Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
  Mini-Skirts, Lucky-Strikes, and Shiny Floors

Part III in the series "Self Examination",Click here to read Part I.

During my time in college, I worked as a janitor for a large company cleaning office buildings. I had a family member that worked for the same company who got me an interview. I was still so extremely young and naive, I didn't see all the signs that everything was not as great as it looked. Yet when I interviewed, I thought, "Great, sick days, benefits, uniforms, finally, I've got an 'adult' job. I won't go home smelling like burgers and fries!"

I should have known something was up by the way the guy that trained me was so excited. Hell, he was giddy. He had given notice, and after I was trained he was out of there. He even showed me the places to hide, and how to slack and not get caught. I was appalled. I considered myself a fine upstanding citizen and an exemplary worker, why would I try to find ways to slack off? This information eventually came in handy a couple of times though,(thanks dude!).

Training days over, what little romance had been there was gone as quickly as finding out that hot chick you met last summer was really your cousin. I worked every day with a crotchety old man who smoked un-filtered lucky strikes. He didn't seem to like me at all and took advantage of any opportunity to chew my ass. Our manager was a short Asian lady with fierce dark eyes, a bob-cut and a penchant for wearing mini-skirts. She was easy on the eyes, but she was as friendly as an ice pick. Any time I did something wrong she was all over me screeching like a banshee. The people in the offices were derogatory, condescending, and mean, but sometimes they mixed it up some and were stupid and ignorant also. There were some nice people, I even made some friends that I was glad to see every day, but they were the exception.

Most of the time was spent working without our manager underfoot, just me and the crotchety old man, but she had this way of sneaking up on you, or having other people spy on you.

I'd do the floors and the bathrooms and empty the trash and he'd do light maintenance, like replacing light bulbs. I got into a rhythm there, and I even liked it. I liked leaving and having the floors shine. I loved the smell of the disinfectant that smelled like oranges. I liked running the buffer once I figured out how to keep it from smacking the baseboards. I liked putting things in order. When I finished the floors shined, and the bathroom chrome look liked a mirror. I was really proud of my work. The old man eventually softened up and even pulled me aside one day and said I kept everything real clean, and did a good job. That meant a lot to me.

But there were a lot of extra things that my boss wanted done that I never got done. She wanted things done super fast, and she had a list of chores I never seemed to get to. Things such as weeding around the doors, wiping baseboards with pledge, and any other busy work she could think of.

When my review came, she and her boss sat down and told me I was not getting a raise and they were not happy with my work. They said I didn't manage my time well, and I was not meeting their expectations. I could tell things weren't going to get better. I had done all I knew to do, I wasn't sleeping on the job, but still, it was never good enough for her. With the wages I was getting there, and a year with no raise at all, I knew I had better look elsewhere.

Even now I wonder what really happened. The guy who trained me, and the old crotchety guy did not seem to do more work than I was doing. They slacked off a lot time, big time too. What could I have done different? Was it just that I was slow, or a slacker? It kind of haunted me, like the first manager I had when I worked in fast food. It was the same old thing that has haunted me in so many jobs I have left. I took too long to accomplish some tasks, and other tasks suffered, that quick and half-ass perfection of Joe Jobs continued to elude me(still does today).

Next chapter:"A Mall Cog in a Retail Hell"

Previous Chapter-Part II, "Would you like fries with that"

Thanks for reading,


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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.

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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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