I spent almost a decade working in call centres and I can say without any reservation that they all sucked in one way or another. There’s something about the removal of face to face contact that turns otherwise normal customers into slavering monsters that feed on human suffering. I had my share of both good and appalling managers and the bad ones were certainly pretty awful but by far and away the worst thing about call centre work is that when all is said and done…it’s not that bad.

This may seem like an odd thing to say.

The problem is that call centre work is bad enough to make most people miserable* but not quite bad enough to make them proactive about finding a better job. Plus once you’ve worked in a call centre finding a job that doesn’t involve being a professional abuse magnet becomes surprisingly difficult. I worked with people with masters degrees in everything from engineering through teaching through to computer programming and they all spent a lot of time trying to persuade infuriated idiots not to set themselves on fire**.

In some ways a big business is a lot like an elder God from the mythos. Not necessarily evil, but not even remotely human… not to mention powerful enough to make even its most casual decisions have terrible consequences. Nowhere is that more apparent than in its call centre where you can see far enough behind the curtain to be horrified but not quite far enough to do anything about it.

I may be bitter about the whole experience.

This weeks Lovecraftian novel recommendation is The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross, the first in The Laundry Files series of novels. They’re a fun mix of spycraft, office comedy and Lovecraftian horror and while Stross has never come across an acronym he didn’t love they’re uniformly a good read if you love all things eldritch.

* Some people love working in call centres and if that’s your bag I’m happy for you, you will never be short of a job.

** My memory of the specifics of my previous jobs are a little hazy but this came up more often than you’d think. Protip: drying something flammable under the grill with the oven door closed will not work out the way you want it to.