Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Sunday, July 31, 2005
  "Real Women Have Real Curves"


Kudos to the Dove Company for the great new campaign using real women with real body types. I know some people don't like it, or think it's just patronizing or a just a gimmick. Here's what their website says about it:

"For too long, beauty has been defined by narrow, stifling stereotypes. Women have told us it's time to change all that. Dove agrees. We believe real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes and ages. That is why Dove is launching the Campaign for Real Beauty.

Dove's global Campaign for Real Beauty aims to change the status quo and offer in its place a broader, healthier, more democratic view of beauty. A view of beauty that all women can own and enjoy everyday."~Why the Campaign For Real Beauty?
Of course, it's about making money in the end. So what? I'm just glad to see the sorts of real women that have been my sisters and Mom, my ex-girlfriends and wife finally being celebrated as the beauties that they are. They are just as, if not more beautiful than the size two, surgically-enhanced models that seem to inhabit the rest of the media world.

It's about damn time the pendulum swang the other way, and healthy, normal, curvy women were celebrated instead of marginalized by unrealistic images that have been a part of our pop culture for way too long.

Thanks for reading,

AC
 
Friday, July 29, 2005
  A Frightening Epiphany....


While I was taking a walk down memory lane, opening my trunk of personal souvenirs, I happened to find my yearbooks and papers from grade school, junior high and high school.

I found my third grade class picture, and there she was. Amy Howard...Sigh... the prettiest girl in third grade. Even 25 years later, as an adult, she still makes me sigh. She had this beautiful blond hair, piercing blue eyes and a smile that could melt a snowman that had lasted through March.

I saw her and her best friend Heidi in all of the grades until I went to junior high. They never would give me the time of day. She would hang out with Trevor and Ricky, who I hated. Trevor and Ricky were good at all the sports, always picked the teams for kickball and always had new clothes.

I was just the slightly tall boy in the tan Wranglers corduroys("whisk-whisk-whisk") and the crooked teeth. My family were middle class rednecks from a respectable side of town. But Amy and her crowd were beyond me. They were from the East Hills, the part of town where all of the rich people lived. They seemed to naturally do everything better than me. Soccer, football, kickball, I sucked at all of it. They were always on top and I was always hanging out with all of the social "undesirables".

Which in the end was probably better, being on the outside of the in-crowd, we were tighter friends. I would like to think we were more honest and loyal to each other, but that would be a little prejudiced. I tried to speak to Amy several times, but either Trevor or Heidi made fun of me or made it clear I was to know my place. When Amy did speak to me, it was in short sentences and she would look away. I felt like a leper.

After I left grade school and went to junior high and senior high, I never saw the Amy and her group again. But their kind was everywhere. The preppie with the boat shoes and polo sweaters that always made fun of me in front of the girls I liked, the big jock that always did everything better than me and made sure to remind me any chance he got. I never escaped these "beautiful" people, at least until I got out of school.

That's what I thought anyway. As I sat looking at the memories of my school days, I thought about my life in the call center. I thought about who my bosses are, who is in management and sales, all of the people that are above me and paid more than me.

I work for Trevor, Ricky, Amy and Heidi...

What I mean is this: even from grade school, I was taught implicitly who was my social superior. I thought it would change as I got older, I thought all of the stupid popularity contests would end, but it only got worse. The people who were on top then are still on top now.

What's different now is at least I understand it. I understand you can't ignore the effect of social class. I understand that they are not better than me, they are not more intelligent, they are just different. They have different values, different ways of perceiving the world and different goals. I just wish I felt they understood me like I understand them.

Maybe if I stop wearing the corduroys they will let me join their club....

Thanks for reading,

AC

 
Thursday, July 28, 2005
  Linkage...


Check out these links for some great rants and good bloggage(is that a word?):

Bitter Law Student

And Another Thing...

Dyslexic Daisy

Thanks for reading,

AC

 
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
  Sun Tea


95 degrees in the shade.
A sea of crabgrass in a half acre lawn,
it undulates with hills and valleys,
curves and drop-offs,
like some rubenesque woman,
who eschews lowering her carbs and
celebrates all that is round and natural.

