The Ethics of Job Blogging

This can be a rather dicey subject, and I’d best put out my thoughts on it now before I go too much further in my blog and let you all know more about the place I work and the people I work with.

There are lots of things I want to explain about the call center, and before I start, there are some hard and fast rules I have set for myself and this blog:

  • I will not name the company for which I work, its location, or any of the people within the company.
  • I may badmouth some of the business practices of the company, but I have signed nothing that states I am not allowed to do so, and I believe I am indemnifying myself by holding to point 1 above.
  • It isn’t wrong to blog about the company I work for, the conditions I work under, or the reasons I’m seeking work elsewhere, especially considering I have yet to find something else, and if/when I do leave, I will still hold to point 1 above in an effort to indemnify myself and absolve the company of any blame.

All of that said, it’s hard to blog about your company as an unsatisfied employee. When the problem is not that your customers are bugging you but that management is constantly offering up change that seems to make the place more unworkable and expecting you to adhere to standards you cannot meet, you begin to feel it necessary to find some means of venting.

Now, many people do this on the premises at my work, which is an ethical nightmare of its own. Not to mention any rational person knows this is a means to an end: literally an end of losing your job. I’ve heard it said any gossiping reported to our VP of Human Resources will report in immediate dismissal. Given the fact I work in a gossip den, I find that highly unlikely but don’t want to test my luck too much longer by venting with other equally unsatisfied co-workers for fear of getting lumped in with the group and going down in a heap of ashes.

Venting can take other forms at home or in other places away from the office. I’ll sit at the dinner table at night and rant to my parents or Fernando about this or that change that’s taking place. Our key phrase at work that seems to define everything we do is: “Change is Good.” And my sarcastic rants typically reiterate this in the most sneering way possible, followed by the ways in which this change will likely make my life hell for the next however long until the next change comes along.

While an adequate means of venting and while both my parents and Fernando (and even some girlfriends of mine) are good sports about my venting, I always feel it gets tedious for them.

I don’t want to become the next crazy person walking into the office with a gun and blowing people’s heads off because of workplace stress. Granted, I also don’t feel it’s gotten even close to that point. But I am taking my own measures to ensure it wouldn’t get near that point.

So here I am. I set up a blog unaffiliated with any of the other blogs I host, under a different name from those blogs, attached to a different email address. The secrecy may be unnecessary, but I would like to keep my anonymity. Should someone who knows me personally find this blog and read it and recognize me from the posts, I would hope they would come to me before running off to someone else to share the surprising content of the blog. However, I’ve decided to start this blog for my own form of catharsis from some of the things my employers do, and given the number of others who do the same, I see no problem with this.

As a side note, I have made sure not to associate this blog with a Facebook page or Twitter account or any other social media I am a part of. Why? I’m sure you can imagine. The ethics of hosting a blog like this demand I be polite and maintain a distance between my personal life and the truth behind my professional life.

It’s just good sense. That’s all.

I believe the content of this blog will be a mix of funny and sarcastic, angry and amused, witty and wondering as I take the journey of life outside the box. And it won’t all be about my job. But I have quite a bit of fodder gleaned from my time at the call center, and I believe it’s worth posting for people to read.

Besides, how many people have you talked to who worked in a call center? Do you really know what it’s like behind the phones and polite “May I speak to so-and-so” tones?

This is my ethical statement of purpose for writing this blog. I believe it’s perfectly fine to write, and I am not condemning myself or anyone else by doing so. Anyone who feels otherwise is more than welcome to make his opinion known to me, but I will continue to write my posts in the interests of maintaining my sanity in a working condition that has me wishing I were independently wealthy and able to live off nothing with my dog for company in a posh apartment where I could spend my days shopping and being vain about being wealthy and having done nothing for it.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

– RaeNez

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Escaping

You’ve seen this blog, you know I’m trying to escape, you know it’s an escape from the cubed life I live. But what is escape, really?

If we took this bit of advice by Ani DiFranco, we might all live this cubed life with a bit of reprieve and ease we don’t experience currently…

Maybe you don’t like your job, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, well nobody likes their job, nobody got enough sleep. Maybe you just had the worst day of your life, but you know, there’s no escape, there’s no excuse, so just suck up and be nice. (Ani DiFranco)

There are multiple definitions for the verb form of escape. It can mean: “to slip or get away, as from confinement; gain or regain liberty” or “to slip away from pursuit or peril.” Another definition can be: “to slip away; fade.”

Escape can mean different things to different people, and that’s why it’s such a fluid and oftentimes dangerous topic. To one it means the escape from the daily mundane tasks of life to the exotic, maybe a road trip with friends across the country for a brief vacation where loads of money will be spent and good times had. To another it means cutting designs across his flesh to escape an internalized pain from years of mental or emotional abuse, substituting a controlled form of pain for an uncontrolled one in a way that makes him feel his life can be held under control. Both scenarios are forms of escape.

Both are equally different for each person.

The point may be that everyone yearns for a bit of escape from something. Whether it’s from my life of going to the office with the cubicles that seem endless, the calls so mundane, the voices shrill and unpleasant, and standards unforgiving, or your escape, whatever that is, there’s something we want to escape.

What is it? And how do you do it?

When I was escaping something else, a more personal demon, as you may put it, I escaped to a very different life in a very different world. I went far away to a job I was not suited to, teaching in a foreign country for a full year. And that changed me very much. It also taught me many things about myself, including the fact I would like to try teaching again.

But enough about that. If you’re escaping anything, if you’re like me and trying to escape cubed life, remember that many times the escape is in the little things from day to day. It can very well be the thing that keeps you sane and draws the line between manageable workplace stress and clinical depression that leads somewhere dark and dangerous.

