I tell everybody my most important job ever was my first job. Did I rescue penguins, plot courses for spaceships or teach kindergarteners the alphabet? Nope. I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken. This gig taught me to show up time, that minimum wage isn’t much and that everybody will think you’re stupid. The most imperative lesson: I don’t want to work in fast food.

After KFC, I found a telemarketing job and started earning 5 bucks an hour – which I thought was a fortune. No bathrooms to clean, Dumpsters to fill or rats to catch. Unfortunately, I’m the worst salesperson I’ve ever met, so I didn’t last long. However, working on the phone taught me skills I’d use from reporting to financial aid education.

Since I majored in English and journalism, I don’t get many choices of what to do with my life, but I still get to complain. Here’s how customers drive me nuts while I’m working the phones:

Not being ready: It seems pretty logical that you should have your account number, address or at least an idea of what the hell you want to talk about when you call.

Going too quickly: Sometimes I need to take notes, type stuff or ask my boss a question. If you immediately zip into your issue or start reading off your access number, I might not be ready. Please chill out. I know you’ve been on hold and you’ve got other stuff to do, but understand that things don’t just automatically work out.

Eating, drinking and gum: C’mon. It sounds gross. Please don’t do that while we need listen to you talk!

Driving: Cops pull people over for talking on phones while driving for a reason: You can’t pay attention to the road while you’re chatting. Phone workers need to be precise, so poor reception, tunnels and convertibles make life harder for us.

Music: You like music? Me too! But I also need to be able to pay attention instead of you jamming out.

Speakerphone: These are the bane of existence. Let’s make a movement to quit using them. They also pick up a lot of sounds that I don’t necessarily want to hear.

Poop: This is revolting and absolutely uncalled for. I’ve never earned enough money to listen to somebody drown some brown. I don’t even talk to my friends if they’re dumping.

Playing with puppy: This is just distracting. No puppy is cute when it’s just noisy. Same with babies.

Expecting me to know you: If you say, “I’m John Smith,” and wait around, I’m not trying to insult you. I don’t know who you are.

Doing cardio: I’d prefer not to hear you mouth breathing.

Being rude: If things are bad, it’s not always my fault. I’m just a trained monkey who works in a call center. We’re not stupid, but we’re often tired or frustrated. Please be nice to customer service people but not telemarketers – let them suffer.

Conditions usually suck here. It’s loud. Sick workers make call centers feel like tuberculosis wards with phones and computers. Hundreds of conversations might happen at once, and our training barely covered the basics. If you’re snotty, you’ll get a rude person on the phone. A little kindness makes that same person your BFF.

Read more Freeman: Stalk him:

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