Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Monday, May 31, 2004
  A real lack of proactive leadership...

I realized something recently about the leadership of my call center. To put it into Dilbertspeak, "There is a real lack of proactive leadership without a clear vision for sustainable growth and quality."

But more simply, the management of my company does not plan much, they simply respond to what happens. This may be only the appearance of things from my point of view, but I'm fairly certain I'm not totally off base.

I can say this because most memos and policies are in response to things that happen, not new ways of doing our work better. Training has stopped, and most decrees and memos are simply trying to get the employees to follow existing policies and regulations concerning our financial transactions with the public.

I don't say this to mock or belittle my supervisors. No, I think that they feel very similar to me some times. They also don't know what to do. They are also confused and trapped in a system that doesn't make sense. We are fellow travelers in purgatory.......

they just get paid more.

Sunday, May 30, 2004
  Real Live Preacher

Visit Real Live Preacher-some of the most honest Christian writing I have seen in years.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Check out Blaugustine. Good cartoons, art and thoughtful writing. Worth the click.


P.S. Sorry for the mispelling before, Natalie-fixed it posthaste..

Friday, May 28, 2004
  Can Everyone Be Extraordinary?

When I spend time thinking about what my life could be, or could have been, there are times I think that I could have been great. I could have been a prolific writer, speaker, or a person that caused great changes to the world.

I remember reading a letter from Alexander the Great to a leader of a city he was about to conquer and he said that it was his destiny to conquer that city. He believed the Gods had destined him for greatness. There are other people in the world that seemed to have the same sort of idea. Jesus knew from a very young age that he was to do something extraordinary with his life. Lincoln continued to run for many different political offices even though he lost many times.

But everyone cannot be great. Its really not even practical. Everyone cant be famous. Someone has to collect the trash, wash the dishes, change the bedpans, build the houses, serve the food, do the books, and on and on and on.

But then it hit me, when we think of greatness, we think of fame, notoreity, and events and actions that are noticed by many. The people that really have touched my life were great, but not noteworthy. Sunday school teachers, two of my aunts, my life has been changed by people I met on buses, people who came into my life for such a short time and then were gone. The tapestry of beliefs and values, of comfort and love in my life is not a result of a famous person, but of many everyday people with exceptional spirits.

That is the kind of greatness I should seek...

Thursday, May 27, 2004
  Blogaholics Anonymous...

If you are like me and are obsessed with blogging and sharing your incredible insightful, yet humble thoughts with the masses-you need to check out Norse Horse's new website:


  More to see!

Keep an eye peeled on the blogroll, I have updated it again with new links to previous posts that some of you may not have read yet. Thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, May 26, 2004
  Variety scares me to death!!...

I am very frightened...

Everything went well today. There was no yelling, the customers were all easy to deal with, everyone got along, it was very frightening.

I had good call volume, I was efficient and got things done. I guess you can't count on anything to stay the same, even purgatory!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
  Dear CEO...

Dear President and Ceo of Anonymous Call Center Conglomerate,

I have worked at your company for four years. When I was a trainee I was told your name and name of the other people in charge of the company. I don’t know what you look like, nor do you know what I look like.I have worked for other CEO's that I knew by name, had shook their hands, and was personally glad to work for them. I don’t know anything about you other than the way that you run your company. I guess that is enough to know that employees' always come second to profit.

This year you increased the amount of money that employees have to pay in order to keep their health insurance for their families. At the same time hours were cut, and it was the yet another year without performance reviews or any wage increases at all.

Look, I’m not some moron without a clue about how business works, I know you have lost some customers, and I know that times have been tough. I have also seen you putting out some capital to improve parts of the company—it just never seems to come our way.I see you making investments in everything except people.

But you can’t continue treating your employees this way. How long do you expect them to stay when nothing ever changes for the better? You know it would be one thing if you had explained to us that this is a temporary thing, or made some sort of attempt to bring us along, make us part of this, dealt in some sort of good faith. But we hear nothing from you or your representatives here. Your silence speaks deafening volumes about how you feel about us.

I am sure that you are shielded, protected and rarely come in contact with the people that work at your companies. Your managers probabally never discuss such things, only profit and loss. I am sure you would tell everyone that you provide work to many people and help the economy. Yes, you provide me with the wages to pay my bills. You also provide me with no incentive, very little hope, confusing memos and policies and very little to look forward to.

