In light of Telescreen being recently named one of the worst companies to work for (no shit), I thought I’d get back to the “Job Security” category of ESP, and focus on what it’s like to work at a call center. At at normal job, you have work to do, and you have the day to complete it. You can chat about the NFL game at the water cooler, go out to Chipotle and snag a burrito, or arrive five minutes late if there’s goddamn traffic. If you have more shit to do, you stay a little later, or work through lunch. If you get tired, you snag a cup of coffee over in the break room. You’re responsible for yourself and your job, and the company trusts you to complete your tasks. How fucking enlightened.
Oh how different a call center is from the real world. At Telescreen, time is money, and the employees are expected to work every second of their shift. Every…fucking…second. Call centers are all about statistics, and everything about the employees day is monitored: When they walk in the door, when they log into the computer, when they take calls, how many calls they take, when they go on break, how long the break was, how long the calls are, when they log out, etc. It’s 1984 in the worst sense, and the monitoring is enlisted because Telescreen doesn’t trust any of the employees to do their jobs.
The employees are expected to start taking calls before or right when the shift starts. Not a minute after, literally, and no excuse will get an employee out of being marked late. The whole eight hour shift is monitored to ensure the employee takes calls the entire time, and don’t sneak away to do anything other than work. This obviously is physically and psychologically draining, as getting screamed at for eight hours nonstop isn’t ideal for anyone.
The employees get a lunch break that’s exactly 30 minutes, as well as two other 15 minute breaks, and you guessed it, there’s no wiggle room in the length of the breaks. In the meantime, they take calls one after another, no downtime between calls, no time to breathe, just frantic work. What do they do if they have to stretch their legs, take a leak, or check the mountain of emails in their inboxes? The short answer is…they don’t.
I have had a few problems with this myself in the past. We are supposed to go into our “break aux” on our 1984-esque monitoring toolbar anytime we need to do anything other than take calls. I say, fuck that, because break-time is exteremely precious yell-free time. So when I have to go to take a leak, I get up and take a leak. Seems simple enough to me, I mean, what kind of place won’t let the employees go to the bathroom? Well…
One day, nature called, and I headed over to the bathroom after hanging up with what was probably a dumbass redneck. When I walked out, I saw one of my supervisors rushing towards me, looking concerned.
Supervisor: “What are you doing?”
Being the smartass that I am…
Winston: “Um, do I really have to detail what was going on in there?”
Supervisor: “We have a queue of 50 people! Get back on the phones! Who said you could use the bathroom?”
Being the smartass that I am…
Winston: “My bladder.”
Of course I rushed back to work and took a million other calls all fucking day long, because that’s how it works in a call center. Since working at Telescreen, and because I write down everything that happens for the purposes of this blog, I have gotten “talked to” by three different supervisors five separate times for using the bathroom. What kind of Hell-hole won’t let it’s employees take a piss? One of the worst companies to work for in America maybe?
Here are some more fun posts to give you an idea of why working at Telescreen is pure shit: