I wrote the essay below several years ago, when I was working for a contractor that provided call center customer service for USAA Bank. I have worked for a lot of places in my time, and when moving from one job to another, especially one call center to another, I usually say "this is the worst call center I have ever worked for". But in the progression of call centers I have worked at -- the one that served the Post Office, the one whose name I can't rmember right now in Florida, that serviced Sprint Long Distance, and then, in the city where I presently reside, SHIPS and Prudential and AT&T and Insight/Time Warner and then, the one that serviced USAA Bank, that prompted the essay below -- that last one was by far the worst. The worst managed, and far and away, the one with the worst, most predatory, most utterly hypocritical and avaricious company I have ever worked for.
I did move on from that job and the call center I currently work at is without a doubt the best one I've ever worked at. It's a call center so it's still tedious and onerous and essentially, fundamentally dehumanizing, but the management here isn't anywhere near as bad as management at every other call center I've ever worked at and the demands aren't anywhere near as soul crushing. It ain't a good job, but it's not a hellish one, either.
So having found this draft while going through my old blog posts here, I've decided I can finally post it. Just keep in mind, it's from a few years back.
* * * *
It may be my job doing it.
I deal with idiots all day long at my current job. Many of them come in to me over the phone, all swollen with a sense of their own entitlement and privilege and self importance, with six figure investment accounts they earned through a lifetime of hard work planning the deaths of strangers in distant lands and then carrying those plans out. Many of these people are so affronted at the thought that anyone might try to break into their accounts, to redistribute that wealth they earned from a life in the business of planning the deaths of strangers and the destruction or theft of their property, they have to vent to me about it. "All this fraud, all these scammers", they lament. "Why can't these people just go out and get jobs and work hard like I did?"
What I want to say to them, but of course can't, is that most of the scammers I stop from breaking in to people's accounts have foreign accents... often times, Middle Eastern or African accents. If those Middle Eastern and African people went out and got the same kind of jobs and worked just as hard at those jobs as these former colonels, majors, generals, and admirals, we would call them terrorists. We'd kill them and their friends and their families from a distance with drone strikes. I don't say that, because (a) if I did, I'd get fired and (b) if I did, it would make no difference, the former majors and colonels and generals and admirals would just nod and say "of course we would, of course we would".
Because when the swarthy skinned people who wear towels on their heads do it, it's terrorism. When we do it, it's hard work.
I shouldn't say 'we'.
So instead I say to these aging, puffed up, affluent, entitled war dogs, in their declining years now, well buffered by their war profits, I say to them "Well, sir or ma'am, you know, there are people out there everywhere with their hands out, and a lot of them are trying to put their hands in your pocket, and that's my job to prevent".
And these people, they puff up even more and their voices swell and they say "You sound like a good Republican, son".
They think it's a compliment. They do.
So maybe it's dealing with these people all day. Or listening to the other people who call in, the poor ones, the ones who joined up because they couldn't find any better job, because it's the only way they can afford college, the ones who are also hungry for the American Dream, and that hunger makes them gullible, it causes them to fall for scams. These people call in and report fraud on their accounts, and we take the reports, and 3 to 5 days later, our fraud team comes back and says "it's not fraud, it's a scam, these people willingly participated in a scam". So we don't give them their money back, in fact, usually their accounts end up thousands of dollars in the red, our fraud analysts have declared that these people, they OWE us money. So their direct deposited paychecks? We're going to keep those. Because we're not rich enough, we have to steal these poor people's money.
Maybe it's these things. Maybe they've just tired me out, made me so sick of our social and economic system that every minute of every day I'm on the clock at work I have to make a constant effort not to throw up or just start screaming, into my headset, or just out loud at everyone around me.
Because it's not just the people calling in, the rich ones who got rich in the business of murder and rape and destruction and the poor ones who got sucked into the maw of the slaughterhouse and I'm just one of the people in line with the shears, clipping a little bit of the money they desperately need off as they go down the line. The first ones sicken and infuriate me and the second ones make me want to weep and pound my desk and curl up in a ball. But it's not just them.
It's the people I work with. Management. Upper management, mostly, and the mealy mouthed toadying to all of this, to this entire system. "REMEMBER WHO WE SERVE!" they thunder to us every day. "REMEMBER!" The posters on the walls with all the uniformed men and women who are always posed with adorable children, holding them in their arms or walking hand in hand with them, because it's not exploitative enough I work for a company that services and enables the military machine designed only for evil, no, we have to make sure we exploit children in all our advertising, as well. The constant communications about how important it is that we give our members the best possible service, all the time, when all of us know, all the time, we're just there to be a pleasant voice on the phone, while upper management continues to create and enact policies that screw their customers as much as the law allows.
It's such a horribly toxic work environment to anyone with any kind of conscience, social awareness, and/or capacity for analytical thought. It's a grind, from the instant I log in in the morning to when I finally sign off at night. It's a constant spiritual abrasion.
So this is probably why I have so little tolerance for toxicity on the internet these days, why when I come across some cowardly idiot talking about how the President of the United States of America is a traitor, about how much he hates the First Family, when this idiot is calling someone names, berating them, for saying something supportive about our President, and I go to this idiot's Facebook page and, oh, of course, the fucker has a Confederate flag for a Facebook icon... this is why I go off.
Or maybe I'm just sick of it.
I can't change it. I can't do anything to change it. If the past fifteen months on this job have taught me anything, it's about the awful horrible evil that is money, how it's the key to everything, how everyone wants it and everyone needs it and how our entire society is built around controlling it, keeping it locked down, making certain that only the Right People can get access to very much of it, because God forbid we live in a society where everyone has equal opportunities and is equally affluent and equally comfortable, because then, how will Our Betters be able to look down on us and order us around?
If everyone else has enough, if there are no poor, then who will pick up the wealthy's garbage?
This is what it all comes down to, the rich and the poor. This is what the Confederacy stood for, underneath everything else, it's what the whole American Dream is all about... not just becoming rich ourselves, but making sure that there are enough people around us that aren't rich that there is always someone to pick up our garbage for us, at the lowest wages we can contrive to pay.
It's why we have all the anger, and all the hate, and all the fear. This is what it comes down to... we're angry at those who might take our money, or have more than we do, we hate those who might take our money, or have more than we do, and, of course, we fear them.
We fear them.
Money makes us angry, it makes us hate, it makes us afraid. It keeps us running, all the goddam time.
I can't do anything about it. But it has utterly frayed my patience with stupidity.
The good news is, I believe I will be leaving this job soon, for one where I will, hopefully, just be solving technical problems for people. Not safeguarding their war profits from dirt poor scammers in other countries, not helping to defraud the poor of our country, but, you know, just making people's stuff work when it doesn't.
I think that will be much better for me.
So that's that. I still feel the same way, and will note that in fact, the ascent to power of Donald Trump has in pretty much every way only exacerbated all the social ills and economic disfunctions I was infuriated by in this post. I just don't have to confront them sixty times a day any more.
Which is a relief for me, but I can't help but wonder, just how much longer can we continue to function, as a nation, as a society, as a culture and a people and a civilization, when our laws and all our structures of civility are based on corruption and cruelty and greed?
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