You Can Pay a Ghost Whatever
Fluorescent lights for constant alertness. Chairs made to keep you from dozing off. The time-table rigid and non-negotiable. You get paid by the hour and every minute is monitored. Welcome to the call-center.
A slaughterhouse for nerves, a factory of dead labor where the order of the day is the production of surplus speech. The phone lights up barking out the command, you don’t pick it up? Somebody else will. Your biological clock has been abducted by the establishment and recalibrated to the 9 to 5 of a different country, probably Uncle Sam’s. My friend Jimmy Pineapple calls it “the devil’s 9 to 5", because it starts at 5 am, ends at 9 in the morning.
Some people leave work feeling exhausted, we arrive to work feeling exhausted. There’s nothing like it. I’m not even mad having to digest a complete life-story of some old fossil with a 1997 Mercedes, my man just found out it takes more to make a new key for his car than to buy a new ‘97. I deal with characters and I mean characters.
Here’s another one… a Hispanic gentleman calls us up, says he’s in San Jose, wants to make a key for his car. Then he hesitates and asks me if the technician can make the key “at a distance from the car”. Turns out his girlfriend barricaded herself inside the house with a baseball bat in hand assaulting anyone associated with the gentleman in question. Yes, characters.
So here’s what we do. We’re a dispatch office; an American outsource in eastern Europe and we help customers in LA, California find Locksmith technicians in LA, California. Yeh… who knows the real value of our stolen lives. How much it actually costs to provide the service, what our real wage should be. How would you even begin to demand a raise when you don’t exist?
As far as our customers are concerned there’s 20 of us magically jammed into a couple of tiny stores in LA. Ghosts occupy no space and they have very limited workers’ representation. You can pay a ghost whatever, it has no leverage. We get one smoke break an hour. I only smoke when I work, but that’s ok, ghosts don’t get lung cancer either.
Producing surplus speech means you need to lie — a lot. No one has this much to say. Nah, we don’t get paid for speaking the truth, truth doesn’t sell. It’s all half-truths and prettified lies, you know, basic corporate horseshit.
I like to pretend I’m on an airplane. It’s the only tolerable fantasy that can get me through the shift. They’re very similar; airplanes and call-centers. You don’t get alcohol, true, but you get cigarettes in exchange, except you have to pay for them, obviously. You sit in one place for 8 hours, too tired to do anything real. Scrolling through social media or typing something obnoxious into Google. You know what a hedgehog penis looks like? I do… thank you for flying dispatch.
Unlike the real thing, the Dispatch Airline has no real destination except for getting through the day. And the lousy pay at the end of the month. I like to think of myself as a Rockstar or a a Stand-up Comedian. Travelling the world, spending most of my life inside an airplane. I got 5 flights to catch every week, I’m that famous.
Not all hope is lost. Petty acts of resistance here and there. Subversion, sabotage, nothing too fancy. Take my chair for instance…brilliant! The backside is broken off from the armrest, you can lean into it a little now. Maybe even rest your eyes for a bit. Magnificent work!
We try to keep the team morale up. There’s camera surveillance footage of the company owner falling over in his chair. We sent it out to everyone. Almost smashed his fucking head against the desk! Just keeping our spirits up… we do what we can.
I think I’m getting an aneurysm, these fucking lights are drilling into my skull. “Free Market Eugenics” — Jimmy says. Thanks Jimmy; hard to disagree. They’re engineering a new race for sure. Homo-Profiticus. Came up with it myself. Better than Homo-Cost/Benefit-Analyticus… I think.
Risk-managerius, homo marketalis, whatever the fuck you want to call these corporate rats, my point is, if sitting in a call-center with a fucking face-mask strapped to your face is not some new-world-order shit, then I don’t know what is.
Fuck. I can’t believe this! Look Jimmy, they removed the headphone input port… that’s a whole new level Jimmy I swear. I can’t have my music in-between the calls?! It’s like they get more money just knowing you’re miserable, is this even about profit? “We are disciplined bodies my dude, that’s what they want”. Well fuck dammit Jimmy. I don’t know if I can stay here anymore.