I know that you will never read this, and I will leave your company someday. But if one of your kind does read this while surfing the web someday, and think beyond profit, possibly wonder how his methods of business affect the people that work for him, then this will have been worth the time.



Monday, May 24, 2004
  Curbside Prophet.....

Here's a great blog with a very different take on the Iraq conflict. It is from a well-read and well-informed, middle of the road conservative viewpoint. It is not just repeating the Fox News viewpoint. I know some of you may not agree with it, but it is well thought out and has substance. Check it out!

The Curbside Prophet

Sunday, May 23, 2004
  Boiling with rage and anger...

Recently I had another very bad day. My eagle ear boss hears everything we say. I was commiserating with a customer about a change in their investment cost which was unexpected and for the worse. We were actually at fault because we could have notified them sooner, but I did not even come close to pointing that out to the customer. While I am on the phone he yells at the top of his voice to shut up and that if the customer contests the charges that it will come out of my paycheck(he has no way to do that).

I said I was sorry for making the comments and sat down, arguing with him is not worth it, at least for now. But it burned within me. Between the depression from having to return to this place day after day and his treatment I don't know how much longer I can work here. The kind of anger his treatment brings scares me, because I've always thought I was a kind guy, but this is bringing out anger I did not know was there. No, I'm not violent, or thinking of buying weapons, I'll quit if I get to that point.

But I've got my limits like everyone else. I hope I can get out of here before I explode and finally say things I can't take back.

Thanks for listening-that helps...

Saturday, May 22, 2004
  A little drama...

Sorry for the slowdown in posts. Having a little technical drama going on right now computer and networkwise. Should be back posting regularly Tuesday or Wednesday.


Friday, May 21, 2004

Check out Grocerjack yet another desk-bound-wage-slave with tottally whacked management looking over him..


  If you have any questions....

Got another memo today.

"It is important that our customer's instructions are followed to the letter. There are other companies providing financial services such as ours, and with the market in the state of flux that it is in, we must continue to be hungry. Service is the only product that we actually sell. If anyone has any questions or does not understand this concept, he should speak to management so that everything may be crystal clear."

I love the mindset going on in these memos. It is amazingly ludicrous. I sometimes imagine taking one of these memos and going on this quest for knowledge that they keep offering at the end-to make things crystal clear. I fantasize it would go something like this....

AnonymousCog:"Hi, I got this memo and I don't understand the part about the service. I was hoping you could explain it to me."

P.H.B.(Pointy Haired Boss):"Certainly, always glad to interface with my resources in a way that leads to clarification of our prevailing paradigm."

AnonymousCog:"Ok, you say that service is our only product, but we lend people money too. What's that all about?"

P.H.B.:"No, you misunderstand, the allocation of resources to our customers is one of our services."

AnonymousCog:"But service is an action, and money is a commodity. So we must sell a commodity also."

P.H.B.:"No, the commodity is there to facilitate the transfer of services to our customers."

AnonymousCog:"So they only have to pay for the services, and the money is free?"

P.H.B.:"No, the capital is part of the service that they pay us so handsomely for."

AnonymousCog:"Can I have some service?"

P.H.B.:"Have a motivational coffee mug from my desk, be empowered."

AnonymousCog:"Dude, it's stained...."

Thursday, May 20, 2004
  Updated Posts

I have updated the blogroll on the right. It has some selected archived posts that some of you that are new to the blog may have not read before.

Enjoy, comment, lambaste, mock, whatever-just keep reading...



  Poverty and Homelessness Part II...

The Homeless Guy-"New to This Blog" Post

Another good post going on over at the If you have never visited there check it out.

In part I, we talked about how the United States' view of poverty and homelessness is vastly different from the rest of the world, and that many people in other countries see poverty as just a fact of life.

Because the dominant society of America came about as a result of Puritan emigrants, the ideas that personal responsibility and hard work always leads to profit and wealth is still ingrained in our society more than 200 years later.

Our society still judges people on what they have, what job they do and what position in society they have attained. Meanwhile people trapped in homelessness and poverty are seen as less than equal. Sure, few people would admit to such a thing, but anyone who has ever worked in minimum wage jobs know that there is a social class system in our country, and it doesnt take a genius to know that other people want to put you under their feet.

