved when we walk on the same pathways that we’ve been treading. You cannot experience elation without knowing what sadness is like. Whoa! Getting too deep right? Similarly, you must attempt things that you have not already mastered because that is when the growth occurs. That is where your experience bank becomes richer and from which you will draw future successes. It is crucial for your growth as a human to fail, and fail again because the odds are that you will succeed in future attempts. The science of Crossfit, as in Life, will support you. It cannot be negated. It is written that you will prevail and thrive. The culmination of all those double under attempts will finally pay off to that wondrous moment when you feel the wire go beneath your feet twice. All those banded pull-ups will result in one glorious time when you shall see over the top of that bar. You will learn that to fail is to succeed, the timing may vary but it will happen.
Ask anyone who does Crossift (ie. your annoying friend) and I’m sure that they will give you many more reasons why they value their Crossfit experience. You could dedicate an entire article to any one of the reasons above. Each person’s individual experience is as unique as the Crossfit boxes themselves. Next time, you are pondering what the new thing is that you’re going to try for this season or what you’re going to be all about for the next while, give Crossfit a try and discover your own gifts that you haven’t opened inside of you. Greatness awaits at a box near you.