Looking foolish does the spirit good. The need not to look foolish is one of youth's many burdens; as we get older we are exempted from more and more, and float upward in our heedlessness, singing Gratia Dei sum quod sum. - Johm Updike

Thanks be to God that I am what I am

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Questions? Comments?

I was chatting with a friend a few days ago, catching up with her because she had been M.I.A for a few days.  She is an artist and craftsperson: when she is getting ready for a show I don't expect to hear from her.  We also read each others blogs and she is one of three people who have left comments on mine.  Much love to Kai for that alone.  Invariably, we got to the subject of my job and once again, I had someone apologizing to me for asking questions about the Mechanics of Phone Sex.  She is far from the first person to feel that she has to apologize for being curious.  Once again, I assured someone that I really don't mind answering questions about my experiences as a PSO or explaining what little I know about how the industry works.  In fact, my attitude is the exact opposite.

For fucks sake, ask questions.  If you're curious, if you are thinking about becoming a PSO, if you are a caller and want to know something about the people who entertain you, ask fucking questions.  If I have the answer and I feel that it is appropriate to give it to you, I will.  To clarify, if you ask for private information (like how to contact me for a one on one) I am going to tell you to fuck off.  If you ask for something I am uncomfortable relaying such as the details of a particular caller's fantasy, I will say 'no'.  If you just want to know about how the whole mess works, I'll give you the best answer I can.  Why? Because I feel that, having crossed this particular threshold, I owe to other women to share the information I have gathered.

When I started looking into becoming a PSO, the one thing that drove me up the wall was the profound lack of credible, first hand information available.  Multiple Google searches finally led me to the staffing company I now use but, I filled out 'applications' online for six or seven different companies who never bothered to call me back.  One of the thing that I hate about PSO recruiting is that staffing companies want women to fill out applications without providing a great deal of their company contact information.  They do this to avoid being harassed by pervert callers trying to score freebie phone sex.  One trainer who used to do staffing told me a hilarious story about having a perv call into the staffing line and immediately launch into his fantasy over and over again.  Attempts to explain to him that he was calling the office and there were no PSOs there to handle his call failed miserably.  He would just talk over her, telling her about his huge, hard cock and ordering her to suck it while smacking his lips and moaning loudly.  She tried having his number blocked and he called from a different number, bitching at her for blocking him and going right back to the same, dumbass routine.  Then she got a police whistle and started blasting his eardrums every time he called.  It took nearly two months of constant auditory assault to finally get rid of him and he called multiple times a day.

Even before I found the staffing company, I would try to read articles about phone sex on question and answer sites despite the fact I was pretty sure that answers offered were utter bullshit.  Turns out I was right about that one.  My favorite was a woman who had been turned down by a staffing company because she didn't have a landline and wanted to know if that was true of all phone sex companies.  The person who answered her question admitted right from the beginning that she was not a PSO, had never been a PSO, and didn't know any PSOs but, still felt she was qualified to answer.  Her response was that "Of course, you can use a cell phone.  They shouldn't have a problem with cell phones.  No one uses landlines anymore.  They shouldn't expect you to have one."  Great, a brilliant (and totally wrong) answer from a cell phone snob.

The real answer is more complicated than that. Officially, yes, a PSO must use a landline.  Cellphones are not secure enough.  It is possible for people to listen in on cell conversations pretty easily and one of the things offered to callers is anonymity.  Callers can use cell phones and I really wish they wouldn't.  PSOs must use landlines with unlimited long distance service.  They don't like PSOs using VOIP lines either, though, most of us do.  We just didn't admit to that fact on the application.  The problem is software compatibility.  Most of the really cheap VOIP services out there, like Magic Jack, are just not compatible with the software used by the hosting service to track a PSO's time.  And the whole point of talking to pervs is getting paid for it.  Why would any woman listen to their dumbass, bullshit fantasies if they weren't getting paid?

The truth is that the staffing companies will allow a PSO to use a cellphone if she lives in a major, urban center with fantastic coverage, has a really good quality phone in good working order, and understands that she cannot go out while she is working.  That movie where Anne Hathaway plays a PSO who routes calls to the office line where she is temping and takes calls while standing outside of a restaurant is total bullshit.  The hosting companies do monitor all calls for new operators and almost all calls for experienced operators.  Some just monitor everything.  I work for two different hosting companies and they have the exact same rules for a PSO's work environment.  You have to be completely alone; no boyfriend or husband listening in on your calls, absolutely no kids hanging around, no dogs barking.  I have gotten in trouble with the first hosting company for the monitor hearing back round noise on my calls and assuming that I was not alone.  Once, when I was sitting next to an open window and my neighbors were talking loudly.  I got up and moved when I heard it but, the monitor didn't know that.  The other time when the supervisor heard me talking to one of my dogs between calls and assumed that I was talking to a small child.  Since she was a puppy at the time, I can understand why the Downer thought I was speaking to a child.  The fact that s/he recorded the call and played it back for the staffing company as proof that I was breaking the rules in an attempt to get me thrown off the lines without ever asking me what was going on is just further proof that s/he is a dick.  Luckily, the staffing company knows I have dogs because I talk about them when we speak and told the Downer to chill the fuck out.  That's when the hosting company came up with the 'no barking dogs' rule.  Fuckwits.  The few time a caller has heard my dogs barks, they have laughed about it and started telling me about their own dogs.  It is a great conversation starter.