Kevin's post goes on to point towards a post-puritan social system where people start to accept others no matter where they are at in society:

"Community is the act of people living together. And they do live together because they accept each other. Homeless people are not accepted, and thus are not included in community. To change this, homeless people must be accepted, must be included in society, must be extended the same love and respect given to anyone else. In this kind of environment, homeless people can find their way back into society, and can feel welcomed to do so."

These are great ideas and great insight. Maybe its possible to build the kind of community he is talking about.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
  Poverty and Homelessness...

The Homeless Guy-"New to This Blog" Post

Another good post going on over at the If you have never visited there check it out.

The quote that caught my eye was this:

"Wow, what a concept, people living in a world "with" homeless people - where homeless people are considered to be equal to other non-homeless people, where homeless people are given as much respect as non-homeless people - qualifying for a place in the world solely because they are people."

I think the mindset in the United States toward poverty and homelessness is one of the most narrow minded in the world. In Latin America, India, and Africa, poverty is seen as an eventuality and commonplace. In many places in the world, it's common for people to live wherever they can find to sleep. Many people build their houses from whatever they can find, and make home wherever they can.

But our country is obsessed with everything being neat and tidy. The grass cut just so, and weeded, the house painted an acceptable color. There is no place in civil society for people on the fringe who live outside of these preordained ideas of housing.

More to come tommarow..
  From Thoughts....

Check out Me, Myself and I. Good writing by another desk-bound-wage-slave. Also listed on the blogroll under From Thoughts.

-Anonymous Cog

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
  My Wife...

My wife

Sometime ago, I told you about my wife and someone asked if she knows that this blog exists. She doesn't yet. I'm not sure whether it is a good thing or not.

We've been together more than 10 years, and we rarely fight, but we hug and kiss throughout the day. She still makes me very happy.

We talk about many of the same things I talk about in the blog. But I really like having a place where I can say most anything I want. Its good to exist outside of who all those around me have pigeonhold me as. I can talk the way I really feel, talk crude if want to, rant like an anarchist, or socialist or anywhere inbetween.

My blog is my treehouse, my "He-Man Woman Hater Club"*, its the steam room, the bar and all of the places we all go to get away from everyone who tries to make us to be responsible, courteous, and politically correct.

So, for the time being, the blog is our little secret...

*This was Spanky and Alfalfa's boy's only club in "The little rascals" show. Extremely old....I saw it in the 70's.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Last time I went to church I had an epiphany. It was communion Sunday. For those of you who may or may not go to church, this is a special time to receive forgiveness for the sins that you have committed, forgive others that have sinned against you, and renew your relationship with God.

Whether you believe in it or not, the rituals contained in religion are socially important. To spend time contemplating your actions, your identity and your values in relation to the larger world around you is important no matter what your faith is. I don't know if I would contemplate such weighty matters if I did not go to church. I would probabally lay on the recliner eating Swiss rolls and drinking coffee, watching Spongebob or playing Rachet and Clank while my wife yells at me to mow the lawn(when left to myself, I tend towards an incredible state of slack in almost no time at all).

Anyway, back to my epiphany. I'm standing in church singing with the congregation during a slow worship song. I'm thinking about communion coming up in the service, and what a mess I've made of the week with all of the sins I have committed and all of the things I have left undone. Then I move onto the larger issues, How did I get to where I am now? I never meant to end up here, I wanted such grander things for my life. I had goals and dreams, and they seem to be getting farther and farther away.

I then heard in my heart God speaking to me. No, not an audible voice, no not some psychotic voice in my head, but those unspoken words that are clear in the inner heart, like some spiritual instant message downloaded into my consciousness. He said,

"All of these other things are not important. What you accomplish, who you become, what things that you do whether good or bad are not what's important. What is important is the relationship you have with me. Turn away from all of your actions, stop looking at them. Cultivate a real relationship with me first of all, and everything else will take care of itself."

Now this is not something theologically new, but it is to me. It seems that whenever I found myself far from God, and feeling distant, it almost always has something to do with this. He keeps bringing me back time and time again to relationship, grace, and resting everything on him, and not letting actions, status, goals and sins separate us.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Part V

So what have I been getting at with this week long post?

It's this: many modern call centers are a result of the capitalistic ideas of mass production and standardized parts. People are reduced to a sort of wet-ware data gathering voicemail system in order to outsource customer service and sales to the lowest bidder.

