Blog - The Party Pooper:

by Kevin
Sun, Sep 19, 2010

The grim realities of life in the real world can frequently be jarring and heartbreaking to a young adult. Such was my experience with my first job after college graduation: the dreaded call center. I could fill up a book with stories that would chill your blood in relation to experiences I had with placating customers who were overcome with wrath, but that’s not what I want to talk about today.

Working telephone customer service is one of the worst possible fates available to an idealistic youth. I found myself confronted by a demographic comprised entirely of people with anger management issues working toward a shared goal: making customer service representatives have emotional breakdowns. I managed to work there for a year, but my personality changed noticeably during that time. For the last couple of months I worked there, I adopted a lifestyle reminiscent of a hermit; I would return home, lock myself in my room, and anesthetize myself with video games until roughly 4 am when I would finally collapse into a dream world populated solely by legions of zombies chasing me and trying to devour me. It wasn’t a great year.

In addition to the purely spiteful people, there were also what I referred to as “the crazies.” These people were occasionally mean, but more often than not just made great stories. One such example was a woman all the representatives referred to as “The Cat Lady.”

It seemed to be a day like any other as I sat at my desk in between calls scribbling on a piece of paper with my pen trying to cover the entire sheet in ink to alleviate boredom. My phone rang; I removed it from the receiver, gave my little spiel, and said, “My name is Kevin, how may I help you today?”

I was greeted in return with a boisterous, “Well, hello Brother Kevin!” She gave me her account number and while she prattled on and on about how one of our books had literally saved her life, I read notes left on her account by my predecessors. All of them seemed to point to the same thing: I had a chatter.

We talked about how she praised God daily for our company saving her, how her husband was the love of her life, and her pride and joy: her pet cat. When she found out I lived in Pennsylvania, she merrily told me her cat was going to be the next mascot for the Pittsburgh Steelers and asked me to say hello to The Steelers for her. I assured her I would next time I saw them. It’s an easy promise to keep; I live four hours away and don’t go to Pittsburgh, therefore the next time I see them will be never.

Over the next several months, I would receive almost weekly calls from the Cat Lady, and I came to enjoy our conversations. They were a welcome break from being screamed at for things that weren’t my fault, and she always had some bizarre thing to say to me. Far and away the most bizarre conversation we had, however, was about Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Guess what I found out about Governor Schwarzenegger!” the Cat Lady said, her voice hushed with a tone of scandal in it. Did I mention she was from California and hated Schwarzenegger?

“What’s that?” I asked. I knew whatever she had to say would be good.

“I found out… he really was in those Terminator movies!”

“Oh. Yes. Yes, he was,” I said. I didn’t really know what else to say.

After I quit the call center, one of my friends that I kept in touch with informed me that the Cat Lady would still ask how Brother Kevin was doing every time she called. I miss hearing whatever wacky ideas she had, but after that one year I just had to get out. It may have given me some great stories, but I completely hated it.