Thursday, December 13, 2012

11 years ago today, an I.T. career dies; new life starts; are phone bank jobs any good at all now?

It was eleven years ago today,  in a cold Minneapolis morning with snow flurries, Thursday, December 13, 2001, that my conventional I.T. career came to its cardiac arrest, on the same day of the week, even – and never quite resumed.  I’ve covered that before.  People over 55 came out of this quite well as far as severance and buyout were concerned.  Still, I can replay the entire day in my mind.  The night before, ABC Nighline had talked about Enron ("Ask why?") .  That morning, I had been more concerned about my own home PC crashing than with the impending layoff.  When they tell everybody to come to work and not work from home, you know something’s up.

The next job that I would take (four months later) would be a part-time evening job calling for contributions for the Minnesota Orchestra Guaranty Fund.  I even saw an ad for the job in a magazine I had picked up in a gay bar. They say it's "telefunding";  in practice, it's telemarketing.  (In late 2003, after moving back to DC, I tried selling National Symphony subscriptions through a company called Arts Marketing. Again, there were both government retirees and laid off professionals trying to get back on their feet selling things for commission that consumers can order for themselves on the Web.)
I was actually pretty successful at it, getting some “blue money on credit” for a while.  It helped to know something about classical music.  I worked there for fourteen months, giving me a sense of stability – then I went on to debt collection.  I actually had two jobs for a couple weeks in May 2003.

Now, my land line phone (an artifact from my Mother’s life) rings about ten times a day. I don’t pick up on all of them, but a lot of them are small organizations (like firemen’s unions) looking for contributions.  There are so many of these,  that I have to cut them off and handle all my contributions in an automated way at the bank.

I even heard people working in this evening job, “You’re working in a phone bank…. These aren’t bad people, but for some people, this is the only kind of job they can get.”  It wasn’t so bad in 2002, but it would be terrible now.  People are even more disconnected socially than ever before.  There was even a time when door-to-door selling was socially acceptable.  Now it poses a security problem.  These changes, a lot related to technology and automation, are not good for some people.  

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