IN THIS TWILIGHT
By AL BRUNO III
One year in
It was a particularly busy day with very little pause time between calls. Mike didn’t mind much, it just meant the day went by all the quicker. By now he did most of his job unconsciously, asking the questions and filling in the blanks while he thought about other things in the back of his mind.
“Sir. Sir. Why would I have your account number?” The voice to the right side of the cubicle was practically shouting, Mike glanced over to see Raymond getting into an argument with another customer. It seemed like it was impossible for him to speak without getting spittle somewhere, “You need to find it. I can’t help you otherwise. No. No. No. Goodbye.”
Man I miss Cosmos. Mike thought. She had moved on to the receiving department, her desk had stayed empty for about a week. Then Raymond showed up, shaking with anger and smelling like he hadn’t bathed in a week.
Jimmy muted his current call and whispered, “Ray man will you please-”
“Raymond. My name is Raymond.”
“OK Raymond, will you please keep your voice down? We all have to work together.”
Raymond snarled at him, showing off his broken tooth, “Are you gonna tell on me again?”
Jimmy glared back, “If I have to.”
The hygiene issue had been the breaking point for Jimmy. It seemed like Raymond never bathed, and it was obvious that he wore the same clothes day after day. He tried to cover up the rank odor by dousing himself in cheap aftershave but all it did was make his odor even more stomach-twisting. Jimmy had finally complained to the call center manager. That had gotten Raymond bathing but his breath still left a lot to be desired.
Mike had to give Jimmy credit; he hadn’t had the nerve to do anything that might piss Raymond off. The man treated every shift like an eight hour temper tantrum. He shouted at callers, he was surly and unhelpful, sometimes he hung up on people just for the hell of it. He made the days nerve wracking.
“Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am James your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?
“Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am Michael your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?”
“Trinity Advance. Account number.”
The Trinity Advance Corporation gave its employees free scratch pads and pens. Raymond had a pile of both at his desk and was forever scribbling between and during his calls. His doodles were strange, sharp angles and loose curves clashed and occasionally a word or a name would find its way into the mess. In just a few weeks he had gone through dozens of notepads. As soon as one was filled he threw it into the trash and started on another.
During a pause in the calls Mike said, “Jimmy you talked me into it. I will go to the Christmas party this year.”
Raymond snorted derisively, “Feeding time at the zoo. They laugh at you every year with your cheap suits and stupid conversations. The open bar just makes it funnier.”
Jimmy shook his head, “Don’t get all bitter on the company just because you got yourself in demoted.”
“This company doesn’t give a crap about us dumbass,” a call came through on Raymond’s line but he simply disconnected it, “We’re just a necessary expense, for now.”
Mike shrugged, “They treat me fine here.”
“Like I said feeding time at the zoo,” Raymond snorted, “free blankets for the Reservation. I know what goes on upstairs. I know what this company is really about.”
Jimmy asked, “If you hate it here, why not just quit?”
“I’m almost fully vested, they can’t fire me. They wouldn’t dare,” a strange haunted look crept into Raymond’s eyes, “they have to take me back.”
The calls started coming in again, “Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am Michael your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?
“Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am James your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?”
“What do you want?”