5 October 2009 – the new girl again

The ugly brown building

The ugly brown building

Monday 5

My first day at the Mad House started with a weigh in. The slow march into new territory continues and I have lost another pound, I am officially in the lower half of the elevens now at eleven six. I don’t mind admitting I did a little happy dance.

In my usual fashion I’d been steadfastly refusing to think about my first day at my new job until I absolutely had to but, being as I was actually getting ready to go there, I couldn’t avoid thinking about it any longer. The general feeling was dread. For a start there was all the stuff about being the oldest and fattest going round and round in my head, then the stuff about not being able to do the job, not understanding the training, not retaining the information I needed to learn. In short, fear of failure and humiliation. On top of that was the horror of being back in a call centre, a job I swore I would never, ever do again.

So I found myself standing outside the big, ugly building looking up at all those floors of hideous brown bricks and glass. As usual, I was early, I’m pathologically ridiculously early for everything, so I stood for a while contemplating my fate. There was a huge temptation to turn and run but how would I explain that to Commando? In the end I went through the automatic doors into the foyer and gave my name to the man sitting looking bored at reception. Why couldn’t I have got a job sitting in reception? I could do that, no headsets there.

After a short while a young, incredibly beautiful Asian woman came out of the lift, through the turnstiles that stop unauthorised, possibly homicidal, members of the public getting in and shook my hand. She had a wide, wide smile on her face. Her name was Jas and she was one of my trainers. Actually it was slightly embarrassing because no one else had arrived, what with me being so early, and I’m not sure she knew quite what to do with me. Luckily, another early bird arrived about then. All my worries about being the oldest and the fattest melted away as soon as I saw her, she was, as far as I could tell by looking, older than me by a good few years and about the same size I’d been back in January, although way taller than me so she looked much better than I had back then. Her name was Kim.

There were six of us in my training group, myself, Kim, a dark haired girl call Emma (also bigger than me), Louise, a pretty blonde, Leo a bit of a joker in his early twenties and Clive, late twenties and a little too serious for my liking. There was also another trainer, Dev, an oriental looking guy who seemed a bit full of himself to me. We spent the morning doing ‘getting to know each’ other exercises, filling out forms and having our photos taken for pass cards so we could get into the building.

Jas took us on a bit of a tour, starting with the cafeteria on the first floor. There was an amazing coffee machine but, sadly, we couldn’t actually get one because you need to put money on your pass card for everything you buy and we didn’t have our pass cards yet. Still, that was probably for the best because there was also a lot of rather tempting food around. Good job I bought a packed lunch.

Then we visited one of the floors of the call centre. This was pretty much as I expected, rows and rows of desks, people talking into headsets, notices everywhere, motivational posters, big screens showing call waiting times and sales, a hive of activity. Unless you’ve worked in a call centre it’s hard to explain the sheer level of noise, all those people talking at once. I can’t imagine sitting at one of those desks or maybe I just don’t want to imagine. Thinking about it makes me shudder.

At lunchtime I went across the road to East Park and sat on a bench to eat my lunch. That’ll probably get me a bad name with the trainers because everyone else ate their lunch in the training room. To be honest I don’t care if they think I’m not a team player, I had to get out of that building. This does not bode well for the rest of my working life at the Mad House, half a day and I’m desperate to escape.

Then it was back to the training room on the second from top floor where we had a long presentation about the history of the company, followed by another about data protection laws. Having such boring lectures straight after lunch was probably not the best planning. I don’t think I was the only one who could hardly keep their eyes open. After that we needed our wits about us because we had our first look at the system. Jas showed us how to find an account, which seemed fairly simple, understanding all the information less so. There are actually two systems running side by side and you have to flick between the two. This was the point when I wondered if I was actually up to the job. When I stole a glance at Kim she looked absolutely terrified. At least I wasn’t alone in that.

When I got home tonight my head was buzzing with stuff. All that information just kept going round and round leaving me feeling confused and more scared than I did at the beginning of the day. All that and I haven’t even answered a phone yet!

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