I spent most of Friday on the phone interviewing people for one of the many articles on my plate. I usually hate getting started with the whole conversing thing, but lately I have come to appreciate it more and find that for an introvert I can be quite social on the phone. The topics are usually dry, things like education, the stimulus package, different programs so when me and my cohort start or end the interview we usually end up talking about something mundane like the weather or the previous call they had from a crazy or irate customer. I usually listen and make a comment or two so they know I am hearing them. It’s like they are just lonely and want someone to just listen for a moment. I get that a lot at work – people come to me often to vent.
But these callers remind me of a job I applied for about 10 years ago, as a phone actress. That’s the PC term for it and I originally became interested in the field when one of my classmates told me how she made good money and had plenty of time to study as she listened to men talk about their problems. “More than 80 percent of the time they just want someone to listen to them. Their wives and girlfriends don’t listen or they probably don’t even know how to talk to a girl face-to-face so they call me.”
I wasn’t sure about listening to some guy talk about his problems all day as I filed my nails or read a book, but I knew I could do the other 20 percent since I had received many a compliment from a boyfriend or two.
So I did the phone interview and was told I had a wonderful voice for the position. They sent me a packet of forms to fill out and all the logistics of the job like having my own cell phone and a home phone. That I would be on-call at home and the men would call to the main hub, which was in Texas somewhere, and then they would be directed to me. The hub would monitor how much time I was engaged in “conversation” and pay me by the minute. The first and last minute didn’t count and the wages would come to only about 8 bucks an hour.
Doing the math I realized the money was in hosting the business and not participating. At $4.99 a minute these johns were getting screwed in more ways than one and the screwers weren’t the girls faking it on the other end of the line. I threw the information packet in the trash and decided to do something else instead to make ends meet. But to this day, I wonder what it would have been like.