There is a large Call Center in town that contracts its staff out to some larger, very recognizable companies such as AT&T. It is funny because we are in Canada yet since all the calls they get are from the US they are told to tell the customers they are located in "a city just north of Port Angeles in Washington State." Why is this funny? Go look on a map - there is no US city north of Port Angeles since it happens to be on the water where the US/Canada border exists. Where is Rick Mercer when you need him?
But I digress from my original intent of my story...
Last week I had to take the bus which happened to be full of riders that were obviously on their way to the Call Center for the start of their shift. They are easy to spot - either very young or very old employees, and the fact that they work on phones apparently means their work attire is not an issue. I suspect since the job pay is fairly low, about $10/hour, and they aren't really in it for the love of the job.
About ½ way into the bus ride the driver pulled over and said to everyone "Ok, listen up people. All those going to the Call Center there is another bus coming right behind me to take you directly there. If we don't shift you over we'll fill up at the next exchange and you'll all be late for work." Apparently the "late for work" really rifled them up as several of them said to the driver "if we're late we get fired." Boy, am I glad I don't work there...I would get fired at least 4 times a week in my current job, and that's rounding the average number down...
Since my stop was near the Call Center I chose to get off to get a more direct routing, but as soon as I did I knew it was a mistake.
As if on queue about 25 of the 30 people lit up cigarettes, and then started to bitch about their jobs, the customers and the pay. Then the bus showed up and they all stubbed out their cigarettes and put them back in their pockets. I guess they were saving them for the bitch-fest home.After getting on the bus I overheard the following 2 conversations, most of them are fairly representative of what I usually hear - disgruntled and freaky.
Conversation #1 - Customer Dis-satisfaction is our goal!
"I hate this job" stated a young girl, a small sampling of her eyebrow piercing glimmering through her long pink and black bangs. She looked about 25, still going for the goth-alternative look in a vain attempt to recapture her youth.
"I thought this was your day off?" her friend noted. At least I think it was a girl, but I was thrown off checking for gender as I sat semi-transfixed at the pointy, studded dog collar she was wearing.
Actually, what I really was doing was wondering if the pointy studded collar was installed to help to keep her awake during the day. I suspect dozing off in your chair and impaling your chin on a stud would be incentive not to sleep at work...She roller her eyes and grunted "Yep, but I need the money so I'm seeing if I can get some overtime in today." With obvious distain for her probably not-so-chosen profession showing through in her tone she continued on, "I'm in a pissy mood too, but I'll feel better once I get to work and take it out on a customer that wants help with something. I'll just deny them some services they want for free, or try to up the charges." You go girlfriend! Were you the same crazy customer disservice employee I talked to a few months ago when I had to call about my Visa balance that had overdue charges because I didn't pay my $2.00 balance on time? She did say she was in a small town just south of Detroit...
Conversation #2 - 40 year age gap is downright freaky
The second conversation was downright freaky. It was between an older woman, at least 50, and a youthful man, probably not over 20. And I'm being overly generous on his maturity and erring on the side of youth for her. I didn't get the impression a 40 year age spread was improbable...
"I like your retro clothes," she said to him. 'They remind me of when I was your age! I didn't know they sold things like that. Where do you get them?"
He was sporting tight fitting wrangler jeans with a Pedro Sanchez style shirt. With the exception of the missing bolo tie his attire would have made Napoleon Dynamite proud. "I get real retro clothes at the thrift store... wayyy more authentic. I'm always on the lookout if you know of anywhere."
She then got this sly look on her face. "Oh, that's great. I have a bunch of older retro things from when my husband was still around. They would probably fit you and they are just sitting in boxes anyways." I sat thinking that if I had to wear clothes like that when I was married, I'd be gone too, abducted by the fashion police and imprisoned for crimes against all trendy dressed people in the free world.
The retro junky confirmed he was a Napoleon Dynamite wanna-be after all: "Sweet!", his eyes lighting up like he had hit the retro jackpot of the century. As his endorphins surged at the prospect of getting a hit of authentic retro smack I don't think he caught her look - the sinful cougar / preying mantis look that screamed "oh yeah, I'll teach this boy a thing about retro baby! Mmmmmm-u-mmmm!". It was one of those things - should I warn him, should I not? Nawwwwww, I think I'll let this one play out.
"Maybe you can come by one night to pick them up?" She was totally gunning for a home run with this young man and he didn't see the train even approaching the ballpark. Fat? Overweight? Old? Yep, but so was Babe Ruth whe he was still around knocking homers out of the park...This was getting freaky. Fortunately we arrived at their stop before I could hear any more of the conversation. I think it was for the better that I not know the outcome...
After overhearing many similar stories since the Call Center opened I felt like there was a high potential to be assimilated into their bitter cultural norms if I worked there too.Although some days, it would be an excuse to be bitchy all the time.