PULP Live World's First Lady Happee Sy recently spent a whole day of her Holy Week long weekend break by doing an incredible job rearranging our office space. And for such a fantastic job, we at the PULPcave are ever so grateful. I now call my space MECCA (stands for: "Music Editor Command Center, Alright!").
Everybody is now compartmentalized into spacious cubicles with each seat color-coded with the colors of our choice. From the way everything was neatly and organized, it triggered memories of my call center days. All that was missing was the Avaya hardware!
I already knew a long time ago that I wanted to do anything that had to do with music and writing, but the reality was there was hardly any money from that. So I had to make money off elsewhere. I toiled in one crappy corporate setting to another, until I discovered the call center life. Call center life is also a refuge for musicians playing with upstart bands who know that the only way to earn a stable living as a full-time musician is: a).playing for a popular band, b). playing for a showband and c). playing as a session musician. And yeah, juggling schedules is a bitch.
I tried it twice, and the results were horrible. Lack of sleep from balancing graveyard shifts with the writing, stress and immaturity boded for a recipe for disaster.
My first foray was for a telecommunications company that was so inefficient, I discovered a newfound appreciation for our local services. Needless to say, 95% of the calls we received were really irate people. It was also the kind of account where customers can opt not to give full names and name themselves "Madonna" or "Michael Jordan" (yeah right, as if the real Jordan or Madonna are destitute enough to put up with horrible telco companies). There was this time where I pissed off an already angry dude who named himself "Michael Jackson" because I remarked "we don't want to disappoint The King of Pop do we?"
There was also this call from a woman who I imagined from the way she talked and the sound of her voice was an elderly black woman. We were in a cycle that was seemed to run forever, I felt like I heard her problem a million times until I snapped and said...
ME: "BY GOD, BY ALLAH, YOU WILL HAVE YOUR REFUND, OK?!"
All the agents on the floor that time all stood up. And just when I thought I had the woman all pissed off and willing to drop the call, the turn takes a weird turn...
CALLER: "Mister, are you a muslim?"
ME: "Errr... no, although I don't find anything wrong with being one..."
CALLER: "Are you a Christian?"
ME: "Uhm, yeah, I'm Roman Catholic, although I haven't been to a mass in ages..."
CALLER: "Son, do you read the Bible? Do you read the King James Bible?"
ME: "Errrr, yes, I've read it, greatest book of all time, not sure what a King James Bible is like though..."
Thankfully after just one more round of her cellphone woes and the corresponding script of apologies and B.S. our caller called it a day.
There was another memorable call where a rude woman who sounded like she was in her late 30's was bitching about being made to wait on hold for hours. After our useless system and script couldn't really do anything for her, I gave her this killer line...
ME: "You know ma'am, there are better things to do in life than just waiting on hold calling up cellular phone companies. Why don't you go relax, watch a movie... take a walk in the park, fly a kite..."
By that time I was trying with all my might to contain myself from laughing after images of a middle-aged American woman flying a kite ran through my mind.
Needless to say, I didn't last that long in my first try. I didn't last in my second either. On my second foray, I just couldn't keep up with the more difficult metrics (meaning the standard statistics needed to keep my job). I was determined to take it more seriously the second time around and behave, but alas, it was still not meant to be. On my last day when it was apparent that I wasn't going to hit the metrics that I needed to stay and there was just enough time for one last call, I was determined to go out with a bang.
The account I was working on was providing technical support for an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Thankfully, my last call turned out real well, with me being able to help out the woman regain her lost connection. Luck was on my side, as the caller was able to follow my instructions well and we were able to recover her connection.
CALLER: "Thanks so much, I swear I've been through a lot of other agents before you and you were the only one who was able to help..."
ME: "Nah, I couldn't have been able to do it if you weren't good with following the steps..."
CALLER: "Thanks so much for your help..."
ME: "You're welcome ma'am. Is there anything else I can help you with?"
CALLER: "No, that would be it, you have been so helpful..."
ME: "Okay, so before I go... can you please tell me... WHO'S THE MAN?"
CALLER: "You are!"
ME: "And with that I say 'Oh hell yeah!' Thanks so much for calling __________, have a nice day!"
I stood up and did my "Thank you! Thank you! I'll be here all week!" gestures before I sat back down to finish off my after-call documentation. And then my team leader came back to his station, called me and was smiling mischievously.
Apparently, some of the top American officials of our account were inside a conference room, and along with some of our local bosses and the Quality Assurance (QA) division were eavesdropping. Seriously, there were about a hundred other calls happening at the same time and they had to get my final hurrah! Apparently, the local QA peeps were so pissed off and cursing me to heavens while one of the American dudes said, "Well, the customer was real happy, so I guess I would still have to grade it a ten on a scale of one to ten."
I couldn't have asked for a better ending.