And I know you're disappointed in me, because that sounds like a secret I might have.
(As am I, because that would be far more lucrative and interesting than what I actually do. There comes a point in every woman's life where she hears about a call girl who is sleeping with a politician and making $10,000 a pop and says to herself, "I could do that...")
(Yes you have. Don't lie.)
As a child, I had lofty dreams of being a famous actress/veterinarian. I would perform on Broadway on the weekends and save animals during the week. I would be a great humanitarian who had one of every breed of dog in my mansion and my own dressing room with a star on the door at a famous stage somewhere (I was rather vague as to where the stages were. I more or less thought Broadway was a building where people performed.)
After I grew older and wiser (and lazier and discovered I was pretty and boys liked me) and found out that vet school took at least 8 long years, I decided to just be an actress who happened to own a lot of dogs. My goal became less "Broadway" and more "National Enquirer."
Between one thing (pregnancy) and the other (life) that dream got away from me (obviously) and some how, in some way, I wound up in New York working at a call center for a major corporation.
(Believe me when I say I was just as surprised as you are.)
(I know, right? The hell?)
Don't get me wrong... I enjoy my job, mostly because I enjoy eating and living indoors. I also like my co-workers, love my supervisor, and overall, don't hate every customer I talk to.
For the most part my customers are polite, friendly, reasonable, and want one thing and one thing only: to lower their bill.
I'm cool with that. I get that. I don't want to pay more for something than I have to. I use empathy (sometimes.... though it has been pointed out to me that saying "I know, right?" doesn't count as empathy). I'm helpful, I work my magic and tada! Bill is lower, we're chuckling about something amusing that I said, we're making plans to meet up for cocktails, we're besties forever. (Not really. But the vibe is there.)
There is always that one customer.
You know the one I'm talking about.
That one. damn. customer.
They come in different forms, that customer. They can be mad and screaming about an imagined discrepancy in their billing, and even after you've explained it 473 times using graphs, hand gestures, smoke signals and words of one syllable, they still don't get why their bill is that high. So you break it down as simply as possible (and even preface it by saying, "So I'm gonna break it down as simply as possible for you, Bob" and then hope that this is not the call that is pulled by quality control) and say, "Your bill is this high because of math. When we add these numbers together, and you've agreed that all those numbers are correct, they equal this amount. Would you like me to hold while you get a calculator?"
To which Bob responds, "But why is my bill so high?"
Me: "Math, Bob! It's math!! Do the math!" (But only in my head. In real life I say, "Let me go over this with you again, Bob..." and Bob says, "It's not adding up.")
(Don't be Bob.)
There is the customer whose demands are so ridiculous that you have to mute the phone repeatedly so you can look at the person next to you and say, "What in the actual FUCK?" because those words need to be said, and you're afraid you are going to say them to the customer.
Newsflash: If you can't afford to pay your bill, then you probably can't afford the attorney you are threatening to hire so you can personally sue me for informing you of the terms and conditions (that you signed and agreed to) of your contract. And yes, when I offer to add your imaginary lawyer as an authorized user on your account, I am being a bitch.
You might be surprised by the number of people who believe we can control the weather. (Or not... if you work in a call center you are actually reading this and nodding your head.) On one hand, it is a bit of a power trip to know that people think I have that close of a connection to the Almighty. They demand to know what we are going to do about the snow/rain/wind/tornado they are having in their area that is interfering with their service. They have been transferred three times because none of the previous representatives have been able to perform a miracle. By the time they get to me (yes, I'm that person at the end of the road) they are so enraged by the apparent incompetence of my peers that I have to listen to them complain (scream, swear) about how much of their time has been wasted because no one will just "flip a switch" and fix it for them. Because that's how nature works. It's a switch. A big switch. And if you don't ask me nicely (which you never do) I won't flick it for you.
So I'm all, "Let me place you on a brief one to two minute hold while I get Jesus on the line."
Okay, I don't. Well, I do, but I mute the phone first and say it to the person sitting next to me.
So I listen. I reach deeeep within myself for patience and empathy (I knowwwww, riiiiiight?). Then I explain, again, and again, that we cannot control the weather or give them free service because of their debilitating sense of entitlement. At this point they lose their shit and hurl their abuse through the phone and into my headset. I'm supposed to say, "I'm sooooo sorry, I completely under your frustration."
(I usually don't say that. What I usually say is "Uh huh.")
They say, "Aren't you going to fix it??!"
And I say, "I really wish I could, but it's against our policy to interfere with Acts Of God."
And then my eyes roll so hard in my head that I'm temporarily blinded.
I could go on for days (and I will... which is why I have a blog) but I will cut it short (for now). I just need to give an Honorary Mention to the "Let me speak to your supervisor" customer. (Because I had two of those last night.)
If you are that person, stop it. Unless you have been treated egregiously by a representative, were sworn at, called names, or told to fuck off, there is literally nothing a supervisor is going to do for you that I can't. I do not spend my nights waiting for you to call so that I can piss you off and refuse to help you. Dispense with the belief that supervisors are sitting on stockpiles of cash that they are dying to throw at you because you didn't get your way. Your case is not special, your circumstances are not unique, and if I can't waive your early cancellation fee or all of your back charges because you didn't want to pay your bill, neither can they. When I say, "I understand your frustration but transferring you to my supervisor is not going to resolve this for you," believe me... because there is nothing I would rather do than stop talking to you. Trust me. TRUST. ME. I WOULD LOVE TO LET SOMEONE ELSE TELL YOU NO.
Whew.... venting. It's awesome.
Until next time...