After my illustrious career job at Walmart came to a tragic end, I worked at several different call centers in the area. One of them was inside of an older, run-down building in Downtown St. Catharines. Orientation was brief and basically consisted of a tour of the office. Employees on my specific team were encouraged to call people beginning at 9am and offer them 12 CDs for the price of 3. If we reached a certain quota of sales, we were allowed to listen to music at our desks, and sometimes they would let people go home early. This is only hearsay, as I never experienced it myself, being that I left at lunchtime on the third day and never went back. This is a move that I loved to make when I was younger and I hated a job. There is no possible way you were going to motivate me to wake people up at 9am to ask them to buy someone else’s product, for little or no personal gain other than letting me go home early.
I worked at another call center after that in Welland, which is more reputable but has an extremely high turnover rate. The place was like an assembly line packed with over five hundred people in rows and rows of desks. The problem was that the office was located in the same building as a grocery store, so apparently we had an issue with vermin, and also the floor was covered in a stained old carpet that was so flea-infested, I couldn’t go to work without leaving with a bunch of bites all over my ankles, and I often brought the fleas home to my pets. Each team of us was closely monitored by some douche bag on a power trip and if we weren’t taking calls (AND OUR BREAKS!) in accordance with a little thing called “schedule adherence”, we were called out on it (even if you got stuck on a call that went past your break time!). I was working there with a few of my friends and we happened to be on the same team. We figured out that we could all use one person’s login information to go into Outlook and write each other messages in the calendar. Once you hit enter, the other people could see what you had written, so we would chat throughout our shift without actually chatting. I do not recommend that anyone try this at their place of employment, unless of course they don’t mind getting fired. We liked to go for drives on our lunch breaks, where we’d grab Rose City Pizza slices and smoke weed so we could deal with going back to work.
The company we were working for was a reputable American cell phone company, and each of us was trained to use about 12 different programs to do our jobs. We had 6 weeks of training before we went out on the floor. I particularly enjoyed when people would call me with technical issues, because it was always fun to try to figure out what the hell was wrong with their phones–unless, of course, they used the phone to call me, in which case they would have to call us back on a land line. The other thing I liked to do was assist customers with billing issues. Oftentimes I would cut people a break, even if their bill was accurate. Again, I was younger, and less inclined to care about a job I couldn’t stand, so I can’t tell you how many people I credited or sent a free phone to out of the goodness of my heart.
I worked there for about 9 months before we got busted for the email chat thing. I was called into an office with a bunch of execs who were questioning the fact that they had found an email in my inbox in which one of the trainers had jokingly suggested we all go out for drinks after work or something like that. I knew this man was older and married, and that he didn’t mean any harm, so I defended him fiercely and demanded to know what they were planning on doing with him. I felt responsible, because his integrity was being called into question partially because of me. I told the bigwigs I wasn’t happy working there and gave my notice. I was supposed to work until the end of the week, but I am pretty sure I didn’t show up for my last day. I never found out what happened to my trainer, but I sincerely hope he made it out of that situation without a divorce.
My next stop was probably the shittiest job I have ever had. I got a job at a 7-11. Training was okay; they made me sit in the back room and watch orientation videos all day. It turns out there is a lot more to working at a 7-11 than I bargained for; inventory, restocking shelves, cleaning, making sure there is always fresh coffee, refilling and cleaning out the toppings for the hot-dogs, etc. Basically as soon as I began working there, I discovered I was pregnant with my first son, and this pregnancy was not agreeing with me. I would wake up and vomit until there was nothing left to vomit, and then my body would continue to retch until the force of it burst blood vessels in my eyes and all over my face. I threw up sometimes three, four times a day, whether I ate anything or not.
So there I am, working midnights for the very first time, exhausted, pregnant, and essentially sick constantly. I had to run to the washroom quite a few times. My memories of working there include, in no special order, freezing my ass off in the back refrigerator for an hour in the middle of the night while I stocked it with milk etc., and walking by both the coffee station and the bagged onions at the hot dog station while swallowing back the bile that would rise in my throat because literally everything made me sick.
My least favourite part of this job was my boss. She was middle-aged, overweight, and I think she thought she owned the place. Keep in mind everything I just described above and imagine yourself counting down the minutes until the end of your shift at 7am so you can go home and die, only to have your boss come in and promptly take your incoming relief staff outside to talk and laugh and smoke cigarettes. Picture yourself staring at them out the window while they smoked until 7:30am before anybody bothered to come in and let you go home. And picture it happening every day.
Needless to say, I lasted about two weeks before I decided Fuck that! and I stopped showing up for work. This lady had the balls to call me and demand that I come in for my shift. She told me that I had to. I told her no, I didn’t, and hung up on her, and that was the end of that.
After that joke of a job, I got a job in reservations at an Embassy Suites. I actually don’t have many bad things I can say about this job, other than the fact that I am currently doing virtually the same job, only half of the work, for over double the wage, with full benefits.
I made a couple of friends working there, and I didn’t mind the work. I didn’t like being in an office in the basement, for three reasons: one, there were no windows, two, we were located right next to their lunch room, so if anybody put fish in the microwave we paid for it for hours, and three, which is going to sound stupid, there was a rumour that Sylvia Browne had predicted that the building would fall due to either its location overlooking the Falls, or its shoddy craftsmanship, or both. So somewhere in the back of my mind I was always terrified that this massive tower above us would fall and we would have no way to get out of the basement.