But even more than that, the way most call centers are set up, not only are the employees dehumanized, but the people who call in can be subject to a brusque cookie-cutter brand of customer service that seeks to make them just another non-entity to get off the line as soon as possible.

Am I just on a tangent to gripe about my own job? Well, it's obvious that I'm not crazy about my own situation, but it's a bigger issue than that. All over this world we are losing quality to obscene quantities, craftsmanship to low prices. In my own job, I recently realized that they don't want me to do quality work, they want half-ass results that break their own rules and policies they lay out to me. Not only is the system broke where I am, it is broke worldwide.

All I wanted to do with this series of posts was introduce us to the idea that maybe the way we do things in this world from economics to government is based on ideas that arent sensible, but only designed to make money and devalue people. There has to be another way....

Thanks for reading..


Hey, I'm starting to realize this post has went on and on, and is kind of a downer. After this I will try to get some more entertaining stuff. Thanks for continuing to read.


  Alienation Part V

Before the standardization of customer service and sales through such things as large call centers that provided service to many companies, it was common to know your customer personally. And that still exists to a much smaller extent, especially in specialized call centers like mine. But relationships with customers is not encouraged, it is actually discouraged.

But in order for call centers to be profitable there must be high enough call volume to justify the staff level. There are many like mine where we are paid by the transaction by the companies we represent. Management of call centers are always looking at call volume and quick turnover of calls, they want to see each call finished as soon as possible so that you may take more calls.

But the problem is that in dealing with people things become complicated. Not every customer talks New Jersey fast, and many of them do not want to get on and off the phone, they have questions and concerns that they want handled a certain way. The point is in dealing with people, you cannot predict how long it will take to take care of each customer's needs accurately. So brusqueness, curtness, and plain rudeness becomes the way that many people achieve the high volume of calls their management asks for.

In many call centers there is no place for craftsmanship in dealing with people. Accuracy and customer satisfaction will always take a back seat to achieving high call volume, low wait time, and rapid turnover of calls. Just like the millworker, many of us feel like some sort of tool, except we are paid to be rude and unkind to people in order to earn our bread.
Click here to read part VI-Conclusion

Friday, May 14, 2004
  Alienation Part IV

Part III

Before call centers came into being sales and customer service was performed by people that actually worked for the same company that provided the goods and services. The idea of one behomoth entity providing customer services and sales to multiple companies was not realized until much later.

It was common before the advent of call centers to know who you were dealing with. When you called a company you would speak to someone with a personal interest in the goods and services provided. This person would give you their first and last name and would be there the next time you called. The dehumanizing ideas of "operator 3546" would have seemed unbelievable.

I'm not exactly sure where call centers started, but somewhere along the line someone knew they could make money if they applied a method of standardizing customer service and sales...

Part V-No more craftsmen in the customer service sector..

Click here to read part V

Thursday, May 13, 2004
  Alienation-Part III

Part II

In the last post we were discussing the idea that the industrial revolution and such technology as the assembly line and standardized parts made the workers themselves feel indistinct and anonymous.

I can't think of a better illustration of these feelings of alienation than the lyrics from James Taylor's song "Millworker".

Now my grandfather was a sailor.
He blew in off the water.
My father was a farmer.
and I, his only daughter,
took up with a no good millworking man ,
from Massachusetts,
who dies from too much whiskey,
and leaves me these three faces to feed.

Millwork ain't easy,
millwork ain't hard,
millwork it ain't nothing,
but an awful boring job.
I'm waiting on a daydream,
to take me through the morning,
and put me in my coffee break
where I can have a sandwich
and remember...

Then it's me and my machine,
for the rest of the morning,
and the rest of the afternoon
and the rest of my life...

Now my mind begins to wander,
to the days back on the farm.
I can see my father smiling at me,
swinging on his arm.
I can hear my granddad's stories,
of the storms out on Lake Erie.
Where vessels and cargos and fortunes,
and sailors's lives were lost.

Yeah, but its my life that's been wasted,
and I have been the fool.
to let this manufacturer,
use my body for a tool.
I'll ride home in the evening,
staring at my hands.
Swearing by my sorrow that a young girl,
ought to stand a better chance.

