Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
  Leaving Purgatory-The Last Day

It started like any other day. The sky was dark because I hit the clock at 7 am on a Friday morning. But it wasn't just another day, it was the day. For six years I had come here over and over, punched the clock, drank the bad coffee, listened to the voices in my headphone drone on and on.

This was the end of it. I had dreamed about leaving. There had been so many versions, from the dramatic Dead Poet's Society version where I stand on the desk and make a grand speech to the Chuck Norris version where I kicked someone's ass on the way out and then every version in-between.

At one point, I reconsidered the Chuck Norris verson. My boss gave me a set of multiple trades that I knew would go wrong and then he coldly told me to remember why I was leaving. I told him he didn't need to worry about me forgetting that. He didn't speak three words to me for the rest of the day. I couldn't have cared less.

I told some of my customers that it was my last day, those that I had a relationship with. One of them, one of the hard-ass demanding people I had become used to, told me that I could call him if I ever needed a personal reference.

One of the girls from accounting brought me a bag of M&M's. Someone bought me some ribs for lunch. The girls on the floor bought me a cake. Finally, it was time to pack up. One of my best friends came over and spoke to me. He had been there the same amount of time I had. He was sort of emotional, and I could see he was sad.

"I know this sounds sappy, but I'm proud of you. You went after your dream of getting a degree, and now you are leaving this place."

We hugged and he was gone.

What I never told anyone on the blog was that I went back to school to get a degree so I could leave this place. I knew I had no skills that would translate to a better job. Half of the time spent here at Call Center Purgatory was spent biding my time until I got my degree.

I carried my cardboard out the double doors to the parking lot. I stood there and looked up at the ugly building I had hated for so long. I actually felt more than a twinge of sadness. How would I survive in a new job? I had been here so long, I had friends here, Now I had to start all over.

I remembered the speech Morgan Freeman gave in Shawshank Redemption,

"These walls are funny. First you hate them, then you get used to them, until it gets to you depend on them. That's institutionalized."
But I also remembered the one quote from Shawshank that was the real message, "Get busy living or get busy dying." I'd had enough of this place. A life outside of here had to be better, no matter what. If I failed, at least I failed trying. And I would give all I could. If I stayed here, I'd always wonder what could have been, what might have been. There had to be a better world somewhere outside of this place.

I took one last look around, incredibly, it started to rain. I have made up details in my writing to keep you off my trail, but not this time. This really happened. I finally loaded up my car, and rolled up to the security gate. It rolled open on a chain and I drove through.

I turned on the CD player and found a song by Tom Petty that made the day complete...

"It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was driving.
Trees flew by, me and Del were singing,
Little Runaway, I was sublime.

Yeah running down a dream,
That never would come to me.
Working on a mystery,
Going wherever it leads.
Running down a dream..."

Thanks for reading,

Anonymous Cog

Excellent post. I love your writing style.
I had this ALMOST EXACT experience in January of this year.
I was an Copier Repairman for years and finally had enough, so I went back to school and now I'm a graphic designer and I love life again!
Enjoy your new job and congrats on Living.
Thanks. You made my day. I love your icon. Bob Ross and his happy trees ROCK!!

Hey AC, sorry this took me a while but I'm a little behind in my reading. Congrats on the dual win of getting a degree and leaving that place with your head held high.

The problem I always had with leaving some place is that you almost want to think that they won't be able to carry on without you, that you are an integral part of the machine, but the sad fact is that too often they just shove another gear in there and it squeaks until it wears into place. From reading your blog, and empathizing with you i can see that they will have a hard time filling your place in the machine congrats on that win as well, and the best of luck going forward.

Paul from the CaffiNation Podcast!
Thanks Paul. I really appreciate the kind words!

Glad to see that you finally made it out. I don't think there is anyone who should stay in the call center world for more than a couple of years. If you do, it starts to really affect the way you view people. Congrats on your degree

Thanks Jane!

Good luck, Good hope, Shawshank had something to say about hope, too. You've got to have something to look forward too. Never look back, etc. Oh, and keep writing.
Thanks! Same to you-I dig your writing. Your stories about being a cab driver were great.

