J. Allen Wolfrum is a fiction author and former Marine based in San Diego, California.


The Call Center Memo

The Call Center Memo

The voices in your head are real. They are not what you imagined them to be, but they are real. You might ask, what makes you so sure? Well, I’m the one responsible for the voices, my name is Erick. To be clear, I might not be responsible for the voice in your head, I’m only assigned one thousand customers at a time.

That’s right, customers. It’s the best analogy that I can find for what we do, my job is similar to working in a call center. From the outside it appears mundane, we’re even organized in cubicles. Not the most visually appealing work environment but you get used to it.

Sorry, I should back up and explain the business landscape in the Spiritual Guidance industry. Like I said, those voices in your head, they are real, but they don’t come from your brain. When you hear that voice in the back of your head, it’s really coming from a group of competing companies. I work for Enlightened Path Incorporated (EPI), a Spiritual Guidance Provider. I know, the name is a bit one the nose, don’t shoot the messenger, I just work here. EPI is not the only company competing to be heard as the ‘voice in your head’, there are hundreds of other companies doing the same thing, each has their own strategy to differentiate themselves from the other competitors.

EPI is consistently ranked in the Top 10 Spiritual Guidance companies in terms of quality. Companies that deliver Quality Spiritual Guidance are referred to as QSG’s in the industry. Quality is measured by the amount of long term success gained by customers who follow the Spiritual Guidance provided. Being a quality provider of Spiritual Guidance doesn’t come with millions of dollars and a new Tesla. Quite the opposite, Spiritual Guidance companies get paid in full when their advice is followed and receive a partial payment when their advice is considered. When a customer ignores our positive guidance and says, “Fuck it, I’m drinking another glass of wine and eating this pint of ‘Truffle Kerfluffel’ ice cream,” we don’t get paid at all. As you can imagine, most Quality Spiritual Guidance gets ignored.

The business of giving quality spiritual advice is tough. It has a similar feel as working for a non-profit organization, you won’t be driving your Ferrari to meet your billionaire friends at ‘Cars and Coffee’ on Saturday mornings, but you will be able to look yourself in the mirror and sleep at night.

On the other side of the business are the companies that specialize in providing what is referred to in the industry as ‘Short Term Spiritual Guidance’ or STSG. Companies specializing in STSG tend to be highly profitable and then quickly flame out just like their customers. For example, this is a relatively benign example of STSG advice, “Who cares about a 401k? Downpayment for a house? Those are things old people talk about. Your internet marketing side gig is going to pay off any time. You can afford the lease payment on a 5 Series BMW, go for it. Upgrade to an M Class? What’s the point of buying a BMW if isn’t an M Class?” You don’t need much imagination to see how far the most nefarious companies stretch the definition of Spiritual Guidance.

STSG companies use the Statue 145 of the Spiritual Guidance Regulations, also known as the ‘Happiness Clause’ to justify their guidance to customers. The clause stipulates that guidance provided to increase the happiness of customers is legal. An awfully broad interpretation in my opinion. Good luck finding the politicians responsible for passing the Statute, they're resting easy on the docks of their villas on Lake Como.

There is another caveat to this business that we should talk about. The Spiritual Guidance you receive or as you better know it, ‘the voice in your head’ is primarily driven based on your past actions. Often you hear multiple competing voices. The volume or importance given to those competing voices by your brain is based on the voice you have most frequently listened to in the past. Timing and frequency are the heaviest weighted factors in the algorithm. For example, if for the past six months you have been listening to a QSG’s guidance, that company’s guidance will be the loudest in your brain and you will likely continue to follow that QSG. On the other hand if you have been listening to STSG, those voices will be the loudest are you will likely continue down the path of sacrificing long term happiness for short term goals. You probably have heard the descriptions this phenomena referred to as ‘Cycle of Depression’, ‘String of Bad Luck’, or on the positive side ‘Perpetual Bliss’ or ‘Zen’.

I’m almost out of time, but there’s one more aspect of the business that you need to understand. Every Spiritual Guidance company is required to maintain an active and functioning Karma Department. The mission of the Karma Department is to track the Spiritual Advice followed by each person over time. They do this by keeping a simple tally, every piece of Spiritual Guidance followed from a QSG company is a +1 and each piece of Spiritual Advice followed from a STSG is a -1. Every person has a running tally, the Karma team at each company determines the point where a customer’s Karma score is set back to zero. Resetting a customer’s Karma score involves a great deal of judgement on the part of the team members in the Karma Department which results in frequent backlogs. As customers you know this process by the phrases, ‘building up my karma bank’, or ‘karma gets everyone in the end’.

I had better get back to work. More to come.



Replaced by Shadows

Replaced by Shadows

Muddy Footprints ... A Short Story

Muddy Footprints ... A Short Story