“Can I speak to Ms.L please?”

“May I know who’s this on the line?”

“Can I speak to Ms.L please?”

“May I know who’s this on the line?” I asked again because I thought she didn’t hear what I said.

“Can you let me talk to Ms.L first or not?” I know she’s going to be a difficult one.

“Okay, hold on.”

*puts on hold*

*dials extension number and starts chanting, praying it to be answered*

*nobody answers*

*release hold and prepare for rollercoaster ride*

“I’m sorry but she’s not at her desk.” At times, I really feel like I’m a receptionist.

“I called just now also not at her desk. Is she working today or not?”

“Yes, she is.”

“Then, why is she not at her desk?”

“Most probably she’s in the washroom.” This is when you need to have some storytelling skills.

“Why so long?” Some questions are best left unanswered.

“May I know what is it regarding?” You need to turn the situation around.

“It’s about my booking.”

“Hmm, okay, so you want to revise your booking?”

“How come you know ah?” She sounded like she was going to swallow me.

“I was just asking.” Trying to save myself from being swallowed.

“Did I speak to you just now?”

“No, you didn’t.” One must tell the truth.

“Can I have the booking number please?”


“May I know what is it that you want to revise?”

“Place of delivery. I spell it out for you.”

“D.U.N.K.E.R.Q.U.E” Ah ha, she didn’t know how to pronounce the word. Dunkerque is in France by the way.

“Can you please revise it for me now?”

“I won’t be able to do it for you now because I would need to pass this on to the booking department. I’ll get them to revise it for you as soon as possible.”

“I need you to tell me a time.”This is tricky. No matter how helpful you are, it’s best not to promise a time because you won’t know what you’ll get by just promising.

“I’m sorry but I can’t promise you a time.”

“Just give me a time.”

“I’m really sorry but I can’t because I’m not the one doing it.” You must learn how to say no politely.

“30 minutes is it enough?”

“I’m sorry but I really can’t promise you a time.What I’ll do is remind Ms.L again about it.”You must learn how to say no politely and persistently.

“I don’t want you to remind her. I want some action to be taken.” Words can mean differently to a customer.

“Okay, I’ll surely pass her the message and she would revise it accordingly for you.”

“I don’t want you to pass her the message. I want it to be looked into.” Sometimes, people just want to hear the magic word and if they don’t, they take it as something else which actually means the same thing anyway.

“No problem. We will get it done for you.” You’ve got to reassure them.

“If I don’t get this today, it will be another day wasted and I don’t want that. The consignee will complain……..” Ear plugs needed to filter grandmother’s stories. They always like to have the last word and we just listen patiently.

I felt so abused after that but I kept reminding myself about tomorrow. It’s a holiday, remember? Then, I continue to answer calls again until a customer popped me a question.

“Grace, are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m good. Why?”

“You sound…unwell.”

“Oh, no, I’m okay.”

Life Work

A Life that is Mine

I didn’t go to work today because I was feeling unwell. I have been answering phone calls with a runny nose for two days already. Either I’m weak or the air-con is just too cold. When I get flu, I feel sleepier and of course my voice would sound different because I’d be talking and pinching my nose with a tissue. Had slight sorethroat as well, so figured I better stay at home and rest.

However, my sister, Iris wanted me to take her to college to hand in her assignment so I had to drive her there. I’m her chauffeur and also her mother for now because she accidentally asked her friend to put her book into her mother’s plastic bag when we were in the car and obviously, the mother was me.

She wanted to get a gift for a friend so I had to take her to One-Utama. Since we were already there, we had lunch as well. After that, I just had to drop by a bookstore when I’m in a shopping mall, which in this case is MPH. Everytime I enter a bookstore, I would head to the Self-Help section first. ( I don’t know why but it has been a habit already or maybe it’s because I always need help.) Then, I would visit the Information Technology section. (I’ve been doing this ever since I started studying IT and it still stays stuck with me till now.). Today, I ventured out to a section called “Career” because I am looking for a job. Not that I would get a job just by visiting that section but when you want to know more about something, you are drawn to it automatically. Spent a whole hour just reading.

One thing about trying out a job and then discovered that you don’t like it teaches me some important things. I know of some people who likes to work in Call Centre so much and that they need a job in which they could talk and talk and talk. But I know I’m not the kind. I need people to assign me with some task that I can concentrate on and when I see the end result, I would feel contented, satisfied and accomplished. I like to work with details.

That it’s important to do what you love whenever possible. I think it’s easier to wake up in the morning once you have that. However, one must be brave to take that step out. I’m still not brave enough even though most of the time, you listen to me ranting about how I hate my job and all that. Sometimes, I make myself like it but it just doesn’t work. I have not really done anything to change it. I’m just sitting down, talking and talking about it.

I think a lot too. I think about how selfish it is if I just leave like that since I would be learning new things, with the merging and restructuring, they certainly would need current staff to stay to make the transition easier. I think about the colleague that doesn’t have a car to go to work because my colleague and I take turns to pick her up every morning to work and then send her back once we finish work. I know it’s ridiculous to think that way because I know in one way or another the department will still survive and my colleague I hope knows the possibility of that happening to her, would sure find a way to get herself back to work everyday.

Then, you’d hear people telling you it’s hard to get a job, especially in IT. I wouldn’t want to listen to that. You can call me stubborn but I know if I listened to that then I might as well just not do anything to it since it’s hard which makes it sound not possible at all. I must keep hoping and do everything I can one step at a time to bring myself closer to it. (Okay, now I sound like Sayuri in Memoirs of a Geisha because she said, “Every step I have taken has been to bring myself closer to you.”)

