- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Final Call, by Kholt Moore
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“Hi, thank you for calling T-Mobile… How can I help you?” “I can imagine…” “UGH!!!!” “Thank you for calling in, have a great day!”
The hum of the call center is especially loud today. When I look over at the tower of lights attached to the wall, I can see that we are in “Code Teamwork.” I instantly think, “Damnit! Something is broken!” Whenever our call volumes at work are “Team Work” levels, it means something has happened that is making customers call in. I think I hear in the background someone say, “I am really sorry that you can’t make any calls, it’s actually happening everywhere in New York City right now.” The clacking of 100 people typing reminds me of the nursery rhyme, The Ants Go Marching, only these ants are wearing tap shoes and there is a lot more than two-by-two. Somewhere off in the distance there are a few different songs playing all at the same time: there is polka music (someone’s team has high call times today), top 40’s pop hits, old country (another team needing some negative reinforcement to drop their call times) and a few 90’s hip-hop stations floating through as well. The clocks on the desk phone, the computer, the wall, on my cell phone and on my “clock-in” screen--all read 1:32PM. My shift starts at 1:45PM.
The bright magenta wall that towers over the entrance is more vibrant than usual. Not only does it stand out due to its loud color, it also has an amazing design thrown across it today that has been painted by the sun. Across the vast open floor plan all of the window shades are gone and the light is flooding into a sea of people and computer monitors. Looking at the window you can see the sun inviting you to join it. The only place the sun has no reach is in the inner heart of the call center, where the general manager is encased in a glass room that has full visibility on almost all sides. The GM looks to be on a conference call, and based on her expression, she would probably prefer to be in the sun.
The array of clocks around me flip their numbers and show that it is 1:40PM. Everyone starts his or her own marching pattern of two-by-two into our pod. They file in to their pre-assigned, and often personalized, desks. In the middle of this circle of desks sit two connected cubicles with no walls. This is where the team’s leadership sits. In the middle of the action, ready and prepared to answer every question, and see every mistake. The pod is filled with laughter and conversation about our 4th of July, which we all had off with pay.
Play With The Crowd Noise in the Background While Reading
As soon as my shift starts I put on my game face and I begin to hear my boss--Kelly C.--talking about yesterday’s results and successes as a team. As she talks about the successes of the team all I can think about is my own personal stats. I pull up my e-mail and it goes crazy with all of the e-mails that have been ignored for the last week. I again ignore them and pull up a new e-mail. “Let’s give a shout out to Stephanie for her perfect 6 on the customer survey…” I type in “Kelly Ci…” into the “To:” field. I start to hear the music elevate right behind me. The ants are tap dancing now right here in my own workspace. The clock has changed to 1:52PM, it is now time to log into the phone and start answering calls from customers all over the country. The pull of the slinky on the edge of my desk is too much for me to resist, faster than I realize the sound of tap dancing ants is paired with the metallic ringing that only an old fashion slinky can make.
The unfinished e-mail remains open on the left side of screen: waiting, begging me, to complete my thoughts and press the send button. The instant messenger that we are required to have up on our screens is flashing feverously with questions from representatives, answers from leadership, jokes, sales results, call times, apologies, and emoticons that put into pictures what our words will not let us express. The music changes from Brittney Spears to some song by Will Smith.
The pull from the e-mail is so unbelievably strong. I hesitantly write the Subject: “My resignation: effective immediately.” The sound from the restrictive headset pulls me away from my own private moment. The posters in my cubicle are all around me, the bright corporate-approved colors remind me of jobs well done in the past. The sticky notes (of all different colors) along the bottom of my screen have become faded and have started to lose their grip on the screen. The letters of encouragement from co-workers, hand written notes with hearts and stars, are neatly displayed with pushpins. The sun has started to make its move across the sky and the glare from it on my screen is almost blinding.