I had that job for 5 1/2 years myself... so I very much enjoyed your writing.

Good luck to you!
i am really proud of you but in a way i felt sad... i hope you'll still write in here even you're no longer in this industry.

i first saw your blog last july 2007. then i actually bookmarked it. hopefully we'll meet soon and get acquainted.

honestly, i am just celebrating my first year in this industry today.
Ride on my friend, ride on! I wish you well in your travels. I'm glad 'the man' never broke you!

Hey, AC. Just stopping by to say hello. Glad you finally got out of that place. Congrats!
Thanks Joy!
i can relate with you so much. i've been in the call center "purgatory" for almost 8 years already. Geez, i am not as brave as you are.
Hi Jean,

The first step is brave, but you have to find some way to do it. There are people who find fufillment in good call centers, but unfortunately, there are more people like you and me that end up living lives of quiet desparation because we let life roll over us like water and permit our soul to drown in the mediocrity of this kind of purgatory.

Make a little step. Go to a class, send in a resume, look at a website like

The biggest thing is don't be afraid to fail, all humans do, and there will be no success without failure.

After I got my degree, it took a year to find my dream job, I had so many close calls of jobs that did not measure up or did not want me, but I kept at it, because life was not meant to be what I lived through at the call center. Your life can be so much more than the call center, do the bravest thing you can and start making steps to leave.

Thanks for reading, AC
Thank you, and good luck!!
I hope to be there one day...
Just read your blog and I LOVE it! coz I can relate to it! Im so happy for you that your leaving call center life.
An excellent account of your experiences! I can identify with the mixture of emotions you would have felt, having been down that very path myself! Very inspirational.
hi, i work in a callcernter and i hate it

hope you go through my blog

I love your post and I really appreciate it.good luck to you :D

customer service
what was bad in a call center that you hate about? I worked in a call center and i love it!
There you are call center outsourcing. You keep trying to leave comments so we will click on your link there ao we can all see that you are actually advertising call center outsourcing and not an actual call center worker who loves his job like some happy shiny feeb. I bet you've never had headphone hair or been cursed at or condescended to by a customer with an iq lower than most protozoa.

There are people who enjoy working in call centers, there are nice call centers with good bosses, but they are the exception and not the rule. Hope you enjoy the hits (if any) that publishing your lame little comment may bring.
AC, you nipped it in the bud. That was exactly the same reasons I've had when I left my call center life 2 years ago. I still am involved in a way with people who would try the same purgatory we were once trapped in but then, at least, I don't have to go in there again. Your writing style is great. I admire for your candid thoughts and ideas. Welcome to the corporate world. You can check out my multiply site:
Hi i love your posting style, n long time i already put your blog in my blogroll link, hoping you do the same
its nice that you finally got your degree. you have a talent in writing and you should continue this. its just bad enough that you were able to BITE the HAND that FEEDS you for 6 long years. you shouldn't have stayed that long if its as ugly as you have posted it.
love your work and it will surely love you back... whether its from a degree or not.
Thanks for the kind comment.

That's the end? The first post I read was the last? That's sad.
And... HEY, it's Bob Ross! :)
nice tom petty song , i like it
hi its a good posting style. we, the like it very much.
Nice stuff!
I have read your post. I is amazing and we,, apprisiate your idea.
hi.. just dropping by here... have a nice day!
Too bad this blog has long been discontinued. It ranks well in search engines.
I don't bpo job is a bad job.In the time of rescission top BPO companies are hiring a huge number of people .As a call center worker I am enjoying my life .Sorry I am not agree with U.
This comment has been removed by the author.
I am blogging about my call center experience. I came across with this blog and I find this site very interesting.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I love your post and I really appreciate it.good luck to you :D
Whatever you end up doing in life, working in a call centre does develop your life skills.
Why has it been discontinued?
Nice post..Loved reading it.
Love your post. It's nice of you to share those experiences. Thank you for sharing.
I need help too. I loved reading your blog by the way. the fact that i was looking for something like this irritates me but reading your thoughts was very enjoyable and inspiring. thank you.
I never was able to keep a diary of sorts as i am pretty lazy person. Anyhoot, i hate my call center life.this is a new job. been there since sept 2009. i passionately hate it. the pension is great but the question is will i even make it to that point of my life with this job killing me softly every time my prerecorded greeting begins!!!
The week of the five mondays is upon me yet again. There is no friday where i work because monday is just around the corner and is ever so omninous. Ive been working mostly in call centers since 1998. I am going bananas. I have an unfinished business degree and never even liked the program. im 32 this week friday. I feel a slave to my bills and crappy life.
I admire you but i guess its fear combined with other factors control my every being. i always felt i had something to give but never figured out what it was. Ive been sedating myself now for years and dont even know how i got into this mess in the first place. anyways thanks for the blog. i know it was written awhile back but its like a lost scroll to me. now can i decypher it and make life better....
Hi David.

