Please just let me die!
Once upon a time, in the long long ago, if you wanted a one month free subscription to Bridges Weekly Magazine and cell phone contract slightly lengthier than your current life expectancy you would have to actively go out and purchase these things of your own accord. We know what you're thinking: "I would rather die in a house fire than have to live in such a world". Well, luckily for you in 1967 (Wikipedia didn't have a date, so we're assuming it doesn't exist) along came the call centre. If you've never worked in a call centre than well done, revising for your exams rather than getting shit-faced and pissing yourself in the local night club was the smart thing to do in the long run. You were right, no need to be a prick about it. However if you're like an increasing number of young, disenfranchised individuals, you're likely to come in contact with these vast, sprawling theatres of pain at some point in your life if even for a short amount of time.
So let's take a look at why exactly in recent years they've taken the place of Mcdonalds as "place you're most likely to end up if you answer each of your final high school exam questions with 'because you're gay, that's why!'".
"You want me to stop calling you? I'm sorry that's a different department. Please hold."
Most call centres typically fall into two, distinct categories. Outbound and inbound. Outbound generally means that rather than taking calls from the wonderful general public you're actually making them. Initially, on the surface you might not think that's all that bad. Because, companies sell things and consumers buy them - that's the basis of our western society so what makes this so different? Well, think about it for a minute. You have a product and you want to sell it. A normal, everyday product can happily sit on a shelf and be picked up by consumers. Ok, so you've put your product on a store shelf and it still doesn't seem to be shifting many units. Let's spend some money on advertising and get our brand out there, that should pull in punters from miles around. Still not working? Ok, maybe it's time to slash the price of your product, and hey, one of your employees could even dress up as the store mascot attracting attention to himself and simultaneously at least making people aware that your product exists.
Travel about another 490 miles down this train of thought and you will finally arrive at "Right, this isn't going well. I still have 5,000 boxes of Rick Astley's Testicular Work Out DVD. Get me some staff. We're going to individually call every single mother-fucker in this God damn country and persuade them to buy this shit. Throw in something free too. Anything. Do we still have some of those travel clocks?" Welcome to the world of the outbound call centre. Working in an outbound call centre environment, you can expect to be as popular with the general public as a Mormon paedophile. In fact, you may even just win this one, because despite Mormon paedophiles' tendancies to stop you in the street to tell you about their cult while occasionally touching your children, they are unlikely to ever call you at home and ask you if you're happy with your current brand of kitchen knife.
"But sir, does your current policy come with a free Biker Mice From Mars calligraphy set? I didn't think so"
On the surface, and after considering the scream inducing details of outbound call centres, inbound seems like its friendlier, non-rapist younger brother. However when you add into the equation the types of people you will be dealing with it all of a sudden becomes less appealing than a reach-around from your grandfather. And he's been dead for 6 years. Whilst most people, upon finding out that you can pay for 'Learn To Body Pop With Brian Dennehy' in 5 easy installments of infinity dollars would simply scoff and move on with their life, the person you're about to speak to believes this to be such a cock ticklingly outstanding deal that they will instantly drop everything they are currently doing to call your premium rate line and get popping! Needless to say, anyone who would purchase such an item is probably going to be bat-shit insane, so the ensuing transaction is likely to involve them telling you about that time their cat invented the pocket and trying to pay for the item with hats whilst you sit there trying to pinpoint exactly where you life went wrong, jabbing at your juggular with a pen.
"Well done John, you've won the clipboard"
"But why on earth would anyone work in such a place?" we hear you ask. Well you obviously hadn't heard of the fantastic sales incentives in place in the dizzying heights of the call centre worker. Prizes such as a four pack of beer so cheap it tastes like it was fermented in the inner-rectum of a Chernobyl farm worker; the chance to leave work 8 minutes early and such electronic wonders as a radio alarm clock are frequently up for grabs for the person who sells the most copies of such call centre merchandise as 'Angela Landsbury Sings The Blues'. To put that into perspective, it's like finding a cure for cancer which involves feeding the whole of Africa and being awarded with a 8x12 picture of a shoe. Besides, often the items you are trying to sell are so absolutely impossible to palm off on the general public that the entire idea of incentives is rendered pointless. The chance to leave your shift with a free mobile phone holder isn't going to make selling base-jumping insurance to a partially deaf 94 year old any easier.
BUT IS IT REALLY ALL THAT BAD?