For a little over three years I worked for a telephone fundraising company in the Boston area, the Share Group. The job started off as fun but quickly became like something out of a horror movie. Okay, perhaps I’m overstating. The place wasn’t exactly “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, more like “Sean of the Dead”, but I think you get my meaning. Intense and viscous office politics, both among management and employees, abusive supervisors, interspersed with mind numbing boredom. Its a story which includes a SWAT team raid, political assassination, heroin addiction, dill pickles, Trotskyist politics, and the films of Goddard, Bertulluci, and Tarkovsky. Not to mention of course half each workday day spent having people tell me to “not fucking call me again”? Good times.
Anyway, this is a novella of sorts of some of my experiences there. Its a work in progress, part of a larger semi-autobiographical project I’m working on. Most but not all of the names are real.
After leaving Share I “felt the need for closure”, in pyschobabble jargon. I had to get it out of my system. For what its worth I wanted to smash the myth of a “progressive company fundraising for non-profits”. Of course I realize many, maybe most other work places in the US today are in a similar situation; a two (or three) tier wage system, a national union which crushes democracy in the local to help impose horrible contracts, work speed ups, abusive working conditions. From what I hear this is everywhere now. Share is just a microcosm.
My numbers were low. I had four weeks left at Share. I had a lot of mixed emotions. After three years there I had come to hate the job. It was boring as hell. “Making money” as a caller had long ceased serving to motivate me. I didn’t feel I had much in common with most of my co-workers and I had become completely cynical about the non-profits we supposedly raised money for. I had no feeling of common endeavour, of being involved in something which had meaning for me, besides a rather small weekly paycheck. While this may sound corny, I had no feeling of being uniquely appreciated. I was a completely replaceable cog. The more pressure management imposed, the more difficult the job became for me. On the other hand . I knew I wasn’t good at the job, I didn’t have the personality for it, but I certainly wasn’t there by choice. I needed a job. Continue reading