October 20, 2009

Call Center

You are sitting in a 3x4 box, at a desk. It's not exactly dark, but the light is dim. The air is stale, recycled and dry. All around you, you can hear voices murmuring. They rise and fall and repeat some of the same phrases over and over. You can hear them, but you can't see them from where you are sitting, in your box.

On your head you wear a device with an earpiece and microphone. The device pushes tightly on the sides of your head; it is always uncomfortable. It is attached by a wire to a computer and phone system. You are attached, by the device, to the computer and phone system at all times while you sit at the desk in your box. The system feeds you voices through the earpiece on the device, which sits uncomfortably on your head, and information on the screen of the computer you're plugged into. When you hear a beep, you automatically say the phrase you've been conditioned (like one of Pavlov's dogs) to say, "Thank you for calling The Company. How may I help you?"

The voices that you hear through the apparatus always need your help. Sometimes they're angry, impatient or creepy. Sometimes they're friendly and smiling. They tell you what they need. They ask you what you're wearing. They tell you you have a lovely voice. They ask where you're located. They are surprised by where you're located. They ask about your weekend. They tell you about their weekend. They tell you about their problems. They scream in frustration. They try to negotiate. They tell jokes. They laugh and smile. They ask to speak to your manager. They growl and threaten. They hit on you. You do your best to help them. You thank them for calling.

As you sit, hour after hour in your box, talking to the voices, attached to the computer and hooked into the system, life is passing you by. Outside, it's sunny or it's raining. People are walking in the fresh air, enjoying the light on their faces. People are talking face-to-face, smiling and interacting. People are driving in their cars, relaxed or rushed. People are fighting and struggling. People are sad. People are watching TV or sleeping. People are just sitting and drinking coffee. People are enjoying a nice light snack. People are living.

But not you, you just sit in your box, breathing the stale air, trying to help the voices.

.....

13 comments :

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

Are you in a rut sweetie??

Erin M. said...

This is kinda creepy and sad. And kind of a wake up call (pun intended).

Didn't you once work at a call center or some sort? Or am I dreaming?

Are you alright? Is this a metaphor for the research paper closing in on you?
;-)

Daffy said...

My very first job was a telemarketing one. That's the worst kind of phone job - really. I hear ya on this... since I was a kid and worked with a bunch of other kids we ALWAYS played when Mr. Asshat (aka stoned out boss) was 'away'. One time I had a Grandpa (I could tell by his voice) call me a dirty whore and tell me to get a new job - then he banged the phone on me. I passed around his phone number instead of removing him from the list. It was with that job I learned and perfect the skill of accents. I can't tell you how many times I called that same old man - each time with a different accent. OH HOW WE LAUGHED...

It's okay - I hear the voices in your head too. At least it isn't Monday :O)

SNARKLER 2010

Cairo Typ0 said...

I'm a call center lifer. I've worked everything from phones to the escalation queue and management. I always try to explain to people how hard this job is but so few people get it.

Beth said...

Been there. Done that. Twice. And hated it both times!

Tracie said...

I did the telemarketing thing for a short time....at the point where I found myself wanting to yell back at the voices, I realized that I should probably find a new job!

Jen said...

Interesting post, I liked it.

Mammatalk said...

Been there, too. Never heard it described quite like that. Very creative.

kys said...

Great writing. I've never been there but now I feel like I have.

mama-face said...

I felt like I was there. Very insightful.

I'm trying to help the voices all around me. Sometimes I want to crawl inside that box.

Elaine A. said...

I used to wear that thing on my head for a bit when I worked customer service for a company. Dullest job ever. Really. Thanks for the memories... ;-P

Debbie said...

This is incredibly well-written.

maya said...

I'm sorry, I'll be nicer next time