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when i was growing up in san diego, there was a telephone research place real close to my mom’s house in serra mesa.  all i mean by ‘telephone research place’ is that it was a calling center that conducted phone surveys.  it was called DIRECTIONS IN RESEARCH.  people drove, bussed and walked to this place all the time, and from all over san diego, to see about a job.  DIR was always hiring.  they were constantly running ads in city rags and and posting flyers all over the neighborhood to account for their awful turn-around.  the job fucking sucked.  the only thing to it was to make phone calls all day long, every time you came in.  ugh.  i’m ashamed i was there for well over a year.

the only reason i lasted that long, though, is because i treated the job like shit and got away with it.  it’s weird, too:  i saw people getting fired all over the place, and even for trivial stuff.  but they never got tough on me.  i’d take a 50-minunte half-hour lunch and just apologize when i came back.  i’d go home and work out on a 10-minute break and come back sweaty and unbelievably late.  i’d take a bathroom break after every call.  i’d go get water or visit the vending machine like a hundred times a day.  and they weren’t sparing me because i was productive.  i had a completely average record for completing interviews.  i really can’t say why they put up with the things i did and even rehired me when i came back from a big vacation.  i fucking loathed being there and would call in sick all the time.  one of the few good sides of that job was their bottomless forgiveness of sickdays.  DIR was just one gigantic room of wage slaves, dialing away, so if 6 people in 100 were sick for a day, it wasn’t the end of the world.  there were always people who wanted to work extra there, so it just didn’t matter.

something awesome did happen while i worked there, though.  one of the weekend mornings there, i was calling the east coast for a survey and ended up talking to the hugest asshole i’d ever dealt with.  dude was a monster.  i definitely don’t ask for sympathy on behalf of people who harass innocent homebodies by phone for a living, but this guy took the typical disdain for being called to a place it didn’t need to go.  even made it personal, mocking me and calling me shit.  i was not new to phone hate at all, but he still managed to shock me.  anyway, after he hung up on me in disgust, i wrote down his number.  four of my workdays then were until 9pm.  and although we were normally only calling the west coast at that hour–mr. fucking george gustafson, i decided, was gonna be hearing from me right around that hour every night.  he lived in new york.

i fucked that guy up.  called him every weeknight at 9 pacific for weeks and weeks.  but the real shit was when i tried him on the weekend.  even though non-interview calling was absolutely forbidden, george was a project of mine and i wasn’t gonna let that stop me.  besides, whenever he answered, i just went into the language of whatever survey i was supposed to be running (if i said anything) so that if any of my supervisors was listening in, it’d just sound like another interview.

but one time george didn’t answer.

it was a weekend morning.  i let it go to voicemail so i could hear his pissed-off voice again.  his outgoing message was really short though, and before i knew it, i’d already heard a beep.  i froze.  deciding i still had to be obnoxious, i did the first thing that came to mind, which was play ‘mary had a little lamb’ on the key pad.  then a computer voice came up and recited a menu of options, and i was a confused.

“press 1 to play messages.  press 2 to delete all messages.  press 3 to record a new outgoing message.”

holy shit! i thought to myself.  ‘mary had a little lamb’ had keyed in george’s fucking voicemail password!  choking down a laugh that was gonna get me in big trouble, i mashed the shit outta that 3 and heard a beep.

“hi.  this is george gustafson–and i am one monster, MONSTER asshole.  do not EVER leave me a fucking message.”

hung up, threw my headset down, and peaced out for a long-ass lunch.  fuck work.

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One Comment

  1. God, I admire you.


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