How I Discovered the Internet: Late to The Party Again

In 2000, I accidentally landed my first real office job. I worked in a cubicle (OK, semi-office job), as a call center representative with thirty-three co-workers in a space built for about five. It was here I learned why the world loved the nine to five lifestyle, and why office jobs were so popular.

    The Internet.

English: An image of a lot of cubicles that se...

English: An image of a lot of cubicles that seem to go on forever (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In between calls, we were allowed to use the Internet to enhance our skills as customer service reps. We were allowed to read, learn, and surf the Web during down time as long as goals were met and call quality remained top-notch.

Keep in mind, the Internet was “relatively” new back in those days. There wasn’t easy access to the world via smartphone, there were FEW laptops (if any), and people with home computers were “special” and “rich”–in my mind anyway.

So, this newly discovered vessel was unbelievably exciting to me.

These office prodigies educated me, and I was in awe!

I had spent my adult life working nights as a poker dealer, and a bartender. I worked nights because the tips were better, and had never had an office job.

I had adamantly refused to be normal and couldn’t imagine working in an office or working for a paycheck.

It all became clear one morning, on the third floor, in a small office space, in the middle of Wisconsin…….

Bored.com became my favorite website during those breaks intended to enhance my productivity, and level of expertise in the field of customer service. It was also during this time as well that my cyber-social life began to explode.

Couldn’t wait to get to work every day.

I learned how to email, how to find old friends at reunion sites (WAY before Facebook), and after a quick call to my mom, learned to send an attachment. I wrote letters to people I hadn’t “seen in forever” (I  graduated high school seven years earlier), and loved keeping in touch with the group of friends I had just moved away from in California.

Wisconsin was amazing, but the homesick was beginning to set in. Email correspondence cured that.

I emailed everyone (I was popular, ya know!) and waited eagerly for responses. That same year I learned how to use the “refresh” button and found myself cutting customers off so I could refresh my email account. I loved this form of communication.

I “talked” to my Chris the most. He had just graduated from Sacramento State, and found a writing job that allowed him to travel, interview, and share his love of music.

I think I was secretly jealous.

Chris sent me (and still does, by the way), the most hilarious emails ever! During my time in Wisconsin he amused me with stories about the drunk girls we used to work with, his tortured life interviewing Primadonna (not MADONNA!) music artists, and perspectives on the world that he “needed to write” about.

At this point in my life, I was still taking ball point to the Composition book and calling it poetry.

I was totally jealous.

My diligence as a daily journal-keeper had dwindled. I was rarely inspired to write unless drunk, and the illusion of putting music to my words was beginning to fad. I was 25-years old, and my chance at fame had long passed. I was too old to ever be a songwriter, (and too over-dramatic to take a peek at reality!).

Old school email.

The second logo for AOL, used from 2006–2009

So I wrote emails-For the very first time in my life.

JAN 8, 2001
DEAR CHRIS,
THAT WAS THE FUNNIEST EMAIL I HAVE EVER READ!!!!!!!! MAN, I MISS YOU GUYS. THOSE CHICKS ARE STUPID AND SO MUCH DRAMA!! GOOD FOR US THOUGH BECAUSE THEY MAKE THE BEST STORIES. WE NEED TO BECOME WRITERS!!!!! LETS WRITE SOMETHING!!! CASINO STUFF? ANYWAY—-WISCONSIN IS COLD AS SHIT BUT SO MUCH FUN. ILL CALL YOU AGAIN SOMETIME WITH ANOTHER DRUNK KARAOKE SONG TO SING YOU? CAN YOU BELIEVE SOMEONE GAVE ME A JOB AS A BARTENDER/ FUNNY!!!!!!!! GOTTA TAKE A CLL- WRITE BACK SOON
ROBIN

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January 8, 2001
Dear Robin,
Okay, I can’t handle it anymore, what the hell is up with your emails? Every time I read one of them, I feel like you’re yelling at me. HAHAHA! The ALL CAPS, and exclamation points scare me!!!!!

