Dirty Little Secrets

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Little Secrets

Little Secrets

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 !

The hostess

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.

The teacher

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 ?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Warranty adminitrator & cashier for an automobile dealership: I would sometimes have to forge a custome’s signature on a repair order if the service manager forgot to have them sign it. We had to have a signature to get reimbursed by the franchise. I had some customers trust me so much they would sign a blank check & leave it with me to pay for their repair. They also would leave their charge card numbers with me.

  2. Deadpoolite on

    A good fun read this one Zhu, thoroughly enjoyed it. Well as a real person I am a bioscientist. I can safely say that we are not releasing any deadly viruses into the atmosphere any time soon (not on Mondays anyway,even viruses need their beauty sleep). I can also add that we are not having any madscientists on board trying to take over the world and no we dont all wear glasses or have fashion challenged haircuts. Still, it is all true about the mad laughter thing…lol.

    As a Merc with a mouth, I have other secrets in the locker but I cant really share them with you. That would be unprofessional plus I would have to, you know, “silence you” (mind you I would have to do it using a lollypop and a bar of chocolate, what can I say Union rules,lol). Not all of us mercs are decent shots though, you should see what a great night partying out does to a person’s aim,heh. That applies to the lab work as well,lol.

    Have a great week Zhu!

  3. I’m sure call centers have a field day with my husband…he’s not afraid to let loose when someone’s trying to screw us over!!

  4. “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”

    OMG! YES! OUI! C’EST VRAI! I feel utterly disappointed and betrayed by this notion. All my life as a youth I went to school and they never told me it would be like this, that I would have to deal with so many stupid people.


  5. Princesse Ecossaise on

    that is fantastic! Firstly, what was the well known tv show? I’m too curious!

    I’ve only worked as a waitress, in a few shops, on a farm and as a flyer girl…

    Waitressing had very many dirty little secrets, I hated it. The people had been working there for years and probably would until they died. They were bitter and twisted. One day this old woman was carrying a plate of french fries out of the kitchen to give it to the cutsomers at a table outside in the courtyard. She picked one up, chomped half of it and then dropped the other half back in, giving the plate to the custmers to eat. Some old woman’s saliva was on their fries! And that’s so common!

    Oh yeah, there was that other time that the chef threw a plate at my head because the customers told me their potatoes weren’t hot enough!

    I’ll never waitress again…

  6. Mona: come on girl, I’m sure you have some dirty insider secrets too… don’t be shy… :$

    Spyder: OMG, that’s a good insider’s secret ! Funny customers trust an automobile dealership so much though : I don’t don’t know for N. America, but in France, the stereotype of the dealership isn’t great (think mafia !).

    Deadpoolite: are you actually a bioscientist ? Wow, smart people do read my blog ! 😀 I feel honoured !

    Eh, no offense to all the other people here of course ! 😀

    When I think of a bioscientist, I think of:

    1) Outbreak, the 90′ movie
    2) Any book by Robin Cook

    Please, silence me, I love lollipop and chocolate (milk chocolate, please !)

    : Well, you know what, your husband is probably right. Asking for the manager and yelling a bit is often the best way to get what you want !

    I’d love to see your husband’s phone calls log… must be fun !:D

    Wat: Hey, cool, we share the same view on work life ! Worklife is hard, nothing prepares you for it. I wish I were back in high school sometimes, my schoolmates were actually more responsable than my current co-workers ! Who would have guessed ?

    BTW, do you know a band called “Mano Negra” and its lead singer Manu Chao ? Just curious.

    Princesse Écossaise: I’ve never been a waitress actually, but my chum (le mot argotique pour “petit ami” en Québécois… c’est pour ton vocabulaire !) did. I’ve heard so many horror stories about the food etc. that I only eat in places he didn’t work in ! 😀

    Devil’s son: Hey, I had quite a lot of jobs… Many not mentionned here !

  7. In my industry the best way to get away with stuff is to talk in a language that the boss’s don’t understand.

    I work in Tech, so I start mouthing off technical jargon and the manager’s tell me to keep up the good work.

    It’s a fascinating way to get away with things in the workplace.

  8. From one avid traveller to another…

    …Great post, in fact fantastic site. Made me laugh out loud. I think your view on life is superb! I look forward to revisiting and reading more in the future. Loved reading it sooo much!!!

    Please feel welcome to visit my “One Man’s Travel Blog” at http://grahamettridge.blogspot.com

  9. Paper Fan Club on

    Hi Zhu: your blog is terrific (great idea!) and your layout is amazing. Always great to see a fellow Canadian blogger! Keep up the great work.

