Friday, August 14, 2009

Motivation from the trenches

There's nothing quite so motivating as looking a call centre job dead in the receiver. Motivating, I mean, to find something else. Anything else. Anything but that. And there's nothing quite so ironic as the motivational introductory speech they give you at the outset.

"Here, we work hard and party even harder!" The recruiter's lavender eye shadow and the bright blue barbell through her tongue glimmered when she said it. Body modification often shows up where hope can't manage on its own.

Eight years of university and good experience in Public Relations does me nothing but a disservice here in the middle of Britain's credit crunch hysteria. It won't help me block out insults from irate callers when I tell them their warranty is about as useful as a Poundland umbrella. But it will help me see through management's spin tactics – intended to make me feel less like a complete failure, and more like a bolt in the wheel of the cab that will deliver me to the pub where I will commisserate and self-medicate with my new call centre friends.

"We're all Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans here, so we know how to have a good time!" she continued, as she passed me an agreement to sign stating that I don't require standard labour laws to protect me. We're all from the Commonwealth, she meant, and now England will reclaim your soul.

"So we'll need you to be flexible with your hours, and the rate is 6 quid per hour! Sound awesome!?"

It sounded like I'd be commuting on the London Underground 2 hours in each direction every day for an 8-hour shift, consuming 12 hours of my day, 5 days a week. It sounded like a 60-hour work week actually.

"I feel really good about you!" she said. "I'll call you next week and maybe get you started on Monday!" She over-punctuated everything, as though the blue barbell wasn't enough.

What she meant was, "You will soon be the bane of modern existence." But that's a hard sell, so she was right to cloak that one.

"Great!" I lied, with emphasis.

During the 2-hour tube ride home, I calculated how much I would need to live on versus how much they intended to pay me per month, and wondered how everyone else managed to still self-medicate at the pub – each pint costing a full half-hour of work, before taxes. By my calculations, there's not enough left over for food.

It's good, I decided, that I'd be on a 60-hour work week for peanuts. It wouldn't leave time to live life, which is a relief, because that costs money. Besides, I'm Canadian, and I love peanuts.

Then, I came home and applied for 30 more jobs.

This is a one-stop board in Brixton. You can find work, a room to share, get your hair done, and have an erotic massage.Oh Brixton, you've got it all.


noelle said...

Ahh, lovely Brixton! Birthplace of my grandmother (and believe me, she never lets me forget it), and site of a few of my own personal "interesting" incidents.

At least you're not considering moonlighting as an exotic massager, I hope?

Kate Savage said...

Not quite yet, though I'm more than willing to mix drinks, mow lawns and paint houses though...

Zab said...

Hey, Kate

You probably know about this already, but I thought I'd send it anyway:

Keep at it.

Kate Savage said...

Awwww. That was very, very sweet of you! Thanks so much! Still, the struggle is trying to convince someone to hire me (with only Canadian experience) in the middle of the credit crunch. That said, I got a response for a job I might just like...wish me luck in getting a phone call in addition to the positive email!

My fingers are so crossed, I can barely type!

wyliekat said...

I survived one week at a call centre. I still have psychological scars. Here's hoping the economy loosens enough to let you into a real live job. ;-}

Zab said...

Awesome!! Best of luck with that!!

Kate Savage said...

wyliekat - Oh, there's no hope for long-term survival, and I think I failed in convincing them my motivation for applying was anything but desperation. Not even the call centre called me back. Alas, it's not my destiny.

Zab - And thanks again!