Authors: Lisa Lim
She hesitated for a second, then asked, “Can I speak candidly?”
“The work sucks and the pay sucks. I have student loans up the ying yang, a car loan, rent . . . I’m living from paycheck to paycheck, just barely surviving. And I want to thrive, Kars, not just survive.”
“Well, what if I told you that you could thrive here.” I paused dramatically for effect. “In this call center.”
“Here?” Jenn fixed me with a deeply skeptical eye.
“Listen,” I said, “I know twelve dollars an hour isn’t much but what if I told you that you could be making over a hundred thousand dollars per year.”
“Really?” Jenn’s eyes were sparkling with vitality under the fluorescent lighting. “A hundred thousand dollars?”
“Yep, you got that right.”
“A hundred thousand dollars?” she repeated.
“A hundred thousand dollars,” I confirmed.
“A hundred thousand dollars?” she asked once more.
“YES!” I exclaimed, my patience fraying. “Which part of a hundred thousand dollars don’t you understand?”
Jenn sank back against the chair and began to brighten like a flower given water. With exaggerated courtesy, she said, “Go
Tell me how I can make that kind of money.”
“By embracing sales,” I said simply.
Jenn’s shoulders immediately stiffened. “But I’m not good at sales.”
“Then you learn to be good at it. And I can help you. Now tell me, why aren’t you pitching any products?”
“Fear, I guess . . .” Jenn gave a short shrug. “Fear of rejection.”
“Do you know that all the super stars on the sales team fail half the time? In selling, rejection, as they say, comes with the territory. And rejection is rarely ever personal so try not to take it personally.”
“Yeah.” Jenn laughed harshly. “But knowing that does not make it any easier to take. I hate to fail.”
“It’s OK to fail, Jenn. Failure is inevitable. If you care enough about success, you’re going to have to try, fail, and correct your mistakes.”
“So . . .” There was a pause until she added, “How do you propose I get better at selling?”
“Well, it helps if you know our products and services. Educate yourself on every facet of it. Make it the bane of your existence.”
“All right.” Jenn nodded thoughtfully. “I guess I can work on that.”
“And build rapport with your callers; learn something personal about them. Find out what they want to buy. It’s so much easier to sell someone what they want to buy than it is to convince them to buy what you are selling.”
“Mmmmm.” Jenn seemed to be considering this for a bit.
“Most importantly,” I carried on, “be a good listener. Take your cues from the callers.”
“By asking the right questions.”
“I don’t know . . .” Jenn trailed off unsteadily. “I don’t think I know how to sell.”
“You do know,” I said, putting conviction into my voice. “Most of us are born salesmen. Take me for example. At school, I sold my peers on accepting me. At home, I sold my mom a ton of bullcrap.”
Jenn started giggling. “What sort of bullcrap?”
“When I was sixteen, I convinced my mom that I couldn’t survive without a car.”
“I tried that.” Jenn smirked. “Didn’t work for me.”
“Well,” I pressed, “did you ever convince your parents to let you stay out late at night?”
“All the time.”
“See!” I said with a satisfied air. “You were selling back then and you still do it today. Every day. You already employ the aspects of selling: the powers of persuasion, the art of negotiation, and the definitive teenager’s tactic—to never ever take no for an answer.”
“Hmmm.” Jenn tilted her head to one side. “I guess I did sort of get what I want . . . most of the time.”
“So there!” I gave her a sunny smile. “I know you still have it in you.”
“All right,” said Jenn at last. “I’ll give this job another shot.”
“Good. Let’s see how you do and if your stats improve, I might be able to get you on the Sales Team.”
“So I can make a hundred thousand dollars per year?” There was a determined glint in her eye.
“Damn straight!” I enthused.
After that little pep talk , I caught a little pep in Jenn’s step as she strode off. Feeling marginally better, I returned to my computer and tried to get some work done. No easy feat. Barely two seconds later, my concentration was temporarily waylaid by Shoshanna Hunter. She wafted past my desk, smelling like a flower.
“Hold up.” I halted her. “Why are you late Miss Hunter?”
“I’m late?” Her perfect eyebrows arched in a question.
“Sure are.” I checked my watch. “Thirty minutes.”
“Well, my new shampoo instructions said to lather, rinse and repeat. So um, I did. I lathered and rinsed, and lathered and rinsed until I was completely out of shampoo.” She carelessly tossed her hair over one shoulder. “The problem with society these days is people just aren’t willing to commit to the long haul. And you know what? I’m committed!”
I could not think of a single solitary thing to say to her. Clearly, she wasn’t brimming over in the brains department.
In the pause that followed, Shoshanna stared at me with those puppy eyes and turned her head a little to the side, smiling at me beguilingly, expecting instant forgiveness.
She seriously needed to dial back her neediness.
While her antics must turn most men into mush, it left me completely unmoved. Shoshanna seemed to assume that everyone was going to be captivated by her beauty. And she seemed to think that she could use her good looks to get away with the sort of behavior not allowed to us less favored mortals.
All her lame excuses might have worked with her prior male supervisors, but it certainly wasn’t working with me.
I was so tempted to throw my monitor at her stupid head. When I finally found my voice, I said, “I’m sorry, Shoshanna, but I’m going to have to write you up. Don’t forget, three strikes and you’re out.”
“What?” Her puppy eyes turned into poison darts. “You’re going to write me up for being committed?”