The hollow floor beneath our feet echo as people walk by--the entire call center is wired through the floor. The shift in the volume of the music is noticed instantly. Looking over at one of my supervisor’s desks I see them taking an escalated call. The music is turned down so that the supervisor can focus on the call that they are taking. The plethora of clocks start to make their artful transformation to show that it is now 2:30PM. Hidden on my screen, buried under window after window of policy, is the unfinished e-mail.
The first call times report comes out to enlighten us on our current times, it is completely color-coded. The colors correspond with our “Codes” as well. RED is not meeting, YELLOW is almost meeting, GREEN is meeting and BLUE is exceeding the goal that has been set for you by leadership. There is a lot of RED on this first report.
The e-mail has somehow finds its way back on to the forefront of my screen. This time instead of refusing its pull I give into it:
I want to start off by saying that this resignation in no way reflects my feelings toward you as an individual. This letter is not to be taken as a statement of your leadership skills, or the leadership skills that are represented in this building. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with every single one of you in my 4 and half years here at T-Mobile. At this time I feel that it is right for me to resign and move on to the next chapter in life. Once this e-mail has been sent I am going to log out of my phones and this will be last call here at T-Mobile. Thank you for teaching me how to be a better leader and to value feedback. I know that these are skills that I am going to take with me from now on.
Thank you again,
The little back arrow of my mouse hovers over the “Send” button.
The Buzz of the Audio Ends Here
Play While You Read
The next thing I know, the e-mail is gone! I take a deep breath and begin to panic, wondering if it is too late to grab my e-mail out of the cloud before it has been delivered to its recipient. Once I realize it is too late, the e-mail has been received; I begin to pull down those colorful reminders of success off of my walls. I look over at the large magenta wall and notice that the sun has stopped using it as a canvas. One of the desks in the middle of our pod is missing its owner. I see Kelly walking over to my desk, the floor echoing with every footstep. I finish what I assume will be my last call with T-Mobile, give my coach a hug, and leave my desk with the white box of a leaving member of the T-Mobile family. The sun outside is blinding for a moment, making me squint as I walk toward my car. After a few steps I start to feel a gentle breeze that helps to calm the pressure of the direct sunlight. My eyes adjust to the brightness of the July sun. I am, at last, liberated from my brightly colored, music filled employer and am now free to take flight on that gentle breeze and enjoy the next chapter of life.
My letter of resignation is still to this day one of the hardest letters I have ever written. When looking at it, there is no doubt that it is completely a product of its environment. This work environment is one that is focused on finding a resolution and controlling the moods of the employees who are part of it. My letter is also focused on the end resolution, the subject gets right to the point of the letter with no ambiguity. The resignation letter also has the same style of writing that the building invites. The environment is one that adds simple pleasantries that are made to soften the blow of the job. From the outside looking in everything appears to be vibrant and positive: the colors, the music, the positive shout-outs. Underneath all of the bright colors though is the stress and pressure that comes from being under the microscope. When you read this letter, you truly need to understand the environment that it was produced in. This allows you to see the direct correlation between the written words and the necessity of the environment to influence the outcome.
Do you Feel the Author Achieved this?
About the Author
Former Whatcom Community College student, Kholt Moore, wrote this piece for English 101. He now resides in Portland, continuing his education.
The intent of this paper is twofold. I am attempting to write in a style that makes the reader feel rushed, disjointed, pressured, and for the reader to notice that amongst this chaos there is a lively culture that exists in this environment. My hope is that the reader can see the vivid colors of the environment and still see that it is intentional. That this is an artificial environment that is made to energize and motivate the people there. From the first draft there have been quite a few changes. I have changed the essay to focus on one specific writing. I have also tried to spend more time on the descriptions of the surroundings. I have also tried to clearly conclude this paper in a way the leaves the reader with a better understanding of the anamorphic relationship between a written work and the environment it is created in. I hope that these changes have helped to make the reader feel as if they are in this environment and if they can see how this environment has shown its influence on the writing.