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Book of Jobs Part 2

PHONATHON

by Chris Auman

Phonathon was a job that involved phones. I hope that’s as clear today as it was then. The gig was raising money for DePaul University by calling alumni, their parents and anybody else who had ever set foot on campus, however brief their visit. It paid six bucks an hour, which was unheard of at the time, a good wage. The shifts were only three and half hours, Monday through Tuesday with the occasional Sunday afternoon. The call center office was on campus so it was very close to where I lived in a shitty little dorm called Corcoran Hall. I would work on and off at Phonathon for several years, even after I transferred out of DePaul, because, well, my boss let me. (Thanks Beth!)

phone it in

This was a cut-and-dried telemarketing job at its core, but in 1989, people hadn’t quite been pushed to their breaking point on unsolicited calls yet. There were no “no-call lists” that I know of, although plenty of people asked both politely and impolitely to be taken off our list. Most people were receptive to receiving contact from their old alma mater, even if they didn’t fork over any cash. We did have a script to follow with various levels, or “asks”, to get through starting at the $1,000 President’s Club or Circle or some such thing. I actually got one of those pledges once, but I don’t recall if they actually mailed in the payment. We also got bonuses and incentives. I got a $100 bonus at one point and I spent the entire sum on records which made me feel pretty good. That feeling was very fleeting.

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Originally published in RW#23, 2014

RW #23

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