I began my first week in training for a position as a call centre agent. I greedily accepted this position with the intention of quitting after my training week so that I could move onto a more respectable position as an HR interviewer for a background checking company. After spending a week in training, making a few friends, and realizing that the job wasn’t as evil as I’d anticipated, my opinion started to sway.
During the week I got closer with my training group, met some of the other call centre agents and staff members, and tried to catch my next concert, the Weakerthans that Thursday at Le Cabaret du Mile End. My roommate, her sister and I left for the Cabaret at around 6:30 pm – which should have been plenty of time, even considering that we were going for smoked meat at the world famous Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen and I had to meet up with Ms. Charles to sign our contract for CollectivelyBeautiful.
But when we were outside the Laurier Metro station after filling our bellies and signing the contract we were asked by a kind, young stranger if we knew where the Brasserie Artisanale Dieu Du Ciel was. I could hardly pronounce it, let alone locate it on a map. After collaboratively inspecting the giant city map outside the Metro we realized we were going in the same direction, so we all decided to walk together.
When we got to the Brasserie, our new friend invited us in to have a beer. In the spirit of making new friends, we thought “what the hell, why not?” and decided to join him and his friend (for anonymity’s sake, I’ll call them Shawn and Rick. Rick had recently moved to Montreal, and Shawn was planning to once he found work, so we all bonded through our common lack of friends in the area. After about 45 minutes, we decided to head to the concert and bid our new friends farewell.
Arriving at the Cabaret was like déjà vu. I could hear the music, I sprinted up the stairs, but when I got to the top no one asked me to pay admission and the people in the crowd gave us really strange looks. About thirty seconds later the band announced that it would be their last song of the night. (If you’re counting, the current score for concert attendance is Montreal - 2, Allie - zero.) So, I figured at least at this rate the next concert I’d go to that I would see three songs, minimum. You have to celebrate the small victories.
Now, by the end of the week there were a few things about the call centre that slowly won me over. One of my biggest complaints about my last job in government was that it was really difficult to make friends there who had similar interests as me, since the vast majority of my co-workers were married with children. So the fact that the call centre is made up of a predominantly young staff was really appealing to me. I was already making friends in a new city in my first week – more than I’d made in Edmonton in two and a half years.
Also, probably for the same reason that it was easy to make friends, it was a really laid back environment – I could wear leggings and a hoodie to work, which I can’t say the same for any of my jobs since I stopped babysitting. My co-workers all shared a similar cynical sarcasm for life in general and I felt like I fit in almost immediately.
Finally, my schedule at the call centre had the ability to be extremely flexible. The company used an online scheduling system that lets employees check their schedule, drop shifts, pick up shifts or trade shifts, request time off, and check when other employees are working. Being an internet junkie and techo-geek, the idea of having my schedule at my fingertips really revved my engine. Another small win-over was the potential for commission – it wouldn’t be much, but probably enough to make a small dent in the month bills.
My final decision was made when I called the other job to find out if I could get time off before I started – I needed the following Friday and Monday off: that was it. When the woman called me back, she left a message saying that if I couldn’t make training they would have to offer the job to someone else. Now, it wasn’t necessarily what she said, but how she said it that I was offended by. Her tone came across “holier than thou,” like my very survival was in her hands alone, and the attitude turned me off more than the fact that they wouldn’t give me the time off. My roommate’s twin sister was in town that week and I ended up forgetting to call the other job I’d been offered until Sunday. When I called I mentioned not only would I be declining the position due to my scheduling conflict, but also that I’d been offered another position.
This seemingly harmless voicemail would eventually give me the age-old “foot in mouth” syndrome, but I’ll save those details for week six.