So may I work the mills just as long as I am able,
and never meet the man whose name is on the label.

Still it's me and my machine,
for the rest of the morning,
and the rest of the afternoon....
for the rest of my life...

[Part IV looks at how this alienation has moved to the customer service sector]

Click here to read part IV

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
  Alienation-Part II

Part I

[Summary of last post-skip to next paragraph if already read]
In the previous post we discussed the beginning of Marx's ideas that workers were alienated from the products that they produced due to the changes that occurred in the way things were mass produced during the industrial revolution. We gave the example of a craftsmen who made wooden barrels. We explained that he oversaw the production of his products from start to finish. But after this shift in methods of production, barrels may have been made in a factory, and the workers just found themselves as just one more anonymous cog in a barrel making machine.

The effects of this shift in production upon individual worker identity is kind of amazing. Before the move to industrial practices, people were able to base their personal identity on their status as a craftsman in the community. Joseph is the cobbler, Henry is the potter, George is the blacksmith, and on and on. Even though they may not have had the most glamorous jobs, they had an important function in the life of the community. If you needed shoes, you had to go to the cobbler, if you needed a bowl, you had to go to the potter, and on from there.

Whereas after this shift to industrial production, your identity became one of anonymity. In the same way standardized parts became part of the success of the assembly line technology, workers became standardized parts of the factory. The work was changed into simpler smaller tasks repeated ad ifinitum. Instead of working half the day on one barrel, you simply cut the staves for a hundred barrels while your partner next to you started the process of shaping them, and on down the line.

In part III we will explore the mindset that this has created in the hearts of workers.

Click here to read part III

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
  Alienation-Part I

Marx spoke about workers being alienated from their work in different ways, one way was how they were actually alienated from the things that they produced. He said that this occurred as a result of the industrial revolution when people moved from a mainly agrararian society to a manufacturing society. Before this shift, there were craftsmen that created a product from start to finish, such as barrel makers. But after this shift, things such as barrels could be made on an in a factory by one of many people. This was what he meant by alienation from the products they produced. Instead of being able to craft a product such as a barrel, to have control of it from the time you picked the materials to the manner in which it was sold, you become an anonymous cog in a large barrel making machine.

How does that relate to working in a call center? More to come in part II...

Click here for part II

Monday, May 10, 2004
  Celine Dion...

I'm anonymous, so I can admit this:

I enjoyed listening to Celine Dion and may even buy a cd of hers. I'm hoping this is not some sort of slippery slope....

Sunday, May 09, 2004
  Anxiously Yours..

Check out Anxiously Yours.

Some good writing.

Saturday, May 08, 2004
  My Wife...

I don't tell you much about my family life, because I'm trying to stay anonymous. But I need to say something about my wife.

She is the best and most wonderful person in this world. Besides my faith to renew my spirit, and this blog to empty my brain and emotions of the garbage, my wife is what keeps me going on with life many times.

When Jack Nickolson tells Helen Hunt in "As Good as it Gets" that "Most people don't appreciate how wonderful you are, that everything about you is about being truthful and good and decent.", and when he tells her that "You make me want to be a better man." that could have easily been said about my wife. She is decent and kind to me, and to other people, even to animals. She loves me in spite of the wickedness that may try to attatch to my emotions and mental state from time to time.

I could not think of life without her.

Friday, May 07, 2004
  Arrogantly Ignorant Part II

Part I

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have a new customer to dislike. Well, I recently made another mistake with this maniac she-devil. She told me to "use my best judgement" on setting up something for her. I did, sent her an email advising what financial decisions I had made on her behalf. Next thing I know, our quality control manager is out at my desk with a copy of an email in his hand from her quoting my email advising why she did not understand my decision and how it was so very wrong.

So I fixed the problem the exact way she wanted it and she was just a pleasant as pie. That is the last time I will ever think my judgement is trusted by this person. Why must smarmy assholes be so prevalent in my world?

Thursday, May 06, 2004
  You've got to be kidding!..

I called a call center recently to get personal business done. I had a very nice chat with the lady on the phone. Once I told her I worked at a call center we were instant comrades. She told me something I found incredibly shocking....

She loves her job!

I questioned her at length about this. When I mentioned that I did not like the call center I work at and what it is like, she said "I worked at one of those call centers also, I left and told the management exactly how I felt about it." She said they do not micromanage her, or yell, but that she is payed well, and has received a promotion and regular pay increases.