Another rule that blows the minds of the curious.  No computer use.  The staffing and hosting companies are right to ask this but, there is no goddamned way they can enforce it.  The reason it is a good idea for a PSO to stay the fuck off her computer while she is working?  The caller can tell when you are distracted.  No, really.  Everyone I tell this to doesn't believe me.  They understand what I am talking about but, assure me that they are completely capable of answering their emails, playing a game, and bullshitting on Facebook with friends while talking to someone on the phone.  What are you, a mutant? No?  Then, listen to me.   The concept of multitasking is a corporate myth perpetuated to make us do the work of four people while collecting a paycheck for one.  The human brain simply does not work that way.  What it does do is shift from one task to another over and over again at an incredible rate of speed.  The problem is that while concentrating on one task, like making an incredibly witty comment about friend's new haircut, a PSO is not actively paying attention the other things she is doing while she is entertaining her buddies instead of concentrating on the caller. And most of the pervs can tell when a PSO is not paying attention to them.  That is not what they are paying for so they hang up and tank her call time average.

Does that mean I stay off my computer when I am working?  Hell no!  There can be a hell of a lot of wait time between calls and I get bored easily.  I am also not putting up with this bullshit to act like I am still working at the same fucked up answering service I worked at years ago where, yes, management really did expect operators to sit in their cubicles staring at their screens while waiting for the next call and not speaking to each other unless it was work related.  I broke those rules every day without a qualm.  There is no way I am imposing draconian restrictions on myself now, no matter how much the hosting company tries to enforce it.  And they do try.  I can't say I feel really sorry for the PSOs who have gotten caught.  They were the ones dumb enough to leave the sound on.  However, when I get a call, I am not looking at my computer.  I deliberately turn my back to it or turn off the screen so I can concentrate on the caller and I had to learn to do this the hard way.

One night, I got a caller with the absolute worst coprophilia fantasy I have ever heard, even worse that the Acolyte's.  If you don't know what coprophilia is, look it up.  It is one of two fetishes that will actually make me vomit, so I ain't talking about it unless I'm getting paid.  Of course, this perv also happened to be a Sneaky Bastard so he didn't warn me ahead of time so I could ditch him.  So, he starts talking about a subject that is literally making me gag and I am wondering how the hell I am going to get through the call without vomiting.  Luckily, he's a Talker.  I don't have to actively participate in his fantasy, I just have to make the right noises in measured intervals to convince him that I am paying attention.  I get a bright idea, switch on my computer and start playing a fairly intensive game while listening to him.  It works, my brain stops trying to conjure up images to match his words so I stop gagging and I can follow what he is saying enough to moan and groan and beg him to use me any way he wants so I can prove my devotion to him.  Yes, that was the gist of his fantasy.  I get a really long call out of the Sneaky Bastard and a revelation.  I can entertain myself on the computer while working! Yah!  Ticker tape parade for me!

Wrong.  I start goofing around on the computer while I am working, all the time, and my call time average starts to slip.  The Downer is griping at me, I know I am not making enough money and I start to get really unhappy.  Time to rethink this.  I can use this trick with a Talker or a caller I know really well but, I have to stop splitting my attention on every call.  It is not working.  Talking to a caller requires active listening and I cannot do it while on the computer but, there is no way I am giving up being on the computer while I am working.  So I started turning my back to the screen while talking to the pervs.  It worked.  I still have the computer and I can pull my average up to make more money.  Problem solved and I still get to play.

The thing is I am different from other PSOs in this regard.  My mother was married to a man who taught speech and communication skills at the college level while I was pretty young.  He decided to prove a point to a class full of particularly dense freshmen by trying to teach the same active listening skills he was teaching them to his nine year-old step daughter.  I aced the final exam which involved listening to a recording of a technical lecture given by another professor with a thick Indian accent while answering questions about the lecture on a score sheet.  Most of those college students didn't even get a passing grade from that exam.  He proved his point and I acquired a skill that has served me very well my entire life.

Most PSOs have no idea what active listening is when they start and they have to learn it quickly to be successful.  Most people have no idea what actively listening is.  If you don't know, look it up and learn it.  It will give your communication skills an edge few people actually possess anymore.

And it's a fun trick at parties.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha, well I still feel bad for asking questions all the time -- I mean, shouldn't we have conversations about something OTHER than your job? (which we do, and they are fantabulous) Still, I feel badly for bringing up the questions when I do. Admittedly, it is a completely clinical interest, something I've never thought of before. Anyway, enough of that.

    I've never really thought about my active listening skills. I know my reading comprehension is relatively amazing, but I never considered what my actual listening skills are like. It's something I oughta think about now, but again, it's something that is going out of style. In today's society, we don't have vocal conversations as much anymore. It's all digital. It's worrisome and sad that we don't take the time to sit and chat with one another in an actual conversation, whether on the phone or in person. And I'm just as guilty of it -- what with my schedule.

    But again, a great piece you've written here. I's given me a lot to think about and I'm sure that this will come up in conversations later.