29 Oct 2003

Ab Fab

I came in early today, before the lines opened, to inspect the box. It was a cornucopia of tat. The catalogue (that cannot be named for ‘keeping my job’ reasons) has sent the team a sample of the products that it sells:

A tiepin napkin holder in the shape of a peacock.

A dog-shaped doggy-do dispenser that looked much smaller in ‘real – life’.

Wipes for everything from dash-boards to ash-trays.

An extendable squeegee that can clean upstairs from down stairs.

A gnome with glass eyes to scare cats off your lawn.

Battery Operated Ab- trimmer – a strap-on, elasticised belt with plastic discs that vibrate slowly to make you thinner.

It’s little wonder that we are so busy with these great life-style boosting products.

28 Oct 2003

Boxing Bernard

I don’t think I have ever been so excited at work as I have been today. A big box arrived addressed to me.

It was perfectly wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. I saved the string and carefully picked open the paper and folded it neatly to save for future use. With the stringent cuts in the stationery budget you never know when it might come in.

Since last Monday we have been taking calls from a catalogue company. (It can’t be named in this blog for ‘keeping my job’ reasons). The wallboards have been going crazy, bleeping and beeping like R2D2 at an Ann Summers’ Party.

The team have been locked to their telephone headset and screens like lab rats. Dear reader, I too have needed to take my head set from its velvet-lined box and speak to people. Little wonder that I have no time to complete this diary.

The arrival of the box and its ceremonial opening was interrupted by Bernard who strode down the office, purple with rage, “All hands on deck! Calls waiting!”

The box was put away and I took orders for Singing Christmas Trees.

"Typical," said Barney, The Big Gay Bear, "just as you want to enter the box, Santa wants to keep his sack full."

No. I didn't understand him either.

25 Oct 2003

Pretty in Stink

I’ve been rushed off my feet for the past few days and this call centre diary has suffered as a result. I don’t know how Tony Benn managed to keep it up for so long (a big puff on the end of his pipe seems to do the trick, so I have heard.) I have much catching up to do; it’s been an eventful week in The Call Centre.

First things first, a familiar pong returned to The Call Centre today. The warm smell of brussel sprouts decaying in a warm armpit. The Smell, Mike ‘The Manic Miner’ Clark, came back off his holiday.

My cowardice has created a monster.

Taking advice from readers of this blog, I tackled the issue of Mike’s stench in a round a bout way, suggesting that he had a secret admirer. Since his return from holiday he has been like a new man: his hair is cut short and slicked back, his nostril hair is trim and stale Brut 33 mingles with the smell of sprouts.

He has taken to talking to women in the office like a gigolo, “How YOU doin’.”

He thinks he is Joey from friends. He’s more like Joey Deacon.

I need to go back to the drawing board.

17 Oct 2003

What a dilemma

(The Call Centre Smoke Club - by Fag Ash Lil aka Low Tar Tara)

Kathy and I are usually the first of our group to reach the Smoke Room, mainly because we both work in the Sales department but also because we like to eat our lunch in there, after having a fag first of course. We both eagerly await Marlon’s arrival, another of our group who usually starts us on our daily topic of conversation.

"I’ve got a dilemma" gushes Marlon on his arrival before he even sits down. "Should I go out with my best mate tonight or my best mate’s ex?"

"You’ve got food on your tie again" Kathy says pointing at Marlon’s crumpled tie, "Why are men such pigs?" She looks at me with a knowing grin; he hates it when we’re not impressed by his sexual deviancy.

"Sod the tie, what do I do tonight. I’ve got half an hour to decide", he spits on his tie and starts scratching at the remnants of the canteen curry. He looks such a pathetic sight, if you didn’t know him better you would swear he was starved and homeless. A typical 19 year old lad, eats like a horse but looks like he has to run around in the shower to get wet and if mummy hasn’t ironed his shirt - well that’s not his fault. His long term girlfriend recently dumped him and he now sees his role in life is to sleep with as many women as possible, whether they are conscious or not.

"I’m surprised you’ve got any friends if you have to ask that, of course you should go out with your best mate", why do I even bother?

"What’s he doing now?" Sharon and Beverly join us.

"Oh just Marlon showing us again he has no morals, should he go out with his best mate or his best mate’s ex?"

"Marlon you’re a pig" shouts Bev, our little naive 17 year old.

"Why? I’ve snogged her before and told my mate, he said he didn’t mind, plus she’s got huge tits"

There’s a loud tut from the Sewing Circle and Sceptic Sue stares at us through her 3 inch specs. A retired Police Woman who just can’t shake the fact that she no longer has any authority.

"Oh Marlon" he really does send me back to work with a smile on my face.

15 Oct 2003


(More views from the Call Centre Smoke Club from our correspondent, Fag Ash Lil, aka Old Yella)

There are definitely a few different factions in the Smoke Room which can be witnessed on a daily basis.

Firstly there is the Lone Wolf, they have purely come in to smoke and can be usually be found in the corners reading a book or newspaper. They don’t want to join in with conversation but have been seen stealing a glance above their reading material if a conversation gets interesting.

Then there’s the Sewing Circle, christened so as usually made up of older ladies. They have been smoking since it was fashionable and have a superior attitude to the rest of the Smoke Room - especially to those young pup’s who have the audacity to laugh out loud, which disturbs them greatly.

Then there are the Fun seekers (I'm one!). Groups of like-minded folks who come to unwind before going back to the necessary evil of working for a living. There are 5 in my group at the moment but we can intermittently be joined by others from like minded groups if there own isn’t there.

Lastly there are people like Barry. Barry is the type of person who doesn’t belong to a group, he doesn’t want to be a Lone Wolf but no group will have him. He bursts through the door like a man possessed, there’s an audible intake of breath while he decides which group he will join today.