That you would need to set your own career path because nobody knows what you love doing but only you alone. So, if it isn’t me who would set my life back into a meaningful track again, who would? If it is to be, it is up to me.

And as Sayuri said, I want a life that is mine.


Answering Machine

In a week or so, all phone conversations will be recorded. I don’t like the idea of that. It sounds like someone is invading my privacy. Yeah, I’m a very private person at times. But then again, I think it’s going to be the same, now that every word I speak is heard by Mr.Boss since he sits next to me.

There would be a big plasma TV screen showing the total of incoming calls, calls in queue, dropped calls and all those boring numbers you just don’t want to know. I don’t like this.

All these isn’t new to a Call Centre because that’s how actually it should work. But it’s new to me because this place I’m in is evolving to become a better Call Centre. I would say they would come up with some kind of measurement system to measure your performance now that they have got all the numbers up.

One part of me would love to go through these new changes. Another part of me dread to think about it because the way I used to work wouldn’t be the same anymore. So, I figure I ain’t going to like it any better.

A colleague gave me a brief overview on import shipments, a new job scope but still the same job function – answering calls. It doesn’t sound too complicated like export shipments because import is like a closing to something. If it starts well, then it would end well. Mr.Boss is a good boss because he makes sure I start familiarising myself with it and I must learn well, not to disappoint him. Sometimes I think why I’m still here is because of my kind and understanding boss even though every morning I clock in, I think of leaving.

Just the other day, a customer spilled her emotions to me after talking to all of us here and I was the “lucky” one because I was the last one to get her call. So when I gave her the exact same answer that my colleagues told her of which I know she didn’t want to hear because the truth always hurt, she said one thing that stunned me a little.

“Do you know that you all sound like an answering machine?”

“I call A, she tell me this. I call B, she tells me the same thing. I call C, she tells me the same thing again. I call D, she tells me the same thing like you’re telling me now!”

I could not deny that she was right because it’s natural for her to feel that we are like a bloody answering machine but when that sentence is spoken out to you, it doesn’t feel good.

Do you think I would want to be an answering machine if given a choice? Sometimes I hate it too of how you need to repeat the same sentence so many times a day. Even when you tell the customer, “I will try my best.” They hate it you know?

entahlah, apa nak buat.

Life Work

You Take Care of Grace, Okay?

Last night, when I was about to sleep, Mummy came into the room.

She climbed onto the bed and was on top of me. I was wrapped in my blanket. All sweet and cuddly.

“Where’s Ducky?” She asked.

I pulled her out underneath the warm blanket, out of her comfort zone, grabbed her by the neck and directed it to look at Mummy.

“Ducky, you must take good care of Grace, okay? Make sure she makes her bed. I will see you in Sandakan.” Mummy asked Ducky a favour.

I listened, Ducky listened too as I made her nod her head.

Mummy is cute, isn’t she?

I told Iris about it and learned that Mummy did the same thing to her too. She asked Pooh bear to take care of Iris, make sure she would not be naughty.

As usual, I feel like crying while writing this because Mummy and Pappy flew back to Sandakan today and I always would cry a little each time they fly back. But it’s okay because I’m flying back too, when Chinese New Year comes, which also happens to be the only motivation for me to go to work everyday. It’s easier when you target something to have something to look forward to.

This morning, I was very sleepy and I had running nose, which made me even sleepier. We packed McDonald’s for lunch with some other colleagues and ate at the pantry.

A senior colleague then said, “Why ar? I don’t understand you know? Why you can not talk and just listen?”

Why cannot?

She was just trying to say I’m quiet, which I am and you could say I’m the most non-talkative of all. She has been commenting about it not the first time today but several times already throughout the period I’m working here.

I’ve been thrown this question for two decades now by various people. Well, if you know me well enough, you would know that once I really feel comfortable talking to you, then I would talk enthusiastically and excitedly. But if I really don’t feel like talking or the topic just doesn’t interest or relate well to me, I sometimes prefer listening to what others have got to say. I don’t like to simply crap for the sake of crapping, which I know some people do, I see it in my office as well. I don’t know whether it has got to do with working life but I just can’t bring myself to do it. If I feel like saying something then I would. Else, I think it’s best to remain silent.

But I know sometimes I’m just a bit too cool lar, so people would feel weird.

Then, there’s this piece of article someone cut down from the Sun newspaper and stuck it on the pantry’s whiteboard. It’s called, “One Night at the Call Centre”, which happens to be a book written by Chetan Bhagat. (Click here for the article, which is the same as published in The Sun.) . It wrote, “This is to the CCC gurlz and Mr.Boss”. So, we, the CCC gurlz couldn’t help but to read it. I might want to check out this book, looks interesting to me. It would be like reading my own story.

After work, it was time for gym. Went for the Body Combat class again today. It was fun minus the slight cramp on both sides of my butt. I always get that whenever I do Body Combat (which is only two times for now) and I also get it each time I go swimming, the moment I push my body down towards the water and then pulling it up again once my legs reached the bottom of the pool. I know it could be due to lack of warming up exercise but I think it has got to do with not having enough vitamin. Calcium perhaps.

Masa tidak mengizinkan. It’s time for bed now and I’ll stop writing. Sleep tight!