2 November 2009 – meeting the team

Feeling lost and lonely

Feeling lost and lonely

You’d think at forty nine going on fifty I’d be too old for new girl nerves. Turns out I’m not. Today was my first full day with my new team and I was in such a tiz over this I forgot about my weigh in. Probably for the best because I’m pretty sure the scales didn’t have any good news for me anyway.

The day started with a team talk. Apparently this is a daily event and it gave me a chance to observe my new team mates, try to get the measure of them. Maddie, our manager, went through the stats from last week. Top seller was Masher, real name John Mashiter, slightly chubby, a bit of a joker. He sat next to Gunbir so I’d heard him in action on the phones, he seemed very laid back and chatty but I could tell he was focused on sales, he charmed people into buying whether they wanted to or not. I’m pretty sure I could never be like that. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be top seller either. Masher got a little cheer, a high five from Grant who sat the other side of Gunbir and some eye rolling from everyone else, obviously he was usually in the top spot.

Best wrap time went to Panda, loads of dark hair, a very cheery smile and the loudest laugh I’ve ever heard. Wrap time was something I wasn’t too worried about, the target was to average less than sixty seconds between calls throughout the day but, when I worked at Busy Bees, the mail order call centre, there was no such thing as wrap time, the calls just came one after another and you had to learn pretty quickly to type notes while you spoke to customers.

Then there was talk time, the average time taken on each call, Panda was worst at this, although she’ll soon be knocked of the bottom spot by me no doubt. Billy, a young guy, all fancy trainers and slouchy jeans, was best but Maddie wasn’t impressed, “it’s all very well having low talk time Billy but if you made a bit more effort to actually talk to the customers you might get a few more sales.” He didn’t look impressed.

Everyone had gathered around for the team talk except one girl who sat in the corner tapping away at her keyboard. She looked slightly grumpy and I couldn’t quite work out who she was or why she wasn’t joining in. All morning while I sat taking calls with Gunbir beside me helping me with the system and answering my stupid questions, I kept looking over at her. She didn’t have a headset on but she was working away at something and she looked pretty stressed to me.

Every so often someone, usually Masher, would get up and write another sale on the white board. By break time the only name without a sale under it, other than mine, was Tom’s. Tom was the quiet man sitting next to Maddie. He looked to be in his sixties so I guessed he’d been there quite a while, but he didn’t seem to fit in somehow, mind you, I didn’t either.

Just before midday Gunbir said, “right, log off, it’s break time. You’ve got twenty whole minutes to get a coffee or have a fag, whatever you want as long as you’re back logged on again at the end of it.”
I couldn’t believe the morning had gone so fast but I didn’t need telling twice. It felt a bit odd to be going to the canteen on my own but, unlike in the training room, everyone doesn’t stop for breaks at the same time in the team. It all depends when your call ends.

Although I was surrounded by people in the canteen I felt very alone. At Dream Factory I knew everyone and everyone knew me. When I walked around the building there was always someone saying hello or stopping to chat about something. Here I felt out of place. With my coffee in my hand I didn’t quite know what to do next. Should I just go and sit at one of the crowded tables with lots of people I didn’t know, people who were already deep in conversation? Should I just take the coffee and go back up to the team I didn’t know either? As I stood there feeling rather small and lost a very loud voice shouted out, “FG, come and sit with us.” It was Panda sitting at a table with Eloelia, the young girl with pretty cornrows in her hair.

I don’t think I said very much although Panda did ask me how I was getting on and promised me it would get easier which was nice of her. Mostly I just listened while they moaned about customers and Eloelia talked about her little boy. She looked too young to have a little boy to me but what do I know? It was nice to be included.

By the end of the day I still didn’t have a sale on the board which is a bit of a worry. I did find out a little more about my team though. Eloelia is a bit young to have a little boy. Her son is three and she is eighteen, meaning she had him while she was still at school. Panda has two daughters, one of six and one of fifteen. Rae, the girl who sits opposite Gunbir, is doing the Cambridge Diet, she and Panda are about the same size I was back in January, the difference is Panda doesn’t care one bit and Rae seems as unhappy about it as I was back then. The mystery woman didn’t join us for either of our breaks or lunch so I still don’t know what she does. The boys are still a bit of a mystery too. The team seems very much us and them when it comes to the sexes.

As I’m still technically in training I left at five thirty, walking out into the rainy dusk just as my team were going for their afternoon break. I was shattered, goodness only knows how I’m going to cope when I have to work until eight!

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