Monday, 13 August 2018

Darcie // Kitchen Assistant

In some cruel irony, I started the job on international workers day, at a recently refurbished and gentrified pub. I had no official contract (that I was given, at least) and spent anywhere between 10 - 30 hours a week scrubbing dishes, making coleslaw and burning burger buns.

My co workers seemed friendly enough and the chef seemed… manageable, until the opening night. The kitchen was closed so I decided to stick around for free food and alcohol, and his wife got chatting with me. Again, she seemed friendly enough, until we got onto the subject of how they met. Working shifts at the county jail. Weighing up the options, I decided that I hate pigs more than I love free drinks and I left.

I’m already a slacker, so this pushed me over the edge; I would use walks to the stock room to text friends, and often times was left alone in the kitchen, where one time I even bought in The Coming Insurrection to reread for dead shifts. I tried to get gossip out of my coworkers, and found out that he was disgustingly sexist (no surprise, all chefs are, in my experience) and refused to engage in conversation with him.

It was a month in before he found out about my girlfriend, after he had tried to banter with a co worker, Jay, cop boss claimed I’d been “up all night shagging men” and Jay pointedly asked about her. It threw him off and he was quiet around me for almost 2 weeks.

Finally, he was ready to discuss the Gay Question, and boy did he go all out. What’s it like to be gay? What was coming out like? Do your family hate you? Why do you need Pride? And my all time favourite: Why do lesbians cut their hair short? (My hair is long, idiot, and butches are wonderful). Obviously, every answer of mine just pushed him further down the rabbit hole of “I’m okay with the gays, but…” and we wound up talking about his views. Apparently homophobia is only in existence in Islamic countries, addiction is not an illness and homeless people have brought it upon themselves. Every argument I had against this shit storm was reputed with “I’ve worked as a cop. I’ve seen things” which I guess if you’re a devout bigot, it's hard to give that up.

Occasionally I would work with the other kitchen assistant, a catering student called Sadie, and we would spend our shifts discussing him. I found out that he’d been planning to fire me, and a number of other employees from the beginning as he didn’t like us. The main problem being that he wasn’t the actual boss, just an entitled prick. This conversation was ratted out by one of the bar staff (that he’d tried to fire) and I guess that made him angry too.

Jay was eventually fired because he took too many holidays, and a week later it was my turn. Apparently dawdling and using my phone during down time isn’t productive. They explained it to me as this, making sure to clarify many, many times that it wasn’t due to who I was as a person (/a Gay) and just because cop boss “didn’t want to shout” at me, and I was escorted off-premises. A week later when they wanted my uniform back I handed it in at the bar, but one of the staff mentioned cop boss was outside with his family, so I decided I wasn’t going to leave in shame.

Practically all the bar staff were lazing in the garden, the place is so rarely occupied (which is what you get for trying to gentrify a working class area and adding £2 to the price of a beer). Every one of them smiled and said nice things to me, until I got to cop boss. He was balancing desserts for him and his kids on his arms, and asked for my assistance, and I deliberately misheard at least 3 times before helping him, giving him my uniform, and leaving. I’ve never felt more powerful after walking out of a job knowing the rest of the staff know what a dickhead he is.

It’s been 2 months and they still haven’t sent me payslips or the P45 I’m due.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Rebecca // Cashier

I forgot to ring things up all the time. Actually, I didn’t forget, I remembered very closely, when I saw the women come in with their WIC (Women, infants and children) cards looking ashamed with their soda bottles as well as their cereal I smiled widely at them. Good choice. I slipped product behind other product and their smiles glimmered at their smallish final total. They were always the kindest to me. No doubt they were the ones behind the register someplace else tomorrow. These are the people easier to sympathize with. Even my parents might agree I was being a Robin Hood type.

But I also let others take for no reason. I chose not to scan things for people who seemed nice –– when you’re a cashier, that already makes your pool much smaller, so I doubt I was doing this as often as you might think. One day a couple of early-twenties people walked in. Everyone went on high alert. I was truly oblivious; I was new and hadn’t seen these people before. They were dressed as though they printed zines and listened to folk-punk. You know. They went into the makeup aisle and then to the cheapo jewelry. At least five employees hovered around the area.

