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Call Girl

I became a call girl on Monday. I mean, I joined a call centre along with a bunch of novices. That made me feel a bit good because I was not the only babe lost in the world of inbounds and outbounds. In the call trade, inbound is receiving calls and outbound is making calls. Some say inbound is a safe haven and outbound a harsh world because you are intruding into someone's privacy and asking for a precious five minutes of his/her time. In that five minutes, you would have either made your presence felt or met some of the best rebuttals.

In a country where tough job rules - you have to have permanent residency status to get into one's choice of work - the call industry comes calling readily for people like me who are temporary permanent residents. The way I look at it is,  it also gives me something to do and meet people.

My colleagues come from different backgrounds. There is Jack, a graduate of polictics and business from Ireland and on a one-year working holiday visa down under. Tall and handsome, he would pass off as an Esquire model. With the same visa is Jack, a Princeton College graduate in computer science, quite an earnest young man who has travelled the world - Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand and South Africa - before deciding to become a call boy. Then there is Neeraj, formerly a resident of Singapore and a mechanical engineer, who has joined his wife here. But years of overseas exposure has still not not taken off his trademark Gujarati accent, quite unique. He still can't differentiate between 'Kate' and 'Cat'. Then there is the pony-tailed 58-year-old gentleman Richard who loves to talk. A bachelor, his is a life of adventure having even lived in a car and dining on Subway sandwiches. My favourite is a charming New Zealander, whose claim to fame is having worked as an extra in The Lord Of the Rings, getting drunk and shooting off bows and arrows as he says. He is perhaps the only one with some experience in the customer service industry. And it shows in the underlying confidence of the tone with which he rattles lines on the phone.

One week into it, I have earned my first 300 dollars but I have come to the conclusion that talking business is not my forte. Like some of the others, I feel so obliged when I hear a Hello that all I want to say is, "Thank you for the hello" instead of the mandatory, "Hi, I am calling from Water & Energy Savers, are you aware of the government grants...." My other problem is  the wierd names and surnames of people I have to address. How do you pronounce Koegh, Eusibius, Kamoen, Chown, Porcaro, Dundas, Hoefler, Mcewen without a grin and without sounding offensive? Our manager Jose (pronounced Hosey) says don't worry, you will get the hang of it, if that is some consolation.

It's tough being a call girl. I dialled a Barbara once, her voice so frail and eerie that I almost dropped the phone when I asked for Mr Russel and she said, "Love, he is is dead..." Invariably, I get old people. Another one said, "Darling I am 88-years-old and I will be dead before I clear the loan." We are selling solar panels, you see. Yet another client told me, "Sorry I don't make contact over the phone." Yeah, why have a phone then, I whispered before anyone heard me :)

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