The back of my legs ache,
my eyes are blinded by sweat.
my ankles are grinding like
a car without a clutch.

grinding to a smoky halt,
lifting my mower I see,
a thick paste of wet green grass,
like hummus made with seaweed.

I'm spent....

The voluptuous lawn has taken all,
and given no afterglow in return.
I need a drink...

The glass is acrylic,
the ice is idyllic,
filled to the rim,
with that amber synthesis,
of sugar and Camellia sinensis,
brewed in the sun.

How do I love thee?
Sun Tea...

There is no other drink I want in the summertime but a big glass of iced sun tea. Those in the south may call it sweet tea. But sun tea is a special variety of iced tea. It must be brewed in the sun, preferably in a glass gallon jar. This is what makes it so smooth. The lower temperature actually decreases the amount of tannic acid being released, causing a much smoother taste.

As long as I have been around my family has drank iced tea. It was a part of every family event, my grandmother always had it in the house, and she always poured me a big glass in a plain red acrylic tumbler. It's one of those tastes that makes me think of her and all of my family. I feel connected to those that I miss. I feel happy and the taste makes me feel like she is still there with me.

Thanks for reading,

AC

 
Monday, July 25, 2005
  Hit Coffee

I'm really enjoying the great writing of Will Truman. Give him a click.

Thanks for reading,

AC

 
Saturday, July 23, 2005
  Ode to a Coworker


Friday one of my coworkers quit. She waltzed in late at 10 minutes after 8 and dropped her magnetic time card on Larry's desk.

"What's this?" Larry said
"I don't need this anymore, I'm quitting. Call your H.R. goon to follow me off the premises. I've got my empty cardboard box, and I'll be ready to hit the door in 10 minutes."
Larry was stunned...
"Can't we talk about this? You're a great agent. I know things have been tough, but the GM is really going to bat to get you guys raises with corporate. Things will get better."
"Larry, you've said it all before. I've told you time and time again that things need to change here or I'm walking. Month after month, year after year, its the same bullshit. I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, but I'm not going to live my life under so much stress and anger anymore."
"I don't believe things are all that bad around here. Why didn't you tell me sooner that you weren't happy?", Larry actually looked shocked, and personally wounded.
"I did. Over and over. You didn't listen.", She turned away and the sentence just sort of faded away.
"Go clean out your desk, I'll call H.R....",Larry turned back to his computer and my coworker walked away.

There is a really strange feeling that occurs when you know something momentous is occurring, but nothing on the outside really reflects it. Larry was faced with the fact that his workers were not happy, my friend was leaving, but they discussed it so subdued, like they were talking about sports or some TV show they watched.

I was on the phone pounding out trades, I watched her out of the corner of my eye, she waved and was gone. Everything became normal and busy again with a hum of voices saying the same monotonous phrases over and over again like prayers to a saint.

I wish I could have told my friend how much I will miss her. She was like a big sister and always watched out for me. She was a great person to work with. She was here from the first day I started. I kept my guard up with everyone else, but she was on the same wavelength and I relaxed when we worked together.

That's the sad thing about so many jobs. You spend eight to nine hours a day with people, having the same conversations, doing the same work, and then bang, they are gone. It hurts to leave, or have people leave your life. It's hard enough to make friends as it is. Not that I blame her, not one bit, hope I will be right behind her soon.

Thanks for reading,

AC


Thanks for reading,

AC

 
Friday, July 22, 2005
  The Fast Food Experience


Check out this new blog about working in an unknown fast food restaraunt. The Cog did that for about two years,(third person?, I don't think that's a good habit...) Yours truly did that for about two years and I don't remember it all fondly, but the free food at the end of the night was good.

What I really remember was feeling hopeless at times, feeling like the people I waited on believed they were better than me, and hating the brown nosing "crew chief" that went from being one of us to a snot-nosed self-righteous, dictator....But I'm not bitter.

Thanks for reading,

AC

 
Thursday, July 21, 2005
  "There are men too gentle to live among wolves..."