They came up to my register when they were cashing out. They had a bunch of nail polish, mascara, some rings, etcetera. They rummaged in their bags as I scanned the stuff. They were some of the friendliest, most chill customers I had that week. Several employees checked over my hunched shoulders as I scanned. When the two were leaving, they grinned and said “bye, honey” to me (I’m very short, so they probably thought I was 16 and at my first job when I was actually an adult). I was swarmed by others, including my supervisor. They asked, “did they steal? Did you see anything?” I could say honestly I wasn’t paying attention. But I vowed from then on to choose not to pay attention to anyone at my register. I’m here eight hours a day on my feet with one break, two if I’m lucky. Who gives a shit?

I’m not just Robin Hood, although I think those who are are noble. I’m an anarchist and I don’t understand how or why people give half a shit about stealing from big companies like the one I worked for. The employees themselves, not even the management, seemed to get personally distressed at the notion of stealing –– it wasn’t coming out of our wages, which the bosses were stealing anyway, so I failed to “get” why they cared. But they did. And I didn’t, and maybe I wasn’t the only one but I needed to survive so I didn’t mention anything about it. I pretended to care in front of them and otherwise let as much product slip through the cracks as I could. If I still worked there I’d do it all again.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Jake // Kitchen Assistant

From when I was fourteen until I was eighteen, I worked in a small café in my hometown, as a kitchen assistant serving lunches and stacking the dishwasher. The place was called “Café Espresso”—which I suppose is the same as calling it “Café Coffee”, or even “Coffee Coffee” if you really boil it down—and it was owned by a man called Phil. Phil was in his forties, had a mop of blond hair and wore sandals. He was an ex-hippy, this being the South West of England, home of Glastonbury and other such mediocre remnants of the British counterculture (Phil very much included). He was a perfectly nice guy basically, but that made him all the worse as a boss. One minute he’d be droning on about his acid flashbacks, or the origin of his coffee beans, and the next he’d be flipping out at you for having your hands in your pockets during a busy Saturday lunch crush (when you were only indulging in the kind of lackadaisical approach that he claimed to want to cultivate in his little establishment). And then he would dutifully apologize for having lost his cool, and you’d have to accept his apology, since how could you not?

I never did too much to annoy Phil, except take advantage of his basic decency. I always showed up on time. The only thing I really did was I resolutely refused to improve as a worker. He always wanted me to learn to carry three plates, one balanced on the wrist, the other two in your hands, like every competent waiter can do. Since the café was over three floors of a tall thin building—the kitchen in the basement and most of the tables on the top floor—there wasn’t much room for error up and down those windy staircases. But I never learned, and nor did I honestly try. Mainly I was scared to try. The one time I did make an earnest attempt, bread went cascading down the stairs behind me, and I slopped soup everywhere. Phil left me alone about it after that.

The other thing Phil insisted was that I learn customers’ names. He prided himself on the community feel of the place. So the checks would come down to the kitchen, and sometimes instead of saying “table three”, or “outside”, it would say “Susan and John” or something. I would usually know who these people were, but I would always insist on having Phil point them out to me, just to embarrass him, and to make it clear I wasn’t there to learn names, only to deliver the food. “You don’t know Susan? She comes here all the time.” “Yeah sorry Phil, I only work here Saturdays. what does she look like?” And repeat.

I held nothing much against the guy, but he always seemed to have enough money (I suspected inheritance) so I never felt too bad taking advantage of his basic decency. He’s the template for nearly every boss I’ve ever had, infuriating in their exterior of tolerance and easy-goingness, when really they know what you’re there for, and so do you, and your respective interpretations of the employment relationship don’t really reconcile themselves.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Cien // Grocery Clerk

I joined the military out of desperation when I was only 17. I had left as soon as I legally could, but I soon found myself jaded after being used by the rich at the expense of millions of other poor people in countries which the United States terrorized. I soon found myself in civilian life in the same position. Doing backbreaking labor in exchange for starvation wages.

One of my first jobs after the military was at a grocery store. The waste there was sickening to me. I could barely pay my rent, fill my fridge, or afford the booze or weed I was using to self-medicate. We would throw out loads of fruit, vegetables, bread, and cans of food. So I started stealing from work. I soon found that, although I was still suffering under suffocating poverty; my friends and I had full fridges. Shortly afterward I met friends who described me the exploitative nature of the capitalists and their lackeys and I've never looked back. Every job I get I always look for ways to throw a wrench in their machine. We can only be free when we fight back! Keep monkey-wrenching!



Thursday, 21 September 2017

Charlie // Research Administrator

I worked for three years in the research department of a university hospital. I’m not quite sure how I managed to do it for that long. It was such a silly, unimpressive and soul destroying job.

Perhaps I go too far, my colleagues were lovely, encouraging the stuff I was doing outside work, and I always had a couple of people there who I could have long chats with. Nor was it like I was working for the man.

