Jen Bingham


Month: May 2014

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow When Repeated Every Day for Six Weeks

“I can’t do this,” said my friend when we got off the elevator after lunch and I was about to say goodbye. “We’re friends, we’ll stay in touch.” He darted away, mumbling something about Facebook.

He was having a hard time with the recent layoffs and couldn’t deal with another set of goodbyes, maybe? I wasn’t offended because I ended up sneaking out without talking to several really nice people. I just didn’t want to drag things out further. I worked there for 45 days after I found out my position was being eliminated. I’ve already said goodbye several thousand times.

“Stay cool!” I said to the people who I ran into or who stopped by to exchange a parting. “Have a great weekend — and a great life!” When I left, I said “Bye, computer! It’s been real,” as I logged off for the last time, made some sarcastic comments to the nearby cluster of people, and then exited the building with the feeling of a rabbit darting into the rabbit hole. Safe and unsafe all in one.

I almost posted something on Facebook along the lines of “Insert heartfelt and meaningful goodbye email detailing how you’ve touched my life over the years and how much I’ve learned from my time here at Acme, Inc. Also included: Nonbinding agreement to stay in touch.” Then I realized I was masking actual emotions with “humor.” As usual.

Today was my last at a place where I worked for almost 14 years.

It’s the place I met the previously mentioned friend. When we started talking one day, we realized we were from the same horrible town in northern Indiana but had gone to different high schools and graduated a year apart. We both attended IU in Bloomington at the same time and may even have both lived in the same shitty apartment complex. Then we both lived in Indianapolis in our twenties, going to poetry readings. We knew the same people, but his close friends were my acquaintances and vice versa. He was roommates with a man who later married one of my best friends. We’ve often talked about how we were fated to be friends.

I’m not totally sure we’ll stay in touch.

One reason: We usually make plans when we run into each other in the elevator or break room.

Another reason: I now suck at being friends with people.

I’m not sure what happened. A combination of getting older, the Internet, becoming a completely different person. The old me was fucked up in a lot of ways, but she knew how to make friends. For the new me, there’s some kind of line I have a hard time crossing. Facebook friends, yes. Let’s do it. I’m hilarious on the Internet! Pals, of course! Let’s make plans over email three weeks in advance. A group that meets formally once a week or once a month? I’m in. But I have a hard time just staying in regular touch and being close with anyone except one of my sisters. Who lives in Idaho.

The people who  have filled that space for me have been work friends. People I saw every day without trying. Now I’m not gonna see ‘em unless I try. I told my closest work friend that I’d be calling her at 8 a.m. on Monday. She seemed like she was okay with it.

Bye Acme, Inc! It’s been real. Miss you guys for real.



Your Sunday Comic

On today (Sunday) I am having a plant-exchange party. On yesterday (Saturday) I did little to prepare for it despite the urgent need to do so.*

However, I DID find time to catch up on the 83 unread Dinosaur Comics in my Old Reader feed. It’s never an option to say “Mark all as read” when we’re talking about T. Rex and his adventures.

I’m not gonna lie. I think it was awesome. Here’s the one that made me laugh the hardest.

Alt text: "bears in the woods don't worry about who friends them on facebook AND they can poop wherever they want.  bears in the woods have the right friggin' idea”

Alt text: “bears in the woods don’t worry about who friends them on facebook AND they can poop wherever they want. bears in the woods have the right friggin’ idea”

*I secretly wrote this post on SATURDAY to save time on SUNDAY when I will be floundering around trying to clean my house and yard.

Inspirational Quotes from People Who Committed Suicide

Is this phenomenon one of my favorite or least favorite things? Hard to say.

Let’s just get rolling.


She found at least one.





Republic Wireless and Fictional Customer Service

So this is a super cool, meta way to run your customer service: NOT HAVE ANY  BUT PRETEND LIKE YOU DO.

I knew that Republic Wireless keeps rates low by routing most calls through wifi and by doing customer service over the web rather than phone. I did kind of a lot of research and talked to some friends who had the plan.

What I didn’t know is that the call quality sucks and that their customer service is fictional! Here is the welcoming email I got right after I signed up.


Oh my gosh.  A picture of a person! Sherry! That is so . . . personable. However, the way her arms are defensively wrapped around her body should have clued me in to the withholding and noncommunicative nature of Republic’s “customer service.” Basically, it’s just machines sending you emails and telling you to go look on the forums, which are confusing and seem to be maintained by other customers.

