devi42 (devi42) wrote in bookish,

Company in the trenches

When I was twenty-one, I took a job in a call centre. In a dingy gray room, I answered customer service calls for one of the country’s largest cell phone carriers. It wasn’t the worst job I had ever had, but it was the most stressful. People rarely call customer service to tell you how much they like their cell phone package.

Two things – or, rather, people – saved me: Frank Herbert and Douglas Adams.

My first day on the phones did not go well. Several customers, annoyed with my fumbling pace, threatened to cancel their service and had to be transferred to customer retention. Some people yelled, some people complained, and almost all were unhappy. At the end of the day, I didn’t know if I could set foot in that dingy room again.

Remember the “Litany”, my friend chided me, that night, over MSN. Put them on hold and recite it, if you have to.

The “Litany” he was referring to was from Dune. Though I had never read the novel, he had given me the excerpt in attempt to calm my nerves one stressful semester. It had worked. “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration…” Well, you get the idea. Repeating it is rather soothing. I typed it out. On impulse, I added a Douglas Adams quote: ”Ford grabbed him by the lapels of his dressing gown and spoke to him as slowly and distinctly and patiently as if he were somebody from a telephone company accounts department."

The next day, I showed up to work with a printout and a thumbtack. That day – and every day that followed – no mater what cubicle I fetched up in, those two quotes were tacked to the wall. When someone yelled or I couldn’t find an account, I would look over at the quotes and feel better.

The Herbert calmed me and the Adams made me smile. Strange as it might sound, those two men helped me make it through six months of guerrilla customer service.

* incidentally, while in search of the Douglas Adams quote, I stumbled across this page which totally rocked my socks.

Tags: genre: science fiction, xxx author last name: a-h

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