I was in a team of three and I was basically an indulgence on the part of my two managers (yep, two). They had a large budget surplus which they had to plough it back into the department, and they probably did need to lighten their workload a little bit. Not a lot, mind you, on a normal week I reckon my full time job required no more than a day’s worth of meaningful work.

Since it was a pretty sweet deal and the money was going to have to go somewhere, I wasn’t about to pipe up and let them know how little work I had to do. At least not right away (I eventually went down to two and a half days and started studying during the other half of the week). But in that first year I began a slow yet very sure descent into killing time most of the time, culminating in a number of fairly elaborate schemes.

In terms of time wasting, the toilet was my basic go to... my meat and drink. I’d spend at least three 15 minute units in the toilet each day. And to avoid suspicion I would go to a toilet outside the office. I had a few choice excuses for why I’d be gone so long: something about the office toilet being occupied; or detecting a faint smell of shit; or needing to stretch my legs; or just going while I was running an errand elsewhere in the building.

While I was there I would read. I didn’t have a smart phone at first so I would usually just print out some articles, fold them up to fit in my pocket and slip out discretely. I think more than anything, people just didn’t notice I was gone, I kept a pretty low profile and my managers were often out.

Similar to this, I would also go on quite long walks around the building, timed to correspond with the mid-point of my managers lunch breaks, so neither of them knew how long I’d been away. The main trick was to manage my pace so I always looked like I was going somewhere with purpose.

Both these would also occasionally raise questions from my manager. So eventually I found it easier to look busy when returning to the room, walking fast through the door, right to my computer, sitting down and typing anything in whatever document I had up, that way it looked like I‘d been thinking about the work the whole time I’d been away and wanted to get back on, because I’d really cracked it. Then I would shortly get up again before he could ask.

I also became very good at stretching out trips to the kitchen, which was in the same room. I would just recline at the sink for a while after the kettle was boiled, maybe look in the fridge, see what people had brought in for the day, and then let myself get sidetracked going back to the computer for something. This would take up another solid 15 minutes, at least.

There were also the obvious tricks like cutting and pasting articles into word so it looked like I was working on a document, and likewise maybe catching up on my correspondence by e-mailing things between my work and personal e-mail.

Another good time killer was the CD burning I was sometimes asked to do. This involved going to another office to burn data on a disk after it was requested by someone in another department. Usually, I would also take the opportunity to catch a nap, especially (though not exclusively) when the office wasn’t being used by anyone else. No one would guess if they came in because I’d be sat facing away from the door. After a while I had exclusive contact with the people who were requesting the data and there was a lot of flexibility to over-emphasise how many requests had been made and how big the request was. Sometimes I’d be in the CD burning room for hours.

Considering things like the CD burning, it quickly became clear that the key to killing time was to remove as many tasks as possible from any kind of oversight. Eventually, the most effective way to do this was to initiate a few massive projects that had an indefinite timescale.

In pursuit of this, I would alway jump at the chance to do any big admin work for an overburdened researcher or doctor based elsewhere in the building, or off site. Going in to see them would eat up a nice solid half day chunk, often involving a nice stroll through various parts of West London and a long lunch somewhere. And of course, there was no contact between the researcher and my managers besides being the occasional expression of satisfaction at the work I was doing (as easy as it was).

Of all the massive projects, though, my greatest achievement was the database.

The database was, in my manager’s words, “a thing of beauty”. But not for the reasons he gave, which were that I had made it look fancy through Excel formatting and some basic formulas, the kind of thing most admin people over 40 find wildly impressive.

No, the database was truly a thing of beauty because my managers had no idea how long it took me to maintain (usually hardly any time at all, at least to include the actual information needed to make the database useful to them).

To be specific, the database was an excel spreadsheet containing various information of all the studies we had ongoing. It did take a bit of time to create in the beginning, but once I’d put all the current studies into the database, the basic structure of the spreadsheet made it very easy to input any new studies that came along.

The great thing was, my managers never looked at the database. They didn’t know how to use it. Instead, they would just ask me for information from it, and had no idea how empty it was. By the end of my three years I had such a precise handle on the information they actually required that I think it took me a couple of hours to maintain a month, and this was something that seemed to be taking up about half of my time.

The database was always there If I ran out of other made up tasks. I could always say “just working on the database today.” No more questions.

