I started a new job today and after an hour I quit.
Granted, it was only a temporary assignment for 2 days through an agency so not much harm done but I have been spewing about this all morning so what better way to deal with it than write a blog!
A little bit of background on me, I’m originally from the UK and I work through a temp agency as I am currently living in Australia on a working holiday visa. Gaining employment is difficult not being an Australian citizen. I change jobs every several weeks or months depending on the assignments. It’s unsettling at times but it keeps variety (spice) in my life and I’m gaining experience in a lot of different fields which can only be a good thing.
I accepted this assignment after being told from my agent that I would be contacting people who had registered interest in the Liberal National Party and advising them about upcoming elections etc. Simple! I’ve been in customer service for over 10 years, easiest money I will make this year! However upon arriving to said assignment (after getting lost as the office was in an unmarked building with no public access) I quickly found out that I would be contacting local businesses in the area and asking for contributions to help fund the campaign.
This was not what I signed up for.
In “training” we were given a list of 9000 business numbers as a group to dial and spread the word about the candidate and ask for a minimum of $200 dollars contribution, we had the names of the businesses but we did not have specific names of who we should be speaking to. We were told to ask to speak to the owner of business. This was cold calling; they had not registered an interest at all. We were calling people that we didn’t know the names of, interrupting them at their place of business to ask for money for a candidate we knew nothing about. Well this was fantastic!
There was a script we were to read from, we obviously would introduce ourselves and say who we were calling on behalf of, we would ask if they would like to know more about the candidate and if they would like to contribute. I asked to know more about the candidate so I could tackle questions and concerns and we were handed a list of statements to read.
“Good government comes at a cost”
“Imagine shorten control”
“Swan is lazy; do you know he’s been in America for 3 months? He doesn’t care about you or your business.”
Nothing there about the candidate.
“What is shorten control?” I asked. Shorten is a member of ALP at present I was told. Obviously I did not realise he was a person, why would I? Look at that sentence!
“What is ALP?” was my next question. Being from the UK and knowing nothing about Australian politics or any politics for that matter I had no idea that ALP was the Australian Labour Party. “If you don’t know ALP, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes” some woman from the back chimed up. Brilliant, I’m instilled with confidence at this point.
“Who is Swan and why is he lazy?” I queried. He’s the opposition, he’s been in New York for the past 3 months was the answer I was given. That doesn’t explain anything really though, does it? What happens if he has a good reason for being there? Maybes he has a sick relative over there and here I am about to speak negatively about him.
This was then followed up with “if you want to expand on any of those, feel free to do so maybes mention (some woman’s name I can’t remember) and how bad it was when she was in charge. I would be happy for you give her a good kick in the ribs on these calls”. Why are we kicking people in the ribs? I’m sorry I think I’ve missed a step!
We all went to our respective PC’s and phones and I spoke with one of the girls who we’ll call Sue as I can’t remember her name either. She was around to help us and I tried to get a better grasp on who it was I would be promoting. He could be a criminal for all I know! A racist or a homophobe! Somebody with completely different values to my own! She pointed out that the man in question had just arrived and I could go and chat to him to find out more. I didn’t want to, I already felt unease about the entire thing. She threw a few more fluffed up statements at me about fresh approaches and positive outlooks. I could not get my head around why they could not give us more background on the campaign and what the candidate was going to deliver if elected. My moral compass was going berserk!
Sue took this as nerves and started to patronise me slightly, advising that taking calls was only scary for the first few times and I might surprise myself if I just tried. Sweetheart please, I could do this job with my eyes closed, standing on my head! I can talk a great game if I have the facts and I am properly informed. All I have is weak statements and opinions. Plus I’m 30 and you’re like 12 so sssshh!
There was a young Irish girl and a British girl that sat alongside me sharing my concerns so I know it wasn’t me just having a blonde moment! They spoke up but were given the same pointless and useless statements and just seemed to swallow their questions and adopted a deer in the headlights look.
After one final attempt of trying to gain more information, Sue wanted to role play the calls. I explained once again that I was from a customer service background and the calls weren’t what concerned me, it was my lack of knowledge. It still didn’t register. I then assumed that the only way these guys got anywhere is by putting down the opposition and that was how they did business. No promises of better things to come or ways in which they would improve the community. Just trash talk about other members. What a joke!
Reluctantly I began to dial and my first call was to a private medical practice. I asked to speak with the doctor who was listed, the receptionist informed me that he would be busy all day with appointments (but of course, this is what doctors do) but I could try calling back throughout the day to see if could catch him. I agreed and hung up.
Next call, same private medical practice but I was after speaking with another doctor. The same receptionist advised me that they all would be busy throughout the day and perhaps I should leave a number for them to call us back if they were interested. That made perfect sense to me! So I left her the number.
Sue advised me I needed to be more bouncy on the phone and smile while talking as that was going to make the world of difference. I informed her politely that I didn’t think it mattered how bouncy or smiley I was to the receptionist; the doctors still weren’t available to speak. She was getting irritated with me, which in turn made my blood boil.
I chose this point to advise her that I was not made properly aware of what the job role entailed. I believe that my agent was not given the correct information either as she had never steered me wrong before. I explained why I wasn’t confident and that I didn’t think I was going to be much help without a better idea of what LNP stood for. Would you give your credit card details to a foreigner who had no idea what she talking about? Because I sure in hell would not!
Rebecca, the lady who I was to report to over the days I was there made her way over and instead of offering further help interrupted with “if this is something you’re not comfortable doing, you can leave if you would like as we have plenty volunteers.” So I did just that, I collected my belongings and walked out. After sarcastically thanking everyone soooo much for all the help they had given which was in fact zilch!
I called my agent and advised her of the actual job role and how none of it sat right with me! I apologised as I had committed to it but advised that I would not be completing the assignment. I explained that had further information been given I felt I would have been better equipped for the job but this was not offered even after asking for it. I don’t know where that leaves me with the agency but I am not going to stay somewhere when I was made to feel a nuisance for wanting a better understanding.
I was frustrated and wondered whether I had been too brazen and should I have stuck it out but after talking to my wonderful friends and partner that possess good and decent moral values, I feel a lot better about my decision to leave. I have also concluded I could definitely not be a politician because if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s full of shit.