Saturday, September 15, 2007

first stop: call center

"What?!? You’re working in a call center?!?" (Translation: Are you out of your mind?) "Well, it’s your choice…" (Translation: You are indeed out of your mind and you’re making a wrong decision.)

When I verbally announced my plans of working in a call center, I was swarmed with a lot of people – not to wish me luck or pat my back for a wise decision made, but to object and hopefully dissuade me from doing such. Truth of the matter is, it was an expected reaction from people. I mean, I too, was one of those people who’d rank a call center as the last in my list of prospective workplaces. Before, I could have almost sworn that I won’t ever work in a call center. Good thing I didn’t because, well, here I am. In the flesh. Working as a call center agent.

No, I’m not out of my mind (yet). The first few days of training were so fun that I actually looked forward to go to work everyday. Aside from it being a totally new experience for me, I met other people and learned a couple of other stuff. It was like going back to school but this time, it was all about our client and their products. It was all about the right things to say and being able to say it in a matter of seconds. Sounds pretty easy, right? But lately, we’ve been thrown to the dungeon of lions that it got me asking, "What have I gotten into?"

In layman’s terms, we’ve been taking in calls and that means being the target of upset and irate customers who’d do anything and everything to get on your nerves if you can’t give them what they want. Just like everyone else, I thought working in a call center meant an easy job – just taking in calls and answering people’s questions. I wish it was as simple as that. But customer service is not. On top of hitting specific metrics like how good the call was or how we treated the customer (even if the customer is yelling like hell) or if we ever attempted to sell products of the client, we are primarily the middle ground between our client and our customers. To the client, we are the voice of the customers. To the customers, we are the voice of the client. And sometimes, it’s hard to hold both of them on the same ground.

It’s been two months going on three and I’d be a real hypocrite if I say, without batting an eyelash, that I like what I do. That I never attempted to walk away from this job. That I never whined about the high stress levels I had to put up with. Charge me, I’m guilty. To make things worse, people kept on telling me I won’t get anything out of this job but stress and additional pounds and I actually started to believe it. I started to complain. And complained some more when I realized I can’t just walk away from my job because of the contract I signed. Damn contract. I could actually just walk away, you know, but I felt somehow liable for it. Even in my disappointed state, it felt so wrong to do that. So you see, I wedged myself in a very tight situation where the only reasonable option is to stay. I sulked, nagged, and screamed. I cursed my job and I abhorred my callers. Everyday was an agony to the point that I’d lose my appetite just thinking that I have to go back to work again.

I couldn’t remember how or when but it must have been the point where I was just too tired to complain when it dawned on me that I may not have full control of all the circumstances but I do have a choice – no, not a choice between staying and leaving, but a choice on how I’m going to live my life despite the fact that it didn’t take me to where I really wanted to be. A thought occurred to me that perhaps what I needed at this point in my life is a change in perspective. What if I just stop complaining? It’s doing me no good anyway. Besides, I presume it won’t be the first and the last time I’ll get myself into this sticky situation. What if I just look at all these in a different, positive light? Would my life now be any better? That thought lingered on my mind for days for the first time in four years, the saying I’ve long adored, "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul," gave me a new meaning. I may never hold the power to calm the maddening waves in the sea but I can change the way I maneuver my ship so I can still reach my destination safely. In this lifetime, circumstances and our own actions may lead us to places where we don’t want to go but let us consider them part of our journey and instead, turn them into opportunities for learning. Lessons. We can never have too much of them. In every situation and in every circumstance, there will always be little truths and little lessons that we can uncover. It’s just a matter of knowing where and how to find them.

So now, it’s been two months going on three. Yes, I’m still stuck in this job. Despite everything, I still consider myself fortunate. Many people would kill just to have a job. In this country where the jobless greatly outnumber the job opportunities, I’m one lucky dudette. Yes, I’m still stuck in this job but the lessons keep coming. And I’m staying – at least for now. Let’s just say that in the course of my career path, I’m taking my first stop. I’ll never know for sure. It might not be what I wanted but it might be the very thing I needed…

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