More than that, such a thing of beauty gave me the ideal excuse to actually make meaningful use of the time I was killing. At first there was no plausible reason I could give for why I would be typing away at something for so long. But with the database, I could justify typing to my heart’s content, since they didn’t know what information I could be inserting: maybe a transcription of a .pdf, or an explanatory document. So, I started editing for a magazine and writing my own stuff for them, and I really got into writing correspondence, and started to get reasonably good at it. In fact, I honestly think that the database deserves a good deal of credit for getting me out of the job and onto writing for a living.

Underlying all this goofing off is the fact that I was working with people who had very little concept of how long admin takes for a person who grew up with computers. Most of the authority figures were on average 45 years old, maybe more. Their skills were interpersonal, to do with time management, presentability and sociability, or, in the case of the academic staff, their skills didn’t really have much connection to the nitty gritty of administration at all. I was impressive because I knew Microsoft Office. Word and Excel were a piece of piss for me. I was the Office Wizard. People would seek me out for assistance. It was so dumb.

This disparity, which we should all always gladly exploit, is surely an aberration. I can only imagine such a sweet spot lasting another decade tops. Future generations are probably going to have to be much more elaborate than I ever was. But long may it last!


Monday, 18 September 2017

Jenny // Museum Shop Assistant

Every hour, hundreds of frenzied customers squeezed through the entrance to the cramped museum shop like a lanced boil. They queued to fondle the £300 key rings locked in the display cabinet. I egged them on, it looked fabulous with the Hermes bag (it didn’t), and one swipe of their Amex Platinum a part of this momentous exhibition could be theirs. I waded through the scrum to hang up delicate feather necklaces, immediately destroyed by grabby manicured hands. I’d place them back on the stand, knowing that in minutes they would be on the floor again.

This was nothing new, just the typical grievances of working in customer service. Due perhaps to age and naivety, I was proud I got to be part of this blockbuster exhibition, much grander and more important than I was—and get paid less than London Living Wage for the privilege. One day a man vomited near the exhibition exit. Hey, I thought, stood astride the pile of sick, cheerily guiding customers around it, at least I’m working near the art!

Shift patterns were nightmarish, one colleague regularly worked ten days in a row without a break. People got sick, with the stress of it all I broke out in eczema all over my face, a typical symptom when I’m having a very bad time.  Shop assistants limped around the floor; braces strapped to various limbs, as the strain of lugging piles of chic grey coffee table books, like slabs of concrete, caused sustained injuries. We took it in turns to stand in the dark corridor, away from the monotony, the overpriced tat, the heat, the fluorescent lighting, and the Schindler’s List theme played on the hour, every hour. I used it to breathe, slap my eczema and maybe have a quick cry.

The worst were the abrupt announcements of private events (organised for auction houses or credit card companies, usually), entirely pointless as the attendees received gift bags and never bought anything. Regularly at 4pm I’d find out my shift had turned from 9 hours to 13, and I was expected to work without complaint, without additional remuneration.

We knew the museum was raking in the big bucks on the shop earnings alone and this was unfair. Our contract stated that any hours worked outside normal opening times would be paid time and a half. A braver soul than I posed this question to our manager, who then spoke to the retail manager, a tightly wound corporate schoolmarm called Mimi. Mimi was not a popular figurehead, having refused prior requests to raise our wages to London Living Wage, in line with other museums.

Mimi spoke to the museum directors about the salary issue, and reported back that late nights were part of the expected hours of the exhibition run and we would be paid the usual rate. So far the exhibition had earned 2.7 million pounds—to pay four shop assistants time-and-a-half for the night shift cost less than one of the limited edition scarves.

Near the end, there was a big press release announcing the record-breaking success of the exhibition, and to celebrate the exhibition would run overnight for the last two weekends. This was announced to us by Mimi, who read from a prepared piece of paper, that each of us was required to work at least one overnight shift. We were to receive no extra pay.

The rebellion began with hushed gatherings near the t-shirts, where it was quietest. We bought overpriced warm Shiraz and plotted our revenge in the park. Adelia—a Parisian with an inborn aptitude for protest—put the groundwork in and wrote the letter, signed from all twenty of us. No one would be singled out. We’d post this in the form of an online petition. If our demands were refused, we would stage a walk out, escalating to strike action if things got really bad.

Adelia posted it on the Friday and we shared everywhere, hitting about 60 signatures in the first night. It was tricky as our contract stated we could not damage the image of the museum or of the exhibition brand, so there was no way we could use their images.  But we needed something to grab everyone’s attention.

