Archive for May 15, 2008

My Confession – The Horrible Truth.

Posted in Tales From Hell with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2008 by Buck Frain

I work in a market research call centre. My job is to call people like you on the telephone and ask you all manner of pointless questions, while you try to prepare dinner or bathe your children, about products and services you don’t care about in order that faceless corporations can work out how better to get you to hand over your cash to them. So now you know the horrible truth. And you wondered why I was so angry?

Market research is where artistic mediocrities come to die. Dispirited by the corporatisation of the arts and the hopeless lack of funding for, or public interest in, anything that can’t be manipulated to sell burgers, we enter the career cul-de-sac of MR with the illusion of keeping our options open but secretly knowing that we’ll be here until we either die or our jobs get outsourced to a company in Bangalore.

I get out of the lift and clock into hell by pressing my thumbprint onto the scanner plate. Yes, they hate and distrust us that much. I sit at a booth with a neolithic computer, a dialer and a headset. Either side of me sit clones of me, broken artists, impoverished students, gambling addicts, the socially, aesthetically, or mentally challenged, society’s talking wounded. For four to eight hours at a stretch I sit while the auto-dialer dials for me, I say the words that appear in front of my face and key in the responses as given by the respondent. Creativity and initiative are dismissible offences. My job is to be a phone monkey. Say the fuckin’ words!

Of course, I could get another job. But could I get one that pays this well with so little work involved? Probably not. And there’s the rub. It’s Boiling Frog Syndrome – getting paid for sitting talking to people, drinking tea whilst gradually having one’s creativity, imagination, one’s very soul eroded through the dull repetition of mindless research-speak.

If your bank was a person would you be its friend?

Do agree or disagree that your current mobile phone defines your masculinity?

How relevant or irrelevant do you feel your current career makes you to reality? Would you say very relevant, relevant, neither relevant nor irrelevant, irrelevant or completely irrelevant?

Neither relevant nor irrelevant – nice grey area! Is it possible for anything to ever be neither relevant nor irrelevant?

The sad thing this job has really done to me is it’s given me an accurate picture of the society in which I live. I used to think most people in Australia were intelligent and open-minded, slightly left-thinking and generally good-natured. I was wrong, that was just the people I came into contact with. The Howard government’s longevity should have been a dead giveaway. I know now that most Australians are apthetic, sexist, racist, paranoid, hostile, right-wing, sport-obsessed, binge-drinking imbeciles who can’t even spell their own suburb of residence.

How did you get my number?

Well, sir, for this particular project we use random digit dialing…

Don’t bullshit me, I’ve got a silent number…

I understand that sir, what a lot of people don’t realise when they pay for their “silent” number is that all they pay for is for it not to be listed in the white pages or passed on by directory assistance. We have a computer program that generates numbers at random…

That’s impossible, it’s SILENT!!! How can you ring it?

Do you have children?

No!

Do you have friends with children?

Why?

Imagine your friend’s child at two years old…

She’s four!

…at four years old, takes the phone and just dials a jumble of numbers. If those numbers just happened to be your phone number, your phone would ring, wouldn’t it?

Yeah…

Our program is like that child – numbers at random…

Youse are fucked! I’m gonna sue you! You’ll be going to jail, mate and then you won’t be so fuckin’ smart, will ya?

I assure you we’re not doing anything illegal, if you don’t want to participate, all you have to do is decline.

Ya fuckin’ what?

Would you like to speak to my supervisor?

I get a few of these a night. I almost look forward to the stupidity – it breaks the monotony, and dealing with idiots is the only time we’re allowed any creative latitude, all within the bounds of professional civility, of course. A co-worker was sings …I hate people, I wanna kill ’em… Oh, how I empathise.

If you live in Australia, USA or UK there’s a very real possiblity that I may have rung you in the last couple of years. I may have actually annoyed you or someone in your household personally. If I have, I humbly apologise. If not, stay close to the phone because tonight could be your lucky night.