“Hello Customer Service” #1: The New Uniforms

“It’s too big.” Andy said.

“They’re in different sizes, moron. Find one that fits.” Helen responded.

The new uniforms had arrived and oh how they were loathed. Thick, stuffy fleeces so itchy they might as well be made of horsehair.

“Why do we even have to wear them? Nobody sees us. The customer’s can’t look down the phones.” Not yet, I foretold myself warningly.

“Orders from downstairs. Everyone in uniform.”

It seemed so silly. Everything in the company was being rebranded now, the sign on the building, the boxes we send stuff in, and now, the customer service reps. I have to hand it to them it was clever, putting the company name in a different colour like that.

It wasn’t the worst part though. The worst part was that it was summer. Humid. Hot. Sticky. The fleeces were immediately abandoned onto the backs of chairs (nobody was going to check we were wearing them). Even the manager followed suit.

The cafe next door was doing a roaring trade from us, ice cream and cold drinks being purchased from every department, and the wide spacious windows so admired for their view were acting like a greenhouse bringing heat like the door to an oven.

“Peter, collection.” The manager hung up his phone. I hung up my headset and slumped back in my chair. I could practically see the wavy hot air in front of the ceiling.

“Urrrrggghhh.” Collections are where something has been returned to the company for the attention of Customer Services. The rule was that when this happens we have to go get it, and it was a dreaded chore let me tell you. Remember in Toy Story where those little green aliens get selected by “the claw”? And now leaving the office meant I had to put on that stupid fleece. Where the hell were the branded shirts?

Sulkily tugging on my fleece I proceeded down the hallway to the elevator, eventually reaching the front counter.

“Down there” Stephen with a “ph” pointed to the end as he walked past.

“Ok, let me see.” I walked up and studied it. “Hmm. It’s 29 degrees outside, humidity at 93%. This box is….just over a metre long and half a metre wide…”

I tested the weight. “Ah. Nice and heavy too. That’s got to be nearly 25 kilos. I feel that justifies a swear word.”

My hands could barely grip it, the width of the box and the sweat on my hands made it almost impossible. I was melting. As I got it to the elevator it slipped from my hand just as I was putting it down and one corner crushed onto my foot. Hastily tugging it out from underneath I sighed heavily and used the box to rest my elbow on as I waited for the lift to come down. A bead of sweat trickled down my brow.

“Screw it.” I said, and all too eagerly removed the fleece.

The lift doors opened to reveal the depot manager (my boss’s boss) like a prize on a game show. He took a sip from his company-branded coffee and our eyes met for a moment. “Afternoon” he said, and walked on. But I’m pretty sure his eyes were saying “I see you’re not in uniform.”

Dear God it couldn’t get any worse. After a brief respite in the elevator it was back to hauling the box, half carrying and half sliding it down the hallway with the fleece tied around my waist.

With triumph the box was plonked down by my chair, the fleece abandoned, and my butt found it’s groove back in the padding of the seat.

“Ah….” I savoured the rest.

Almost as soon as I reattached my headset the phone rang.

“Peter, collection.”

Screw you, Danny.

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