On Saturday, hungover and angry, I had a silly brainwave. We couldn’t use the image, but I could myself look like the poster. I grabbed my weapons— a chalky red lipstick and an accidental purchase of Porcelain foundation, the type that suits no-one. This was the result:


We amassed about 150 signatures by the end of the weekend. On Monday Adelia was absent from the shop floor, summoned for questioning by Mimi, frothing and rabid, determined to find a head to mount on a spike.

I was interviewed first by HR, completely shitting it obviously. A nice blonde lady asked me some bog-standard questions and another nice blonde lady silently transcribed, all of our Facebook profiles place in a neat pile between us. I answered her questions dutifully, sticking to our story, and returned to Schindler’s List and feather necklaces.

Although our demands for extra pay were ignored, the overnight shifts were downgraded from mandatory to optional. Rather conveniently we all received a small bonus to thank us for such a marvellous job. No one received punishment as everyone interviewed stated that we wrote the letter and planned the petition together. As a result, we all received an “unofficial warning,” which basically means shit all, as it didn’t go on our employee record. Mimi left shortly after that to a smaller museum in the Home Counties. You can find her presentation about offering employees other incentives in place of pay rises online. To be fair, during the overnight shifts she did provide us with several bags of sweets, so she isn’t a complete cunt.

Months later, my crusty eczema a distant memory, I saw one of my ex-colleagues had updated her Facebook profile. A full wine glass in hand, her fingers glittering with numerous rings, her shoulders draped in one of the limited edition scarves. I know for a fact there’s no fucking way she’d paid for it.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Matt // Teacher

My wife and I are teachers and sometimes the marking can be another job in itself. This comic is about all the work my wife, Emma, does to avoid her school work. 


Matt Smith is a cartoonist, teacher and filmmaker. See more of Matt's work on his websiteInstagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr!



Monday, 11 September 2017

Jason // Paralegal

In my desperate pursuit of a mother-approved training contract, I threw my frantic body onto the teetering pile of wannabe trainees scrambling to secure a paralegal position at a City law firm. Get plucked out of this writhing pyramid of the hopefully hopeless and you may just bolster your CV enough to appease the HR gatekeepers of the training contract application process.

Week after week I sent my increasingly hyperbolic CV into the ether, only to have it immolated on the ‘MINIMUM 6 MONTHS PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE’ pyre.

Until…

I got 2 weeks. 2 weeks at a pinstripe suits and braces and testosterone law firm.

And I was putting letters into envelopes.

And put them in I did.

Over and over.

For 2 weeks.

Which turned into a month.

Which turned into 2, 3 months.

Other paralegals and lawyers would come and go, my role increasing as the project grew.

But soon I was the only paralegal/vaguely ‘legal’ employee left.

The project was a jumble of logistical and admin tasks: get info, put info into set of forms and tables, send letters, and create bundles proving all these tasks had been completed. My hours and the mound of documents on my desk were growing in sickening synchronicity. After 4 months, however, the project had concluded with the delivery of all the folders, files, and bundles to the applicable tribunal, glanced at once then never to be seen or thought of again.

However, my role had become suddenly vital as the project was to be repeated for a different set of data and not a single other person in the creaking legal behemoth understood how the disparate parts of the project came together. There was a problem though, the first run at the project had actually made a loss for the firm as they had charged a set fee for its completion rather than bill per hour of work. The department head looked to me for efficiencies and my various suggestions were to be incorporated into the process. An important change in management structure also occurred at this point: I was to be supervised by just one lawyer and they would be permanently working from home, leaving me with no at-office oversight. As I was introduced to them over the phone they asked whether another paralegal was needed to assist me (the project was to be repeated many more times). I, of course, made sure an extra pair of hands came on board my soon-to-be very leisurely cruise ship. In complete control of the project’s administrative elements, I cut down the time it took to finish the project from 4 months to 5 weeks. I automated various steps, combined sprawling documents, reduced pointless spot checks, but not once did I stay in the office past 4.30pm.

The project was so efficient that it wouldn’t have taken up enough time in a single person’s work day, and as only myself and the other paralegal knew this we carried on for over a year. Out of every 5 weeks there was no more than 2 weeks of actual work involved, most of the time was spent waiting for responses from third parties. I would work from home (i.e. be logged into the system) for 3 days out of 5, meaning that, essentially, I had 4-day weekends. I had even redirected my work phone to my mobile just in case my supervisor decided to give me a rare call. Despite all this, on my last day at the firm, the head of the department vowed to give me the finest of references, while HR informed me that I had 6 days of unclaimed holiday and therefore would be paid in lieu.

