My Irish experience from A to Z: F for… Flashback
Before you say anything, I know I have skipped “E”, but I couldn’t find anything worthy to write about that letter. I will come back to it later, hopefully.
Back to F, then. I’ve been a bit nostalgic lately, thinking about the first few years of my life in Ireland. That’s probably because I’ve been talking a lot with younger French people who are the age I was when I moved here.
So today I am writing about my call-centre experience. I used to work as a Customer service representative for the French market, in an international Express delivery company (that I will not name!). The job wasn’t hard in itself. I was taking calls from French customers who were enquiring about their deliveries, but what I really underestimated was the amount of moaning and complaining I would get on the other end of the line. The majority of customers were pleasant and understanding, but you had the occasional asshole who would just push your buttons.
There were different types of customers:
Mr. I have a job
“Do you understand that I work, miss? ” when you ask him if we can deliver the following day to his home address, where he originally asked to be delivered to.
And what do you think I’m doing ? Having a party?
“I have no family, no friends, no neighbour, no car, and I can’t receive my package at work.”
Why in the world did you order something on the Internet? You should just have gone to the supermarket.
“Hi, it’s Eric”
“What are you wearing ?”
“Are you wearing tights?”
“I’m looking for men… for my mother”
“OK… Good for you…!”
The pervert was a regular caller. Everybody knew him, and the weirdest thing was he knew most of my colleagues so well he was actually telling me about the call-centre gossip: Who was sleeping with who, which couple broke up over the week-end and all that sort of stuff…
The poor guy obviously had some mental health issues, but in a creepy kind of way, he made the atmosphere a lot lighter, especially when we were under pressure, and things were definitely not the same when he stopped calling.
The really stupid ones
I understand that some people are not familiar with Express delivery companies and when they send a package for the first time, it can lead to seriously unreal conversations.
“I’m looking for a price”
“Can I have the weight and dimensions of the box please?”
“And the third one?”
“The third what?”
“Dimension? Or is it flat?”
“Are you making fun of me?”
“ No” (but I should, considering you don’t know a box is three-dimensional)
“My package was supposed to be delivered before 10:30 am and it’s 11, it’s still not delivered”
“I can see this is to be delivered in New-York, is that right?”
“Yes, why is it late? Where is it? I paid a small fortune for that”
“It will be delivered before 10:30 in New-York, it’s at the destination depot. There shouldn’t be an issue”
“It’s already 11, don’t you get it???”
“It’s a pre 10:30 delivery LOCAL TIME”. It’s 4am in New-York!
“But people are waiting for this. I will never use your company again… you’re useless”
I could write a whole book just about the different types of customers and calls we were receiving. I spent three years constantly on the phone, and trust me, it definitely built my confidence and taught me how not to take shit from other people.
Aside from the fact that I was talking to mainly angry customers (they were not going to ring just to let us know we did a great job), the good thing was I could go home and forget about it because there was very little chance I would talk to the same person again. Only that in itself was a great aspect of the job, because it meant all the stress accumulated over the day could just be let go in the evening. The other good thing about the job was the atmosphere. I have to say, during 4 years in that company, it never felt like a “real” job. It was more like going to college (or sometimes primary school). Because we were regularly confronted to stressful situations, we had to let it loose between calls. And I was one of the most serious.
Working with a bunch of French people was also a challenge. The majority of my colleagues were nice (and I kept in touch with many of them), but I will never understand the ones that didn’t try to integrate in the country and meet Irish people.
Ninety per cent of my co-workers had been recruited directly from France, so when they started, they didn’t know anybody. In fact, they ended up working and living with French people, and also going out amongst themselves. On top of that, they were complaining about Irish people (and Ireland in general).
After a year, most of the group I started with was still in the company and we had a small get together to share our experience and where we were at, after a year in Ireland.
The majority of them noticed their English didn’t improve (No…Really?) and that it was really hard making friends with Irish people. Maybe if they weren’t sticking all together they would have met locals?
Then it was my turn.
“So, how do you feel after a year?”
“Well, I met a really nice guy, my English has definitely improved, and I have a good mix of foreign and Irish friends”
“Oh Yeah…But you, it’s not the same, you know…“
I still don’t know what they meant. Maybe I made an effort, and that was the difference between them and me.
Go to http://nearlyirish.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/my-irish-experience-from-to-z-f-for.html for more!!