Friday, May 30, 2008

The future isn't Orange

There can't be many jobs that are more depressing than working in a call centre. Huddled together like battery hens in an artificially lit room, your job consists of receiving abuse from angry customers, explaining complicated procedures to stupid people and trying to make yourself understood to foreigners. I did something similar once for a market research company and it was hell.

To me, the call centre is the 21st century equivalent of the cotton mill. You may not lose an arm or work to the point of physical exhaustion - we don't allow that any more in our advanced, caring society. Instead, the toll on your health is psychological. You are just a cog in a wheel. Your individuality is irrelevant; you are merely required to be the mouthpiece for an organisation. If you start to joke around with your colleagues, there is always a supervisor on hand to reprimand you.

This is why I found the following anecdote heartening:

A friend of mine received a call from Orange asking her if she was interested in upgrading her mobile phone. The caller dutifully read the script telling her all of the wonderful ways in which Orange could enhance her life and she made a flippant remark about his apparent enthusiasm.

His reply went something like this:

Oh yes madam, I live and breathe Orange, day and night madam. Even my fucking blood runs orange, madam. My car's orange, my bedroom's orange and I'm even wearing orange underpants, madam.

And now I can see my supervisor looking at me madam, but I don't give a fuck because this is my last day, madam.

A moment of triumph for the human spirit. My friend particularly enjoyed the use of the word madam.


JRSM said...

That's fantastic! What a wonderful story.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

As a former call centre worker, I completely identify with this!

Though some call centre workers can be as thick as customers, trust me. And many are only 17 in their first job after school.

Good training, an employer that invests/cares and a product worth selling/post-customer supporting would all make a HUGE difference!

Ms Baroque said...