I'm glad you liked the blog.

I've been in your shoes, I really, really identify. Don't give up hope that you can find your purpose. I don't know what sort of relationship you have with God, but that was one of the things that got me through the long 6 years.

your previous boss was probably the same as these two!
I just hop in here on your blog. Hope this will be updated; just curious about your goings-on. I notice we do have the same set of thinking and style in writing. I used to work in different call center companies too. So I feel I want to share to you my piece which Ive written some months ago titled "To Live a Pompous Life." I wanted to place a link but it seems so selfish, so I'll just post the essay here if you don't mind. Unfortunately, the piece won't fit in, it exceeds the limit. So I'll give you the link instead:

Good Luck to you and stick to your idealisms and principles. You're not alone.
I too have worked in a call center and we have a very similar situation. I realize that i wont grow in the industry thats why I pursue to finish a degree. At the end of the day, i realize i did the right thing. Now I am earning 4 times a call center agent use to earn.
i enjoy reading your blog its nice to share your experience
Very nice post. Life in call center service. In day to day life all people were preferring the BPO jobs. They were more interested in Bpo than any other job.
Ok "BPO India" and "BPO Services India"-there's your little bit of free advertising to help your traffic. (Do you guys know each other? Your names are so similar!)

I do find it humourous that so many of you want to get a link in to advertise your call center service to the world, but you do it on a website that talks about how its awful to work at a call center. The irony is so thick that you need a machete to cut it.

Listen, in all seriousness-email me if you want to advertise here and we can work something out-as long as its not immoral-I will consider it.


Very nice post. The thing which you hate in call center is simply superb. Thanks for sharing it.
Bpo india
Hi nice to see your article enjoy your experience
Thanks Paul. I really appreciate the kind words!
i never experience that kind of situation, but now i want to have experience like that!! hehehhe!! i like that story you've post!! i really appreciate that!!!
Hi AC!

I've never worked for a call center yet but I've been in the same place as you have been, probably longer. The insufferable bosses and customers, the overtime, and the hate! Hating the people and the job and the company. It seems harsh to say so, for a long time I didn't want to use that word, but there was no other term more accurate to describe it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that people forget that call center operations is the same operations you will find in any company--only, outsourced and more heavily IT-supported.

It happens to the best of us, in any job. Even for me who already has a master's degree to boast. I'm glad to here you are embarking on a new challenge--a new job. Many of us are still searching for that job that will bring us career fulfillment and not just the financial security and success. Until we find it, we just to have endure one unbearable job after another. We keep searching, as I still am.

I wish you the best of luck in your career and to all readers of this blog!
nice article thanks for the post
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No personal details about you or the company you work for are asked for and all the information and data you give will be treated confidentially and will only be used for the purpose of this study.
I would really appreciate your help 
Thank you in advance
Hey AC,

Currently I'm working at a call center company from the Philippines
I'm going back to school soon and I'm trying to quit my job...It's not bad as I thought it would be but there are just somethings in my life I need to straighten out before work eats me whole.

I can say that it is a really stressful job but after reading your post I realized something in me that made my day :)

Bless you and your new job and have a great year ahead!
I read your story and I'm so happy that you have a new job now that makes you happy!

I recently got out of the serving industry and I can tell you that felt like a hell hole most of the time.

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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

The Cog is listening to:
"Wake Up"
By Rage Against The Machine

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