NaPoWriMo 10: Un-love Poem for Call-Centre Conversations
The battery-farming of conversation, in the form of a call centre.
Day 10’s prompt was to write a poem of un-love; not a malediction, so much, but just a poem of ennui (that’s how I read it) about someone, or something.
It so happens that I spent quite a bit of time doing a transfer from one credit card to another today, as well as spending some time on the phone to a large mobile phone company. While the people I spoke to were perfectly polite and proficient, there is something really jarring about that stop-start scripted version of a conversation you have to have with them. Generally, I like people and enjoy meeting new humans; finding out how surprising and unusual people can be. But there’s no sponaneity when you have to speak to (some, not all) call centres or worse, there’s very little humanity about those types of interaction.
You’re both becoming a part of a process, elements in a mechanised version of a conversation, with niceties wedged in here and there as WD-40 (that’s a type of lubricating oil for machines, non-British readers!) to make it seem less robotic…I should know, I’ve worked in call centres myself – although I don’t think it was ever going to be a long-term prospect (I tended to deviate from the script too much).
(By the way, I called it ‘Going Forward’ as one chap I spoke to said it about ten times – it’s a real politician’s phrase that, ‘Going Forward’ – as opposed to what? Going back in time? Or does it mean ‘Moving forward’, progressing, in some way? It means, I fear, very little.)
So here’s a poem about it:
** Our staff are currently both
at present engaged in
dealing with the customer
enquiries of other clients **
Can I just confirm your name, Mr Parkin,
Sir, Mr Parking, sir, yes, of yourself, sir?
And the 16-digit number, sir, the 3-digit figure
tattoed on your face and the date
your number is up? Going forward, Mr Parken, sir,
we just wanted to ask, before the transfer
some questions about your circumstances, if we may,
if I may, on behalf of ourselves, to yourself?
We’d like, Mr Perkin, to discuss
the finer points and repercuss-
ions of your over-
spending, Mr Parkan,
we’d like it if we
could just go over
a few things,
to perform the script
zero per cent
to say nothing
for fifty years,
to itemise the