I walked out of there like I had just pulled off the heist of the century, but in reality my time at the firm had left me with a sense of dread at the nature of work in our prevailing system; the bureaucratic inefficiencies perceived to be inherent in socialist systems were clearly prevalent in ours on a grand scale. ‘Capitalist efficiency’ appeared to actually be deep inefficiency, but monetised.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Ian // Development Assistant (Part 2)

The long awaited sequel to Ian's account of "fucking it real bad" at an unnamed Oxbridge college: read Part 1 here.  

After the call from the Master, I thought it would be prudent to email my boss explaining what had happened. It was, honestly, a really good message, in which I balanced the requisite level of contrition and shame for my failures with a decent amount of explanation and mitigation. There was also a general sense of hope for the future, one that was misplaced, because the following evening I received this email:

"Dear Ian,

I have just read your message and the message left for me by the Master as well about this issue.  I have been in a place where I have been unable to obtain Internet, so I am a bit delayed in my reply.

I am SHOCKED and APPALLED at the magnitude of this failure.  This is a disturbing situation on numerous levels.  The personal embarrassment I feel is immense.  The Office's credibility is severely damaged and my oversight comes into serious question (and not without good reason).

The carelessness and lack of professional respect afforded the Master and the Dean, let alone the graduands themselves, is truly shocking to me.

We will need to discuss all of this upon your return.  For now, I will address things with the Master.

This is a disappointing circumstance and I blame MYSELF for my lack of managerial oversight and attention.

Regards"

Even at the time, I struggled to take seriously the melodramatic capitalisations and onanistic self-flagellation. The Master's call was completely amicable by comparison. When I finally returned to work (all of this correspondence happened on my week off, remember...), I had to sit in my boss's office while he explained to me that I messed up not due to good, old-fashioned carelessness, but because of my very deeply seated moral failings. The meeting lasted an hour, and each time I attempted to protest he just raised a single finger in my face to indicate that this was, in face, a monologue (and one that I suspect he had fully prepared). He literally showed me the door, and gave me the option to stop working there, or to demonstrably improve very quickly.

A large part of me really wanted to just leave right then, but I had rent to pay, and doing so would've left colleagues who I liked up shit creek, so I didn't. I stayed employed for a further six months by a man who told me, with not a hint of irony, that I'd "taken everybody in the office for a joyride, but now the car has crashed."

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

François // Customer Sales Agent

I started to work more on weekends. I kind of liked it, since there were no bosses around. It was not necessarily more relaxed, but at least I could grab a cup of coffee or go to the toilets without killing my precious ‘personal break’ time. Since nobody wanted to work on weekends, the call center was usually working on lower capacity, with fewer employees and less noise disturbances. I could use these shifts as a playground for testing strategies for boosting my metrics.

The first experiment I applied was to become the best agent, for real. For this, I had copied and pasted comments from the most predictable outcome of a call (not available, left a message) while frantically clicking on ‘next call’ the second the previous call ended. It felt like a race to clear the most calls possible, with a kind of a gambling vibe. The discussion had to end after all the forms were filled, which let me simply click on next call clickclickclickclick! I think I applied this strategy for two days. Then I asked my supervisor to have a look at our stats, which with (or without) surprise proved me to be first… But playing this strategy implied no break times in-between calls, which proved super exhausting on the longer term. It could be sustained by drinking more coffee, but then the anxiety level is being pushed up and I was scared my mind would just evaporate off my body. Because of this, I decided that it was not a proper way to go on with this working method and decided to move my investigation towards other tactics.

Behaving as this ideal model of ‘do your best, push it to the limits’ exhausted me. Now, my thoughts were about how to look like the best, statistically speaking, while on the other end preventing myself of being in constant anxiogenic conditions. In order to do so, I applied a few tricks some of my colleagues figured. As an example, we knew that we could use certain unattributed phone numbers that, instead of recording ‘call waiting’ time, would record ‘in call’ time. By overriding automatic dialing and dialing manually a bunch of hand-written unattributed phone numbers, we could boost our ‘in call time’. By shuffling between these numbers and real ones, we could control our metrics. Ringing for five minutes one of these numbers, in a way, was like having a five minutes break since we knew nothing was to happen during these five minutes. By clicking on ‘next call’ while systematically hanging up and putting in the comment that nobody was over the line, we could clear 25 calls in 5 minutes, then ring a few ‘in-call’ giving numbers, and then repeat the process in a loop. We were assured to have good looking statistics while clearing a high amount of call with a low ‘unavailable time’ value. All this without actually handling calls.