“Withholding” (Rockland Bank.)

Rockland Bank–1990-91–11 months—Part-time Tele-marketer for credit card-issuing bank.

For eleven months I worked for a credit card-issuing bank, trying to sell cards over the phone to people all over the country. I wasn’t good at it…at all. And I’ve never been able to sell anything to anybody. I find sales work and salesmen vulgar. I spent a lot of time doodling and jotting down the more amusing names of potential customers.

I found the endless talking, saying the same thing over and over, hour after hour, offering the same old arguments to the same old customer objections, exhausting.

For a job that paid poorly it was slightly pleasant. Though I was a part-timer and had no need of it, I was given insurance coverage. (I’d have preferred a better wage.) Though the top officers in the company seemed rather aloof, most of my supervisors seemed to be nice people. My immediate supervisor, Dan, was a kindly, middle-aged man. At one point he had a stroke or something, was in the hospital for several weeks, and when he finally returned had to walk with a cane. Strangely enough, I was glad to see he was okay. In most of my jobs before and since I’ve only wished my supervisors violent, painful death.

One of the supervisors was a college student who hired me to write a term paper on the Brazilian writer Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis, whom I’d not heard of before. This prompted my first visit to UT’s vast Benson Latin American Library. Machado De Assis quickly became one of my favorite writers, and I went through a period of discovering and reading such Latin American writers as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz, and the one who would become my favorite writer of all time, Jorge Luis Borges, who, as it turned out had taught at UT from 1961 to 1962.

I got along with most of my co-workers, and indeed even attended a company picnic. There was, however, one guy who totally got on my nerves. He was the most successful telemarketer on my shift, a redneck named Kenny. (He pronounced his name “Kinny.”) He was an amateur country musician with a folksy manner, a high-pitched giggle, and a very small repertoire of corn pone catch-phrases he utilized constantly in his loud sales pitches. Everybody in the office seemed to love him. I wanted to bury an axe in his skull.

Shortly before I reached my one year anniversary at this place, I was told my sales numbers were too low for them to keep me. Because I was such a good employee, they allowed me to resign rather than fire me.


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