Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ring Ring

I'd love to be able to blog about how fantastically well my acting career is going right now. I'd also love to regale you with tales of hilarious auditions I'd been recently attending. Heck, I'd love to tell you anything about my acting status other than the fact that I don't currently appear to have one. Currently my so-called talent as an actor is about as useful as Comic Sans on a CV. So, yet again I find myself turning to the subject of resting jobs. I'm sorry. If tales of telephones and headsets and bored actors upset you, I suggest you look away now.

Of all resting jobs out there, I'm a firm fan of the call centre. I know many of you hate them and I understand why. They're depressing and an absolute bugger to be on the receiving end of. But, for an actor, they're more flexible than a gymnast who's overdosed on cod liver oil. As an actor, working in a call centre isn't just a job, it's practically a rite of passage and, as someone who's most non-acting jobs have been heaving phone-based, it was only a matter of time before I found myself donning a headset and flogging conservatories.

Now, before I start, I should add I don't actually enjoy this kind of work. However, for me, it's the lesser of a lot of other evils. Also, when you've been screamed at for ruining someone's last ever Christmas, been held accountable for all the discrimination in the world against deaf people and received personal threats of having a brick thrown through my window, the call centre world holds very little fear for me. Yes, calling people up who don't want to be bothered isn't fun but it's a heck of a lot easier than standing out in the rain trying to get people to sign up to the charities they don't care about or teaching skittish three year olds how to jive.

Whether you're at a call centre that primarily hires actors or not, every single one will feel like a place that actors come to die. Nothing has made me feel like a perfomer more than sitting at a desk, logging into computer that records how many toilet breaks you take and being surrounded by legging-ed beings inflicting their rendition of Master Of The House upon everyone else. Despite the exterior being one of a chattering dressing room, an air of resignation and jaded careers lingers in the air. If our careers are mapped out then someone has run off with our A-Z, done a great steaming turd on it and asked a tired clown to return it to us with a big ol' red circle around our nearest call centre.

Working in a big call centre made me hate actors more than I thought possible. Internal messaging is the work of the devil and means you are constantly bombarded by messages pleading with everyone to come see their low-rent production/band/poetry evening, desperate calls for painkillers and requests for congratulations on being with their boyfriend for 4 months. You'll also have to endure everyone's acting biography from the second they stepped out of drama school and some of the most incredible answerphone messages known to man. You'll fall for the message that sounds like the person is answering the phone more times than you care to admit and an alarming amount of people will pick up the phone while you're halfway through a conversation about the intricacies of waxing. You'll very quickly learn that the glares you got when you walked in on your first day were in fact just tediously bored stares and it won't take you long to work out that you can waste a lot of time going to the water cooler every 5 minutes.

So next time you pick up the phone, think of the bored actor at the end of the line. They want to be there just as much as you do and, like most creatures, they mean you no harm. Oh, and know that the ruder you are on the phone, the more mockery you'll get in the office and a whole load of callbacks will be scheduled to come your way. You have been warned...

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