Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
Play Bee Toys Call CenterJeff sat fuming, with one ear to the telephone, listening to the endless series of options. "If you have a billing question, press one." Of course, they would put that first; they just want to get our money.
Option number seven was the one Jeff wanted. "If you have a compaint or problem with your purchase, press seven now."
Jeff mashed number seven, and then waited while the music played. He really wasn't in the mood for Barry Manilow. He thought there should be an option: "If you would prefer to wait in silence, press one now."
There was a click, and Jeff prepared to launch his complaint.
"All lines are currently busy, please stay on the line. Your call is very important to us."
More music, another "all lines busy" message, more music, and then there was another click.
"Play Bee Toys Incorporated. This is Jessie speaking. How may I help you."
Jeff launched into his attack with full force. "Yesterday I purchased a remote control truck for my son. The stupid thing didn't even work, straight out of the package. The truck's antenna was mangled, one of the buttons was broken off the remote, the truck's horn played the stupid horse racing song instead of 'Dixieland' like it was supposed to, and to top it all off, the owner's manual was in Japanese. And if you idiots over there at Play Bee think I'm going to spend my hard earned money on this kind of garbage, you're insane. What kind of an outfit are you guys running over there anyway?"
Pleasantly, Jessie replied, "I'm sorry you're having a problem with the toy. What is the model number of the truck?"
"It's the dark gray truck with red stripes."
"I need the model number, sir." Jessie replied sweetly.
"Well how many dark gray remote control trucks with red stripes do you morons sell anyway? Why don't you just look it up in your stupid computer. Dark. Gray. Remote. Control. Truck. Red. Sripes." He paused for a moment, then added. "Here, let me help you out. Remote. That's spelled R - E - M - O..."
"I know how to spell remote, sir. But I still need the model number."
Jeff cursed, and not under his breath. "Hold please," he said, mimicking the sound of the operator. He wished he had some Manilow to play for her. He stomped across the room and grabbed the truck's packaging.
"Okay," he said, "the number on the package is 77538-AK. Are you happy?"
"Could you repeat that slower?"
Jeff knew he'd read the number too fast for anyone to possibly type or remember it. But he didn't care. He repeated the number without slowing down at all.
"Hold please." After a long moment of silence, the voice came back on. "Oh! The Gray Hornet! I love this truck! I bought two of these for my grandkids last Christmas! They loved it!"
Jeff was taken aback. Grandkids? He thought these stupid call centers were staffed by college students who weren't able to get "real" jobs yet.
He tried to imagine his own grandmother working at a place like that. Gray haired, sweet, and a little feeble, sitting in a cubicle listening to irate morons curse and swear and yell at her all day. Suddenly Jeff felt a little awkward.
"Well, err, um, that's great that your grandkids liked them so much. It's nice to know that they weren't all damaged like mine. You know?"
"I do, sir. Now, if you'll just give me your date of purchase, we can start working through the exchange process."
A few minutes later, with Jeff finally off the line, Jessie looked up to see Greg leaning over her cubicle wall.
"You did it again, didn't you?"
"What?" Jessie asked.
"You played the grandmother card."
"Hey, whatever it takes to calm these idiots down," she replied. Then with a shake of her head, she said: "I can't believe how long I've been stuck in this stupid job."
"Hey," Greg said, "What do you expect? Unless you want to flip burgers, this is about the only job available to high school students like us."
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