Friday, January 09, 2004

Solidarity, Brother!

Everyone please read this Salon piece (part 1, and part 2) about working in a call center. It's so accurate and depressing that I may just not go to work tomorrow! (But then again, with news like this, maybe I should be grateful for this face-draggingly soul-deadening job.) I myself sympathized with the author's desperation to get fired. Some excerpts:

Here, there were always calls waiting, always telephones buzzing with urgent anger. Customers barely holding in their contempt, scarcely masking their disappointment in the poor quality of necessary human interaction they have just inherited, toll-free.

...The phone does not stop. Problems, catalogs, orders, ringing, ringing, ringing. The phone does not stop. It's easy enough if you're young and this is your first job. It's a way to pay the rent and get some experience, a stepping stone. But if you've got a college degree and talent and the curse of self-awareness, the job scrapes at your soul, call by call, day by day

...This day, I'm near tears. It's self-pity, regret, and just feeling void of any sort of hope. I've been trying to expand my horizons. I have two part-time radio station shifts, and I write music reviews for a local Web site, as well as maintaining my own. I'm hoping a door will open, somewhere in the legitimate business world, where I can get off this treadmill. I don't want to take calls anymore. I'm afraid I'm going to die this way. The phone's "heavy queue" light is blinking. There are 14 calls on hold, waiting for us. For me. There aren't enough of us. Some calls have been on hold for as long as 10 minutes.

In Albuquerque alone there are call centers for AOL, TiVo, Earthlink, MCI, Sprint, T-Mobile, People PC, and Mailstation. Most people I know between the ages of 20-40 either work at, have been fired from, or ran screaming from a call center. These are the kind of jobs my state give huge corporations tax credits for. Companies based in California that give their "real" employees huge, bust style salaries for doing not much of anything can get away with paying us less. We might as well be in actual Mexico.

Meanwhile, at least 3 times a month one of my co-workers or another will burst into tears after being chewed out by some rich, whiny, irate customer. I know several people who have started taking anti-depressant medication since working where I do. Everyone drinks, or smokes weed, or something. And everyone hates this job. We used to take bets as to who we thought was most likely bring a gun to work and kill everyone. After awhile, it was so not funny anymore that we stopped.

Sigh. I think I'm going to watch Fight Club in hopes it will make me feel better.

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