For the most part, working in Customer care is:
1. Having waves of malicious mouth odour wash over you by 9.15am when you are premenstrual and nauseous and want to lie down. Oh, and you have to smile through this biological attack and wait until the source is safely out of view before dousing yourself in air freshener.
2. Realizing that you are actually just a glorified errand girl/receptionist/nanny/mummy/court jester.
3. Not being allowed to have feelings or mood swings because the show is never about you; customers and colleagues will always want what they want, and you exist to provide it as speedily and joyfully as possible. You are an Igor (if the poor lad were sociable and moved faster), forever on hand to pull the switch to please whichever of your masters ordered you to.
4. Coming to terms with being treated like a piece of sexual real estate; practically every man you’ve ever smiled at thinks it was an invitation to flounder within your nether regions, failing to understand that you were only being nice in anticipation of the transient monthly alert you call your salary.
5. You can’t quite move around the town without someone calling you by your employer’s name, and nudging his friend to have a look at you too. And then you feel a bit awkward because, do you do a trick, or…?
6. In this geographic region, it is having smelly men stand up close and too personal to scratch their balls for no conceivable reason. Do they just not wash themselves? Is more sweat produced by the testicles than any other human body part? Do men harbour lice in the dark jungles of their pubic hair? Are they wearing the wrong kind of underwear? Have they been cursed to scratch for all time? One man once scratched himself so intimately that he clearly outlined his phallus for my bewildered, repulsed eyes and I caught myself looking around for the cameraman and my other co-actors, since we were obviously on the set of a porno.
7. You need to have an office phone number and a “real life” phone number because someone will call you by 11:45pm to ask about something you could only do at your desk, which everyone knows fully well that you do not live in. Also, a particularly well-respected client might call you on a nice Saturday evening to find out what you are wearing in that slimy low tone that suggests that a man may or may not be touching himself in a quiet room of the house where his six year old daughter is less likely to wander into.
8. If you are not good at your job, you will know no peace for the meetings and complaints and pep talks. If you are good at your job, you will know no peace for the crowds of people who will bring their (inconsequential) problems to your door, then refer all their friends and family to you. I don’t know if you are following so far, but what I’m trying to say is that it is generally not a very peaceful job.
9. If you are a snob, please change jobs.
10. If you are quick to anger and prone to acts of physical violence, please change jobs.
11. If you have no filter and generally say exactly what comes to mind, please change jobs. Maybe be a food or movie critic?
12. Every customer you have ever attended to fully believes that they have the right to make suggestions about your personal life and actually influence your lifestyle.
13. If you work in a chauvinistic environment (how many women don’t, am I right?) then you must be prepared to constantly be reminded by your male colleagues that your breasts will not be perky forever, thus you have limited time to snag a man before they lose their lift.
It is not totally terrible, though. Once in a while you will come across genuinely nice people who will show you a kind of innocent kindness and renew your faith in humanity. If your mother conceived you underneath a rainbow and you are especially blessed, you may also encounter customers who will present you with gifts and food without returning the following day to remind you of their generosity. Or sending you a cryptic text later that evening with a hotel name, room number and time.
In my day, I have felt the spit of a stranger on my face, been saved by grace from receiving a vibrating slap from an equally vibrating customer, and mopped up the pee of a customer’s baby because the cleaners were not on the premises at the time. I have been groped by a driver… three drivers, actually, propositioned by a barely literate security guard and had my bottom spanked by my male boss. But as I said, there are silver linings in the cloud of this thing, and I have met a lot of great people who will hopefully be a part of my life for a really long time.