Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Monday, September 19, 2005
  "Dancing Waters, Chili Dogs, Its All Here At Retail Heaven!"

This is part V in the series "Self Examination", where I look back on all the jobs I have had. I wanted to make a real attempt to stop just blaming the call center for all the problems I have at work, and look at my own failings. Consider it a short biography of mediocrity.

Click here to read Part I

As you will remember from the last post, I had found out that they actually want you to sell stuff at a retail job, and I was not winning best salesman of the month, instead I was doing the opposite...

I knew working for this "superstar", I would not find happiness at work. He was nastier and nastier to me, as was the district manager. My days were numbered at this store, and didn't think any amount of bullshit could sharpen my resume at this point.

Then salvation arrived from an unlikely place. The crew from our store went to help out another store with their inventory. I had met the manager Steve before and really liked him. We spent one day there, and worked into the night counting everything. We went home about 1 am. Talk about retail hell.

A week later, I was told I was being transferred to Steve's store. I didn't learn until six months later that Steve stepped up and took me in because my manager and the District Manager wanted to fire me.

Steve's store was in a very strange mall. It only had one anchor store, and then a lot of smaller stores. There was a huge fountain in the middle with dancing waters and polished steps of stone leading to the water. It was a nice place, but it had more senior citizens walking than actual shoppers. To add to the strangeness, there was a poll taking company on the top floor that would stalk potential customers like Jehovah's witnesses on commission.

Still, it was a nice mall. There was a bank to cash my check. There were cute girls working at the shoe store. There was a great candy shop that made peanut butter fudge to die for. Then there was an Orange Julius where I went for a special payday lunch of potato wedges with cheese, chili cheese dogs with onions, and a strawberry Julius every two weeks. I even liked the Tom's brand vending machine with the twenty-five cent barbecue potato chips. The store was never the most profitable store in our area, but it survived. During Christmas, I would make enough commission to really do fairly well.

Steve is on the short list of the best bosses I have had in my working years. He could get pissed off and yell at you, but most of the time he didn't have to. That was because you just recognized the human decency of the guy and wanted to do a good job. You had his best interests at heart because he had your best interests at heart. At one point Steve confronted me about what is one of my real failures; spending more time with a customer than is reasonable.

"AC, you spent twenty minutes with those people, and you only sold fifteen dollars worth of merchandise."
"Yeah, but they were doing a project for school and needed some extra help."
"You essentially did the project for them. Besides that, there were other customers that needed help. You taking that extra time lost us some other sales."
"I'm sorry Steve. I just wanted to help..."
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with helping people. But you need to look at what's going on around you before making that sort of commitment of time. You could have told the people that you would help them some more if they could wait until you took care of the other customers."
"Ok, Steve, I'll do that next time."

That's the kind of boss he was. He didn't put you down and he understood the balance between profit and taking care of people. After a year there, he went on vacation and left me in charge. I felt very responsible, even if I was just making minimum wage. After he eventually left, I started thinking about going elsewhere. The new boss was ok, but he wasn't ok enough to make up for the low wages.

Next in the series-"Spreading the Gospel and Getting the Sack"

Thanks for reading,


Other posts in this series include(newest to oldest):
"A Cog In Retail Hell"
"Mini Skirts, Lucky Strikes and Shiny Floors"
"Would You Like Fries With That?"
"Self Examination-Part One"

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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

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By Rage Against The Machine

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