I have been a retail entrepreneur for my entire life. My parents owned retail stores and I followed their example fifty years ago. Today I buy and sell collector pieces of art working from my home in Paradise Valley AZ. In the last four years my business has become quite unpredictable. When it is up I save and invest. When business is down, I look for a telemarketing job. These days the nightmare call-rooms of the past are pretty much non-existent though care must still be taken because some of the owners of those ill-fated businesses of yore are still around.
Yesterday I discovered a small call-room near my home. The “Now Hiring” sign on the door looked easy enough. Within five minutes I had a job. We were calling with political survey questions, a fairly easy point and click, read the script kind of thing. After three hours I said good night and yes I would be there the next morning at nine-o-clock.
I arrived this morning two minutes late; I had been delayed by a friend’s email. He had misunderstood something and needed me worse thatn I needed to be on time.
The script was different from yesterday and I had difficulty adjusting. We were calling mostly Democrats but one Republican lady really warmed up to me. As I cleared the screen I heard a voice from the floor, “That guy’s a Republican.” A few minutes later a floor-walker came over to my and explained my puzzlement over a blank screen. He told me he had been monitoring me and had signed me off. He seemed friendly at first and I expected some of the warmth that I had already experienced in this until now, very friendly room.
“Did you see the rebuttal on the screen? You’re not using it?” Still friendly.
“No” I said.
“Yes you did; I’ve been listening to you.” Angry words. Something’s not right. As an old man, used to discrimination in the work place, I knew what that felt like but this seemed different.
“I gave you my answer; I did not lie.”
“Yes you did; I told you, I was listening to you.”
(And apparently reading my mind), I said to myself as I suddenly realized that the fact that he is black and I am an old, well-dressed white guy may be important and yes, this must be more than age discrimination.. “You can’t read my mind” I said.
“Don’t get smart with me” he demanded.
(Aha, he’s the one who called me a Romney man.) “And I don’t allow anyone to talk to me that way” I declared, “under any circumstances. “
“In that case you’re fired.” He replied; he looked quite pleased with himself.
I politely swore and I left, smiling at his confusion as he said “and, F*ck you Sir.
No grudges. But I won’t forget the lesson. That man who fired me probably knows much more about discrimination than I. I hope November brings peace to planet Earth.