Confessions of a Part-time Telemarketer

“Hi Mr/Mrs (insert last name here). This is Melina with (so and so) giving you a quick call about (this thing you’ve probably heard about from fifteen different people because no one ever takes you off the list). How are you today?”

I needed a job this summer. Something that would hire quickly and didn’t require much experience, because I basically have none when it comes to the workforce. Internet searches kept bringing up things like “one to three years experience required” and “three years experience in this specific field preferred” for entry level jobs. For me, who’s been busy with school and some club activities, this was really frustrating. So when I came across something that said “no experienced required,” and something about calls and appointments, I eagerly sent in my resume thinking it was a receptionist position.

The first clue should have been when they called me back not even twenty-four hours later to offer me an interview. The second should have been when they said it was an outbound-call center, but I was excited at my first callback and not really paying attention. I showed up, filled in my application, and was taken into the conference room for my interview.

“Are you shy on the phone?” No. “Can you English read well?” Well, yeah, I’m an English ma- “What do you know about solar energy?” What? “So this is how solar panels work and this is what makes them a good investment…”

The whole process from the moment that I got there, to when I was out and told to come in for training for telemarketing the following week took less than an hour. Not having any other immediate job prospects I decided to take it until I found something better. After all, how hard could it be?

Turns out, pretty freaking hard. I understand, telemarketers are annoying. I don’t like telemarketers myself, but there really is no need to scream at the person who’s on the other end of the line, or to be rude and call them names. They’re just trying to do a job. Some of us even want to get off the phone just as much as you do. In the span of an hour, we easily made a hundred calls or more. Each. It’s incredibly taxing to your mental state to sit there for five hours or more, making hundreds of calls a day only to be hung up on or cursed out more often than not.

So what does any of this have to do with writing?

The thing is, when you take writing classes, everyone is all “I write because I have to. I don’t know what to do with myself if I don’t.” And I always awkwardly sit there thinking to myself, I write just because I like it. I like creating new worlds and storylines. I like exploring characters that are different from myself. And I like exploring the darkest parts of my personality and putting them down on paper without people knowing it’s me. I like it so I write when I have an idea, but I have never felt like I had to, like I wasn’t going to be at peace until I wrote. I was fine even if I didn’t write for a while.

Every summer I say that I’m going to write. That’ll I’ll write a novel or write a small short story collection, and I never do. I always get caught up in everything else that I’m doing. Running up and down with friends and family, relaxing by the pool, reading, calling hundreds of people to only set up an appointment or two. This summer was the first time I felt guilty about it though.

I sat at my desk at work and realized I didn’t want to be a telemarketer for the rest of my life. I’ve had my doubts about pursuing a degree in writing before, pretty much since the first time I stepped foot into Chapman. It’s hard not to with the concerned or pitying looks that people give me sometimes when I say my major is, but now I know without a doubt that I couldn’t really be anything else. When the opportunity to write was taken away from me, my fingers itched with the need to jot a story down. And I started doing it between calls, sometimes even during the middle of one when I knew the person on the other side wasn’t going to listen to a word I said even if I sang them a beautiful aria on the perks of owning your own solar power system.

So for the writers that feel out of place in the writing community, you’re not in the wrong place. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like everyone else. You’re a storyteller just as much as they are, it might just take you a little longer to realize you’re just where you belong.

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