I work in a call centre.
It’s not exactly a call centre but the description is apt. The phone rings. A lot.
Now you might think that working in that environment is actually quite good, the works routine, it doesn’t change and you know where you stand.
But the job is actually hell.
Unpredictable clients. Rude clients. Shouting clients, distressed, overly emotional clients. Vague clients. Totally confusing clients.
In a small space up to 12 people are answering phones. Some quietly, some loudly. Chairs scrape, drawers slam.
It’s either too hot or too cold. The temperature control in the confines of the office is non-existent. Fans whir and hum.
The lighting annoys. There’s a very bright white strip light above and to my right. It’s jarringly different from the paler yellower lights of the other strip lights.
Behind me is a garage. Car horns beep, drills whir, hammers hammer, brakes squeal.
Surrounding where I work are fields. Cows moo, farmyard smells drift through open windows, tractors rattle down the lane.
It takes ten minutes to get the first headache of the day. To feel claustrophobic. To feel hemmed in. I wince at particular voices. The phone rings angrily and every call brings fresh panic because I don’t know who or what I will get. Calm rationality or wild unpredictability.
I get told off because I sound “irritated”.
I get told off because I sound “rude”
I get told off because I sound “too loud”
I sit near the boss. Who has selective hearing. She hears what I say whilst blithely ignoring others more serious indiscretions.
If your face fits…and all that..
Of course she doesn’t hear the person on the other end of the phone. The one I’m trying to help, the one who swears at me, who rants, who yells, who goes off on a racist diatribe, who is incapable of explaining themselves and who confuses me, the one who treats me with contempt, like an idiot..
But I’m “irritated”, “rude” and “too loud”.
Every sense is assaulted, every second of every day.
I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m drowning. Constantly under pressure. Exhausted, anxious, nervous…
Yet having to mask. To exert control over all those emotions and feelings.
I really don’t think people understand that. How hard it is to mask, to act it out, day after day after day, to be someone you aren’t.
Of course it slips occasionally.
But it’s so bloody hard.
People don’t get it. They really don’t. Oh they say they do but then they add more pressure.
Autism and my job do not mix.
I feel so trapped.