“Nope.” I kept my tone neutral. “I’m going to write you up for being late
for being a complete idiot.”
“How dare you call me an idiot,” she bristled crossly. “I’m reporting you to HR!” With that, she stormed off in a huff, flicking her hair this way and that as if her life depended on it.
I stood perfectly still, staring at her retreating back.
With all that incessant hair flipping, her head might just snap off.
Which wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing.
I sighed and battled with my conscience over my malevolent thoughts, but it was only a brief tussle.
I sighed again. Who said being a boss was easy? It made me feel suddenly despondent. Then I remembered
was on tonight and cheered right up.
It was Friday, which was my Monday since Wednesdays and Thursdays are my days off. I should write a song titled My Weekend Starts on Wednesday, and the chorus would go like this:
Last Tuesday night! T.G.I.T! T.G.I.T!
Really. I was so tempted to shoot the next person who yelled, “T.G.I.F!”
“Good morning,” I greeted Carter in the hallway with a marked lack of enthusiasm.
“Morning,” he replied with equal warmth.
I walked to my cubicle and set my steaming hot coffee on my desk, humming “TGIT! TGIT!” fiercely to myself. At some point, I stopped humming when I felt someone’s eyes boring into the back of my neck. I threw a glance over my shoulder and was surprised to find Carter standing right behind me.
“What do you want, Carter?” I asked impatiently. “I am very busy and can’t waste time in idle chatter.”
The sound of inelegant snorting wafted over from the direction of Truong’s cubicle.
Carter spoke briskly, “Will you please see me in my office in fifteen minutes?”
I thought as apprehension filled my chest. It’s never good news when your boss wants to see you first thing in the morning.
I gave a silent salute. “
Ja wohl, mein Führer
“What?” Carter shot me a savage look.
“Nothing.” I gave him my practiced machete smile. “I’ll be there. But first,” I added complacently, “I’ll have to attend to the backlog of issues awaiting my attention.”
“All right,” he said, studying me with a glint of amusement. “Come see me in an hour then.”
“Will do.” I turned from him and proceeded to log into my computer, tapping loudly at my keyboard, looking fearsomely efficient.
Slowly, the tension that had taken up residence between my shoulder blades began to ease as I whiled away the minutes sifting through emails from Groupon, Living Social, Plum District, Eversave, Savemore and Saveology.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good deal and I wasn’t quite ready to delve into the real work of the day. Next, I found myself clicking through and deleting over a hundred emails. Goodness. My inbox was flooded from being CC’ed on every little thing, even projects that I had no attachment to, just to keep me “in the loop.”
Really. I wanted out. Of the loop.
“Hey, Kars!” called Rick. “Come over here a sec.”
I pushed my chair back and walked over to Rick’s cubicle. “C’mon, Astley!” I chided. “You need to quit watching these stupid YouTube videos.”
“But you gotta check out this video.” He was staring at his monitor, utterly mesmerized. “This friggin’ hamster is levitating. And it’s reciting the Gettysburg Address. Mid-air!”
“Seriously?” I peered over his shoulder. “PWHOAR!”
Ten minutes later, I was still standing there, open-mouthed and enthralled.
David Blaine and David Copperfield had
on this hamster.
Eventually, I said, “OK, Rick. No more YouTube videos. You can get in trouble if Carter catches you.”
Then I heard my stomach growl. A girl’s gotta eat, so I wandered off in search of nourishment. I stopped by the cafeteria and ordered another cup of coffee along with a short stack of pancakes to fortify me. Then I sat by a window and allowed myself the luxury of a leisurely breakfast. Afterward, fully nourished, I headed out to the duck pond for a cigarette break.
The sun broke through the clouds and I was bathed in the warmth of organic vitamin D. I sat at my usual corner, soaking up the rays, looking out at the view, allowing my mind to do its usual morning jog.
One of the mama ducks, Svetlana Zakharova (named after a Prima ballerina from the Bolshoi Ballet) waddled over to me. “QUACK!” she quacked.
“QUACK!” I quacked back. “Guess what Svetlana? I’ve brought you a little treat.”
Before long, a whole squadron of ducklings came paddling furiously toward me. “Calm down my little ducklings. There’s plenty of food to go around.”
Stepping back, I began showering my mallard friends with bread crumbs.
Later, after the duck feeding frenzy had died down, I bid adieu to my feathered friends and walked back into the building. As I picked my way back to my cubicle, I made a stop at the water cooler and exchanged pleasantries with my co-workers, Mateo and Alfredo.
“Hey Kars! What are you going to watch until the next installment of
Game of Thrones
“I don’t know, Mateo,” I said gravely. “I really don’t know.”
“Winter is coming . . .” proffered Mateo like he was the Lord of freakin’ Winterfell.
Game of Thrones
, the meaning behind those words is one of warning and constant vigilance. To which I responded, “I am your Khaleesi. Where are my dragons?”
It was another GOT (
Game of Thrones
) in-joke shared amongst us resident geeks. I know. We’re weird like that.
I filled my paper cup and took a reviving gulp, casually glancing around the office while nodding after Mateo and Alfredo. They were still discussing their favorite HBO shows in intimate detail. We were all filling time, I realized, reaching for any triviality before having to confront doing actual work. After downing a gallon of water, I checked my watch. Oh! It’s time.