Hang in There

INT. CALL CENTRE – DAY

Pan over the busy workings of a call centre. A hive of cubicles, each one containing a worker bee and a computer. Each person has a headset and talks, talks, talks. A clatter of voices. The occasional one comes through the noise as we pan.

EMPLOYEE #1
…thought about your insurance needs lately…

EMPLOYEE #2
…policy does include theft, but not when…

EMPLOYEE #3
…peace of mind that comes with Albatross Insurance…

We finally settle on a woman (TABITHA, 22), who looks older than her 22 years. She is tired and disheveled. Her cubicle has pictures of cats pinned up on it, with sayings like ‘Nothing’s im-paws-ible’ and ‘I can haz hugs?’. She too is on the phone, she sounds close to tears.

TABITHA
Sir, Sir, if you’ll just stop the expletives for a moment I’m sure I’ll be able to help.

Tabitha pauses, listening.

TABITHA (CONT’D)
Well, no my Mother isn’t a disease ridden whore, she’s actually a pharmacist, but if you could just give me your membership number.

Tabitha listens again, fingers poised above the keyboard.

TABITHA (CONT’D)
Seven, two, five. Yes?

Her fingers hit the keys as she speaks. She stops.

TABITHA (CONT’D)
Okay, well I don’t think your membership number really finishes with go-fuck-yourself, so. Oh and you’ve hung up. Great.

Tabitha takes off her headset and rubs her face. She looks up at one of her posters, a cat that has it’s paws together as though it is praying. The saying reads ‘Please can it be Friday already?’.

TABITHA (CONT’D)
You said it kitty.

MIKE (32, pudgy, fake), one of Tabitha’s many higher ups, knocks on the wall of her cubicle.

MIKE
Tabby Tabitha. Having a break?

TABITHA
Ah, no Mr. Wallace, sorry. Just, regaining my thoughts.

Mike enters the cubicle and leans against Tabitha’s desk.

MIKE
Tabitha, can me Mike, alright? We’re a team here yeah? No need for “titles”.

Mike performs air quotes as he says this word.

MIKE (CONT’D)
I’m not the Mayor, alright? I’m not the president. I mean I am basically the president of this office, but you don’t need to call me that.

TABITHA
Okay.

MIKE
I mean you can if you want, maybe tell the others. Or Captain Mike, whatever. Just not Mr. Wallace okay? Makes me sound old.

TABITHA
Sure, Mike.

Mike pauses, intently staring at Tabitha. She says nothing.

MIKE
Ahh, I thought you were going to call me Mr. President. Now, what’s clouding up your mind to the point where you’re can’t do the work we pay you for?

TABITHA
Oh it was nothing. Just a bad customer.

MIKE
Well, Tabitha, there are no bad customers.

TABITHA
Yes, right, sorry. He was just, difficult.

MIKE
And you thought that was reason enough to have an unsolicited break?

TABITHA
No, I wasn’t-

Mike stands.

MIKE
Let me tell you how it works okay Tabby. Your job is to deal with difficult customers and make them…

Mike small brain struggles to find the word he’s looking for.

MIKE (CONT’D)
…un-difficult. Do you know how you do that?

TABITHA
Of course, I, I provide them with excellent service. I tell them their claims are-

MIKE
(still smiling)
No. No, no, no. Shh. Here’s what you do. You take their shit, and you take it with a smile. Then, you thank them for it and you ask for more. If they tell you you’re a worthless piece of crap, you agree with them. If they want to take out the fact that they’re living small, miserable lives on you, great! You let them yell at you, abuse you, and degrade you until they are spent, until all their words and anger has run out. Then you convince them to upgrade to the premium package. And do you know why you do all that? Because that’s what we pay you for. Okay?

TABITHA
Yes, Sir.

MIKE
Hey I told you, it’s Mike. Or Mr. President. That one’s still out there. Alright, well that should probably count for you mid morning break, yeah? Back to those phones.

Mike leaves Tabitha’s cubicle. Tabitha wearily puts her headset back on and looks across to the classic poster of a kitten hanging from a branch with the words ‘Hang in there’ beneath it. As she watches the kitten slips, and falls from the branch.

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