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Book of Jobs Part 3

THE CONTROLLER

by Chris Auman

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.

RESPONSIBILITIES:
• Follows departmental policies and procedures, particularly in regards to customer confidentiality
• Accurately enters or confirms customer information into database; initiates and/or completes proper request forms in assisting customers.
• Effectively uses computer systems for tracking, information gathering, and/or troubleshooting.
• Perform any other duties assigned

MINIMUM KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES REQUIRED:
High school education or equivalent. Must be able to perform data entry and basic computer skills.

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.

JOB DESCRIPTION:
Class Title: Customer Service Representative
Class Code: 9933
Job Class: Independent Employee (Work from Home)
Pay Grade: 509
Salary: $20/Hour, 5-8hrs a day, Monday - Friday (Monthly Payment)

RESPONSIBILITIES:
• Follows departmental policies and procedures, particularly in regards to customer confidentiality
• Effectively uses computer systems for tracking, information gathering, and/or troubleshooting.
• Receiving and disbursement of Payment to Orphanage Homes

REQUIREMENTS:
• Phone Line & Internet
• Computer PC or Notebook

BRIEF INTERVIEW:
• Do you have a Computer and Internet and a Phone Line?
• Do you have another Job and if yes, Is it a full time Job or a part time Job.
• Will you be able to dedicate at least 5 hours (Part-time) or 8hrs (Full Time) per day 9am-2pm or 9am-5pm, Monday – Friday?

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.

Regards,

Daniel Clarke
Recruiter Officer
XXXX, INC

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: xxxxxxx@yahoo.com 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.

Regards,

Daniel Clarke
Recruiter Officer
XXXX, INC.

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.

You will need to be online on the yahoo messenger to receive updates on your daily assignment, your working hours are from 8am-4pm or 8am-1pm your time, depending on the hours you applied.

Note: The time you are online determines your pay as we have a program installed to the yahoo messenger that keep tracks of the time you are online. You will receive a paycheck at the end of every 30 days via regular mail.

You will need to report directly to me for anything you need, I will be ONLINE ON THE YAHOO MESSENGER to guide you through your assignments.

My yahoo ID is joe2desk; instant messenger me now to receive updates on your assignments.

Joe Phillip, Supervisor
XXXX, INC

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.

OBJECTIVES:
Receive Petty Cash Payment

INSTRUCTIONS:
• Notify Supervisor as soon as you receive payment by regular mail, FedEx or UPS.
• Have funds cashout (sic) from your bank.
• Notify Supervisor as soon as a fund is available for further assignment update.

I will need you to re-confirm your full name and mailing address for the delivery.

Regards,
Joe Phillip, Supervisor

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:

8:16AM
Joe: Good Morning. How are you doing today...

10:17AM
Joe: where have you been?

10:19AM
chris.auman: I've been busy working on assignments and I guess I forgot to sign in to yahoo this morning. Sorry about that, boss.

10:20AM
Joe: you need to always stay online

10:20AM
chris.auman: ok, sorry. What's up?

10:20AM
Joe: so how are you doing with your assignment?

10:21AM
chris.auman: Good. It's a tough one, but I am making good progress.

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:

10:30AM
Joe: Hello. How are you doing?

chris.auman: hello. good

10:30AM
Joe: ok. let me know if you need anything

10:31AM
chris.auman: ok.

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:

10:22AM
Joe: good Morning, how are you. The Company has introduced a Domestic Petty Cash Payment; the purpose for this fund is to help employees solve any domestic or emergency assignments that may require the use of funds. E.g. Shipping Payments, Packaging/ Tapes, Postages and any other related domestic Payments. You are required take 5-10 mins of your time to set up an account with www.FaceCard.com to received a Prepaid Face MasterCard for this purpose, click the link to signup http://xxxxxxxx.php

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:

10:30AM
Joe: Good Morning

10:30AM
chris.auman: Good morning

10:30AM
Joe: how are you doing with your assignment

10:31AM
chris.auman: Which assignment?

10:31AM
Joe: I need you to map-out the industrial areas of your State and find out the available lands in those areas that are yet to be developed or for sale. If unable to locate such then look up very good real estate agents in your location and retrieve their contact details. Let me know if you need anything

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:

10:50AM
Joe: where have u been?

10:53AM
chris.auman: Just making some coffee.

10:54AM
Joe: you are not taking this job serious are u

11:01AM
chris.auman: I have not received any instructions or assignments or anything but "good mornings" for over a week. What is there to take serious? I just sit here all day and do nothing.

11:08AM
Joe: Note that your assignments are been (sic) put together at the controller office. and as soon as i have it i will send them to you... but still make sure that you are always online to receive updates on your assignment

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:

11:00AM
Joe: Morning to you. you are invisible

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:

10:02AM
Joe: you come online when you want to and log out when you choose to

10:02AM
chris.auman: i haven't heard from you in a week.

10:06AM
Joe: could you reconfirm your mailing address as i just receive an update from the controller office that petty cash will be mailed to you tomorrow and your salary will be mailed next week. please reconfirm your full legal name and mailing address for delivery

10:07AM
chris.auman: i've confirmed it many times already. why don't you have it?

10:08AM
Joe: Joe: as ur supervisor am telling you to reconfirm it. do that now!

10:10AM
chris.auman: can you tell me why i would need petty cash?

10:13AM
Joe: the petty cash funds will be used to solve any assignment that require the use of money. purchasing office equipments or softwares. making payment to shipping company for shipment of office supplies

10:14AM
chris.auman: so i would use the money to ship office equipment from where to where?

10:14AM
Joe: supplies will be shipped to you

10:15AM
chris.auman: what kind of supplies? to be used for what?

10:16AM
Joe: custom designed supplies, laptops printer softwares for your assignments it will be full loaded with the companies softwares that computer equipment; laptop computer, printer, etc, etc, etc

10:19AM
Joe: are they customised to the company needs

10:19AM
chris.auman: i think they are.

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:

12:12PM
chris.auman:
Is the controller in control/
Who controls the controller?

Is the controller in control/
Who controls the controller?

Is the controller in control/
Who controls the controller?

Is the controller in control/
Who controls the controller?

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,

C. Auman

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:

10:08AM
chris.auman: i luv you.

10:09AM
joe: i luv you.

And it was over.

THE END?


Originally published in RW#24, 2014

RW #24

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