Steve Dix...Comedian?

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03.04.2005 07:55 - The Worst Job I Ever Had

The worst job I ever had was in a Call-centre for a "Market Research" company in Leverkusen.

In this job I was expected to call people in the UK and ask them inane questions about something or other. Being on a day-shift, this was near-impossible to do honestly, as 90% of the people we rang were pensioners. Everyone else was out at work. Since the questionnaires were aimed at a strict demographic (ie 18 - 35), then they weren't much help.

The cold-calling (for that is what it was) required you to successfully complete a number of questionnaires to remain in work. If you didn't get enough, you were out. Training was given, if you can call it training. I don't call two hours stuck in a small room on a hot summer's day whilst someone tells you how to answer a phone "training". One thing did strike me at the training, though. It was my neighbour. He was a middle-aged man, clearly a former salesman, who had hit upon hard times. He was visibly shivering.

The training was part of the "interview" (haha, the main qualification was that you could speak intelligibly in a useful language). One of the applicants turned out to be completely deaf and had problems making himself understood. Others couldn't speak any german at all. No matter, they were there because they could speak english, spanish or french. A large amount hailed from South America.

I knew the job was a mistake when I walked in on the first day. I've always been able to judge a place by the atmosphere as soon as I walk in, and this place had an atmosphere like an abbatoir.

The job itself seemed mainly to consist of calming worried pensioners and being insulted, both by the people we were calling and by the stupid character who "ran" the call-centre - someone named Christian, who certainly didn't live up to his name. He was a nasty little piece of work, who seemed to think all foreigners were idiots, with the exception of (North) American girls, who he really sucked up to. I took great pleasure in talking to him as though he was stupid.

A lot of the people who worked in the call-centre were there because they couldn't get another job. I have a sneaking suspicion that there were a number of them working illegally. It was their last hope, and they were terrified of losing it.

So, next time you get a cold-call, remember that there's another human being on the end of it. One who is quite probably cowed and beaten, totally fed up of being insulted, but who desperately needs the job, and would really be grateful if you took the time to be polite in saying "no".


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