An Ode to the Call Centre*

Ahh the call centre, where would modern society be without it. I mean we all know what we’re in for, don’t we? You’ve heard it all before heading in there.

It’s soul destroying

My time in there nearly broke me

Get in and out as fast as you can

Haha for a second there, I thought you said you got a job in a call centre? Can you imagine actually worki- oh, that is what you said?… Delete my number.

Ahh the thumbs up, the universal call centre sign for “Kill me now”.

Then you actually arrive and between call listening or from just being in the canteen, ya hear the sorry tale of those downtrodden spirits long abandoned here. They tell the same stories, albeit with some slight variances.

Get in, get paid, but don’t stop looking outside

I remember when I started, I use to… Whats that word again? Oh yeah, smile

I can’t prove it, but I KNOW they are watching me pee

I died years ago, but my body haunts these halls

And you think fuck it, how hard can it be. You’re not stupid, you know what it is. You won’t let it get to you that way.

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So ya get in there and start taking calls and it’s… Not bad, right? First few days might be scary or you’re apprehensive, but come on, it’ll be like that with any job.

You get the hang of it fairly quickly as the computer side of it is relatively easy and straightforward. This part might not relate to everyone but for me, initially speaking, it was sort of fun. I had been in retail for FAR.TOO.LONG so I found the talking over the phone to be simplistic and stress-free. I’ve had people talk to me like dirt to my face, so I was pretty good at de-escalating phonecalls. And truth be told, it felt nice to hear the “thank you” when I rescued some old biddy from the perils of modern technology

Thanks to that fine young man, we can finally link our Patreon account with

Give it a few weeks though, and it starts to bare its toll. Firstly, you’re on the phones all day. Talking, talking, talking. And as always, it’s the same thing.

Good morning, how are you?

Good afternoon, how are you?

Good evening how are you?

Hey, how are- Can you help me, sorry to cut across like that…

The last thing you want to do is talk. Ya come home after work and what you want, what you need is to not talk. To not listen. Whether its to your partner, your friend, family member or anyone. You just. Want. Quiet…

You just want to disenage.

Yet the grind continues.

Good morning, how are you?

Good afternoon, how are you?

Good evening how are you?

Hey, how are- Sorry to cut across you but I don’t think you can help me…

Hard to put a finger on when it happens, but socialising becomes harder. Suddenly, it requires Effort.

This part got to me a lot. I went from being at the centre of the working social circle to feeling completely on the outside. I made a few friends quickly but over time, they left. I’m like anyone really. Something annoying happens, ya have a funny rant with someone, laugh at it and then it’s dealt with. But by this point, I was unable to even blow steam in the canteen, so a frustrating experience stayed bottled up.

So you do what you can. It can be hard to find yourself once your at that desk, it’s barriers solely focused on keeping your attention on the screen. But you try, don’t ya?

Of course you do.

You try to fit You in there where-ever possible, be it read a book at work or try to get your personality across over the phone. But the people calling in ain’t here for that, they are not here for you. So they cut you off, they dismiss your attempts to humanise yourself…

So while we wait, did you- Oh I’m sorry, did you say something?

That’s loading there. So have you any plans? – I’m sorry but can we move this along.

Just waiting on the tests to return. Possibly a minut- Can’t you put me on hold?

They deny You.

And it despite them being strangers on the phone, it cuts you.

Their indifference.

Some of em will give you a laugh, sure. I mean they are strangers after all. That they just have so little interest in you as a human being means they want this interaction to be as impersonal as possible. The impact alone is minor because fuck it, if they don’t want to talk then so be it.

But on the wrong day, when maybe you have stuff going on outside this place and your emotional mechanisms are shot, that shit hurts.

But the grind, as it does, continues.

By now, hearing a customer say thanks has lost some of its value, hasn’t it? Now, all you begin to acknowledge or remember is the customers who talk to you as something lesser.

You can’t do what I ask? Are you stupid?

Do you think it’s right what your doing?

Are you proud of yourself? Doing what you do?

This is what you do with your life?

And they think they can justify this by saying “oh I’m not aiming this at you” (with the same tone someone says “I’m not racist but…”) and yet they use your own name while you listen to these tantrums.

The grind, by the way, continues.

Now, give it a few months and you know where you find yourself? Sitting in the canteen, a lost and broken spirit, talking to someone who just started, like the ghost of tech-call future. You corner them and tell them all the warnings that were given to you. About smiles and souls or how people will talk if you smell (seriously, wash yourself) and last but not least, how you use to feel things inside.

As said in the Proverbs 10:6 “Woe is the man who hath two thumbs up, for he is truely lost”

I don’t think it’s a surprise to hear that call centre jobs isolate ya. I mean what else are we to expect when ya sit and endure the monotony, the tirades and the scripted calls.

I think, where they catch ya, is it is very easy to get into the mindset that they solely isolate you. We see what we want at the end of the day and when these low points hit, we see so little. We feel our personal quarantine so purely and expect to see it in others, because to us, that weariness, that choking panic of ours, is so glaringly obvious that we are certain our co-workers can see it.

But they can’t. Same as we can’t see theirs.

Who the hell thought it would be a good idea to have people cut off from their identities for 40 hours a week?


What I’m talking about here is in my past, where I hope it remains. If you relate to any of this currently, please talk to someone. You can reach me at or even get on to me on Twitter.

Talk Soon

* An alternate title was Or When I decided I no longer wanted to be Happy.

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