Book of Jobs Part 3
So I was looking for a job on the Internets one day and I happened upon an ad for a company in search of a Customer Service Representative. There was no reason to suspect that the ad wasn’t legit, but judge for yourself:
XXXX, Inc. is a leading custom software, web and database development company delivering world-class outsourcing services for both Fortune 500 and venture start-up companies around the globe. Currently, we are looking for a Customer Service Representative.
MINIMUM KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES REQUIRED:
Seemed like your run-of-the-mill CSR job ad. There was no mention of pay or location, although I assumed that it was Chicago-based since it was advertised on the Reader's website. I sent in my résumé and to my surprise received an email response from Recruiting Agent, Daniel Clarke. My application is under review, the email said. Mr. Clark also informed me that his employer (which I will not divulge the name of as they are a real and legitimate company who likely had no knowledge of what was about transpire in their name) was looking for a customer service agent to work from home for $20 an hour. Here is the email:
January 26, 2009 8:25:21 AM CST
My name is Daniel Clarke, Recruiting Agent to XXXX, Inc. We have received your job application posted to us; your resume is under review. Below is the applicant we are looking for.
The "Payment to Orphanage Homes" line seemed a little suspect, but whatever, you get desperate sometimes and let's face it, even with a substantial amount of padding, my résumé is not all that impressive. At any rate, I answered Daniel Clark’s brief interview questions and received a response the following day:
January 27, 2009 10:09:21 AM CST
Thank you for your email, your answers to the question has been received and approved. You will be working from home as an independent employee and you will need to have a computer with internet connectivity at home in order to be effective in this job.
This is a work from home position and your location do (sic) not matter, you will be working on General Customer Service duties, your assignments will be made available to you via email, phone and IM, you will be assigned with a supervisor that will guide you through your assignments, your salary will be made available to you by certified check or wire transfer.
Attached is a Contract Agreement Form (CAF) with contains our terms and conditions associated with this position. Review the contract agreement form carefully, sign the last page the CAF and return back via email or fax. Contact via email as soon as you have sent the signed CAF to transfer you to your supervisor for your complete employment profile and assignment updates.
Suddenly Daniel Clarke’s diction and grammar appear to suffer (“your location do not matter”?) and payment by wire transfer should have been a red flag. At any rate, I signed the form and emailed it back. It may have been at this point that I noticed that Mr. Clark’s e-mail address was somewhat suspicious as well. The domain name was not the company he professed to work for but a Yahoo email account. The following day I received a congratulatory email from Mr. Clark:
January 28, 2009 4:13:13 AM CST
Congratulations!! This is a confirmation message to let you know that your signed CAF has been received successfully. Fill out the Form below and have them forward to your Supervisor (Mr. Joe) to Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org for your complete employment file setuP.
You are required to setup a screen name with Yahoo messenger immediately and instant message your supervisor (Mr. Joe) on yahoo ID: joe2desk, to provide you with more information on the job and when to start working.
Note: The Yahoo messenger will be your major means of communication
Congratulation ones (sic) again for been part of XXXX, INC, please contact your supervisor via email and Instant Messenger so that he can provide you with more information on the job and your complete employment setup.
Mr. Clark seemed genuinely elated at my hiring. “Congratulation ones again,” he had written. I filled out the employee data form and forwarded it to "Mr. Joe”. I was willing to play this out provided they didn’t ask me for my social security number. The next day I received an email from my new supervisor, Mr. Joe:
January 29, 2009 7:18:35 AM CST
Welcome to XXXX Inc, My name is Joe Phillip; I will be your Supervisor for the Customer Service Representative.
I went ahead and set up a Yahoo IM account so that I could communicate with Joe Phillip, Supervisor. I received this e-mail the following day.
January 30, 2009 9:42:39 AM CST
The Company has introduced a Domestic Petty Cash Payment; The purpose for this (sic) funds is to help employees solve any domestic or emergency assignments that may require the use of funds. E.g. Shipping Payments, Sales Payments, Payments to Orphanages, Packaging/Tapes, Bills and any other related domestic Payments.