Anyway, the girls here are still the same-hilarious, chain-smoking, white trash, and always ready to party. Of course I love them.

Well, I have to go—-I think my Editor is going to make me interview Britney Spears this week (I WANT MADONNA!), and I’m loathing the thought of it. I have no idea what sort of questions to ask because I could care less.

Talk to you soon.

Chris

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p style=”padding-left:30px;”>JANUARY 8, 2001
CHRIS!!!!!!!!!!
WHAT THE HELL!!  I DON’T KNOW HOW TO TYPE!! WITH THE SHIFT THINGY AND SHIT—-IT’S CONFUSING!!! I DIDN’T’ TAKE TYPING BECAUSE I DIDN’T EVER PLAN ON HAVING A TYPEWRITER OR BEING A SECRETARY!!! HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO PREDICT THE FUTURE AND KNOW COMPUTERS AND THE INTERNET WOULD TAKE OVER? IT TAKES ME 45 MINUTES TO FIND LETTER G. I HATE THIS SHIT. 

——————— It took me about six years to type well enough to attempt a career as a writer. In addition to passing on the chance to take a typing class, I also had a drunk as a high-school English teacher. I was never formally trained to write. You can read more about my English teacher, (who called me Sparrow, instead of Robin, lol!), and my miseducation (<—-got that word from Lauryn Hill) in the art of punctuation, and grammar-“Suck It Grammar!” that I published at Bubblews.

My apologies if I offend you. I do pay for grammar software, but sometimes even it gives up on me.

Mental Health and Our Homeless Population

Shadow Girl

Shadow

I never realized the impact mental health issues had on diverse groups of people for a long time. I believed that mental illness was as elusive as a disease that effected the elderly. I learned differently over the course of many years and took what I had researched and applied it to real life.

I started volunteering for a homeless shelter in 2010 that was located in Patterson, California. Patterson is primarily an agricultural community with a population of nearly 20,000. In a recent article written in the local newspaper; Patterson Irrigator it was reported that the population of homeless ranged between 50 and 80 people.

Law enforcement is quick to point out the impact of drug addiction on this population. I do not dispute this. I worked directly with the majority of the people counted as statistics in the newspaper article. There were severe cases that required intervention and treatment but the majority of people were just lost and needed to be motivated. There are those who suffered with mental health issues prior to becoming homeless and then there are those who are perpetuated into mental illness because of their living situations.

When a person becomes hopeless it leads to not caring which leads to giving up.

Addiction VS Mental Health

My theory involves treating the mental illness in order to help homeless abusers who self-medicate themselves. Studies have pointed to a majority of alcohol and drug addicts who also suffer from untreated mental illnesses. By treating the true cause, a person is given a more authentic chance at successful recovery and ultimately a more meaningful life.

It seems like an easy fix. Treat mental health issues, present solutions to homelessness and watch success. Unfortunately, there are many different mental illnesses and the process to treatment can be lengthy and requiring of patience. I witnessed a lot of frustration and embarrassment in diagnosis and treatment. Yep, even our homeless population has pride. The misconceptions of mental health and the word “crazy” still resonates as negative to some. Refusal of treatment and denial of mental health issues was another common thread.

How to Help

For me, the hardest thing to STOP doing was giving change to those who asked. For a long time I didn’t care where the money went. I told myself that if a person down on their luck needed to use alcohol or drugs to escape their reality, it was alright. I learned differently after volunteering.

There are many different organizations that help our homeless population. Organizations like National Association of Mental Illness, who offer services and resources for all people suffering with mental health issues. Local organizations, food pantries and larger organizations are working hard at providing necessities for those in need.

Nowadays, if I run across someone asking for change; I direct them to nearby organizations, churches and facilities that are there to help ease the hardship. Sometimes, it breaks my heart to keep my change. I’ll get over it. I know It’s the right thing to do.