As was expected, I didn’t plan for any of this. We were all just crawling out of what seemed like had been the longest winter of our somewhat God-forsaken South Dakotan lives, and the only plan I had was to hang on to my last remaining shred of sanity as long as I possibly could; which was hard, because after that one last incredible ice storm, my fingers never quite thawed back to the way they once had been positioned. The grip was ever-slipping until, finally, June. It’s been a cool month, for June. Enjoyably cool. Next-to-the-Bay cool, too, because it’s also been warm and breezy and care-free. It’s been wonderful, to say the least… and I started to make new plans.
I’d been working steadily at a job in Sioux Falls for nine months, now, and it mostly felt good. I was being an adult. Doin’ the grind. Building skills and a career; serving my time. As an employee. Yes, Sir, I was toeing the line. And it all was coming out fine, because I was good at it. My first full month also happened to be a record-setting month in terms of revenue, in the entire two-year history of my office. Since I was the only person actually making calls, I will admit to attributing a great portion of this to the sales leads generated by my calls. After five months, the revenue produced by my leads well exceeded $100,000 – a trend, by the way, which I noticed did slow after I’d mentioned as much on my LinkedIn profile – but I nevertheless continued to generate leads. I out-paced the web. Partially, though, this was due to the fact that I was working for a retail technology company which had – again, only two years ago – decided that a website and some marketing efforts might be a good idea. And for anyone unable to determine, for whatever reason, the general point in time and space to which I am referring, it is at the time of this writing the year 2013: Companies compete for Facebook “Likes”, our global markets are all digital, a space commander sent a tweet — from space, and a robot on Mars recently drew a giant phallic symbol in red dust on a plant 225,000 kilometers away. We got pictures; like, a website should have been a thing that this company had been having for at least a decade.
That was not my frustration, however. What bothered me was the fact that I’d been hired into a position which had been advertised at the entry, degree-holding level, and which had been sold to me in the interview as a place where I would be able to expand upon my skills. This job, though – the job that I was being asked to do – did in no way require a degree, and provided development skills in the area of telemarketing, exclusively. I pushed for everything I did outside of that, including email and social networking. By three months, I was asking for more work, and by six months, I’d started getting snippy. At nine months, though, I’d resigned to the benefit of collecting a steady paycheck while developing my HTML5 and CSS skills online through Code Academy. Oh, and Tweeting. I did a lot of that, too. Regardless, I’d developed a sales funnel of realized + potential revenue that exceeded $250,000 by modest estimates.
So, one very bright and gorgeous day – in fact, if I could just digress for a minute – days like this day made coming outside during work such a pleasure. There weren’t very many windows, you see, and daylight is something which I fully undersand my own personal emotions to be fully dependent upon. I’m not sure I could be any more clear than by saying that these Northern Winters make me sad: Wake up, no sun; go to work, no sun; four walls, all day; leave work, no sun. I. Cannot. Handle. It. But on the nice days, when I would go outside for a smoke/get-away-from-this-for-a-minute break, there was a delightful breeze dancing first throughout the planted prairie grass in the City park across the street, and then fitfully through the dust and the gravel in the relatively barren parking lot near the building of my growingly loathsome workplace. To be clear, there was another business – another call center, no less – in the building, which was owned by a neighboring electric company who also rented out other spaces for such needs as possessed by meetings, and the Census Bureau. My favorite part about where this office was situated within the town, though, was the fact that it was so near to the Air National Guard airstrip. This made sense, since our marketing office was just about the only marketing anything which was not located anywhere near Downtown; certainly the highest north. As someone who spent six straight months listening to fighter jets take off, day and night, in the desert of Balad, Iraq – and as someone who just generally is infatuated with the entire concept of manned flight – this was enjoyable to me. They’re swift and strong, and bolt through the bright blue sea of sky like nothing else. Literally, nothing else compares. It’s so very fantastic.
This was the scene of this Wednesday in early June when I went in, and I sat down, and I simply went to work as usual. The day before had actually been pretty productive, as far as company numbers go. Just so that it’s understood, whenever someone in my position – a DGR, or Detail/Data (something) Generation Representative (something – I don’t know – some … THING that you can never put on a resume, ever) – achieved the set goal of any given phone call, we called it an ‘Opportunity’, or ‘Opp’ for short. Right – so, the day before, I’d gotten five or six of these Opps, and in doing so out-performed unequivocally the two other people also working in my position, as well as the leads brought in by the website that day. And the last thing – the very last thing I did that day – was that I’d verified the final two Opps with my manager. This is distinct because it was his wish that I unnecessarily did this with every Opp, and I didn’t unnecessarily do it. But this time I did. So it was too bad when he called me in to his office this Wednesday morning to question the validity of said Opps.
“Hey, Mel, can you come in here for a second”, he’d said. I replied, ‘sure’, or whatever simple thing I would have said, and I walked the ten feet to his office. He started asking me about these Opps, saying that there was an inconsistency with the account they were both on; it didn’t make sense. Indeed, it didn’t, I muttered. He didn’t stop, though. He kept dancing around why it didn’t make sense, but would not go into my call log, or into my previous day’s activities. We were just mindlessly – in my mind, this is what was happening – we were mindlessly dancing around a non-issue. I’d told him about these the night before, and he approved them; there was nothing nefarious going on, nor was there ever. That would be pretty stupid. It was obvious to me that I’d erroneously entered the Opp information on an incorrect account. A mistake, but not one which made the leads any less viable. So, I said, “Well, let me just go back to my desk and look it up”, which was, in hindsight, my first mistake.
Immediately, a call to cease and desist. Unflinchingly, I did nothing of the sort. There was arguing for me to walk back into the office. I proceded to form a short finger list of things I would and would not do. I’ll allow readers to sort it out for themselves, but the list involved some things along the line of standing by while having my work unjustly and accusatorially questioned, arguing over non-facts, wasting time talking about something that could easily be researched, and “stay[ing] right here at my desk and look[ing] it up for myself”. And then, he said it; he said, “This is your last chance to get back into my office.”
After what I was sure would be a chilling enough pause, I pushed my mounted keyboard under my desk, clear of my legs. I half-turned around in my chair. “Excuse me?”, I asked, honestly impressed. I admit my surprise, too, when he had the gumption to repeat himself. Not unwaveringly, but he did it. “You are not my father …”
“No, but I am your boss.”
“I don’t care, I’m not going to let you talk to me like that. Goodbye.”
I got up and left – walked right out of the office and drove off about a mile away – before I realized I’d left my cellphone.