Doing a guest post today, is Marsha, another denizen of Call Center Purgatory. I really enjoy her sense of humor and attitude. Enjoy!
If I had stumbled upon this blog 5 years ago I would have thought it strange to dedicate a site to what would seemingly appear to be a humdrum job. But now I’m a call-center employee of 4 years (which in ‘dog years’ translate to 10 yrs since the average call center career lasts 2.5 yrs) and I can completely relate to the authors cynical insight. Myself being Catholic I appreciate the comparison to Purgatory too. I check out this site almost daily like some people read Dilbert.
I’ve told a select few of my co-workers about the terrific writing here. You see, call-centers are very diverse and sort of like mini worlds where you get every type of person imaginable. I can get along with just about anyone so I don’t mind that there are sometimes people in my midst with whom I wouldn’t ordinarily relate. I can’t make everyone my best friend. But I have a few co-workers that I perceive as potential good friends if given the opportunity. These are people with whom I’ve never even had a full conversation, due to the nature of our business who has time to talk to co-workers but I can tell from brief encounters that they’re ‘cool’. So I shared this site with them and if they’re reading, feel honored!
Only in a call center can you work for 4 years and really not know anyone well. That comes in handy though. Ever worked in a traditional office where one particular person gets on your nerve and you can’t avoid them? Well, now I’m glued to a cube and denied social contact and I think I like it. Every so often I’ll get a cube-mate who could be that annoying person but ‘oops’ index finger goes up ‘sorry, got a call…can’t talk’. On the rare occasions when it’s slow with 2 minutes between calls it’s tempting to pretend to have a call when the person beside me is going on and on about the new super Wal-Mart in town (like isn’t it obvious I’m a Target shopper, just look at me!) Really, I’m a nice person and I would never be rude to these people, I just like the option of ignoring them without hurting feelings. On the flip side, I’ve had cube-mates that I adore who return the sentiment and we become fast friends trying to get in as much chat time between calls as possible. I’ve even been guilty of putting customers on hold just so I can say “I LOVE those shoes! Where’d you get them?” or “Did you see the hula-hoop competition on the Olympics last night? What’s up with that?”
I have 2 co-workers that I hang out with outside of work. And guess what we end up talking about….work! But it’s not always complaining. That gets old. Sure, we hate certain aspects of our job but it’s like beating a dead horse. What we DO talk about seems therapeutic and sometimes even philosophical like why did we end up at a call center and why are we still there. The kind of people I’m drawn to usually end up being the thinking sorts, who think outside the box, pardon the cliché. Here are a couple of observations we’ve made while sipping Margaritas.
Number one, if we weren’t micromanaged to death we would probably give 101% of ourselves. One minute is so important to the company that we are considered ‘late’ when signing on 1 minute past our shift starting time. If a 15 min break turns into 17 minutes because we stopped to say “hi” to someone on the way back from the john, it’s brought to our attention. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to management when the last minute of the last hour comes around, there are calls on hold, and we dash out the door. Sorry, MY minutes are just as important as the companies. It’s a two-way street.
Number 2, we’ve discovered that we love the basic principle of our job: talking to strangers all day, assisting them with their concerns, educating them about our product that they pay for, yet don’t fully understand. (Not ‘product’ like a tangible item, but the service we provide. Can’t be specific. Too much info can be dangerous out here in cyberspace). Not ALL people are *ssholes. We enjoy the interesting ones and the jerks…well…I always say, you can’t slap me through the phone. And besides, I’m on the clock. Complain, swear, and scream as much as you want just don’t call me at home. But aren’t there always the few co-workers who let it ruin their day? Who wins there? The jerk!
Then we suck on our limes, laughing at how many of us are on maintenance meds (thank gawd for health insurance). We forget about work for a while and wonder out loud, “HOW did Kerry end up as our only option to Bush?” I almost want to vote for Bush and I’m a Democrat. My co-worker slash good friend then asks me “WHY do you Catholics have a Pope?” “Good question” I respond. “We’re outta tequila. I’ll get back to you on that one”.
“See you at work tomorrow”.
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.
By Rage Against The Machine