It seems to be a rite of passage for many Irish young people to spend some time working in a a call centre. At first it can seem like a step-up from a retail job but before long you'll realise that it has its own trials you have to go through are just as bleak as in any job.
1. You have to perfect your phone voice
Anyone in a phone centre of any type will quickly develop 'The voice'; a saccharine, cheerful lilt to the voice that hides the deep, seething contempt you have for the customer.
Eventually, you'll accidentally use 'The voice' in your normal conversation, causing anyone who knows you to recoil in confusion from you.
2. Miming swears at customers
In the call centre you're always aware that all of your calls are recorded. Being even the tiniest bit rude to a customer is verboten. Sometimes it becomes too much to bear, so you have to resort to silently mouthing swears, thrashing in your seat, and aiming crude gestures at the phone.
Experienced call centre workers have perfected the ability to switch between chirpy cheerfulness and spewing vitriolic, yet perfectly silent obscenities at the customer.
3. Explaining basic technology to the elderly
When a call comes through and you hear a wizened, creaking voice venture an unsure, 'Hello?', you know you're in for a long, tedious call.
Talking an elderly gentleman through the use of anything technological over the phone is like trying to teach a panda how to perform open heart surgery via semaphore; sisyphissian, messy, and traumatic for everyone involved.
4. The furious customer
Thanks to the magic of the automated switchboard and the banal hold music it inflicts; somewhat irate customers are to be expected. The furious customer however is something else.
This type of customer connects to the call already shrieking in belligerent rage. They roar and screetch with hell-borne fury, they spew the vilest of swears, howl the blackest of threats, and bellow at an unholy volume.
There is only one way to deal with this tower of anger; be incredibly attentive and cheerful.
For some reason this only serves to incense them even more. Extra points if you can 'accidentally' disconnect the call when they reach the summit of their outrage.
5. The cheerful customer that makes your day
One of the main side-effects of a call centre job is misanthropy. Dealing with cantankerous, impatient dolts, day-in-day-out is a trail that wears down your faith in humanity.
Every so often, the grey clouds of nihilism will part and an angel will descend and gift you with basic human decency. The cheerful customer will be patient, they will say please and thank you, and when they say, 'Have a nice day' they mean it.
6. The hold button
The hold button serves many functions; it gives you time to think, it is a haven from a particularly nasty customer's tirade, it gives you time to get a cup of tea, and it lets you freeze a customer out until they get fed-up and hang up.
Do not over-use the hold button, much like the one ring; its call is seductive, but its use doesn't go unnoticed and it can draw the ire of ominous powers. Or your floor manager, whatever.
7. Sitting down all day but still emerging exhausted
A shift in the call centre is hardly a day on the farm, but for some reason you will always emerge exhausted. There's something about wearing a headset all day, perched in a dingy, grey cubicle that sucks the very life out of you.
Everything about your life in the call centre will be broken down to bleak, cold numbers. Your floor manager will constantly be espousing the importance of your handling time, your resolution, and your call flow down to the decimal point.
These ominous numbers will dominate your life.
9. The 'accidental' hang up
Whoops! Your hand slipped! Oh dear, what a funny coincidence that this unfortunate accident happened when you were trying to deal with a belligerent and rude customer.
What are the chances?