For me, it’s a lot of little things. It’s time with my boyfriend, who makes me smile and laugh and cheers me up in all the right, little ways that I appreciate more than anything in the world. It’s reading lots of books that give me ideas of my own. It’s writing, whatever, whenever, wherever, whether it’s this blog or that book I’m working on or emails and cards. It’s going shopping or getting coffee or visiting friends. I have to make myself schedule these things in sometimes or else I’d go crazy.

They’re my escape.

Maybe someday I’ll write about a bigger, grander escape. But from time to time you’ll hear more about the mundane escapes of my everyday life, and if that’s enough to remind you of a few escapes of your own, that’s more than enough for me.

– RaeNez

 

The Dreaded Cubicle

Growing up, we always saw them portrayed as the ultimate in horrifying work conditions. Working in cubicles… four padded walls and no door, the ultimate in the insane asylum effect. If you ever wanted to take a person to insanity and push them to the asylum, assign them to a cubicle and give them a menial task for 8 to 10 hours a day, then send them home with no hopes of advancement and no light at the end of the tunnel.

A fairly typical sight in many working environments.

I rest my case.

But coming from someone who currently works in a cubicle and sees very little light at the end of the tunnel and no hope for advancement (nor any real desire to work in management for my company despite my credentials), I have to say the cubes grow on you after a while.

I mean, the nice thing about them is not having to be restricted to one design theme. Sure you’re seated the same way as everyone else, you’re assigned a seat, whether it’s next to the loud-mouth obnoxious woman who gossips at the top of her lungs or the married man who flirts with you every chance he gets is not up to you, and you’re given standard company equipment you have to obtain a doctor’s note to change out for something more comfortable.

And sure you can decorate with all kinds of things that you can bring from home. Though you may want to store it happily away in your desk drawer when you’re not there… I’m just saying. Company theft will not be tolerated and all, but who says that sandwich wasn’t lifted from the refrigerator? Oh, and don’t mind those internal motion detectors they have that go on at night. They only come down from the ceiling and reach a range not far off from the top of your desk. Hope you don’t decorate with anything too tall that shifts in the air conditioning.

See? Cubes aren’t too terrible. They’re perfectly square. Er, I mean, functional. In fact, you can pack a room full of these charming pieces, squeeze a couple hundred reps in and fill the rafters with the charming sounds of people talking all at once.

“Ma’am, I’m not raising my voice at you. I am telling you what we have to do to fix your account.” 

Sir, if you would just listen to me… Fine! You talk because every time I try to speak you interrupt me!”

“Now if you do this, interest accrues, but you don’t have to pay. Wouldn’t that be a nice option since you don’t have any money?” 

“I want you to write this down very carefully. I AM REQUESTING…” 

Indeed. And for those reps who get chronic headaches, like myself, this is the perfect atmosphere for inducing said headaches. It’s full of all kinds of triggers: loud speech, loud noises in general, obnoxious scents, fluttering lights, varying degrees of lights in different parts of the room, fluctuating temperatures, etc.

Again I digress. (You’ll find I do that a lot.)

All said, the cubes make you wonder if even the comic strip artist responsible for Dilbert could be right.

All copyrights go to Dilbert’s owners. I’m just posting here, but to see more of his genius, please visit his website. 🙂

There’s a co-worker of mine, Rhonda, who’s a bit loud and obnoxious and doesn’t exactly censor herself. She’ll holler across the room to make herself heard despite the super-sensitive microphones we speak into at work to discuss accounts with customers.

That said, Rhonda is one who is rather fashion conscious, which includes how she wants to be seen when she’s not at her desk. It’s color-coordinated and highly organized. It’s got some lovely black and white zebra print office supply items featuring a framed picture of her and her boyfriend, a pen holder, and a mousepad. And one other thing that definitely sets her desk apart, aside from the pictures that feature her in them, is the arrangement of Christmas lights she has draped artfully around her cube.

I tell you this because Rhonda tends to email us all when she’s bored, annoyed, tired, or being dramatic. Which means this happens relatively often, and on a Listserv email operation, it means I can’t opt out of receiving her emails. And if she asks for help or tells you to see her for this or that reason, she makes mention of the lights around her desk as the way to find her.

As if we didn’t know.

I say all that to reiterate that the cubes aren’t terrible. They just turn you a bit jaded, maybe somewhat cynical, and a tad bit hard. Perhaps it’s easier to feel more like a human being when you aren’t lumped in with a number of other people tethered to a computer mouse and monitor, a headset and phone and who feel scrutinized like bugs under a microscope when you stand to stretch or walk to the bathroom or take a small break.

The cubes tend to make you one in a crowd. Breaking it down, they make it easier not to see the faces or attach the face to the nameplate. They make it easier to dehumanize a group of people and begin treating them as a single entity instead of as individuals with differing circumstances. When you do that, it’s easier for management to begin treating the whole as very manageable by standards unobtainable by everyone.

Sure, one person can reach goals such as 400 resolutions a month, 30 people can regularly hit 250 resolutions a month. Then we’ll add in additional goals, stick them in their cubes, and grade them on a monthly basis to let them know where they aren’t working hard enough.

That’s the pitfall of the cube.

That’s the reason for my blog. It’s why I’m trying to escape cubed life. It’s why I am looking for other jobs and other opportunities. It’s why I do take every moment outside my job as a blessing and a chance to think about things that make me happy and bring me joy and make life interesting and challenge me.

Because my job certainly doesn’t.

Personally I think I’m much more inclined to be a bit like this meme that’s become a series of products like mousepads and clocks and coffee mugs…

I completely agree!

– RaeNez

P.S. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, of course.