So there is hope. It's not just the whole industry, it really is my center in particular. Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus. Yes, President Reagan, Trickle down economics always benefit the poor..

That hope carried me through today. Which was good, because today I was what is known in the industry as a "Shit Magnet". What that means is that shit was drawn to me in some unknown way. Every call had stupid people on the other end that either would not listen to me, or did and argued with me on every point. I am glad to be home.....

  I'm Lovin' It!......Yeah..Right..

I don't know what it is about the Mcdonald's new advertising campaign that just makes me so mad. I mean, they are one of the largest companies in the world, right up there with Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola, but they still have to try to convince us that we love the Mcdonalds experience.

I don't particularly love it, but it seems to end up being a part of my life more often than I care to admit*. Recently I went in to get a carry-out order because there were cars lined up all around the building**. I was waited on by what I would consider to be the poster child for not working at McDonalds. She was probabally around 47 or 50, she did not have a name tag on (I don't blame her), and had strands of tired gray hair sneaking out of her visor. She had a white shirt that was dingy from being washed over and over, and had a tired and desperate look about her. And then, as if to punctuate with a question-mark and two exclamation points the hypocrisy of the McDonalds' corporate image was a "I'm Lovin' it!" sticker placed on the high left corner of her white shirt.

I worked in fast-food for more than a year, I know and have felt that look. You have been on your feet since 5 am, need to pee, have not eaten for a long time, even though they promised you a break. She was in "Fast Food Purgatory". I would rather be in Call Center Purgatory.

When I think of places like McDonalds and Wal-Mart, I still haven't figured out if it is a good thing for me to patronize them. They bring us low cost goods, but who suffers? They bring jobs to our community, but at what cost? Are the goods produced at a fair and equitable wage? Are the workers treated fairly and given a living wage? I'm asking because I don't know yet.

*Damn you filet-o-fish and all your flaky goodness!!! When will you stop seducing me to evil?
** Suckers! Remember, if more than four, walk through the door.

Comment below if any of you can add anything to this.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
  Management practices continued..

Here's an article that illustrates how the treatment of employees and the distance of decision making by upper management ultimately leads to bad customer service:

Good Customer Service Is No Longer Enough

  Management Practices..

I remember when I was learning about American history during the time of slavery. My teacher explained that when the masters would keep their eyes on the slaves they would work, but if they would turn away from the slaves, or walk away for a few minutes from the field, the slaves would stop working and just stand there until the master came back into view.

I know what you're saying, "Wow, big discovery, slaves don't want to work" , but there is more to it than that. The nature of work is that if we feel we are forced to do something we will rebel in whatever way we can, no matter how subtle or passive-agressive it may be. If your job feels like slavery, if you are underappreciated and underpaid, of course you are going to be a slacker, it's an unconsious response to an unfair system.

I've had jobs where I did not feel like a wage slave and I had a personal interest in the prosperity of the company that I worked for. Where I wanted the company to make money because I knew that the company would pass on some of that prosperity to me.

I want to please my supervisor, because I think he actually cares about me as a person, even though he is hard to figure out. But that's about as far as my heartfelt loyalty goes. Because I know my supervisor has very limited power to help me. He is directly supervised by another manager, who receives orders from people in another state in response to our numbers and profits.

I hate multiple levels of management, every level gets more and more removed from the people that their decisions affect. But more than that, when management starts to realize that they have a loss of productivity from their workers, they never seem to ask why. Instead, like their models on the plantation, they apply the whip, harass, and try to force their employees to work harder.

I think this is a result of a prevailing stereotype that workers are all lazy by nature and will only work if someone stands over them all day. All workers are not lazy, they just hate being treated like slaves.

Monday, May 03, 2004
  Norsehorse's Home Turf..

Visit Morgan Brown at Norsehorse's Home Turf. He is another homeless blogger like Kevin at "". I read once that people on the margins of society are much more aware of the power of society. Both of these guys are excellent writers and have alot to say.


  In the Hotcube..

Here's an article by the Anchorage Press called The Hotcube. This is a great example of the Orwellian atmosphere in call centers.

Sunday, May 02, 2004
  I Hate Numbers....

