Chapter Thirty-Three

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"If I go in and out of ready mode, then there must be a really good explanation for doing so since I obviously have no problem sitting in idle for 20 minutes, as your records indicate. 

"Furthermore, having a high idle time does not necessarily imply I'm "chatting" as you put it. I happen to do a lot of my work after the call rather than during it. Some people choose to do it during the call, and that's fine too. There's no right or wrong way, just a difference in style. Regardless of which style I choose, in both cases I would be unavailable to take another call. At least my method avoids the customer getting annoyed while they pointlessly wait on the other end. So, I think my method is much better than the alternative. It's win-win for everybody." 

Shannon had nothing really to say about that so she went on to her next point.  

"The third thing I wanted to bring to your attention is a particular call." 

Shannon already had the call cued up, so she pressed play. During the call, the customer expressed the desire to cancel their account. I suggested to the cardholder they keep the card for another six months since they had already paid up front for the card's annual fee. The card was up for renewal in six months, so by cancelling later, they could still benefit from the usage of the card. The cardholder agreed with my suggestion and requested to have the card cancelled automatically in six months, without the need for her to call back. I agreed and disconnected the call. 

When the call ended, the room was silent. I continued to sit there coyly with a bored look on my face.  

Once again, trying to increase the dramatics of the situation, Shannon let out a big sigh. "Trevor, please tell me why you told this woman you would cancel her account in six months." 

"Because I will cancel her account in six months," I said directly. "Are you accusing me of something, Shannon?" I asked. At this point, I was getting rather tired of this game we were playing.  

If a customer called in to cancel their account, it is our job to prevent it as much as possible. It was actually one of the stats they use to measure our performance and base our pay grade on. As such, there is financial incentive for an employee to manipulate their stats in order to increase the size of their paycheck. It was no secret employees did this, and she was insinuating I was guilty of doing it too. I played dumb so I could get her to accuse me directly. 

"What is it you think I did wrong during that call?" I asked. 

"Well, from an auditor's standpoint, it looks like you told the woman you would cancel her account in six months, but didn't." 

"How could I cancel an account today, six months from now? It's illogical. If we were to go to my desk right now, I could show you a note with her account details written on it. I fully plan to cancel her account, as promised."  

"Okay, but if you were ever hit by a bus, we wouldn't know you had a piece of paper in your desk. In the future, just write the referral." 

"Okay, fair enough." 

"Finally, I want to bring up your usage of the phones for personal calls on company time. What is your understanding of that policy?" 

"Keep it to a minimum." 

"Exactly. We recognize during a shift, people will need to make personal calls, but we want you to make them from the phones outside the office." 

"Okay."  

"In the last two weeks, you made a total of 42 minutes of outbound calls." 

"Uhh... okay?" I said dumbfounded.  

"Trevor, these are serious problems."  

Ordinarily, I would have let it go, but I had received my acceptance letter into law school a week prior so I knew I would be quitting soon. I had nothing to lose - complete freedom to speak my mind. So I used this opportunity as a forum to do so. 

"Shannon, first of all, I don't appreciate all the dramatics, okay? I know what you are trying to do and it's unnecessary. When I came in here, you made it seem like you had me on camera stealing from the company.  

"As far as these things being 'serious problems', I have to say, I don't share your concern. You brought up four issues that are so petty that they are not even worth mentioning at all. Then you base your case around some skewed data that hardly presents an accurate reflection of the whole picture." 

I could tell she wanted to speak, so I raised my hand to stop her. "Please, let me finish. Your record of my outbound calls is from a random two-week period where I happened to be off the phones for 42 minutes, but it's not as if I'm consistently doing it. Not to mention, 42 minutes over a two-week period is not really a big deal in the broader scope of things. That's 21 minutes per week, which works out to a couple of minutes per day. Are you suggesting that you're doing your job the entire time you are here? You wouldn't be able to come up with a span of 21 minutes in your week where you are not doing your job? Because that would be a lie. Nobody works 100% of the time. I constantly witness managers talking to other managers for 45 minutes per day about Canucks games, or what they did on the weekend. 

"Let me give you some free advice. What you did just now was completely inappropriate. You can't treat people this way. If I were to quit or be fired, believe me, I would be fine. However, some of the people out there do not have this same luxury so I will speak for them. Do you know how many people here are stressed out, on some kind of anti-depressant, have major medical issues from being at this job, or have quit entirely because of the impossible standards this company expects? This slave-master mentality this company operates under has got to stop, it's not right." 

"Did you know I did your job for five years, Trevor?" 

"With all due respect, Shannon, that was a long time ago. Many relevant aspects of the job have changed since then. There were not as many products and procedures, there were no time limits for the calls, there were no sales, there was a different scoring matrix, and not to mention, a completely different management team. So, I disagree, you did not do my job." 

Alfredo chimed in for the first time in a somewhat aggressive tone. "Look, people get promoted because they are doing a good job. People who do poorly, don't. It's illogical." 

"I'm sorry, I don't see the relevance of that statement," I said. 

Alfredo was completely caught off-guard by my apparent lack of respect for authority. He was trying his best to intimidate me, and I swatted him away like the annoying pest he was.  

All the things that made me a bad employee were the exact qualities that made me a good entrepreneur. I relished in that fact and made no apologies about it. For most of my life, I was trying to conform to something I was not. I was trying to fit in and be a good employee, but in that moment it became clear I was not meant to be an employee. I needed to do my own thing. I needed to start my own company.

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