I felt a bit like a secret agent. The wind ruffling my hair as I dialled the number I’d been given. I saw a casually dressed middle-aged man emerge from a nearby building and head towards where I stood the other side of a door in the chain-link perimeter fence. When he reached me I handed over a brown envelope containing my CRB clearance which had arrived that morning. The job offer was now finalised.
“So when do I start?”
“Monday” came the reply as the man disappeared back through the door.
I smiled. It was Thursday. I was next due back in the call-centre on Monday. This was it then. The end. Nevermind. It had been an unhappy couple of months and as the Christmas rush was proving to be tamer than expected I felt that the getting the one month notice period waived by mutual consent wouldn’t be much of an issue.
As a climax it was disappointing. No chance to say goodbye of course, but no chance of some cathartic saturnalia like final-shift release where I’d be free from the constraints of the call-centre; No need to put up with rudeness, insults, and the rest. No need to tow the company line and no need to care whether I was spending too long on the toilet.
I’d once been told by a former colleague that on their last shift had what they described as a snooty customer on the flower delivery line – nothing unusual there. These are the kind who’d spell out every single word, including three, or four letter words and then ask you to repeat it back. In the event the message they got according to my colleague went something like this….
hAv a HapEE BitHdaY LuV frOM…..
Thankfully for those customers I’m too much of a perfectionist to do that even if it was my last shift, but still I could have had some kind of fun being completely honest about the companies I worked for… “yes sir, they do all blow up like that after about a week. I really wouldn’t recommend trying another one”
I did manage to quite upset a fair few customers in what would turn out to be my last ever shift the day before. It was a combination of an awareness of my impending departure and empathy burn-out. I’d long ago had enough of the act, putting on a show of mock horror that such a thing had gone wrong because such a thing never happens 200 times a day and such a thing will not be happening tomorrow and the day after and the week and months after that too and that straight after putting down the phone I’d give management a detailed report of the problem which they would act immediately upon. There is only so much grievance and outrage you can soak up particularly when you have no power to change anything.
“You don’t care do you” said one particularly aggrieved Geordie.
“No, not really. Is that a problem?”
“What’s your name?” he asked.
The thought of another meeting with my manager was still enough to churn my stomach so I refused to give it. I looked around. Only other one guy on the shift and he would never upset a customer. Oh dear.
It was to be sure I thought to myself time to leave.