I asked a question about something or other and never got a response. Sherry had other fish to fry. And I was busy convincing myself that I could live with weird, patchy call quality in order to lower my monthly phone bill to $30. I ported my previous phone number to the new phone with zero problems, since that is all, presumably, handled by machines.

Then I got an email from Amie.


Amie wants you to think she hand knitted that hat, but she probably didn’t. Like Sherry before her, Amie’s folded arms are emotionally blocking me from receiving information. She asks whether I know that I “have the ability” to open a customer request through my phone. Yes, Amie, I know! And I have already contacted you and never received an answer.

Here is the most recent communication from Republic. After I told them I was not happy with the service and considering cancelling my plan.

follow up from Republic

You will note that this is marked “23 hours ago.” In the meantime, I have talked with friendly folks at Motorola who are taking my phone back and refunding me the full price, PLUS paying for me to send it back to them. It is already winging it’s way back in the caring hands of FedEx. I have also chatted with the friendly folks at AT&T who are re-porting my number back to my hated iPhone.

Did you know you can pretend like you care about your customers by sending pictures of humans to them? Did you know that machines can run your company?

Your Sunday Comic


Anyway, it’s by Buttersafe.


Sunday Morning Street Therapy



Me: At fence in front yard cutting back my climbing rose. Annoyed because I thought it was dead and then after I cut off a huge cane, realized it was still alive.

Woman approaches from east: NBD

Man approaching from west intersects with woman from east directly in front of my yard: Sound of a conversation that is not welcomed by the lady. He continues on his way, approaching my position.

Me: Looking over rose. Eye contact is made. Internal “fuck” is said.

Him: African American, sunglasses, newspaper and cup of coffee in hand, ball cap on backwards. “I’m not sure what do do.”

Me: . . .

Him: “Should I just go home and kick her out of my house? I don’t know what to do.”

Me: “You should probably go home and take a nap before you make any decisions.”

Him: “Is it that obvious?”

Me: “Yes.”

Him: “I didn’t realize it was that obvious . . . Okay, I’m gonna do that. Thank you.”

Me: Pretty happy this whole thing went this way. “Cool.”

Him: “Thank you, I’m gonna do that.” Walks forward but suddenly seems to fear I think he got up at 4 a.m. and started drinking, turns around “I was out last night, you know? I didn’t go home.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.”

Him: “I shouldn’t have stayed out.”

Me: “Just go home and go to bed.”

Him: Raises coffee in benediction. “Thank you. I’m gonna do that.”

Me: Slight, unwarranted feeling that I have actually helped to sort out a problematic situation.

Your Sunday Comic

Existential Comics is new to me. Someone put it up on Facebook and I fell for it hard. The good thing is that although it’s very conceptual and the main figures are philosophers or other thinkery types, it also works for folks that just know the basics (like me). This one is called The Germans Play Monopoly. germansPlayMonopoly1 germansPlayMonopoly2

Talk of the Town: Blind Items about People Nobody Knows

talk of the town

What group of three twentysomething beardo-nerds, walking on the canal on the day after St Patrick’s Day were overheard talking? The beardiest one said “So you just, like, kill him and take all his supplies . . .“ After that I couldn’t hear any more of what they said but the general attitude of the threesome indicated to me that they were not actual murderers, but were either hypothetically rewriting a sci-fi classic or explaining how to win at a video game.


What higher-up at an international widget company undergoing layoffs was exiting the widget’s local building as two employees were trying to use their electronic fobs to unlock the door? He jokingly pretended like he was not going to let the two employees into the building — one of whom he had recently group-fired! How hilarious.


What well-dressed middle aged blonde lady, shopping at Fishers-area Goodwill, said aloud “Good days and bad days,” as she put a sweater back on the rack and continued shopping?  Her coat had a medieval pattern of lions and vegetation that I tried to find a good way to describe but couldn’t. She avoided eye contact after the incident and judging by my personal experience of such matters, was able to convince herself that no one noticed.


What twenty something hipster was dropped off with his ten speed on Morris Street, exiting from a shining black Ford F50? He rode his bike about half a mile down the road and turned into a home in a section of the neighborhood where many musicians are known to live.

This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c37305.

The Wonders of Toasting Bread

Why do people exist? Why do Internet comments exist? What possible positive effect would toasting bread have on its nutritional value. Why am I so angry about this?


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