Telemarketers…do them a small favour, would you?

Hark, be that the telephonic apparatus?

At some point your phone will ring, and a complete stranger will ask you for money. Perhaps it will be for starving children in Sri Lanka, or a new phone plan from Teleripoff, or life insurance. At this point you can either tell him yes, no, or f*** off. If you say yes, you will make him happy. If you say no, you will make him sad. But oddly enough, if you tell him to f*** off, you will also make him happy. The reason is simple: you will save his time.

You see, telemarketing is a job so awful we don’t even force murderers to do it. It has the highest employee turnover of any job in the world, bar none. Deep sea fishermen on the North Sea, getting their arms torn off, or being torn limb from limb by giant squid? Ice road truckers, falling into gorges and landing uncomfortably at the bottom, with a severe headache from the ninety five tons of road train that fell on their cranium? Frontline soldiers in the middle east? None of this compares to the horror of being a telemarketer. You have more chance of making it through the SAS training course than succeeding as a telemarketer. And that’s not an exaggeration.

There are several reasons for this. Every telemarketer this side of the planet Neptune must fight to keep their job- every single day- by achieving a thing called a KPI, a Key Performance Indicator. This is a fantasy figure dreamed up by Senior Management, which represents the highest number of sales ever achieved, multiplied by a thousand.

Soldiers have a drill sergeant. Telemarketers have Hitler, Goebbels and Irwin Rommel stomping about he room, in gumboots and greatcoats, bayoneting staff at random. Telemarketers must crawl about the floor of the phone room to get to their seats, as the carpet is too slick with blood and intestines to walk upright. But this is fine, since the people who run telemarketing companies have not yet reached the stage of evolution where they can walk upright either.

As if the bayoneting and daily dismemberment is not enough, staff are verbally fed nonsense all day long. This is called, “Positive Thinking,” and it claims that you can achieve anything, even fly, change your own gender or even change species, if you just try hard enough. So all telemarketers are told, on a daily basis, that they must sell a trillion units each today, or else lose their jobs. The fact that the average staff member has only sold one unit a day since the company began fifteen years ago is meaningless. If you can’t do it, you’re not trying hard enough. The denial of reality is staggering.

In order to achieve any sales at all, a telemarketer has to call as many people as possible. But this is tough, because not enough people are humane enough to tell him to fuck off. They’re too cruel to put him out of his misery quickly, opting to say “no,” instead, and then proceed to torture him for ten minutes.

You see, he may inadvertently telephone Beryl from Lake Macquarie, who knows in the first instant that she cannot afford to sponsor Samerawit Tesfaye of Ethiopia, who is so impoverished he has had to eat his own feet, as well as twenty-five feet of barbed wire. But she’s not about to let on to Brian in the call centre, because the last time she had someone to talk to, Winston Churchill was inspiring the world with speeches. She’s determined to keep him on the phone until the universe ceases expanding, and collapses completely back into what some scientists call The Big Crunch, which they claim is the end of everything, in fifty trillion years time. But it won’t be the end of everything, because afterwards there will still be Beryl’s voice, telling Brian’s decaying corpse about the relief her new haemorrhoids cream affords her, her hopes that her son Cyril will find a nice girl and settle down instead of flouncing around with those boys from the theatre, and the miraculous new flea shampoo she has been using on Fifi…

But there is worse to come for Brian the Telemarketer, for no sooner has he convinced Beryl that her chicken coop is on fire and she must put the phone down and investigate immediately, than he’ll get Mervyn from Edgecliffe. Mervyn’s a middle manager at XYZ Telco, with permed hair, teeth brighter than a supernova, and more narcissism than Kyle Sandilands, and he knows that everyone who has ever lived except himself is an idiot and a fool, and he’s going to tell Brian not only all the ways he’s doing his job wrong, but everything the government, business, the police, and God are doing wrong, and how to fix it. But he won’t stop there, because even though he’s never been on an oil rig or never launched a satellite, that’s not going to prevent him from dispensing his advice on how oil rigs should be run and how the satellite system could be improved. But this is only in the second hour, because in the first hour he’ll grill Brian relentlessly on his full name, DOB, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and what type of fossiliferous shale his first home was built upon. He will ridicule all of these, and explain to Brian what sort of geological formation he should have been born upon, and how it is Brian’s fault exclusively that he wasn’t. Brian’s ears will have evolved sufficiently to detach themselves from his skull and run away at least as far as Malta by then, but Brian’s poor old skeleton and liver and oesophagus will still be caught in the tides of shoulds and ought-to-bes flowing out of Merv’s mouth like acid.

But don’t think that’s all, because that’s just the first two calls, and Brian has to make another 348 today, and do the same again tomorrow.

So if you do receive a call from the hapless Brian, you could give him the shock of his life by saying yes. But since you’re unlikely to do this, it’s best to make him happy by telling him to fuck off.

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