Check out this great poem by James Kavanaugh. It really spoke to me.
I first read it on Important Call.

A Poem by James Kavanaugh

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who prey upon them with IBM eyes
And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.
There are men too gentle for a savage world
Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween
And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws
And murder then for a merchant's profit and gain.
There are men too gentle for a corporate world
Who dream instead of candied apples and ferris wheels
And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves.
Who devour them with eager appetite and search
For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry.
There are men too gentle for an accountant's world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove.
Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant's world.
Unless they have a gentle one to love.


Thanks for reading,

AC

 
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
  "Blogging with a Rubber"
Is the name of a great essay by Ian MacAllen. He does a great job covering the ins and outs of anonymous blogging and blogging about work in general. A couple of weeks ago I posted an entry titled "How to Blog Anonymously", Ian's entry fills in all the gaps I left unsaid. Check it out.

He also has a great section of office haikus.

Thanks for reading

AC
 
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
  A Sea of Service...


When I put the headphone on my head and entered the ready status code into the ACD system, it all started. The calls began like a wave of the ocean. Sometimes I can swim with it, sometimes I actually bodysurf, but more often than not I feel like I am drowning in people's needs for service,

"I need my account updated...."
"Can you look up what happened on this date?"
"I've been holding forever!"
"When is this going to be processed?"
"When will my escrow account be updated?"
"I'm having problems accessing your website..."
"I need to complain about your service!"
"This is unacceptable!"
"I need..."
"I want..."
"Can you help me..."
"Someone needs to..."
"There is a problem with..."
"Everytime I call...."
"Why won't you...."
"Is there anyway to..."

ENOUGH!!!!!

I'm drowning in your need,
overcome by your obsessions.
The current of your complaining
has pulled me to the bottom of
a world that is always dark,
always raining with a liquid form
of all your bitching and wining.

The tears of your requests
have flooded my desk,
like quests so quixiotic.
Yet even if I am successful in
fixing your petition idiotic,
there will always be,
ten thousand windmills more.

You're like a fucking leech,
who refuses to be teached.
Who thinks that I exist,
for your ass only to kiss.
You're always wanting, needing,
begging and requesting more.

If I didn't need to pay the rent,
I would be walking,
walking out the door.
Never ever, I mean never,
again listening to all you bores!

Thanks for reading,

I feel better...

AC

 
Monday, July 18, 2005
  Guilty of Treason...

Winston and O'Brien-Winston's torturer, judge, and friend...Image from the move 1984 (c)


Sometimes I wonder what will happen if or when the people at work find out about my blog. I think there is a good chance I can make it out of here without them finding out, but I can't guarantee it.

Part of me could not possibly care less if they find out how I feel about them. Especially our GM and the people that own the company, and the sales and management department of the company. They don't seem to care about me other than as a source of profit. Part of me wants them to find out, that is, after I'm gone. I just have not developed any real atatchment to many people here. There are some people on the floor that I am tight with, but throughout the rest of the company, not so much. If I leave on bad terms, it's not going to be the end of the world by a long shot.

Then there is my direct supervisor Larry. Throughout the years, I have become fond of him. I'm certainly not blind to his faults. I also realize that he probably would not stick up for me if it would get him in hot water. In fact, he's ratted me out before, and I've done the same to him. I don't particularly know why I like him, but I do. He's almost a father figure. When he's not yelling at us or issuing idiotic memos, there are many times he can be really pleasant. In fact, there are some times I almost feel like I have become one of his favorites. With the turnover that goes on around here, that's not too hard.

It's just kind of freaky. It's almost like I'm suffering with the Stockholm Syndrome. Sometimes when I'm writing blog entries, I feel like I'm being disloyal to him, I know that's nonsense, but I still feel that way.

I guess that's how many relationships are, you spend so much time with people you start to ignore their faults. Very few people are 100% evil, and its just easier to concentrate on their good traits. You can't change people's hearts. You can talk until you are blue in the face, but people will only change what they believe and how they act if they decide for themselves its a good idea.

