I’m at job.
Not at my job. Just at job. Job is a place and a faceless entity that wants to gobble me up.
But I’m good at job.
CVS stopped taking all of my calls, so I found out rather quickly that I was possibly the greatest telemarketer alive.
I spit inflection into the headset. I drool empathy all over the keyboard. I have an armory of ums, ahs, uhs, along with tiny little hesitations that I pepper into my calls. My voice is deep and gravely, like a dust covered cowboy, here to slaughter the Indians and take home all the…
I sell donations.
I click the dialer on the computer screen and it brings up the script. The script is a key part of Job. It is Job. You read script so much that it is ringing in your head when you go home. You rely on script so much, that when someone says something that doesn’t have a pre-written rebuttal, your heart stops beating.
It is terrifying.
Thinking of a response. Making lips and teeth and gums and mouth-bone move to form sounds and words that the other person can accept as language currency.
Impossible! Impossible without script!
The dialer freezes as another call is loaded. It bloops and I’m talking to a Ralphie Estevez.
“Hey Ralphie, this is [ommitted] calling you from Talk-talk phone center. We’re calling for donations for the Kool Kids Klub. Yes, it’s an exclusive club for children that teaches them all about equality. Would you like to make a donation?”
Ralphie Estevez speaks, and it sounds like his throat is a toilet and the words he is saying are the gurgling, choking sounds that it makes when flushed. “Yeah! Yeah-ah! That-ah! That-ah sounds good-ah! Whatta I do? Give you a cheek? Do I write a cheek?”
“Yes, sir, we accept check or money order. We do also accept credit and debit cards over the phone-,”
I take off my headset and stare at it for a moment. I slip it back on, and Ralphie Estevez is still there.
“No cards! I don’t trust them! Send me the info and I’ll send you the money-ah! Alright?”
“Sounds great Ralphie-ah. Let me transfer you to records so they can confirm your donation.”
I transfer him off, and select another caller. This one is a call-back. Mr. Leroy Pinnata promised $75 in April to the Kool Kids Klub, but we never got that donation. It was now October. “Hey there, this Leroy?”
“This is [ommitted]. I’m calling about the donation to the Kool Kids Klub? If you wrote a check, the acronym might be the K K-,”
“Oh, yeah. I got that envelope on my table. I’ll get that right out to you.”
“Can I ask you to stop being a liar?”
There was silence from the other end after I said that, like he was a videogame boss and I’d happened to shooty-bang the glowing spot on his chest, and he was now self-destructing.
He cleared his throat in my ear. “Yeah, okay, yeah. I was lying. I don’t have it.”
“I understand sir. Now will you get out your debit or credit card and give that 75 dollars to the Klub?”
“I can, yeah.”
I transfer him and mark the sale on my sheet. On the wall above the cubicles, there’s a big screen that displays the sales numbers for our group. The man next to me is Mick, and he’s at $43 dollars raised per hour. He’s sweating a lot. The more you sell per hour, the higher your hourly wage. Mick just had a kid. He showed me a picture of a pink hot-dog thing in a blanket, said its name was Terry.
“Alright,” I told him.
I feel bad for Mick. No one should sweat that much. The Kool Kids Klub isn’t that important.
The manager strollsby, screaming at everyone. “Alright alright! Let’s get cookin’! [Ommitted] here is brand new and he’s at 255 dollars raised per hour! C’mon Mick! You can do a lot better buddy! Do I need to send you home for a few days? Maybe some time without pay would do you good, Mick ol’ buddy?”
Sweat starts spewing out of Mick even faster. He was like a sprinkler that shoots in all directions, and little children run through it.
I turn back to my computer. Mick was dying but there wasn’t too much I could do. I took the next call. The name that came up on the screen was: “Friend. O.”
“Hello, this [ommitted] here, raising money for the KKK, and I was hoping I could put you down for a donation?”
There was a lot of crunching and chewing in my ear. Then I heard smacking sounds, and then someone muttered: “Pretty good burger”.
“I know who you are, [ommitted]. You remember me? Friendo? I’m made of sand.”
I did remember him. My teenage Asian sand friend. “I remember. Donation please?”
He hung up the phone, and I was left spinning in my chair, wondering what had happened to my little world.
Next to me, Mick slides off his chair and collapses onto the ground. His brown shoes kick at the cubicle as he thrashes around, gasping and holding his chest. I raise my hand.
The manager comes over. “Mick! What are you doing? You’re never going to catch up in sales!”
Mick coughs and his eyes roll into the back of his head. The manager groans and pulls out a cellphone. “Yes? Can I get an ambulance at Talk-talk? Yes, I know it’ the third time this month. Get over here.” He hangs up and we both stare at each other for a while.
Then I ask him why he didn’t ask 911 if they would donate to the Klub.