Insignificant Letter on Insignificant Subject Gets Published
So I read this idiotic article
by eternal defender of rapacious capitalism Farheed Manjoo at Salon defending the soon-to-be-stone-dead telemarketing industry(his basic thesis being, "Think of the poor workers"--exactly the people most hurt by said industry) and, as a good portion of my early twenties were wasted in that job and said job nearly drove me insane, I write a letter pointing out just how revolting the industry is, and the thing gets published
(second one down, after the obviously fake one no doubt written by a telemarketing manager). I've gotten more e-mails about that letter than about anything else I've ever written or drawn.
Below is the text for those not into subscribing to Salon, and I don't blame you.
The article is absolutely right regarding the sort of people telemarketing employs. I was one of them once myself. In my case I was someone in his early 20s with no marketable skills except an ability to write plays. Wait, that's not a marketable skill. So I went into it because I needed the money. I sold in that career a whole heap of different things for different employers: theater tickets, dead-hour radio ad time ("public service announcements,") some kind of unusable medical and home insurance, and much more. Mostly things I couldn't imagine anyone needing, to both individuals and businesses, from leads and from the phone book too.
I grew to despise every minute I did it and my whole life at the time because of it. There was of course just the matter of the endless repetition of the same script again and again, and trying to sound fresh and happy on each call. But there was also the anger of the person on the other end which I fully sympathized with. It's much more than bothering them at dinnertime. It's fooling them, cajoling, pretending friendship, pressuring them, making them buy just to get you off the phone -- to satisfy a boss that made the whole thing feel like "Glengarry Glen Ross." You were paid a pitiful base salary and had to generate enough sales to not only "get on the board" enough to make commissions, but to justify your very presence there. In most places I worked, if you were still on your base salary by the second week, out you bloody went. It's a cold, heartless industry that generates self-hatred in you, because you keep wondering "What is wrong with me?" and where the bosses remind you that if you're not selling, yeah, there is something wrong with you.
I acquired computer skills as quickly as possible and got admin work, which at the moment I'm out of but I would sooner die than ever sell something on the phone -- or any other way -- again. It takes your soul. Telemarketing managers who talk about the poor pitiful workers also (for their jobs depend on how you do and if you make no commission they make nothing -- and for obvious reasons a lot of these guys were on meth so they could be "on" all the time) ruthlessly bully and terrorize their employees, driving one to suicide that I recall. His reaction was that this person just didn't have any balls. Well, maybe she didn't. But to kill her self-image and esteem, and in the end her, just to sell a stupid radio ad, what kind of industry are we talking about?
Most jobs do this. That one just did it quicker and more obviously than most. Many of these places are nothing more than psychological sweatshops. So when I hear people moaning for these businesses the only ones I feel sorry for are the rank-and-file employees, not any other part of the business. Where they will go, that's a problem and a big one. But have no illusions: it's still a brutal and cruel business, and how do we feel about other ones? Nike employed lots of people in sweatshops. Does that mean we should look the other way when they treat workers like worthless trash, because at least they're employed?
And I might add that the day the industry dies I will dance the tarantella upon its grave and then have a nice long piss upon it.