The Job I Got Fired From (The really looooooong version)
To think back on it now, it seems like 10 years ago, well in fact, it was 10 years ago. Boy bands were at their zenith, the world had averted Y2K Armageddon and I, a fat headed boy of 19 (or 20) years was in pursuit of a career I could really dig my teeth into. My friend had recently secured a job at a collection agency. He told me that my qualifications were perfect for the job
The "business" was named Common Collection Agency, later renamed Common Corruption Agency by me. It was the type of place that perpetually looked like they had just moved in. Row upon row of dirty desks were littered with giant old style computer monitors and uniform black multi button phones. I would liken it to a chicken coop if chickens had to make phone calls all day instead of pooping out eggs.
Needless to say, my interview went well. I possessed the two things they required to work there, a pulse and a voice. I was hired and scheduled to start immediately. The next day I came in and was introduced to my
There were two sides to the office. On one side they were doing legitimate collections for banks and credit cards. Our side however, was focused on getting people to pay off their Zellers card. Zellers is the equivalent to Target, perhaps a half a step down but not as pathetic as Walmart. The highest balance anyone could rack up on a Z-card was 300 dollars. From personal experience, the only person who maxes out their Zellers card is someone who can't afford groceries and has to make dinner with whatever odds and ends they can find at a department store. As a collector, it was imperative that we demand payment immediately. The only way to get paid immediately at the time was if someone went to Western Union and paid extra fees or personally delivered it. I don't know about you but people who can't afford groceries and have to ride the bus don't knock down your door and thrust a valid check in your face.
Needless to say our phone calls were many but our results were meager. Not to fear, a new section manager was hired by the name of Cleveland Pinder. Cleve was was a skinny black man of about 35. When I say skinny I mean Kenyan runner skinny. His origin was ambiguous because he didn't have an accent but if I had to guess I'd say that his parents immigrated from the Islands. As I recall Cleveland was short and slim but he compensated his small stature by having bulging white eyes. I suspect his hero must have been Mr T because his hands were covered with about 8 low quality gold rings. I don't know who said it first but my friend and I both referred to him as "Ludacris." we named him Luda because the first day he drove in in his 1989 Cutlass he had his stock stereo cranking out Ludacris at 9:30 in the morning. Cleveland will now be referred to as Ludacris for the rest of the story. Ludacris was poorly educated and I suspect everyone who has met him in his life thinks that he is a prick. Perhaps he is one of these people who have had to fight for every scrap they have ever gotten in life. Regardless, he was the killer combo of dumb and dickey.
After a few days of me and the other new recruits doing poorly Ludacris called a meeting. Earlier that day he passed me during break and spied me reading a copy of Bluebeard by Vonnegut. He shot me what I perceived to be a condescending look and minutes later said the following: "Some of you might be doing this part time or you might be going to University to get a degree but I chose collecting as a career." It was at this point that I released an unintentional and unexpected "Pssh" noise from my lips to indicate to him that I didn't respect his life's work. I was consciously forcing my bullshit detector to stop me from saying anything stupid but my backup bullshit detector sounded the alarm. Who chooses hassling the elderly and people on welfare as a career without the benefit of the riches that a gang would offer? I don't know why little men in a position of dominance have to justify or build their mystique. Either way Ludacris was not happy and he cut the meeting short although he didn't address me directly.
From then on Luda found ways to ride me hard. He kept demanding results and suggesting that I was not pursuing leads long or strong enough. He started babysitting me and tried to find ways to be condescending about my methods. My method went a little something like this: "Hello, please give me money because I don't want to yell at you. If you don't give me money the scary little ferret behind me is going to grab the phone and yell at you." To be honest I wasn't very good at collecting. Many people found me to be pleasant and agreed to pay me on the phone but they never did. In order to succeed in job like that you have to willing to fill people with more shame and sadness then they already feel.
There were several reason why I may have gotten fired but to this day I still don't know exactly why. All I know is that I was called into the big bosses offices and he told me that since I was working there for less than 3 months I did not pass their evaluation period. I inquired why I was being shit canned but the coward could only muster "Uh, I legally don't have to tell you." Thinking back on it now they could have only fired me for 2 reasons: 1) Ludacris was insulted 2) My collection performance was poor. Either way it was a pretty weak move in my opinion to not tell me why I was being let go when I asked so casually and without hate or resentment in my voice.
The funny part about this story is that I was fired at 11:30 in the morning and I had carpooled to work with my friend on that day. When they cut me I had to leave immediately. So there I was for the next hour milling around the front of the building waiting for my friend to come out for lunch. Before he came outside all of my coworkers filed out of the building and said "what happened" and individually I each had to tell them "yeah, I got shit canned."At some point Ludacris walked passed me and gave me and "I won" sneer. Finally my friend came out and I asked him for the car keys so I could sit in the car. For the next few hours I sat in the car and watch the daylight fade and the little lights come on inside the building. Eventually I watched the same people file out and walk past me and give me strange "What the hell are you still doing here looks." Finally my friend poked his ugly head out of the building got in the car and drove me away from that nightmare.