Oh God he’s coming this way….

13 Oct 2003

Holding back the years

Tomorrow we are switching from outbound to inbound. Thank goodness. The outbound campaign has been soul destroying. We are furrowing the same land and the leads are stretched to snapping point. Everyone that we ring has either changed their number, gone away or died.

It needs patience:

Tizzy: Please may I speak to Joseph Grey? I have some great news for him.

Customer: You’ll have a job. He’s three months old.

Tizzy: That’s ok. I can wait.

12 Oct 2003

Smoke Club

These are the rules of Smoke Club:

Rule number one; do not talk about lung cancer, smelly clothes, smelly breath or how much you spend on the glorious weed.

Two; just like toilet etiquette, if there are other chairs, use them, never sit right next to someone else – especially if you don’t know them.

Three; always smoke as many fags as possible in the time you have, you’ll be sorry later if don’t and will waste the rest of the day dreaming of the next one.

Four; NEVER leave early to go back to work – why would you?

If you are a non-smoker and have popped in for the experience, you MUST be accompanied by a smoker and under no circumstances complain about how smoky it us.

If you are a manager NEVER sit with your staff and vice versa. This is a relaxing place where bitching is indulged and nurtured.

If you forget your fags, it’s ok to bum a smoke, but do it too often and you’ll get a bad reputation. You’ll be known as a ‘Fag Bummer’ and that’s bad.

Feel free to join Smoke Club. Adhere to the above and you’ll be fine.

Disclaimer: this list is not exhaustive.

By Fag Ash Lil.

8 Oct 2003

Ash Wednesday

I often wonder why smokers have special privileges in The Call Centre. Cathy Gilroy was unhappy that they were stood outside, freezing their bollocks off, and leaving their dimps in the doorway. A port-a-cabin has been built for them to indulge in their bad habit. I wonder if she will extend the same hospitality for other bad habits: Manic Miner could have a room for delving in his nostril, or a room with an extractor for mid-day farting.

The Smoke Room is a place in which I have never ventured but I understand that this is the hotbed of rumour. The grapevine starts and ends in the smoke room.

For the first time, I am sending in a special correspondent, Fag Ash Lil, to report on the comings and goings in the port-a-cabin. Armed with a short-hand notepad, a pen and twenty bennys , Lil will send a report from the Smoke Room… beginning soon …

6 Oct 2003


My deep thought was interrupted by hammering and drilling. We are having new wallboards installed to prepare for the new campaign. We will be receiving calls from catalogues and info-mercials on daytime television starting from next week and the wallboards will tell us how many customers are waiting and how many we are losing.

We have seen it all before of course. The present wallboards are a twinkling set of lights that serve no other purpose than fill a spot where a fire extinguisher could be.

The new ones are brighter, more colourful and more complicated. It won’t be long before there’re birthday messages spinning around, ignored by all, “Happy 21st Biffdi to June – from all your mates in accounts.” It will stay on for months. June will be collecting her pension before some one decides to take it off.

Bernard loves the wallboards as he thinks that it is another means of ‘improving manager-advisor relations’ by opening another channel of communication. In fact it is merely a demonstration of the wonders electricity.

I would ignore the wallboards all together. They would not feature in a blog entry. But these new ones make a noise.

When there are five calls waiting they make a bleeping sound.

It went off today and we wondered what is was – people went diving for their bags – they thought they were getting a text.

These wallboards were designed by Satan and life will never be the same again. Mark my words.

4 Oct 2003

Not available in the shops

Yesterday, we all filed solemnly into Bernard’s office ready for a major announcement that was promised to send shockwaves throughout the organisation.

Bernard was in a state of frenzied enthusiasm. “Love it. Love it. Have I got news for you… errrmmm!”

Tony whispered to me, “Why does he do that?”

I looked back at him with a puzzled expression.

“I have promised expansion for the bureau and I am pleased to say that it is on its way. Not before time errrrrrrm!”

Tony whispered again, “Why does he do THAT?”

Bernard passed round a set of catalogues. We flicked through them with intense interest as he grinned broadly. The catlogue featured a host of useless useful items such as ‘dado-rail dusters’, ‘Novelty Doggie-Do Bag dispensers’ and ‘Fold away treadmills’.

“The contract has been signed and in two weeks we will begin to receive the calls. I want to see this campaign come alive! I want to see energy, passion and desire with motivational games. Tony where are you up to with that ‘Motivation pack’?” Before Tony could answer, he snapped to me. “I want to see Sun Tzu workshops taking place for the Team Managers and the full use of the Intranet. This is the biggest thing to happen to us and I don’t want any slip ups errrrrmmmmm!”

Why does he do that?

2 Oct 2003

Press the hash key now

I’ve been amusing myself today. Investigating Site-tracker for this site and the chat room in the call centre.

It seems that some people come here after typing ‘What do call centres do?’ It’s a good question – when you find the answer, let me know.

There is something odd about Bernard’s enthusiasm for staff intranet chat-rooms, as everyone else seems to be turning their back on increased electronic communication. That bloke from Phones 4 You has banned the use of internal e-mails and Microsoft have withdrawn their ‘free’ chat room service in the UK.

The new software is being ‘piloted’ on my team prior to full ‘roll out’ (see, I can use the jargon, promote me now!). I have to study the usage carefully and provide a report to Bernard with recommendations.
Today I have discovered a dialogue about ‘skunk’ between Simon ‘The Craig David’ and John ‘the anal retentive’ Doe. I first thought that they were referring to Manic Miner and the smell, but I soon realised that it was ‘wacky baccy’ they were earnestly comparing notes about.

It’s all I need; not only do I have to deal with Stig of the Dump, but I ‘ve got Cheech and bleedin’ Chong to sort out.

What do call centre Team Managers do?