Saturday, October 3, 2009

Searching for a tree like a rainbow snow cone

It is October and the leaves are changing color. Therefore, today I made it my ambition to find a tree that looked like a rainbow snow cone. After some driving about, I came upon a suitable specimen growing near a library parking lot. The tree is a mixture of lemon, lime, and cherry. In another week there will be dashes of grape.

If you look closely, you will notice that I seem to have inadvertently violated the privacy of a man and his young daughter. They are crouched beneath the tree and have covered their faces with their hands. They may be camera-shy celebrities, fugitives from justice, or members of a witness protection program, who knows? Or they may be normal people who dislike having some strange nitwit take their picture for no good reason. It's probably just as well that I didn't accost them and start a conversation about snow cone trees.

Flushed with success at finding my multi-colored tree, I decided to make an international phone call. This was as simple as calling the toll-free number to check on my Macy's Visa card balance.

I slipped through the automated menus by saying "operator" firmly (even though "operator" was not one of the authorized menu items) and connected with a young customer service worker named Albert. He was Indian, probably in Bangalore, and probably finishing his day on the night shift -- a hard day's night, as Ringo Starr once said. Owing to some peculiarity of time zones, Bangalore is eleven and a half hours ahead of Denver. The odd half hour must cause continual problems for the out-sourcing businesses. At any rate, my late afternoon call was arriving at dawn on the other side of the planet.

Albert and I had a leisurely discussion about the quirks of billing cycles -- I had bought my Father of the Groom suit the day after the Macy's billing cycle closed, which had the effect of extending my grace period by an extra month. Albert's explanation was clear and succinct. I had an impulse to ask him about the weather in Bangalore, but prudently refrained. Macy's monitors the service calls and no doubt wants to preserve the illusion that the service center is some place in the United States, although it would have to be some place where you could find a lot of young men and women with Indian accents, such as a university mathematics department.

And so, what have I learned today? If I had encountered white people of various hues -- sunburned people, jaundice sufferers, albinos, and so forth -- or people of various ethnic skin tones, I would sum up my day with a fulsome and sentimental metaphor of the human race as a great rainbow snow cone. But I didn't encounter such people, so I won't.