Post high school, it’s always fun to see close friends pursuing a carrier. The people you’ve seen heartbroken, the friends you got high and drunk with, those who were anxious before exams, those who once stole stuffs in a supermarket, might now be doctors, lawyers, policemen, salespersons or… yeah, or teachers.
When I was a teen, having responsibilities (other than attending classes and smoking our first cigarettes) was a distant prospect. Few teens get a part-time job in France: in McDonald’s, you’re likely to deal with twenty something rather than with high school kids – unlike in North America.
As a result, professional life was like a “forbidden fruit”. By the time I graduated from high school, I took it really seriously and was almost willing to sell my soul to prospective employers. I was ready to enter the grown up world, where people where serious, hard-working and dedicated to their boss, much like a Chinese propaganda poster.
However, I soon discovered that workplaces bore some resemblance with the world I was used to. Contrary to my naive opinion, people don’t automatically become smarter and well-behaved nor that they turn into hard-working knowledgeable professionals once they get a job. Quite the opposite actually. I also discovered that every job had its dirty little secrets that only insiders know. And sometimes, I was one of them.
So let me share some of my dirty little secrets…
The credit company
I worked as a temp for a credit company. Yep, I was the – 18 years old – Goddess who would lend you money… or not. I had basically no training but the job wasn’t difficult. My “office” was located in a shopping mall and salespersons where bringing me customers eager to spend their pay check on a flat screen TV. I had to copy a few ID and ask the customer a few questions (monthly wage, rent, other ongoing loans etc.). Since few people carry their pay stub with them, I couldn’t check the info. After entering the data in the computer, I had three choices : accepted – refused – call the national office for backup check. If I had to call the headquarter (fairly hard to reach on week-end, my busiest time), it always went like that :
–First name, last name… yep, this one hasn’t paid back his balance. Alright, copy his ID’s, get a current phone number. We’ve been looking for him for a while, we will now be able to track him down. Have a good day !
I work as an hostess during the audition for a well-known TV show. The most painful wasn’t the audition part itself, where contestants were singing. Alright, it was painful, but nothing that can’t be handle with good earplugs. But the core of my job was to keep parents, family, friends of the contestants outside the audition room. You have no idea what I’ve been through…
If we would let a parent go with a really young kid, like 6 or 7 years old (yeah, I know… Some parents are just weird…), we would have the mob yelling at us :
— How come they go in ? You told my I couldn’t go with my baby !
The “baby” being a twenty something, of course…
The call center agent
Have you ever dialed a 1-800 number ? Well, for a couple months, I was on the other end of line 12 hours a day. Just a couple of tips for when you talk to a call center agent :
- We all have a “mute” button by the phone. If you sound funny, if you’re abusive or just plain stupid, the call is going to be shared with our co-workers. Yes, we will laugh at you. You can’t hear us, thanks to the “mute” button…
- From experience, I can tell you that everything shows up in files. The number of time you called, your complaints, and even the bad words that might came out of your mouths during the call. It’s called a log file, and we love to update it.
Remember the teacher you loved cause he would always show video ? Tip : he wasn’t trying to be popular among students. He was just too lazy to prepare a class. The teacher who would give the class a test on Monday morning ? Not sadistic. Hangover. The three teachers who loved organizing cultural even for their classes ? Huh huh, once again, didn’t feel like teaching. Yeah, I’m using these tricks on bad days…
So, what are the insider’s secrets of your job ?