Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Call Center Hell: The Final 5

Posted on | May 3, 2010 | 1 Comment

Bug colour1 300x213  Call Center Hell: The Final 5

Illustration by Rebecca Hanson

In the winter of 2007 my time was split between the call center and playing open mics with a polyamorous anarchist with a penchant for self-promotion.  During the day I would sell phone sets.  During the evenings I would hock blind eyed idealism.

At work I spent my time with “Jason”.  Jason was the son of Korean immigrants.  He worked at the call center during the day and Walmart at night.  He was a handsome man, slightly taller than a Brownie from Willow and slightly louder than Jackie on That 70s Show.

To hide his height, he stood on his chair.  To hide his insecurities, he  talked down to women.  He had sexist beliefs, typical of men who aren’t getting laid and won’t be for a long time.

Like me, he had a hard-on for blondes.

Unlike me, he took his jobs very seriously and was constantly on edge, worried he would fuck up.  Thus he used our shared lunch hour to practice his sales pitch until I wanted to punch him in the mouth.

He became frustrated at my inability to play customer.

I would usually let him go on about it , just so I could finish eating.  At times I was less polite.  I shouted vile things until he was forced to end our imaginary conversation while very real people in the food court were forced to stare in our direction.

He didn’t have to worry.  Wanting the job was the biggest qualification, and most of my class didn’t meet that high standard.

The brother/sister couple left a few days before our training class came to an end. The girl who picked her nose must have hit a pivotal nerve and died because we didn’t see her after the third day.  The hippy girl with dandruff quit, and within a few weeks I saw her begging on the street for change.  She said she found the call center degrading.

When we finally got to the floor we had lost 25 of our 30-member class.  We, who remained in the end, were a select few.  There was a 40-year-old mother of two who wanted to make enough so she could sue her husband and get full custody of the kids.  She had the first sale once we were on the floor.  There was the Mormon cross dresser who often dressed in skirts and changed his hair colour with his moods.  He’d recently married and accepted the Good Word.  He worked in Accounts Receivable, but one day, he just stopped going, and no one remembered that he had ever worked there when he applied the second time.

And of course, there was still Jason who spent little time on breaks, determined to meet his sales quota and get promoted.

Then there was me.  Each morning I thought about quitting and going back to sleep.  Each day I would dive out of bed, take a shower, puke up bile, and get on with my day just trying to make it to the weekend.

The waiting didn’t stop when the clock struck five.  Instead of waiting for the workday to end, I began fearing when the next day would begin.  By the time I got home it was 6 o’clock.  By the time I had dinner it was 7.  I’d try to be asleep by 11 to wake up for 7 and start again.  Every minute that passed meant I was one minute closer to being back on those phones.

A friend of mine cried in the shower everyday before going to this same job.  I didn’t cry; I just went silently crazy.

The worst thing was seeing that people could function very well under the same circumstances.  Before going on the floor we apprenticed under call center pros.  While I struggled through every call, they had it down.  No beats were missed. Promotions were pushed, quotas were murdered, bonuses were collected.  They were Ready2go, and I wasn’t.

What panicked me was I could see that each day got easier.  I could stay and what began as a half assed idea to keep me afloat could become my life.  Management climbed the ranks by having the stomach to keep coming back.  25 out of 30 dropped out in three weeks.  In a year, maybe one would last the whole way through.  If you lasted five, you’re either a manager or a complete asshole that no one else will hire.

I lasted a month—all  because of some polyamorous anarchist—but  we’ll get to that soon enough.

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One Response to “Call Center Hell: The Final 5”

  1. Colony of Losers: Call Center Hell# 3: Homicidal first day at work « Colony of Losers
    May 4th, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

    [...] Some things can't be said in person « Colony of Losers-Nightmares of Atlantica Colony of Losers: Call Center Hell: The Final 5 [...]

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    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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