Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Visiting Former Inmates

Yes, you heard right. I said former inmates. Although not exactly prison, it's an institution that sure feels like it to those who enter it each morning and suffer within its walls for eight hours or more each day. They [the call centre reps] have a phone system where not only do they have to log in each morning, they have to enter a code for every activity they do that doesn't involve answering calls. You have to pee? You enter a code to show you're not answering the phone because you're doing as nature intended. You have to enter notes in a file and don't wish to be interrupted by the phone? You enter a code. You go down to get a coffee, a coke or a snack out of the machine? You enter a code. You leave the building? C'mon folks, say it with me... you enter a code. If you forget to do this or you choose not to, your friendly manager pops his or her head over your cubicle and asks how come you've been unavailable for phone calls for the last five minutes?

I visited some old friends for lunch the other day and entered the place that had me chained to my desk by golden handcuffs for seven long years. At the end of their 45 minute lunch I joked with them that I'd better leave so they can return to their desk before their ankle bracelets start beeping. I am not far from the truth, at least where certain departments are concerned. If I needed confirmation that I'd made the right decision by leaving, I got that yesterday, and then some.

This has become a place where employees apply for internal job openings but even if they have played the game right and get the job they are still not free to go as the department can't afford to lose said employee. "Oh, it's temporary, we'll hold you for the maximum time that we can but you'll go in the end". A month and a half later, the employee learns that unfortunately the department still is in bad shape and ... well... nobody can leave. Indefinitely. So, the job that you applied for is gone and you'll be stuck here for eternity. Unless, of course, you are in a financial position to tell them to shove it and walk out of the job. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, mr. manager, I'm leaving anyway and you'll still have an empty chair to fill. But since few people can afford to do it, that stuff will continue to go on.

Thank you for staying. Now please return to your phone and be sure to log on and enter your code.

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