In 2004 my son Steve (then 21) was allegedly “made redundant” from a Customer Services call centre, working for a major credit card company. I say “allegedly” because that is what he told me at the time. A few months later, discussing his old job, he accidentally used the word “sacked”. Hmmm… Not a word you should use about yourself in front of your Mother.
Having established the truth (by now he had a new job, so I wasn’t as angry as I might have been) I asked him what he had been getting up to, in his old job. Then he told me all about the antics that he and his colleagues used, to make the task of endlessly talking to customers (about lost and stolen credit cards) more enjoyable. A proper Mother would have been horrified at his stories… But I am not a proper Mother and if something is funny enough, I tend to let my kids get away with it. This is his confession:
“We used to pretend to be different people.”
“My mate did a great impression of Doc Brown from ‘Back To The Future’. He used to ask customers what was wrong and then shout ‘Great Scott!’ when they told him. He had the voice off brilliantly. One woman told him that she hoped his throat got better soon. Hahahahaha!”
“Who were you?”
“Michael Jackson. Of course the voice would be too obvious, so I just said that ‘Dah!’ sound that he does, at the end of every sentence…’You’ve lost your credit card? Dah! Can you tell me the account name? Dah! What is your address? Dah!’ Hahahahaha! My mate would be stuffing his f**king fist in his mouth, trying not to laugh. The customers were so stupid, they never asked what I was doing. In fact we quite often answered the phone and said ‘Hello, Ghostbusters!’ and they’d just go ‘Wha?’ and we’d say the proper thing… Nobody really listens. We were never challenged. Hahahaha!”
“Where did I go wrong with bringing you up?”
“Oh come on, it’s a boring job if you don’t have fun with it. We made sure they were OK. Obi Wan answered the phone a lot. He had the Force on his side, ‘In my experience there’s no such thing as luck’ my mate used to say. Really, he was a fantastic Alec Guinness. Hahahaha! I couldn’t do that but I spent a lot of time as Harvey Keitel’s Mr. White ‘You’re gonna be OK!’. HAHAHAHAHA!”
“Steven! You’re bad,”
“My mate was great though, he was such a realistic Alan Partridge that even if the odd intelligent customer DID catch on, they’d call people to listen to him and ask him to say ‘Aha!’. It was like an extra service really… Not like the water.”
“Oh, it was just a competition…Who could talk to a customer whilst holding the most water in their mouth. We measured it in paper cups. Hahahaha!”
“So that’s why you got sacked then is it? All this arsing about?”
“Nah. I just kept being late.”
Mind you, he is a very respectable member of society now and works for a large company, who have awarded him “Employee of the Year” twice in three years (his office employs 400 people). I bet he still does some larking about though!