Confessions of a Call Center Gal - By Lisa Lim


How on earth did I wind up stuck here in Pocatello, Idaho, a town where every other vehicle is a Ford pickup truck and the wind blows faster than said trucks?

Just yesterday, I spotted a turnip truck bumping along a dirt road and was reminded of the country bumpkin saying, “I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.”

But here in Pocatello, my response to that would be, “Or did you? In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw you roll off one.”

But I digress.

I say again, how did I end up here?

Where do I even begin? Let me pause, rewind and paint a picture. It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. I was a recent college grad, starry-eyed and optimistic, ready to take on the world of print media.

Instead, I watched the fate of print media crumble right before my very eyes. Newspapers, mags and journals suffered casualties; the Chicago Tribune even filed for bankruptcy protection.

I applied at every print media outlet within a thousand mile radius, even the obscure ones like the Coon Valley Times, Ozaukee Press and Sheboygan Suns.

Alas, I never heard back.

Or worse, I received some version of this lame reject letter:

Dear Applicant, (Pssh! They didn’t even bother personalizing it)

Although we were impressed with your background and experience, we have decided to pursue other applicants who more closely reflect the requirements for the position (You are not good enough for us). We wish you well in your employment search (REJECT! stamped on my forehead).

Literally hundreds of these hate mail missives came back to taunt me; I spiraled into self doubt and began questioning my choices, my career path. My life became stagnant, and I was on the verge of depleting all my savings.

It was in this jaded and broke time in my life that Karsynn, my BFF from the University of Wisconsin, rang me up again. I checked the caller ID and sighed. I didn’t want to answer, but I knew she’d just keep on calling and calling until she got an answer to the question she’d asked yesterday and the day before. And the day before that.

“Hey Kars,” I said, picking up on the fourth ring.

“Wassup!” she boomed.

“Nothing,” I replied listlessly, cradling the phone on my neck while I moped around the house.

The dreaded question came right away. “Got a job?”

“Nope,” I grunted. “No”

“Hell no!” she scoffed. “Um, haven’t you been watching the news? Unemployment is at ten percent! Nobody’s hiring, so don’t take it personally. I’m not.”

I heaved out an explosive sigh. “This really sucks.”

“I know. Heck, the way things are going now, I’ll end up jobless and single for the rest of my life, mooching off my mom, living in her basement.”

“And you’ll turn into one of those crazy cat ladies who hoard a gazillion strays.”

“Uh-huh. One day you’ll read about me in the news—Karsynn Alayna Higginbotham, found dead in basement, body half eaten by rats.”

“Nope,” I said and pointed out, “With all your stray cats, there wouldn’t be any rats.”

“True, true.” She barely contained a snicker. “I’d be the best Crazy Cat Lady in town. I’m slowly accumulating more cats.”

“You are?”

“Yep!” A tone of smugness squeezed into her voice. “But not real cats though, just fake ones from my Crazy Cat Lady board game.”

“Um…” I paused for a beat…“they make such a thing?”

“Yes and it’s a riot!” She squealed with delight. “The whole goal of the game is to collect more cats than your competitors.”

“Well, d’oh!”

“Hah! You mock me, but I swear you’d love it too. The squares on the board say things like Find a stray cat at the grocery store—add one cat. And there are wild cards, but guess what? They’re called wild cats!”

“Karsynn,” I said mildly, “you sound a little too excited about this board game. Are you bored?”

“Bored outta my friggin’ mind,” she groaned in affirmation. “I have no job, no money, no friends...”

“You’ve got me,” I soothed.

“You know what?” she said after a pregnant pause. “I was just thinking…why don’t you come out here and see me? You could use a mini vacation!”

I almost dropped my phone.

Pocatello wasn’t exactly my idea of a vacation spot. In fact, it wasn’t even on my radar.

“C’mon,” she pleaded, “come visit me. It’ll be fun. I can show you around Spudsville, and we can hang out and watch TV, just like old times.”

Kars and I had been roommates in college, and on many dateless nights, we found ourselves holed up in our lava lamp lit dorm room,