Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
  Wandering Through A Wonderland of Rage


I'm a little uneasy in posting this, but I think it has a really good point, please comment if you have anything to add, good or bad...

I do my best thinking in the shower. Last week I was soaping up and shampooing and thinking about a thousand things but nothing in particular. I finally started thinking about my job, and the people that work there.

I found myself thinking about a particular person in management that wanders in and out of our lives on occasion. He is one of those people that has influence, but not direct authority over the people on the floor. This man is well-connected. He could have us written up if we crossed him.

He walks through the center from time to time and addresses us only if he feels like it. Mostly he just stares through us or talks down to us if he speaks at all. At first I thought it was just my own sensitivities, but I hear others talk about him the same way.

It seems that I keep forgetting that he has something against me, and that I should not talk to him like an equal. Every time I do, I find myself at the receiving end of the sort of sharp barb or comment about my work that makes me feel an inch tall.

Just like my last post about Larry, this person has not wrote me up, or explained why they say what they say, they just make these comments and let it drop and walk away.

In the hot steam of the shower, I replayed the last episode with them, over and over in my head. But in this particular replay I imagined myself not being silent. I left my desk went to where he was and planted myself 10 inches from his face.

"What exactly do you mean by that?!"
There was a momentary look of shock, but his composure returned quickly,
"I mean that your work is really sub-standard, and you should be lucky we let you work here. It's a shame you can't produce trades like the others do."
"It's a shame you see multiple,poorly executed trades and half-ass customer service as something to aspire to."
"You need to get back on the phones now! I will not be spoken to this way!"

The vision in my head changed from just a discussion to something much more physical. I leapt on top of him, planting my knees on his chest, and started slamming my fists into his face.

Over and over,
scratching,
screaming,
kicking,
biting,
I was furious with rage, there was no sense left in me...
Then it all faded...

I found myself back in the shower again. The daydream had been so real that I was panting and my heart was racing. I was filled with adrenaline and it took a while to calm down. It was like coming off of acid.

I'm still not sure how to explain why I responded like this. I'm not a violent person. I was in very few fights as a kid. I care about people's feelings. I don't see violence as an acceptable way to settle 99% of problems in the world.

But here I am, imagining myself beating a manager...

"Dude! It's just a job answering phones to pay the rent! It's not your fucking life! He's not worth it, neither is your soul worth surrendering to this kind of rage!" I feel like I'm trying to talk myself off of a ledge I don't want to jump off of.

I prefer to think that allowing myself to freely imagine this sort of action is the reason. Anyone can become violent if they choose to think only about these things, to allow their imagination to create a reality that should not be. I just cannot allow myself to do this. The more I think about this person, and how they make me feel, the worse I feel.

Hatred will eat your soul if you let it. I won't let it eat me. I handled it the only way I know how. I asked God to forgive me for my hatred. The bible teaches us that allowing the imagination of such sins is the same as physically committing them because you already committed it in your heart. I prayed that God would forgive this person for how they have spoke to me in the past. It's easy to say those words, it's easy to utter spiritual niceties, but putting it into practice is no easy matter.

I'm not scared I'm going to actually hurt this person, or that I'm losing my mind. Everyone has these type of thoughts from time to time. But if I come to the point where I'm obsessed by it, and cant think of anything else-then I'm just going to hit the door and find another job, wal-mart, night watchman, anything to pay the rent. What it does do is make me draw a line in the sand in my head, defining what is acceptable to imagine, and what is off limits.

If this place has taught me anything, it's that all people have the ability to be evil and unkind, and we all have to fight to be human everyday. When I say human, I mean not an animal, not ruled by emotions and pettiness, but trying to attain those higher virtues; ruled by reason not instinct, letting intellect and love govern how we deal with those around us.

I can see the end in sight, to finally leave this place. My own preparations are proceeding according to plan. It still won't come quickly enough for my liking...

Thanks for reading,

AC

 
Comments:
i completely understand... of COURSE you would not resort to violence in real life but the fantasy is appropriate to the feeling of being treated as sub-human... i have spent a great deal of my life in large organizations, virtually all of it as a professional focused on trying to convince management that companies could be both profitable AND treat employees with dignity and respect... what a waste of time...! thank goodness i escaped with my soul intact... i will NEVER, EVER go back...
 
ditto.

iv'e been having a rough one myself.
 
I've had that daydream so many times myself...and I've never hit anybody in real life. I have no other outlet (besides my blog), and the daily rage just seems to manifest into violent thought- and a burning stomach and raging insomnia and I could go on...

Yes, it is just a job; and no, it's not your life- but work is a major chunk of how our time is spent. I think it's nearly impossible to let every crappy encounter and bad working condition pass over and have no effect.

Better that you just daydream, rather than do!
 
I haven't worked in "corporate America" for some time (had kids and all), but I remember the feeling you had in the shower all too well. I was an anonymous cog for years and the only way I can describe it was soul draining.

I left it and began a family. I worked as a temp for a while, but eventually became a stay at home mom. There have to be jobs that don't do this to a human being. There just have to be. I hope you find one soon.
 
AC, you're human. Don't sweat it. It was just a thought. I think you need a new job, honestly.

Hey, watch the movie Duplex. It will make you feel better about the whole fantasy thing. You're not alone, really!
 
I remember an old co-worker of mine telling me about a super vivid fantasy he had of smashing his boss's head through the monitor after he found out his boss lied to him regarding salary information in his interview. So feel better--you're not the only one.

Incidentally, are you sure you did something that pissed this guy off? Maybe he's just a prick.

I hope you get a new job soon...even though you'd have to change the title of your blog. ;)
 
Thanks for all the comments. It means alot to come home to a bunch of positive feedback. I'll try to do the same for you...

AC
 
I really do feel your pain. I have been working in a call center for the past 2 years and I understand what you are going through. Fortunately, I just got hired for a job in the field that I studied for, so as of next week, I will no longer have to deal with the issues that we face on an everyday basis. You don’t know that joy of not having to put on a headset and logging into the system to take calls. My suggestion is to start looking for another job. You are not in a healthy situation and it is not going to get better. It will only get worse.
 
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Exploring the mind numbing insanity and childish corporate culture of an unknown call center employee.
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