I hope if Larry ever reads this blog he knows that I didn't hate him as a person. I just hated the way he ran the call center, and how he made it an awful place to work. I just wish he would have treated the good workers better, and that he would have disciplined some of the others more, that's all...

Thanks for reading,

AC

 
Sunday, July 17, 2005
  Do Good Like Satchel...


I feel like Satchel sometimes. I want to know what use I am to the rest of the world, and what good I do by my existence. This comic really made me feel good...

Thanks for reading,
AC

P.S. Unless you subscribe to comics.com this link will only be good for 29 days.

 
Friday, July 15, 2005
  My Numbers


"Some days your numbers will be down..."

Its a fact of life here in call center purgatory. Some days you will be a poop magnet and not have any calls that go well. But other days your numbers will be good and you will produce more.

That maxim is mostly true. But for me, it isn't as true as I would like it to be. I know my numbers are not as good as other people, and it worries me sometimes. But I have only been directly spoke to about it one time, and then I responded to check out the rest of my numbers and how I am more accurate than other people. That was over a year ago. I have not heard anything since then. There have been some other indicators and comments-but only the one real direct talk. I have never been given an official warning of any kind. It has been several months since my hire anniversary after five years here. I still have had only two reviews in that time.I come to work every day, and am on time at least 95% of the time. I stay over if I think they need help and I can. I really keep my nose clean and my head down most of the time.

I've figured out why my numbers are low, its both a good and a bad reason. The good reason is I won't take more calls on than I can handle in a timely manner. If you take a trade, but you are late in processing it, then people lose money and they get pissed. But we don't get money unless we take as many transactions as possible. I take the time to complete every trade within a certain window of time, if I see its getting old I don't take more new calls.

What is bad is that if I see calls are backing up, but I have to get something documented, I've found "methods" that make me look busier than I am so they don't notice I'm not taking new calls while I get everything documented and straight on my own work.

It's pure passive-aggressive behavior, I realize that. I don't want to argue with them about my phone being off while I make every trade perfectly documented. But other people don't do that. They just do things half ass and do more calls. Meanwhile, call volume has increased while memos and policies increase.
"Must notify every customer of significant changes in value..."
"Emails and faxes must not be failed to be sent..."
"Authorizing parties must be documented..."
on and on and on it goes....

You have to see my dilemma here. If I do big numbers half-ass they can yell at me for not following policies. If I do big numbers half-ass, I make my customers angry, and have to lie to them when they ask if I will let them know if something goes wrong. But if I don't increase my numbers, I'm not being profitable to the people that pay me. But if I do what's profitable, I could make a mistake in my speed and lose the company money through an error. I can't win.

The system here is broken. They want high numbers and accuracy, but won't provide real leadership or standards to get either. Since I don't receive any real personal instruction and leadership about my work, I'm really forced to listen to my conscience. I want to treat people the way I would want to be treated. I can't live with myself not caring about the job I do, and just cranking out shoddy service. When I look in the mirror, no matter what the numbers say, I know that I was accurate, and I was courteous, and I finished my customer's service in a reasonable time. That is worth more than bragging about high numbers on a computer screen any day. If they don't like that, they can work up the courage to write me up or issue a verbal warning, or fire me. Either way, I have a plan to leave here, just have to bide my time until it all comes together...

Thanks for reading,

It's good to be back in the saddle again.

AC

 
Friday, July 01, 2005
  Two Weeks...


"Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character."
~James Lowell
You ever have that feeling that something is not right? Like you are showering with your socks on? I've been feeling like that lately. I've also been feeling like I'm blogging more and thinking less. I need a break, and some solitude so I'm not living to blog. I'll be back in two weeks.

I'll try to have something good for you when I get back.

See you soon, and thanks for reading,

Your friend,

AC


P.S. I will still be checking my mail.
 





Exploring the mind numbing insanity and childish corporate culture of an unknown call center employee.
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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.
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Email:anonymous.cog at gmail.com
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"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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The Cog is listening to:
"Wake Up"
By Rage Against The Machine
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