Thursday, May 14, 2009

sullen

Today was a very tiring day. I barely made it to the front door. I was dead tired. I could feel that my mouth was agape. I wanted to brush it off and think that it was just one of those days but something inside me tells me there’s more to this feeling than meets the eye.

Drained and only partly conscious, I took my shoes off and began to undress. Everyone detoxifies in their own unique way. I listen to music to take things off my mind. For today’s soundtrack, I flipped through my dusty record collection. Fiona's Tidal would keep me company today.

Days like this, I don’t know what to do with myself… all day and all night. I wander the halls along the walls and under my breath I say to myself… I need fuel to take flight.

One of the lead trainers called in sick today and I took over her class. I was in her class all day. I even sent out the reports and stuff. It gave me a taste of things to come. If I play my cards right, I have a pretty good shot at a promotion but after today, I started wondering if I even wanted my own class. I’ve been here for a year and most days, I find myself wondering if this is all there will ever be. What am I doing here? Am I making a difference? It’s silly- to be disillusioned after working really hard to get to where I am now. As the finish line approaches, why do I feel the need to run in the other direction?

My feet, if they could talk, would probably have nothing nice to say to me. My job requires me to be on my feet 80% of the time. I slowly massaged each one. I’m sorry, I told them. It was all I could say. It’s not like I have a choice.

Or do I? I’ve been thinking about the difference between what I’m doing and what I set out to do. People teach because we do not want the youth to be ignorant. We want them to be responsible people in the future. We don’t want them to venture into the world unprepared. Along with their lessons, we hope that teachers would instill a level of morality in their students. We don’t just want them to be learned, we want them to be righteous. That’s a mouthful and we all know the pay rarely suits the job description but a lot of my bestest friends do this for a living and they actually enjoy it.

What am I doing? I’m contributing to a consumerist culture. People buy things. People avail of services. Sometimes, things don’t work. Sometimes, the services need a little nudging. They need to call people to get things fixed. Labor is expensive. Let’s ship these phones to the third world country that has the best English speakers. They can’t all be good. Someone needs to train them. Let’s get a couple of those, too. While teaching and training may appear to be similar, there’s something about the selflessness in education that I seem to be craving for. Back when I was still teaching, I felt a sense of pride that took away even the smallest bit of exhaustion.

There’s something about the greed and all that corporate stuff that leaves me a little dissatisfied. Before you label me a hypocrite, I must say that it was money that brought me to this path. My friends who went into teaching full time are pretty well off and they can afford to live comfortably with the help of their parents. I couldn’t do that. I wanted to be independent, if not physically then at least financially. The thing that brought me here has me chained to my desk. Gotta work if I wanna buy clothes. Gotta work if I wanna hang out with friends. Gotta work if I wanna get this and that. This line of thinking has me living from paycheck to paycheck. Thousands of pesos have been spent trying to pacify the feeling of guilt that comes with abandoning my passion and calling. So why do I even bother?

I was pondering this thought as I got ready for bed. I was just about to kill the lights when my phone started beeping. A message! It was an ex-trainee from about two months ago. After the usual hi’s and hello’s, I asked him how he was adjusting to his new account. What he told me blew me away at first but after it sunk in, it totally changed my mind. Suddenly, I didn’t have any doubts that I was in the right place.

He got terminated for exceeding the total number of allowable absences. Good job, I thought to myself. I must suck at what I do if my trainees can’t even survive the first two weeks on the job. I told him that that was sad news and that (standard line) I hope he could use what he learned from me and my colleagues wherever he chooses to go to next. He told me he applied at another call center. It was one of the big ones and prior to training with us, he wasn’t really that confident he could make it through the first screening. After nine excruciating weeks with us, he was able to pick up the skills he needed for his future. Not only did he get accepted, he's officially hired and will be taking calls soon. Although his future may not be with us, at least he is now able to support himself and his family. He never thanked me but he might as well have. I may not be changing the world or shaping the youth but talking to this person made me see the value in what I do. Screw consumerism. We live in a consumerist world. If I could help just one person survive in it, everything- every bad day or bad week or bad month- would be completely worth it.

Yes, I love my job and not in the way that Emily from The Devil Wears Prada loves hers. It’s funny how a simple SMS exchange could bring me to that conclusion. Not only will I run through the finish line. I’m going to grab that silly piece of tape like there’s no tomorrow. I love what I do and I hope to still be at it in the years to come.

Fiona Apple
Sullen Girl
Tidal