Any. Minute. Now.
Watching the second hand of the clock ticking round for the last time each day was always bittersweet. A sense of relief, almost euphoric, knowing that the shift was over for another day. The continuing realisation that he had become just another clock-watcher in a soulless building chock full of like minded machine men.
It swung around the clock in the bottom corner of his screen, seeming to go slower now than it had all day. It always teased every millisecond out of this last minute. Like it knew it was being watched, this was its chance to shine.
A silent prayer began, the inner mantra. Please don’t get a call please don’t get a call please don’t get a call. Like he could somehow, by the force of will alone ask the universe to spare him that most dreaded of call centre calamity’s, the last second beeeeep.
Dammit, every single time.
He launched into his intro. It was all autopilot now. Without thinking the necessary words would fall out of his mouth hole and into the lugs of whatever mug it was that had decided calling 1 minute before the end of his shift was a good idea. It wasn’t. He hurried through the spiel with what perhaps to the untrained ear would sound like gusto but was in fact mere haste.
Omitting possibly important information and with only one goal in mind, ending this call, he barrelled through the necessary procedures and said the bare minimum that would avoid him getting fired if anyone ever listened back to this if some customer service got thrown in along the way it would be coincidence.
As he watched his colleagues unplug themselves from the desks and filter out the doors chatting and smiling at each other there was no envy. It was acrid hatred for those that had made it out.
“Why do I feel like this?” he quizzed himself.
Like a soldier that loathes to see his comrades reach the other side of the battlefield unscathed? Why am I begrudging others their liberty? He smiled and waved and did the obligatory, yeah I know, I’m stuck on a call shrug.
The customer was prattling on about something, something they had already said but it didn’t land right for them the first time. Said but he had failed to acknowledge properly or give enough verbal nods for them to put it down. So instead like a dog with a bone they just kept on chewing over it.
“That’s right sir, repeat yourself again. Maybe I will care this time round.” His brained offered him a sarcastic little respite as his mouth churned out more platitudes. Nod and smile nod and smile, but without the nodding, or the smiling.
The door swung shut and with that he was the last one in there. The last man standing, or rather sitting.
“This isn’t what I signed up for surely. This wasn’t in the brochure.”
They say call centres are modern day factories. But you can’t throw a stick without hitting a sociology degree in this place and aren’t you able to chat to the person next to you in a factory rather than to some muppet down a phone who signed up for something they didn’t understand and definitely didn’t read the terms and conditions for?
Then it hit him.
No one reads the terms and conditions. You buy into something based on the pretty glossy pictures on the front cover and you just hope it does what you want it to do when you need it to. Growing up he had always been told you can be anything you want to be, be a bin man or a space man. It doesn’t matter, as long as you are happy.
No one ever thought to say, but if you end up working in a call centre it will nibble away at your soul until you are an empty husk of a man. Probably doesn’t look as good on the front cover though.
The customer finally seemed content enough to wrap the call up and finally. After 8 hours of robotic script reading, he unplug from the machine. Untethered himself and sighed.
Well that’s Monday out the way.