February 24, 2008

The New Gig

As I noted in the last post, I have a new job and, as lame as it is to have to work, I must admit that it was probably about time. I had been getting pretty into "Star Wars: Knights of the Republic II" on the XBOX, and it was probably starting to annoy Angela (although to be fair, you must realize that she didn't have a job, either). In any case, the moment of realization came around last Tuesday when Angela's mom came to our house around noon unannounced, but I was unable to come out and properly greet her, since I was in the living room playing the video game, and I was only wearing underwear and my robe (the "Technicolor Dreamcoat" temporarily turned "Jedi Robe"). Yeah, probably about time to get a job.
So, my new job is pretty interesting. And yes, I do get a badge, and yes, I do get free coffee. They even gave me a new mug with the company's name. I'm planning to fill that coffee mug with enough black gold that I effectively double my disposable income at the end of the month. Anyhow, I'm working at a very large company in Heredia, which is a city just on this side of San Jose. The company provides support services for U.S. companies, which basically means that I work in a call center. When you hear about outsourcing, I'm pretty sure that my job is what they're talking about. So, if you call up customer support for one of about 16 major U.S. companies, there's a chance your call will get routed to the building where I work. From there, a friendly operator will talk you through your problem. At least that's the idea.
My job is not to take calls, but instead to help the people that are taking calls with their English problems. I am what is known as an "English Language Specialist." Many of the people at work speak very good English, but at the same time, there are around 3,000 employees (around the same number of cows at the dairy I worked at in the past...fun fact). There is also a very high turnover rate in this industry, so that means that there are still quite a few people who might not be speaking English at full capacity, either when they apply for a job, or while they are actively employed at the company. That's where I come in.
I'll be teaching English classes to potential employees that are only a bit below where they need to be, and I'll also take part in account screenings, which tests the English levels of the various agents in an account. I started doing that the other day, and it was very interesting, indeed. Almost bizarre.
In this account screening, I was listening to customer service calls that some of the operators were taking (so yes, when it says, "This call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes," they ain't kidding). The account was for a major U.S.-based cell phone manufacturer. Now, everyone knows that I hate cell phones, but if you have a cell phone, you certainly have to admit that at some point during the time you've owned it, it's probably presented you with a problem or question of some sort. Cell phones break, batteries die, warranties end, and screens don't work they way they're supposed to. Cell phones are inherently stressful little pieces of shit. But all the same, I was surprised how many assholes were calling to take out their problems on third-world operators. And I only listened to about 6 calls! In two of those calls, the callers in the U.S. turned to profanity, and in a third one, the person hung up because he was so pissed off.
One time about three years ago, I called the Dell customer support line because I was having trouble with my disc drive. I ended up having to talk to this girl in the Philippines for two and a half hours, and she kept remarking to me over and over again that she was so happy that I was patient, and that most customers would have been yelling at her by that point. Now I know why. The job that these operators do can be quite stressful, and it becomes even harder if their English isn't up to par (and probably even more stressful if some "English Specialist" is sitting next to them listening to their calls).
So, I'm still absorbing this whole thing, and I'll maybe have some new thoughts on the matter soon. I've also been working on some website updates, but due (as always) to poor internet access and a wife that (understandably) hates B.O.-infused internet cafes filled with stupid-ass punk kids playing online video games, I've not been able to get things up as quickly as I'd like. But I'll be working on it.

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February 13, 2008

Checking In

Hi Everyone!
So, it's been a bit of time since I wrote, but I've been pretty busy. My sister Di was visiting Angela and me for a few weeks to pick coffee, and Angela and I were both looking for jobs. Well, Di got her coffee (about 45 pounds of it), and Angela and I got jobs (one each). We'll be working for a company called Sykes in Heredia, which is between here and San Jose. We'll see how it goes. It'll be a departure from teaching, but probably a good departure that we both needed at this point. I will also get a security badge, which I've never had before, so I'm obviously pretty excited about that. Also, it appears they have free coffee, which will about double my take-home pay at the end of each month.
The only downside of getting a job (besides having to work) was the continuing Battle Against Bullshit Bureaucracy, which flared up again when we got the jobs. We both had to get a thing called an hoja de delencuencia, which is basically a paper that the courts here give you to prove that you're not a criminal (you know, guilty until you can prove you're innocent). In any case, the sheet is very basic and it's actually just a computer printout, but to get it you need to go personally to the court and request it. And it takes a week. And you also need to bring a photocopy of your national ID card and a kinda stamp called a timbre for 20 colones. Now, I don't expect you at home to keep up with the exchange rate between the Costa Rican Colón and the US Dollar, but right about now, 500 colones is around a dollar. That means the stamp costs about 4 cents (I think...I studied German, not math). Still, good deal, right? Wrong. Oh, so very wrong.
It turns out, they don't even sell these fucking stamps at the court, and you have to go all the way back to the Civil Registry building in town to get the stamps. For some reason. And, at the civil registry, they don't have the stamps, either. But this asshole that waits outside out the Civil Registry does, and he'll sell you four 5-colon stamps for only 100 colones. Not that that's a lot of money, either, mind you (uh, 20 cents, right?). But what pisses me off if the inherent recockulous stupidity of this bullshit bureaucracy, all the way from the places that provide services that don't take your money, to having to pay some arrogant asshole (and arrogant he was...ask Angela) 5 times the price for some stamp that's bullshit to begin with!
Anyhow, I think I start Monday, so me and Angela are hoping to go to the beach at Jacó tomorrow to celebrate our new jobs. Hope everyone's doing well. I'll try to keep updating more frequently now, and I'm also still working on getting updates to www.ryansitzman.com. That's going a bit slow because I'll be using a new web design program and there are blah blah blah!
Surf's up!

365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook