Wednesday, November 22, 2006

call girl


8:15 pm

Here we go again.

Eyes still heavy from lack of sleep and too much TV, I drag myself off the bed (strewn with a week’s worth of dirty laundry), and make like a zombie to one of the empty shower stalls. I have 30 minutes to take a shower, get dressed and get a taxi to work.

8:56 pm

Barely made it.

One-way Makati roads are the death of me. I shell out 50 bucks everyday just to get to work even if it’s just a ten-minute walk away. I never have 10 minutes, so its 50 bucks a day for me. Anyway, I’d rather not risk my life. What with the vast selection of dark characters I might run into if I chose to walk (if I did have ten minutes, that is).
I prefer to get to work on time, unscathed, and alive, thank you very much.

9:00 pm

Auto-in.

For call enter yuppies this hyphenated word signals the beginning of yet another stressful, profanity-filled, caffeine-fueled day at work. For unfortunate agents like me who find themselves working for accounts who consider the lack of empathy statements a terminable offense, “Auto-in” also signals the start of a day of kissing ass, and performing miracles for customers who think you’re magicians and not call center agents. We mastered the art of sounding oh so polite and eager to help with sugary voices to irate callers, while giving them the finger.

10:15 pm

First break.

Sometimes, filling your lungs with cigarette smoke just doesn’t do it. You’re still fuming from that customer who called you a retard before he hung up. I inhale a lungful of smoke and imagine strangling that stupid caller. He sounded like he was fat and ugly. I fancied strangling him blue and then kicking his butt off that balcony where I was enjoying this reverie, and imagined his brains splattered all over the concrete. I imagine shouting, “Retard eh!? Well, look whose brainless now!”

Brainless, get it? Hahahaha.

Ugh. I’m pathetic.

Oh well, we take what respite there is. Just to keep from going crazy. Even though it’s my third cup of black coffee (no sugar vendo-variety, of course) I’m still fighting off sleep at the end of my 15-minute break. I crush my paper cup and turn to the door. Time’s up. I think of all the curses I still have to put up with. I have widened my vocabulary with quite colorful ones myself, to be expressed fluently after I push the mute button on. I sigh, put on a derisive smile and think, “Bring it on.”


12:30 am

Lunch.

I line up for my nth chicken meal of the week in McDonalds. Yesterday it was KFC, and the day before it was Jollibee. Chicken, chicken and chicken. Tomorrow it’s Jollibee again and I’m thinking of going out of the box and ordering palabok. Hah. This is what you call varying monotony.

The nature of a call center agent’s job leads him to adopt a fast food diet. And since I have no plans of publishing this article, it is with relish that I say fast food gradually evolve into tasteless crap. It’s inevitable. It’s like eventually, your tongue will refuse to consider it food. But it’s not like I have an array of choices to choose from.

Blech.

I hear the people in front of me talk about their deranged customers and I tune them out. I’ve lost my appetite as it is. I want to be able to pretend I still have one.



I’m not a patient person and it makes me wonder, what the hell I’m doing with this job. There are times when it’s fun, in a sick kind of way, like when we make fun of our customers and exchange bloopers. Sometimes you get calls from customers who are totally unhinged, like this caller I from the Bronx who held me personally responsible for the negative balances on her son’s and daughter’s accounts and just wouldn’t stop swearing at me, I swear I could feel her spit spraying on my face. And this other one who asked for my personal details because she wanted to sue me because I refused to give her credit on her already overdrawn account. Or this caller my friend had who was having sex with somebody while on the phone (no joke).

I told you it can get fun. Sick, but fun. Sometimes. But most of the time, I ask myself, “What the hell am I doing?” For the past five months, all my life has been a series of measured segments:

15 minute breaks, 30 minute lunches, 5 minute yosi breaks, 5 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work, 2 hours overtime on offs, 1 hour phone calls to home. The rest of those precious hours and minutes blur and are lost to watching reruns, and living what semblance of a life I have left.

But then, I can be only so melodramatic.

The truth is this job is the only reason why I can even afford to live here in Makati. I willingly lined up as one those applicants who fill the lobby everyday, aware of what this job is all about. It’s the price to pay to fulfill my fancy of surviving Manila. Small-town girls like me who dream of conquering the metropolitan succumb to this job because we have families to send money to and ambitions of making it big. Go for the big pay. It’s the only way to go cause you can’t afford not to otherwise, somebody said to me once. Money, it makes the world go round that’s for sure.

I guess this is what they meant when they said life’s a bitch.

Well, it’s not really that bad. I mean, every 15th and 30th, I am honestly able to say that it really isn’t all that bad. Haha.

Like I said, we take what respite there is.

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