Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
  Quiet Desperation

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."-Thoreau

I sat on the floor putting my shoes on. I don't remember how long I sat there, long enough to almost be late. Long enough to stare at them and try to find the strength to get up and go to work. Never had a pair of shoes been so interesting. All I could think of was why was I going to work. I finally pulled myself up and filled my lunchbox and jumped in the car. Somewhere on the expressway, after my stainless steel coffee mug was empty and I had listened to some Enya and Evanescence, I started to feel human again, and reluctantly ready to punch the clock.

I had not had these feelings so intensely for a while, days seem to blur into weeks, and weeks into years. I remembered the Thoreau Quote, "Quiet desperation" . I thought about all of the people that I work with. I am not the only one in Purgatory. I am not the only one that seems to be waiting.

Several of my coworkers are going to school, a flexible schedule being one of the few perks of this job. There are some waiting for retirement, some waiting for symptoms to get better. Some waiting for new relationships, or for their own relationship to get better. Everyone seems to be waiting for something. Sometimes they have a plan, sometimes they are hoping for something to come from nothing.

But to be fair this is not just a call center thing, you find it everywhere. Retail jobs, factories, offices, rest homes, and hospitals. Everyone is spending their lives waiting. The desperation is in the atmosphere, it leaves a taste in our mouths, a buzz in our ears, an acrid smell in our noses, a haze in our peripheral vision. It permeates newspapers, music, TV. It is behind conversations, looks, and body language.

In the middle of the day, our tall, slim, blond-haired general manager strode from his office and looked at me with his grayish blue eyes. I was in the middle of taking a new request for service. While I am still talking to the customer he yells across the room-"You, Cog, you will not handle another corporate customer without confirming authorization-are you clear on this? You have lost us money on this transaction!"

I felt no fear. It was really strange, like looking out from behind someone else's eyes. I looked at him and said "OK.", he then turned and walked back towards his office. What's great about desperation, you are looking for anything to change. Even bad change is good. For once, I continued my work, joked with my friends and did my job and did not care that he is angry with me. He has no power over me. He possesses the power to fire me or write me up but it does not matter. I live outside of that. It was the best worst day I have had for a while.

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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

The Cog is listening to:
"Wake Up"
By Rage Against The Machine

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"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." -George Orwell


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