This is also what happens when you pick up the phone to place a call and someone is on the other end (as in they were actually trying to call you, not interrupting someone else's call-in-progress on an extension of the same line). Usually you do not realize this until the person calling you starts shouting "Hello!?" in his/her bewilderment of hearing the tones when you began dialing. If you frequently pick up the phone without it ringing and there is someone on the other end, either you are probably psychic - or you get a LOT of phone calls.

I had a cordless phone which had a broken ringer due to my dropping it on the floor one too many times. Since our wired phone was totally broken at the time, we had no ringer for a few hours until someone decided to go and buy a new phone later in the day. Anyways, I found that the old IBM MWave soundcard/modem in our computer would emit a tiny pop from the speakers when the phone line was ringing. By sitting in front of the computer with the phone and waiting for the nearly silent pop I managed to increase my call answering percentage from 0% all the way to a whopping 25%, not bad.

If you're actually in this situation, a computer with a modem can really help, connect using HyperTerminal or something direct to your modem's COM port and wait.

Eventually you'll see it.


Hit talk and there you go.

Five days a week, I sit at my desk.  I work for a large retail department store corporation, in the department that handles customer service for the credit cards that they issue.

My desk is not a desk.  It is part of a "pod" composed of the same sort of walls used to form cubicles radiating from a center hub, thus dividing the whole thing into six seperate work areas.  These pods are crammed into one large room as tightly as possible--the building used to be a parts warehouse, and that is evident in its design.  On the days in which I work, I use a headset like the one you see in phone company commercials, and I answer the questions when the phone rings--often the same ones over and over--that the people who call in ask:

  • Why is my statement showing a late fee?
    Because you made your payment after the due date, idiot.
  • What's my interest rate?
    It's on your statement, fuckwad.
  • Can I use this card anywhere?
    No, only at our store, and the places we own.  That's why it has the company name on it, dumbass.
  • I've been a customer for thirty years.  Why should it matter that I haven't submitted a payment for four months?  Don't you want to retain customers?
    I don't give a fuck about customer retention--that's not what my paycheck is based on.  Go whine to someone who cares.

The phone ring is not a ring.  It is an annoying beep in my ear.  A beep that I must stop any other conversations for, or the book I am reading, or the game of Tic-Tac-Toe I'm playing--anything really, that I use to fill the time in between calls.  Actually, those three things are about it.  There's the company's intranet, but there's nothing there worth reading twice.  The only Internet site I can reach is the one that handles the employee incentive program.  I can't even get to the company's web site.

The only room I have for advancement is at least a year down the line, if not two or three, and that's just moving to the department handling the calls from the irate customers, or the ones who demand "to speak to a supervisor."  If I stay at it long enough and suck enough metaphorical cock, I might end up the vice president of something.  There's a guy there now whose brother started in my same position and did just that.

I'd rather play violin on the street corner in the Quarter.

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