I stayed at the Embassy for about two years, including one year of maternity leave. I enjoyed working there, and I liked some of the people in my office, but I never felt like I truly belonged there or was fully accepted by the staff. Which is understandable; my personality is not always well-received by everyone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it did make me feel lonely at times. There was one supervisor who was a little older than me, though, and she was my saving grace. This woman was fucking hilarious. Inappropriate and potty-mouthed like I am. So we got along great, and I still talk to her sometimes.
One night, a bunch of us went out for drinks after work. After a couple of hours, it was decided that we were all going to go to Seneca Casino over the border. I had been drinking beer for a while by that time, and although I went to the washroom before we left the bar, I did not take into account the fact that there might be a wait time at the border. Which there was.
For those of you who aren’t aware, having children can sometimes be very difficult on your bladder, and by this time I had already learned that lesson. Sometimes when you jump, or cough, or sneeze, or laugh, you pee your pants a little. Or a lot, depending on the day. So I was very concerned that I was going to piss myself in my friend’s car while we waited to get through customs. It became so painful that I thought I was going to cry. One of the girls in the car suggested that I pee in a Tim Horton’s cup. So I took the lid off the cup, while sitting in a car on the Rainbow Bridge waiting in traffic to speak to the customs officers, and somehow managed to hang my ass over the cup and empty my bladder. I am pretty sure there may have been some spillage onto the floor mat, which I apologize for in case that girl ever reads this. Then, because we were afraid that tossing the cup might look suspicious, I had to put the lid back on and hold the fucking cup until we got into the States. We were all drunk and laughing (except for the driver of course), and it was probably one of the best nights I’d had in a long time, because as a new mother with an idiot for a husband, I didn’t get out much or have many friends. I had even invited some people from work to come to my stag and doe, and not one person from work showed up. One of them came to my baby shower though, and she was very sweet. We had gone to high school together.
One thing that was a very negative experience for me there, is that there was one girl who I thought was so beautiful and funny. I’d hear her cracking jokes and I always wanted to be in on them. Everyone loved her, including me. We were both pregnant there at the same time, so we had that in common, and there was a lot of excitement in the office about babies etc. If you’ve read my previous posts about my relationship with my husband and everything I was experiencing at home, it’s not surprising that as a young girl who is suddenly pregnant, my nutrition was not at the top of my list. I ate junk food and fast food often, more often than I should. But somehow I came back to work after my maternity leave, and I was in pretty decent shape, whereas this other girl, who I believe was a bit older, was very careful with her diet and she unfortunately had to work harder to get back to a comfortable place. This is how I remember it, anyway, so please correct me if I’m wrong.
When I returned to work, this girl snubbed me hard. Would barely even look in my direction or give me the time of day. For months, I had no idea what I had done wrong. Eventually through word of mouth I discovered that it was because she was pissed off at me for eating like shit while I was pregnant. That’s the summary of her issue. First of all, nunya. Nunya fuckin business what I eat. Secondly, it’s not my fault if you had a harder time with it than I did. I was sick as a dog when I was pregnant, for pretty much the entire duration of my pregnancy, and had to deal with a pinched sciatic nerve and walk three blocks to work every day in the summer heat. It wasn’t easy for me either. And having that baby literally split me up the front. Okay? So it wasn’t a walk in the park. Judgey Judgerson.
Anyway, this made for a very uncomfortable work environment for me, because there were snide remarks and undertones coming from this person’s direction for quite some time before I finally figured out what her problem was. And once I did, I was like “Are you serious?” in my head. It takes way too much effort to be a hostile asshole to someone than it does to push out some positivity.
My boss there was a tall, skinny woman who was soft-spoken and polite, but dismissive of me in general. She looked like she was auditioning for the part of Peter Pan on Broadway, all of the time. One day I was called into her office about something but I cannot remember what it was. I was getting in trouble for something though. And that day, something about her tone of voice and the condescending way in which she addressed me made something inside of me shift.
I went back to my desk afterwards and she went home for the night. The rest of us continued to work until I had stewed at my seat for long enough for my anger to boil over. I went into my supervisor’s office with her and basically lost it. I said there was no reason for anybody to speak to anyone the way she spoke to me, that it was unprofessional and rude. And then I told her that I didn’t want to work there anymore, went to my desk and packed up my shit, and walked out forever. It was freeing and wonderful in ways I cannot describe. I had never before stood up for myself the way I did that day. It was the beginning of a lot of other changes in my life, so in a way I can be thankful for my experience in working for that hotel. It helped me to grow in a better direction.
Afterwards, I spent the following month applying for any and all jobs I knew I was was qualified to do. The one and only interview I got was for the job I am currently working, which I have been doing for the past ten and a half years. I botched the interview for sure. I have no idea how I managed to get a call back. Maybe they saw something in me, a new kind of desperation or something, because things at home were not going well at all. Maybe it was my previous experience in call centers which landed me the position. Regardless, here I am, and I do have some pretty fun stories planned for my next entry.