  10. Spider: of course, you must be the one they trust ! :$ Why didn’t I think of that ! And why nobody trusts me with a blank cheque ??? 😛

    Coybowtf : thanks for the nice comment ! I’m discovering your blog as well, and *I* find your life fascinating !

    Sir Jorge : That’s right, jargon can bail you out. Yes, I use this trick too !

    Getty72: wow, you’re a real traveler, I’m amazed ! I’m looking forward to reading your blog – in a minute !

    Paper Fan Club : hey fellow Canadian ! LOve your blog as well, you made me laugh with the Hell’s Kitchen top 10 ! 😀

  11. I am also a big fan of the mute button. Most of my interaction with people is via online meetings. I have meetings in my jammies. I love it. Sometimes, I wish people knew that while they were stressed in suits and ties, I am filing my nails and wondering if I have time to pour a glass of wine before I have to advance a slide.

  12. I am a biochemist/biotechnologist to be precise. But dont tell that to anyone since it will blow my cover…oh damn too late,lol!

  13. Princesse Ecossaise on

    hahaha!! yeh I’m careful where I eat out now too! No McDonalds!!!

    Merci pour le vocabulaire 😀

  14. hahahahaha, I can relate to the teacher’s one. One of my high school teachers played the movie American Pie uncut during his last lessons. It was hilarious – two class combined did nothing!!

    My job… it’s pathetic, but there is nothing out of ordinary.

    P.S. Thanks for your comment on my blog :), I see you speak Mandarin too, that is a good thing 🙂

    If you wish, I’d love to exchange links with you, it’s always good to browse blogs of people who have similiarites with me 🙂

  15. Thanks for the comment on my blog A Cowboy’s Wife. 3 boys are definately a handful especially when 1 is a teenager, 2 is almost a teenager, and 3rd is just crawling!!

    You site has a beautiful and eye-catching design. I was wondering if you did it yourself or if you had it done?

  16. Tip : he wasn’t trying to be popular among students. He was just too lazy to prepare a class.

    Of course! But I was always too lazy to learn, so I was very glad when the video went on! 🙂

  17. You mean my teachers didn’t really want to teach? I am so sad! haha I give you kudos for teaching. I think if I did that, I would be showing videos all week!
    No insider tips as a project manager. You just have to be on the ball, on top of all your projects or someone is going to get fired! haha nice blog!

  18. Haha, that’s good fun. Specially like the idea of listening to annoying callers and sharing it with your coworkers. It’s amazing how rude people can be, specially working retail, I learned that there are a lot of wackos out there. Fortunately that fact doesn’t scare me, I don’t usually take angry crazy people seriously.

  19. ~*SilverNeurotic*~ on

    I don’t divulge secrets about my job, except, like most jobs…there’s a lot of “off the book” stuff.

  20. Mist1: that must be such a good feeling knowing you’re at home, glass of wine etc. when other are stressed out in front of the boss. God I envy you ! I should do online teaching ! 😀

    Deadpoolite: well, at least, your location is secret. Wait a minute… are you Rocky IV ? Are you ??? I’m sure your bioscientist thing is just the cover !

    Princesse Écossaise : I don’t want to scare you but… Sometimes, McDonalds is the safest place to eat. Really. Shhht… I won’t tell you more about regular restaurants… :$

    Shan: American Pie uncut… mmm… Good idea ! Any chance I can find a French version before tomorrow morning you think ? 😀

    Cowboytf: Thanks 😉 Yes, I did the design myself, learned as I go. I started with the classic template and add everything else ! It was a lot of fun !

  21. Dan: Oh, I loved video too ! That’s why I now incorporate this crucial “methode” in my class. :$

    But for some reason, they never showed video in maths classes… Why ???

    Myth90045: that’s right, teachers are also lazy !

    Project manager ? I’m sure you have a lot of dirty secrets too ! Office life is always more tricky and interesting that it seems 😉

    Sebastien: glad to see you back ! I know it’s only been a week, but everybody missed you. Yes, you, the cute guys with the great drawing, go back to writing in your blog, we need you !

    ~*SilverNeurotic*~: you know that I’m really starting to wonder about your job’s insiders secret… Would you be the one under cover ?

  22. Zhu, you are too nice, haha!

    I’ve been having some problems with headaches, and they usually exhaust me because I can’t sleep very well when I have them and then I don’t have good energy…

    but it’s ok, it’s the nature of my illness, I feel ok for a while, then I get a bad period, but what counts is that the bad periods aren’t as bad as they used to be, and the good periods last a little longer on average.

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