fiction

On Writing: Cheated

Anyone who has worked in a call centre can relate to the story “Cheated”. While I never actually yelled at a customer and stormed out of the building, I had many encounters over the phone that made me want to. I had many days wherein I would get into the shower and my mind would start working on scenarios I could use to call in sick. And I did – often.

The protagonist of “Cheated” speaks of those who I did watch break down in the office and quit their jobs. While they did not walk into traffic, they often forgot that their bills were going to keep coming whether they were employed or not. Call centre jobs can grind you down; however, finding another job before quitting is recommended.

I did have the chance to take many technical calls in my time. I worked as tech support in several companies and dealt with a variety of morons who could not fix the most basic of issues. My favourite example was the woman who called me because her phone was not working. The issue was that the phone was not plugged into the wall, and the jack for the phone was literally right next to her chair. Anyone who has owned a phone in the past century knows to check the cables first.

The call centre I worked for in Toronto was called The Results Group, and was based in Australia. The CEO, who was also Australian, brought with him to Canada differing views on employment that myself and my colleagues were not used to. For example, we were paid on Mondays instead of Fridays. This seems rather innocuous, however, us younger people wanted our cheques on Friday so we could party all weekend long. Of course, this often meant that we were calling in sick on Monday. It was an attempt to help us save our money that backfired for the CEO. We would find a way to get what we needed –  paycheque or not.

I only worked full time on the phones at the call centre for under a year. I was promoted to technical consultant once I proved my aptitude for computers. This was back in 1999 when most of the world had only bought into the personal computer in the past five years. Many of the people I worked with did not have computers at home, and were deathly afraid of ruining something by trying to fix it themselves. This made my generation the front runners of familial tech support. I spent hours on the phone with family members trying to fix their issues remotely. In a time where people still used dial up modems and few had cell phones, it was often impossible to fix internet related issues over the phone. Instead, it became an endless chain of try this, and call me back. I always hoped they would not have to.

If you have ever worked in a call centre, you get it.

@kylerichtig

“Cheated.” Inscribed ~ A Magazine For Writers, Volume Three  Issue One. February, 2008.

“Cheated.” Mosiac. Kyle Richtig. 2014.

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