“Good morning. Welcome to to Prytel Wireless. My name is Tunji Lekan. How may I help you?….”
Yes, this is me, back at my job at 2:30 am, a time other normal people would be asleep. Honestly, I must admit that if, say, my father were Bill Gates, meaning I wouldn’t have to work a day in my life (C’mon, seriously, how many of us would bother working if our father was the richest man in the world?), I would probably be awake at this time of the day, making sure that all the clubs in Lagos knew my father has plenty, plenty money. And more money than that. Unfortunately, my father chose instead to be a university professor driving a beat up Peugeot 504 that looks older than even him (and my father is OLD!!!) instead of the owner of a globally renown technological giant so I have to work. I’m awake nevertheless; though I’m doing less dancing and more of wishing certain people would just go to bed instead of calling in to report the most ridiculous problems.
Seriously, I’m sure I had planned my life better than this. I planned that by 24, I would be working at one of the top oil companies in Nigeria having secured a first class or second class upper in Petroleum Engineering, earning a six figure income (okay, in retrospect, that might have been a tiny bit ambitious) and have started putting up a building somewhere on Banana Island. Fast forward six years since I left university. I ended up studying Soil Science (thanks to UTME, Post UTME and one fraudulent lecturer that promised to get me admission to study Petroleum Engineering), graduated with a second class lower (well, someone had to attend all those parties!) and ended up with a job as a call center agent at Prytel Wireless. I turned 27 two weeks ago. Hurrah me.
The call center job really wouldn’t have been so bad if I a) didn’t have the job in the first place, b) was actually working at an oil company and earning a six figure salary, c) was earning enough to start putting up a building somewhere on Banana Island and d) didn’t have to respond to the most ridiculous and outrageous complaints from the most ridiculous and outrageous people. In the course of my one year and six months on this job, I have heard complaints that range from eye rolling to straight out cringe inducing. The very first call I received after resuming the job full time post-training went like this;
ME: Good Morning and welcome to Prytel Nigeria. My name is Tunji Lekan. How may….]
Customer: YOU BASTARD! ALL OF YOU ARE BASTARDS!!! ALL YOU PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO DO IS ROB PEOPLE BLIND!!! MY GOD WILL PICK OUT EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU AND PUNISH YOU ACCORDINGLY…
ME (Trying to remember the procedure we were taught in training for dealing with customers like this because, quite frankly, I was blown completely away by this raging, cursing person): Er…..sir…..madam (the voice was high pitched and there was no way of knowing if I was talking to a man or a woman or a hermaphrodite)… sorry for the incon…
Customer: SHUT UP!!! WILL YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH WHILE I’M TALKING?!! I SAY SHUT UP OR MY GOD WILL SLAP THE LIPS OFF YOUR FACE!!!
I certainly didn’t want my lips slapped off my face so I piped down for a second to allow the customer exhaust his/her/its steam and actually state a complaint.
Customer: DON’T’T WORRY!!! (By this time I was way beyond being worried and crossing over into terrified territory). YOU WILL SEE (I didn’t want “see” what he/she/it was promising). YOU ARMED ROBBERS WILL SEE. CONTINUE STEALING MY MONEY. MY GOD WILLL DEAL WITH ALL OF YOU ONE BY ONE!!! Click. The line went dead. Not a single complaint stated. If bewilderment could be measured on a scale, mine would rip the charts. My supervisor was apparently listening in on the call and as soon as the call was dropped, burst out laughing. I wasn’t finding it very funny.
A week after that, I was on night duty when I a customer called in to report a complaint. I said a short prayer before picking it because I had resumed work in a very bad mood and was wary that in my current mood, I might tell a subscriber to go screw themselves and kiss my posterior end while they’re at it (pardon my French!). That call went like this:
Me: Good morning. Welcome to Prytel Wireless. My name is Tunji Lekan. How may I help you?
Subscriber: *loud music and quite a bit of suspicious moaning, then a barely audible voice saying something I could barely pick out*
Me: There seems to be a lot of noise where you are. Could you kindly move to a place where there is less noise? Thank you.
Subscriber: *music suddenly drops and a male voice comes clearly through* Sorry. I was banging my girlfriend.
Me (Wowed by this totally unwarranted information): Good morning. Welcome to to Prytel Nigeria. My name is Tunji Lekan. How may I help you?
Subscriber: Do you have a girlfriend?
Me (quite close to the end of my tether): Please may I know your name and how I may help you?
Subscriber: Do you bang her?
Me (stopped from telling him to go bang a transformer by the thought that it might lose me this job. Which I still need. Till the six figure job comes along): Please if there is nothing you would like to report, I might have to end this call.
Subscriber: Talk to my girlfriend *female voice comes through, giggling* hello
Me: *Muttering obscenities in my head while saying through clenched teeth that, if unclenched, might insult the subscriber’s parentage) Thank you for choosing Prytel Wireless (He’d better chosen another network by daybreak). DO have a wonderful day.
And there was that call while the SSCE exams were being conducted earlier this year. I picked a call to hear a voice whisper:
Subscriber: Please can you tell me the formula for calculating the volume of a cylinder?
Me (thrown by this question from nowhere to the point that I broke protocol): What?
Subscriber: I’m writing my maths paper and I don’t know how to calculate the volume of a cylinder. Please what is the…. (then from the background I heard a voice yelling: “Hey!!! You!!! Bring that phone!!! Bring it!!!) *line went dead*.
So that has been my professional life so far. I have received a call from a man asking if I would like to buy a cow, a woman who wanted advice on how to please her husband, too many calls from secondary school students (and even older, older people) begging me to give them credit “just for flashing” and one particularly disturbing call from a subscriber asking me to join their coven. I covered myself in the blood of Jesus thereafter.
It’s 2:30 am, and, quite frankly, I would rather be anywhere else instead of having to be here answering hick calls from hick subscribers. Still, I have to do my job. And here is another call for me to attend to:
Me: Good morning. Welcome to to Prytel Wireless. My name is Tunji Lekan. How may I help you?
Subscriber: My name is Mary Pepple
Me: Good Morning, how may I help you?
Subscriber: Will you marry me?
Me (completely thrown by this proposal over phone call which, I’m quite sure wasn’t the way I planned my marriage proposal to go. And I intended to do the proposing, not the other way round. And to a woman I actually knew and had met before): What?!!
Subscriber: I am 32 years old. I have been looking for a husband for the past 10 years. Last night my pastor said that the very next man to pick my phone call is the person God has destined for me to marry and that I should take the bull by the horns…
Me (clearly not intending to marry a 32 year old woman that has been seeking a husband for 10 years): Please I would like to know how I may help you…
Subscriber: I’ve told you na. Marry me.
Me: Madam, I cannot…
Subscriber: It is the will of God. My pastor said so. Do you want to go against the will of God?
Me: If I there is nothing I may help you with, I may have to end this call…
Subscriber: If you end the call, you are saying no to God. And saying no to God will cause him to visit you with his wrath. Tunji, my beloved, it is God’s intention that we get married. Maybe he has kept me unmarried for the past ten years just so I could meet you…
Me: Thank you for choo…
Subscriber: God knows where you live. And he will find you….and make sure you marry me….
Me:…sing Prytel Wirless. Do have…
Subscriber: I will bear your children; four boys and three girls. Pastor said…
Me: …a wonderful day. *click* I ended the call.
I do not get paid enough for this.