Again he asks me for my full name and mailing address which had been provided to the company twice already. I did not respond to this particular email and it would be the last email I would receive from either Joe or Daniel. From here on out, I would be communicating with my Supervisor via Instant Messenger. Unfortunately, I did not think to save those early IM communications, but every morning when I turned on my computer, never at the scheduled 8am start time, but usually around 10am, I would have this message waiting for me: “How are you this morning?” to which I would always reply “good” and that would be it for the day. This would go on for days at a time. Some days I would forget to log on all together. Joe didn’t seem to mind and there were never any assignments anyway. This went on for a week or two and then morning Joe caught me off guard:
That fact that I had not been assigned anything, didn’t seem to faze either one of us. It was just important for him that I be online from 8AM to 1PM. I had already decided that Joe was probably not even in this hemisphere. He was most likely somewhere in Western Africa at a crowded Internet cafe filled with “supervisors” trying to think of new ways to import those Yankee dollars. In spite of this reprimand from the boss, I made no effort to sign in earlier than 10AM and sometimes did not sing in at all. Usually he didn’t seem to mind. Here is an example of a typical instant message from Joe:
After several more weeks of this, Joe must have decided that the hook was sufficiently baited, I was on the line and it was time to reel me in. I received these instructions:
Email me with the account login details to enable the company credit the account with funds as as soon as you are through with the signup. Let me know if you need anything, brb
“Brb” meaning Be Right Back, which he never was btw. I replied back asking how much I should put on the card and received no response. The next day, he seemed to forget all about his request from the previous day:
Of course I did not do this assignment and Joe made no further inquiries as to its progress. Everything was smooth sailing until Joe dropped this bombshell on me one morning:
I hadn’t heard about The Controller previously. I didn’t know that is was the Controller’s job to send me assignments. This Controller seemed to be quite a slacker and not vert diligent in his or her work. I made no effort to comply with Joe’s wishes that I log in on time. That was fine for a few days, then Joe got somewhat cryptic:
He didn’t seem angry or annoyed. If anything he seemed almost concerned. That didn’t last long. My continued noncompliance soon brought the old Joe back to the fore:
I was becoming bored with Joe. Our weird dance of courtship was no longer providing me any amusement, so one day I decided to take the crazy up a notch or two and see if I could entice Joe back into the game. In the interest of saving space, here is a very condensed version of the message I sent him:
Is the controller in control/
Is the controller in control/
Is the controller in control/
I broke my one stanza poem down into many separate messages just in case Joe could also receive them as text messages through his mobile phone and incur extra charges. Joe did not respond and I believe he simply lost his patience with me. I’m sure as he sat in that Internet cafe in Nigeria he made a decision that I was either too stupid or too crazy to be bothered with. I didn’t hear from him for a week. No “good morning, how are you” and no reprimands. I tried to patch things up with Joe one last time. I sent him an IM apologizing. I heard nothing so I decided to lodge a formal complaint with Daniel Clark:
Dear Mr. Clark,
I would like to lodge a formal complaint against one of your employees, Mr. Joe Phillip. I have found Mr. Phillip to be abusive and mean in his treatment of me. I work diligently on my assignments as they are assigned by the Controller, yet this does not seem to be good enough for Mr. Joe Phillip. Mr. Joe constantly harasses me about not being logged into my Yahoo IM at all times. What am I, a slave or some sort of robotic machine? He sometimes asks me what I am wearing which is no small outrage in today's modern day workplace environment. Furthermore, I believe the man to be a drunkard with few, if any, scruples. His vile temper and sometimes violent BUZZing noises are disturbing to someone of my mental condition, which I assure you is under complete control with the proper medication. Am I not a valuable and highly productive part of the XXXX Team? The answer is a yes in the affirmative. All who know my work would enthusiastically agree. I demand treatment as such!
Thank you for your time. I look forward to you taking immediate action in this regard.
Very respectfully yours,
I received no reply to my complaint to Mr. Daniel who was most likely Mr Joe as well. After a week of silence, I sent Joe one last instant message to which he did respond:
And it was over.
Originally published in RW#24, 2016
THE WOODROWS COMPLETE DISCOGRAPHY
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A (VERY) YOUNG MAN
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