Forty-eight hours of craziness (1st part)

I’ve gotta write this out of my system before i go insane and go off running out the streets in my underwear.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Dear Diary,

It’s 7AM on a Monday morning!

I’m dressed in my black ensemble complete with the blazer even if I know that the weather is scorching. I have on my best pair of sandals with two and a half inches of pointy heels guaranteed to stick into the cracks in the sidewalks. And my hair is tame enough this morning that I was able to gather all strands in a ponytail.

I look decent.

You know why I’m dressed up today, Diary?

Coz you see, I have to be in Ortigas before 9AM today. I have an appointment, you see. It has to do with a call I received last Wednesday (2 May). I had almost completely forgotten that I had submitted my application for a job opening in a call center through their online portal coz that was some months ago.

I wasn’t serious in that application that time, you see, coz I was still a copyeditor then and never dreamed of doing anything else.

But, diary, boredom does things to a person’s sense of integrity or lack of it. So here I am on a Monday, hurrying out of the house with my ma. Ma has to go to city hall but agreed to drop me off Ortigas even if it was so out of the way.

It was so early that I just ate a hard-boiled egg and drank a mug of coffee made out of freshly roasted cockroaches (that’s what it tasted like).

You know, diary, Ma has this thing for asking God for specifics. So this morning she asked that we get a taxi that is driven by an honest and kind person. Some funny thing happened. There were lots of taxis which whizzed (a mouthful) past us, most didn’t have any passengers. But none seemed to slow down for us even if we waved our arms wildly and even if we were standing by the curbside.

After at least five such bypasses, Ma looked at me and shrugged. She said, “I guess none of those drivers were kind or honest.”

A taxi finally stopped for us.

And indeed, the driver was kind and honest, just the way Ma has specified.

And you know why we thought the driver was kind and honest, diary? Because, unlike most drivers, this one didn’t turn on his meter before we got into the cab. And because this driver allowed other cars to cut in front of him. He didn’t beat any of the red lights along the way, too.

But, diary, I was a bit nervous because it was nearly nine o’clock and the taxi driver has let four cars to cut and has stopped at at least two dozens of red lights. Waiting. Patiently. Waiting. I nearly wanted to tell Ma that maybe the driver was just too kind.

But you know, when I thought that I was already late for my appointment, it turned out that I still have half an hour to spare. Ma walked me to Ortigas Building. I had wanted her to see the place where I might work if ever I decided I liked the job. So I really appreciated that she came with me to the place even if it was so out of the way of her destination. Then she was off and I was alone.

There is something about call centers that tickles me, diary. It is the notion that getting in is soooooo hard, and that the job is prestigious and the pay is good.

I’m grinning as I write this, diary. Coz as I see it, call centers are impersonal. I have a suspicion that I could lie through my teeth and babble all I want in the interview and still could get away with it — as long as I do the lying and the babbling in near-perfect English. With accent, of course. But no worries, diary. I do not do things half-baked. I answered all questions in wholehearted seriousness and sincerity. No joke. And besides, I never lie when asked about something. But I did babble a bit because I lost my train of thoughts when I was asked what my personal plans were. (I thought it inappropriate to tell the HR guy about that world domination plot or that plan to end hunger and poverty).

I mean no offense to those who work in call centers. And for sure, not all of those who work in one are paid huge sums, no matter how much night differential one has accummulated. Anyway, as for prestige… well, it’s a reason for dressing nicely but comfortably — professional and polished. Although today, I feel so overdressed with the blazer and slacks. I wished for a more casual outfit but it was too late for that.

Here’s what went on the moment I submitted the requirements they asked for, diary:

  • Start: HR personnel called out names, including mine, and those who were called filed in a room with workstations. We were handed sheafs of paper and a clear plastic folder with what looked like test questions. The HR guy says that we’re to take an IQ test first. He have us one hour and ten minutes to finish it.
  • (Twenty minutes later) Okay, IQ test is done. I’m sitting in the waiting area for the results. Memorable question from the supposed IQ test: You are taking an IQ test now. What is the meaning of IQ? Choices were (a) Internet Question (b) Intelligence Questions (c) Intelligent Quotient (d) Intelligence Quotient…tricky question, that one
  • The HR guy appears again and calls a set of names. I guess I was one of those who passed the first round coz we were to take another set of exams, this time about grammar, syntax, etc… and some computer applications.
  • Comment about the second exam, quoting Khyria: Ning, always remember you ARE a copyeditor.
  • Finished the exam in half an hour. Waited again in the cold room with the huge TV broadcasting a noontime show.
  • Comments on the hour: Am already hungry.
  • The HR guy appears again and called my name. He told me to return at 1:40. Great, I still had over an hour for lunch.
  • Lunch.
  • At Robinson’s. I was pretty annoyed with the Shakey’s people coz they have overlooked my order and wanted me to wait for another twenty minutes. Walked out of there and moved my hungry ass to Deli France. To set the record straight: I am not really picky with where I eat. It was that Deli France was the only place in that whole wide foodcourt that has vacant tables. So I went there. And dined like some, uh, French.
  • Bought mouthwash after lunch from a drugstore. Loaded cell phone and called beau (miss you!). Called Ma but no answer.
  • Walked back to Ortigas Building under the noonday sun.
  • Got phone out from bag. Registered 3 missed calls, 2 messages.
  • Message 1 (from some unidentified number): Hi, this is ___________. Where are you?
  • Message 2 (from Ma): Hello. I gave your number to __________. Sorry I didnt consult you. Did he contact you?
  • Missed calls were all from the unidentified number.
  • My phone rang again in the Ortigas Building’s 5th floor women’s toilet. It was that unidentified number.
  • The call was from a Korean. He wanted me to go to his sister-in-law’s office in Ortigas. I was already in Ortigas. I told him I was to be interviewed for a job. He asked when could I go to his sister-in-law’s office. I distractedly said “in a while” because my name was being called already.
  • I forgot about the call and proceeded to do blather with the HR guy in the call center who was my interviewer. I was beginning to find him a bit cute after seeing so much of him since that morning.
  • Interview done. HR guy was puzzled when I requested they give me a week’s notice before I accept the job. But I guess I passed again coz he gave me the situational test. It was fun and I blathered through email. Nice. Impersonal.
  • After the interview and test, a lady showed me the way out and said they will call for a scheduled contract signing (?)
  • Out of the Ortigas Building. Was prepared to go home already.
  • Phone started ringing.
  • Oh. The Korean.
  • It was a missed call.
  • Then an SMS.
  • Message: Hi, this is ________. Are you interesting (sic) to work as a part time English tutor?

Okay, diary. I replied yes. And asked where the office was. I asked the guard outside Ortigas Building and he gave me precise directions.

Walked, walked, walked. I saw the building cutting a smug blue outline in the grey horizon.

Orient Square…

Wooooooooow, I said to myself. Isn’t the building somewhat impressive diary?

So I thought that what I was in for was something nice. Anyway, if the interview I went to this morning didn’t push through, at least I could have some fallback.

With these thoughts, I walked up the steps and a doorman ushered me in. I must admit, I was impressed. (to be continued)

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