5/01/2012
The happiest place on earth

Are there jobs? Are there enough jobs? I don't really know the answer to that, nor do I intend to attempt to. From where I am, though, it seems there are enough jobs. I'm judging, by the way, by the number of billboards I see on the roads - on actual billboards and highway posts and street lamps and, unfortunately, on buses as well. It's always a company with a vaguely modern-slash-European-slash-technological name. We're hiring! they exult. We're looking for customer service representatives and technical support representatives. Still. I'm a bit surprised demand hasn't flatlined.

But that's not my biggest gripe against call centers. I don't lament the fact that they're (still) mushrooming around the country, although I do lament the fact that whenever I get new job alerts, I only see openings for BPOs. I do lament the fact that these companies are going the extra mile to attract people. Nothing wrong with that, really, until you realize that all of those billboards have photos of supposed young professionals in their mid-20s looking all happy, possibly with their fists up in the air. Yes! is the general air. As in, yes, I made it! And just to drive the point home, empty rhetoric: we help you move up.

Sure, you can say that. BPOs pay higher salaries. I worked for one for three years (not as a call center agent, of course) and my friends marveled at how high my salary was. It wasn't that high, but apparently, relatively, it is high. Also, BPOs have bigger bonuses. 20K signing bonus! That's a whole month's worth of pay! All that money's definitely enough to fuel your lifestyle of drinking, partying, vacationing, fucking (I do dare say that) lifestyle. All that money at your disposal. It does make you feel like you've moved up.

Also, those billboards, they make themselves look like they're the happiest place on earth. It's fun here! I don't know what to feel about it. Is our generation this shallow now? We're not looking for a job that will give us fulfillment, if not good footing for the future; we're looking for a job that's a lot of fun. Supposed young professionals in their mid-20s looking all happy, possibly with their fists up in the air. Scratch that. My cousin works at a call center. He talks about company outings in far-flung places. That does sound fun. I cannot vouch for his actual working environment, though. There's a call center across my current office, and I always see them laughing. Apparently they're also a very noisy bunch - they have weird morning rituals that literally disturb every other office on our floor, to the point that the building's management had to crack down on their corporate rowdiness. Maybe they're really not doing a lot of work. That does sound fun. I don't know.

These past years the government have made a big deal out of the increased number of jobs. Mostly, as it turns out, from BPOs. It does bring money to our country's coffers, but - and this is obvious to anybody who's worked there - it's not going to get us anywhere at all. You're earning lots of money, more so if you're handling a pioneer account (whatever that means), but you cannot exactly move up. Lots of forces on the ground, one or two ladders to get to the top - and when you do get to the top, where do you go exactly? Have you learned anything that you can use in the future? Apart from that American accent, I mean. And maybe a little technical knowhow.

So much for that we help you move up rhetoric you see everywhere. Do you know anyone who's worked in a call center and has gone on to become successful? Maybe a few who pooled their money (those few who do not live the aforementioned lifestyle) and set up a business. Maybe they actually did something that (and I can't believe I'm saying this, it's just not me) contributed to our country's well-being. All I see are people who are stuck with doing the same thing, night in, night out. "We are based in a central location, sir. No, sir, we cannot reveal anything more, sir." We may be generating millions of jobs every year, supposedly generating millions of jobs every year, but those jobs are the sort that gets people nowhere. We're getting jobs rejected from foreign lands. We're earning less than what we're worth. And then, your usual the rich get richer and the poor get poorer line. Especially if your bosses, like mine then, do not follow through on their promises to move you up. You believed your job is a get-rich-quick scheme? It is. For them.

There are enough jobs, but that is if you want to work in the happiest place in this wretched earth. It can get you somewhere. Maybe you can make the most out of it. But at this rate? We have a government who's content with giving the youth some menial, dead-end job just to say they're doing what's expected of them. We have the powerful people on automatic, insistent they're doing a lot of good, whether through that corporate social responsibility thing or in their daily lives, not knowing (or well knowing) that they're keeping the long end of the deal for themselves. We have the unemployed content on talking with Midwestern accents to strangers over the phone. At this rate, well, I don't know. I still don't know the answer to that, and before you come barging in and pointing out all the holes I've left, no, I do not want to attempt to.

And your responses...

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