Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How may I direct your call?

posted Fri, 01 Dec 2006

I am developing job skills faster than you can shake a stick at. Yesterday, a temp agency finally called me. Finally. They had a one-day job. Yes, I would take it, even though I also had to work at the store until 11:00 last night. (SH’s comment about my working until 11:00: “You don’t even stay up that late with me! You don’t even stay up that late for fun!” Me: “This is for money.”)

So I was the switchboard operator. I had to transfer phone calls, which is something that has always struck fear into my heart. I didn’t even try to put calls on hold when there were a bunch of them coming in at once. I just took them as they came. “Good morning, Acme Industrial.” “Good morning, Acme Industrial.” And so on.

But then people tried to ask me questions about open enrollment. Honey, I don’t know your benefits plan. I don’t know why the system won’t let you log in. And I really don’t know why when Sunday is the deadline for completing enrollment, the two HR women who do have these answers went out to lunch instead of brown bagging it so they could take the approximately 70 calls that came in for them. Yes, people have had all month to do this and yes, they should have done it earlier, but Miranda and Sally, you know how people are. Would it have killed you to eat in today and take care of all those backed-up calls?

I had a low-status chair. I’m not used to that. I’m used to a high-level chair. You know – the kind with arms. It felt so odd not to have anywhere to rest my elbows. But I wasn’t a high enough position to get arms on the chair. At least, that’s how it worked when I was at IP. You had to be at a certain level or higher to get arms on your chair.

The woman who was sort of in charge of me overheard me speaking Spanish to one caller. (The company is international.) “We are trying to fill this position permanently,” she said. “Are you interested?”

I thought about the idea of sitting at a desk with no windows all day long, doing nothing else but answering the phone and signing in vendors, not having the freedom to go to the ladies’ room when I wanted, all for $10/hour. Was I that desperate yet?

“No, thanks,” I told her.

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