“Quality Assurance” by Nick Westfall

“Your call may be recorded for quality assurance.”

I had one question and if they cared about quality they’d play New Zealand music during my wait. I switched ears to allow my right one to throb itself back to normal.

“Thank you for holding, your call is very important to us.”


** This paragraph has been cut for better, more efficient storytelling. For information on the missing information please…**


“What is your record locator number?”

I scrambled around for the documents. “STU9560JBL”

“So that’s S as in Steve, T as in Tango, Q as in Queen. Nine. Five. Six. O as in Oscar. K as in Kite. C as in Cat. And L as in Lamb. Is that correct?”

“No. Not at all.”

“Okay please wait.”

No music this time, just waiting which makes me feel better because I know she’s listening to me breathe—

“Okay Mr. Chester, please hold.”

Jon Bon Jovi played over the speaker. My left ear throbbed.

“Mr. Chester,” a male voice this time, “Can I please have your record locator number…”

“It has letters and numbers.”

“Whenever you’re ready sir.”

“Before I attempt this, is it possible to send you a picture of it instead?”

“No sir. We’re on landlines.”

“Landlines… Okay, is it possible to have a guarantee that you won’t place me back on hold should something happen in the misinterpretation of my spelling…”

“I will be able to help you with that sir.”

“Do you have a particular set of responses?”

“Your call is very important to us. Do you have a record locator number with you… If not, say, I don’t know.”

“S as in Stan, T as in Tangerine, U as in unicorns–”
“Please hold and a representative will be right with you.”

Jon Bon Jovi finished his song, which led to Jimmy Buffet.

“How can I help you today Mister Chester?”

“A new playlist.”

“Excuse me?”

“I just have a question about baggage fees for my flight to New Zealand.”

“New Zealand… What a great place. Do you have a record locator number?”

I took a deep breath, “STU9560JBL”

“Great. So let me repeat that back to you. S as in Stan. T as in Tango. Q as in Queen–”

“NO!” I thought I might’ve been in the middle of some sort of stroke I didn’t know I was having.

“I’m sorry we’re having trouble sir, could you please repeat your record locator number?”

“S as in Satan. T as in Transexual. U as in Universe. Nine. Five. Six. Oh. J as in Jack off. B as in Bisexual. L as in Lost at sea.”

There was a pause. “Great, thank you mister Chester. Now is that an O as in Oscar after the six? Or is it an Oh as in zero?”


“Thank you. Okay so I see you have a question about baggage fees.”

“That. Is. Why. I. Called.”

“Great. Thank you for your call. All of our frequently asked questions can be found on our website and Facebook page–”

Speaking of quality, I wonder how we can look at Selfie Sticks in a positive way for humanity. Have all the previous generations of humans been waiting this whole time to find out we’re taking pictures of ourselves? Have they all lived in the hope that we’d understand more about the world and this life through Selfies?

Pictures used to be made for people who can’t remember, just like quality is only for people with an appetite for introspection and a life with the luxury of boredom. An unexamined life isn’t worth living for people like you and me, but what is quality if not as individual as the individual… Where are the holons to compare one holon’s quality over another… Where are the qualifying differences between productive and destructive phone conversations… When is anything worth the wait… It’s in moments like these where my liberal arts education takes over because phone calls like these give me time to think. To assess. To conjure up all the possibilities of what could be true. It takes work because my natural hardwired setting, my unconsciousness, is always pissed off at everything that reminds it that I am not the center of the universe. That my problems aren’t what determines the world’s priorities. I get the opportunity to look at the situation and assess. Maybe the guy on the other end is mentally handicapped and this is one of the highest paying jobs he could ever have. Maybe the guy’s wife just died and he’s having trouble telling his kids and even more trouble concentrating on work when all he thinks about is if the life insurance policy he had for his wife covers suicide. Maybe delusional hypotheticals give everyone a reminder that life is romantic, not empirical. Maybe we live in a culture that influences all the most decadent parts of ourselves… The destructive holons.

While I waited on the phone, I thought of all the terrible things that haven’t happened to me yet, and found my answers on their website.


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