I'm driving home from work listening to the mellow sounds of Chris Isaak desperately trying to make some sense of my life. I find myself switching back and forth between cursing my job and everything connected to it, and then praying to God for wisdom and help and then back again.

Earlier in the week I received some Constructive Criticism (4/25/04). I don't know why I did it today, but I "ran the numbers" for the last month. That shows me how many transactions I completed. I also ran some of the numbers for other people in order to determine an average. I am noticeably lower across the board. I ran the numbers for today, same thing, I am the low man on the totem pole.

Now these numbers don't represent things like special calls that take longer than others. I told you earlier that I am a designated "technician" in dealing with several corporate accounts. These numbers also don't represent the accuracy of my sales orders, and the lack of disputes between my customers and others people in the call center. They don't represent the extra service I provide to my customers, like calling them when I realize there will be a change in prices due to market forces or something unforeseen. I don't have to do that, but I would want that done to me if someone else was handling my money.

But it still feels like I'm doing something wrong. It still feels like I'm just trying to justify myself as some high-minded slacker.It's a horrible thing to be so different from the rest of the group, to not produce the same amount of work even though you believe with all your heart that it is better work. The gulf between the amount of work they want us to produce, and the accuracy they demand in these ignorant memos of policies is as wide as the grand canyon. My co-workers are on the other side of numbers and I'm across the canyon on the side of accuracy. I have no stunt cycle to jump it, I have no hang glider, there is no way to reunite production and accuracy. I feel very alone sometimes.

If management would only give us regular performance evaluations,(they dont even have to give us raises-we would understand that) I would not have these feelings of not knowing if I am doing a good job or not. It has been a very long time since I have had a raise, or any kind of performance evaluation. All I get from my supervisor is mixed messages, yells at me one day, then throws a little kudos out another, keeps paying me like things are going to continue this way forever.

Something has to give.....even being fired or layed off would be preferable to this.

Saturday, May 01, 2004
  Congrats Minnesota!

Working in a nationwide call center that services all of the U.S. and Canada, I speak to a lot of different people from every state and province in North America. You start to develop concepts of each states or province's personality. Now I know it is not scientific by any sense of the word, and I know that I deal with people that are not always at their most pleasant mood when they call me. I also know that there are nice kind people all over our great continent, and assholes too. It just seems like the assholes seem to congregate in certain areas....

I'm not going to tell you what state I live in (I'm anonymous...hello?). But here are some of my general feelings concerning some of the states and provinces I call. If I leave your state out, I just could not think of anything extra witty to say about it.

Florida-combination of fast talking cubans(very polite and nice to deal with), refugees from New Jersey(not always and polite and easy to deal with)and slow talking southerners-talk about your melting pot...

Ontario-it's all Kinder, pleasant, but can be a little aloof compared to us rude Americans.

Quebec-Nicer to deal with than you would think..a little french goes a long way to getting along. I remember working near the 4th of July one year, a very nice Quebecois lady wished me a fond 4th of July one year-she really meant it-it brightened my day.

New Brunswick-Havent figured you guys out yet. Sort of a mixture of Quebec, Massachusets and Ontario as far as personalities go.

California-Love the North and the Desert, but find some of the Angelinos to be as uptight as people in NYC.

Michigan-Love the Motor City, have a suspicion the U.P. is actually part of Ontario and they just dont know

Delaware-New Jersey Lite.

New York-Love dealing with people from upstate, Buffalo, Binghamton, but cannot tell you of many good experiences with people from NYC. I know there are nice people there-please, call me more often than your other compatriots.

South Carolina-very nice people-but if you get them on a bad day-it just ain't pretty....

North Dakota-Slightly passive-agressive but very polite about it....

Georgia-my favorite state in the south to deal with, southern hospitality with urban sophistication.

New Jersey-Many nice people-but they seem to be outnumbered by the others 2 to 1.

Hawaii-incredibly mellow and easy to get along with-no big surprise here.

Arizona-very laid back

Utah-As you may expect-terminally nice with a very little rudeness.

And my favorite state or province to deal with is:


Sorry, everyone else-the best callers in North America are from Minnesota.


Exploring the mind numbing insanity and childish corporate culture of an unknown call center employee.

Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.

Email:anonymous.cog at

"One must know oneself, if this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life, and there is nothing better." -Blaise Pascal

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"Wake Up"
By Rage Against The Machine

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