THAT is an unusual situation.
And it feels damn good, I’ll tell you. Sadly, it doesn’t answer the question the song poses: Should I stay or should I go?
But tonight I just stopped working. It was about 8:07 - the time at which I don’t want to call people because who the heck wants to answer a call from a telemarketer in the evening, particularly? No one I know, that’s for sure!
There is a woman in the call center who is in management, and she has a habit of yelling in order to signify her support of a sale or a cracker-jack idea. It’s an unnecessarily top-of-the-head, wall-shaking type of yell: unbelievably loud, obnoxious, nerve-jangling, it cuts through all sound, like a JET. I can’t even adequately describe it. But I’ll tell you, I. can’t. stand. it.
She yells, and people laugh, and I sit in my little cubicle and say out loud to myself, “What the fuck?” It cuts through bone, that freaking yell! This is a large, large place, and when she yells you frickin’ hear here EVERYWHERE!
But she’s only one of the many straws that add up to breaking this poor camel’s back.
There’s dialing for hours with no one answering the phones.
There’s the frustration of a system that doesn’t make sales easy - or even, in most cases, possible! - but that still demands that we sell, sell, sell!!!
(And there’s been two weeks of that insanity.)
There’s all that I’ve been telling you about - the toys, and the other infantile nonsense that is supposed to inspire us.
There is knowing that something is going on here and that no one is telling us - because, honestly, what successful company provides leads where no one picks up the phone, lowers the sales commissions, is happy with getting suddenly horrific sales, and doesn’t take responsibility or responsiveness about the fact that they have just killed peoples’ income for the month…and maybe longer?
There is the knowing that our presence there is actually useless. Yeah. That’s a hard one to swallow and keep going to work, but on we go!
There are people that DO answer their phones, but only to tell us that they have had terrible experiences! Great! Previous bad customer service really makes my job easy! Thank you so much!
And then…at about 8:06…the camel’s back broke and the damn thing fell onto the floor.
Someone picked up a baton and banged the shiznit out of a gong that stands on a desk - for some goddam reason (I think it’s for when someone makes a phone sale???) - and it rang so loud - being fairly close to where I sit - that it scared the shiznit out of me! I jumped, and I instantly stood up, nerves jangling, startled, outraged, two weeks of self-maintenance out the window, and I said out loud, “I’m done. I’m not calling one more person.”
And I didn’t. Fifty minutes of not doing my job, because they insist on not treat this place like one that is filled with professionals, and I’m DONE!
And while I’m standing there thinking, “Fire me! For the love of God, fire me!” I’m also thinking, “Well, if you feel that way, Lori, why don’t you just LEAVE???”
No answer from the brain. Just…outrage. And a reluctance to do without income and insurance.
Our boss was away from his desk - Missing In Action and we couldn’t find him, which is incredibly unusual - and so I stood with some friends and had a chat about how we wanted to take that damned gong and hide it, or put it in my car, or burn it…
When he came back I told him I had been about to walk. out.
He looked at me, this tiny man who is a Preacher, a Teacher and a Supervisor, and he said, “I seem to have missed something.”
I loved that.
He had something to deal with before talking with me, so I went back to my desk.
I sat there and did an online jigsaw puzzle - “oh God I don’t care anymore, just fire me!” - and waited for 9PM when I could leave. And then my supervisor called me on Webex, the online gizmo we use for communication since we don’t have phones.
“Hey there,” I said.
“What happened?” he said.
“I’ve had it. I can’t take it anymore. What with L— yelling all the time, and the gong scared the HECK out of me, and my nerves are jangled, I just almost walked out!”
“What happened?” he said again, as though he didn’t in fact know that the previous day, not one but two of our group had major panic attacks because of the stress around there.
So I told him. I told him about how jacked this place is, and how they are absolutely insane to think that we don’t know that something is afoot, and that they did a bait-and-switch - telling us at hiring that we can make 6 figures if we’re good at the job - and then giving us miserable leads and reducing the commission and making it virtually impossible to make anything but the $30-something-thousand we are getting by on.
This. is. NUTS! That’s what I told him.
I told him that I thought I’d come in there and make good money and leave in two years and retire, but that since they’d lied to us about that, that was never gonna happen!
I told him that it is insanity that we have people yelling and gongs being hit, and people screaming at regular intervals, “LET’S HEAR IT FOR WHOEVER FOR MAKING THEIR FIRST PHONE SALE EVER!!!!!'“
Jesus GAWD! LET’S NOT HEAR IT!!!!
Supervisor said, “How long have you been feeling this way? Was it since Nesting?” (Nesting, for the Call-Center-uninitiated among you, is the time during which you apply your training to the work “on the floor” before you are considered a full-fledged agent)
Was it since Nesting? Hmmm…NO!
“No,” I told him. “It got this bad about two weeks ago when the leads went to hell. There is, though, an enormous difference between Nesting and being on the Production Floor. In Nesting there is a sense of gentling people while they learn. On the Production Floor, there is no time given to helping people get through the rough times!”
And I went on to tell him all that I felt, and thought, and saw. Almost all of it. I forgot to take it far enough back to training itself, when they deliberately chose not to tell us that one of our trainers had Covid, and when they deliberately didn’t tell anyone that 75 people in the building had come down with Covid - but told us about…one - and about so many other infractions of our trust, so much neglect of any integrity on their part.
I don’t actually know if I’ll go in to work tomorrow. I have another interview at 10:00… But whether I do or don’t, I know one thing: my supervisor will always be the man who said to me, “Well, you’ve owned your own business, so - let me think how to say this politically - you know what it takes to run a business and sometimes you know, er, more than the people at the top…sometimes.”
My supervisor will always be the man who said to me, “I don’t know what I can do about the woman who yells -” and I said, “There is nothing you can do, but I appreciate the thought very much!” - but who then took that fucking gong and stuck it under his desk.
My supervisor will always be the man who said to me, “You have concerns on many levels, and I don’t think there is anything I can really do to change them.” And I told him, “You’re right. You can’t change any of them. And I am so grateful that you even have the thought that you wish you could do that for me! That’s exceptional!”
“We are supposed to be professionals, and instead we are five year olds.”
That is what I said to my boss. And my boss said to me, “I understand.”
And he does.
And that is simply exceptional.
[What will be even more exceptional is if when I go in and tell him that I’m not the only one feeling this way but that EVERYONE feels this way, he starts the Revolution.
Okay. It’s a pipe dream. But it’s a nice one...]
For the love of God, buy my book, Call Center Crazy, so that I can leave this job and get my business book, The Human Solution, edited, and start giving talks to other businesses about how they have got to WAKE UP to treating their employees as colleagues!!! Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobe!