Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some May Say I'm a Sucker

If I answer the phone and it's a telemarketer, or someone taking surveys or raising money for the Fraternal Order of Police, I always allow them to complete their first statement without interrupting, before I explicitly state that I'm not interested in contributing to whatever it is that they're trying to get me to contribute to. I do this, number 1, because I've got what's known in certain vernacular as "good home training"; and, number 2 and mostly, because I empathize: I've worked as a tele- all those things and I know firsthand how demoralizing it can be to get hang up after hang up in one ear while bells go off in the other celebrating coworkers who rack up sales instead of hang ups; and number 3, how can you NOT listen and donate to an organization raising money for families of police officers killed in the line of duty?!

I'm glad to hear that inflection in the caller's voice, the surprise, the aural equivalent of their face lighting up, when I answer 'Yes' or whatever response they least expected, that invites them to continue with their spiel. If you've never done this work, trust me, rejection wears on you. Even if I ultimately reject, I feel good that I handle it civilly, not cussing anybody out, or slamming down the phone. If I'm not helping somebody make their quota; that's unfortunate enough, no need to add insult to injury by being nasty.

Lately, I've noticed another motivation: I'm helping somebody keep a job. Kudos to any organization for hiring people to do the work, rather than some robocaller gadgetry. Tonight I talked to two people on one call, seemingly in the same room, given the short time that I elapsed before Scott spoke. I'm helping two people keep a job!

It's the least I can do. There, or worse, but for the grace of God, go any of us.
Unemployment for middle-aged workers like Mr. Blattman is the highest it’s been since data was first collected 60 years ago. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, joblessness is worse for men over 45 (7.7 percent in July) than women the same age (6.9 percent). And while the middle-aged are still more likely to have jobs than younger workers, once people Mr. Blattman’s age are laid off, finding a new job is harder. In 2008, laid-off people over 45 were out of work 22.2 weeks, versus 16.2 weeks for younger workers.

Mr. Blattman used to make over $200k a year. Now? Nada. Zilch. He's fortunate to have resources that have kept him going so far; not many people do. In Frontline's Close to Home , a filmmaker spends a day in a hair salon on the Upper East Side listening to tales of woe that include a woman who had to sell a Porsche to pay for her health insurance, (too bad she couldn't pawn her cheek implants). Still, no matter how far you fall, all outgo and no income is persistently, depressingly stressful. Unemployment benefits are bound to get extended again, but then what? I think there's got to be some stimulus program to individuals similar to the dole the big banks have been subsisting on. THAT -- and all companies who have outsourced Call Center jobs to India should be forced to bring them back stateside or pay some exorbitant amount of money. If you elect to buy a foreign car, rather than one made here, you should have to pay a special tax. Protectionist? Yeah, and? If there are other alternatives to stem the tide of skilled, eager to work, unemployed, homeless American citizens while corporate honchos continue to grow the middle class of developing countries by employing the cheap labor there, I'm eager to hear them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice post.

We are running it at awop progressive living.

kim g


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