Katie hated me on first sight and she made no secret of it. Why? It was because she was in the call centre and I was in the complaints area. Unlike the call centre workers I was not bound by tight schedules (or I probably was, I just did not follow them) and I was not hooked to a headset like a battery hen answering call after call until you are so demoralized that you wanted to puke. The complaints area was no picnic either. You dealt with people who regularly wanted to kill you and everyone at Promptel, who were not going to f***ing pay their f***ing bill until you f***ing sorted their f****ing problem or people who regularly threatened to go to the media or another phone company. Fine – go I felt like saying - let me give you the phone numbers to call. The complaints area was considered glamorous as ‘they did not do any work.’ While it was true a lot of the complaints ‘team’ did stuff all and lauded it over the call centre staff, I never did. But mud sticks.
So when Promptel started to downsize, they threw all the complaints people into the call centre. This was mainly to shift the work elsewhere but also hoping that people would quit if forced to be a battery hen. It they quit, then Promptel did not have to pay a redundancy when the call centre closed for good. There was no way in hell I was leaving that rat hole without a redundancy in my chubby little fist. I earned it. It was mine.
So they placed me beside Katie. She gave me the evil eye then ignored me. Whatever. I wasn’t about to fall apart if she didn’t like me. I surreptitiously watched Katie and soon discovered that we had a lot in common. We were both very good a manipulating the system to our own advantage. Any call centre worker worth their salt knows how to cheat on the phones to cover up anything else that they should not be doing. All I will say is the ‘transfer’ button can be your best friend and not for the reasons it was designed for. We also discovered we were fighting the same battles in the call centre and joined forces to kick arse. From an I loathe you beginning we became great friends who stood side by side in every pissy little battle with management and we cheated the system something chronic - and yes, we both praised all the gods we had been praying to the day redundancies were announced. I am sure those gods don't expect us to keep any of our wild promises due to getting the redundancy...
I believe some of the strongest friendships are formed under fire. Katie and I don’t see as much of each other now, but like true friends we keep in touch. We know everything about each other and we are not upset if two weeks go by without a phone call from the other as we know we can pick up exactly where we left off. May everyone have a friend just as good.
To all the call centre workers. I admire you. I know what you put up with. It’s not an easy job to do. So next time you feel the need to take out your frustration on a call centre worker, remember they are human beings trying to earn money just like you or me and all the swearing in the world is not going to get you what you want.
NB – A reviewer remarked how well I researched call centres for my book Because I Can. I believe in writing what you know as readers are smart enough to know what’s real and what’s not.