As most of you know, my previous job was in the public service, working for a large Government organisation that many of you have had dealings with (and most of you despise).
Through a variety of circumstances, I quit that job about two months ago. I'm back in the private sector now and, for the first time in many years, back in a call centre. Solar energy is my game now; panels, inverters, sunlight, tariffs, subsidies, contracts.
And while I wasn't necessarily that excited about taking returning to a call centre, there's no doubt it has it's upside. And that is... primarily... that's it not my old job. For the two could hardly be less alike, which is certainly something of a relief.
After two weeks of training, this week I've started taking calls at my new job, and the comparisons between my new workday and my old one could hardly be more pronounced.
This manifests itself in a lot of ways; in everything from the building itself (brand new tower in the city versus converted supermarket in the suburbs), to resources (brand new everything in copious supply versus tooth and nail fist fight over the last box of pens), to IT (Windows 7 and new computers versus 7 year old PCs and a version of MS word so old that outside organisations couldn't read my attachments) to the staff room amenities (free coffee, tea, cocoa, milk, biscuits and fruit versus a dingy, bare, windowless little room where the cold water tap was frequently out of order).
And while these changes are nice, the biggest, and most immediately obvious, difference between one job and the other has got to be the customers:
SAMPLE CUSTOMER - OLD JOB
ME: Hello sir, how are you today?
THEM: (glares, silence).
ME: I said, how are you today?
THEM: I'll be a lot fuckin' better when I get out of this fuckin' joint, I'll tell ya that.
ME: Yes I see. Well anyway, what can we do for you today?
THEM: Yeah, listen mate, I just want to arsk ya about that fuckin' thing that we have to do.
ME: The, er, thing?
THEM: Yeah, you know, that fuckin' thing that we have to do. That annual thing.
ME: Hmmm, well I'm not too sure...
THEM: Fuck's sake mate! Are you fuckin' dense or something? I just want to know about that fuckin' thing we have to do. You know, every cunt has to do it.
THEM: Fuckin' hell. How fuckin' hard is it? (swigs from open can of VB) Just get it fuckin' done, eh? Before I lose me fuckin' temper.
THEM: You're on your way to a smack in the face if you keep this shit up, I'll tell ya that.
ME: Maybe I'll just have a look at your record, see what's going on.
THEM: Fuckin' rude cunt.
SAMPLE CUSTOMER - NEW JOB
ME: Welcome to Solar Billing you're speaking with Danno.
THEM: Oh hello. That was quick. How are you today?
ME: I'm well, how are you?
THEM: Very well! It's nice to talk with you.
ME: And nice to talk with you. Now, what can I help you with today?
THEM: Well, I have a question about my solar bill. Basically, how does it all work?
ME: Well, the sun shines down on the Earth.
ME: And that sunlight is collected by some solar panels on the roof of your house.
THEM: Yes... yes!
ME: And by some sort of magic this is turned into power, which you can then use for watching television or, for downloading new shows to watch on your television.
ME: And all of it for free! Plus $87 an hour.
THEM: That's really incredible! What an age we live in. Thanks for explaining it to me, you've made my day.
ME: You're welcome, thanks for calling.
THEM: I love you solar man.
Which is to say, the customers I dealt with in my old job were a bit more demanding than the new lot. Or, to put it still another way, if the two customer groups were pieces of music, the old group would be:
While the new customer group would be:
Right down to the two hipsters in the clip. I'm pretty sure they work in my office.