lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Missus Em goes job hunting

Curiosity: An overpowering instinct of cats, kids, women, scientists and other animals.

There are always a few ads in the Situations Vacant section, and they always read something like this:

Urgently required graduate telecallers with good experience in credit card calling for collections. Good Salary + Incentives.

Or, International Call centre at Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Gurgaon and Mumbai require 10+2 or graduate. Salary 10K to 25 K. Walk in on or before 30th June.

Or, MNC requires urgently graduates (age 25+) housewife, VRS, businessman for part/full time.

They are followed by contact numbers or Post Box numbers or email addresses. (Let's not go into the English. I don't want to get distracted.)

I'd been curious about these classified ads for so long, I decided to explore them and see what transpires. Curiosity killed the cat, as they say.

A non sequitur, here is a link to read about the history of the phrase and a tearjerker tale about Blackie, the cat

To get back to my adventure: I disregarded any ad that had age limits stated clearly, or asked for more computer literacy than I possessed, or required specialised skills. I mean, I might learn them in time, but I have no knowledge of Accountancy, System Analysis or Visual Basic or Java. It's Greek to me.

Most of these ads want fresh bright young and energetic people without any punctuation, and I am none of those. (I always knew there was something wrong with aging)

I ignored those that required previous experience. My only work experience is a month's trainee-ship in an advertising agency and free-lance journalism for a news rag in my youth.

I crossed off those that wanted beauticians or hairdressers or masseurs or therapists. That left a couple of ads that I could find out about. So I jotted the numbers down and called one.

A pleasant voice asked me about what skills I had to market. I said I write decent English, speak fluently and I can modestly call myself a good communicator. The voice then asked me my age, which, having been convinced by Ramayana and Mahabharata and the eighteen puranas, I gave truthfully.

Alas, said the voice. You speak wonderfully fluently but you are too old, it said. But, it added, there is an opening for counselors, where do you live? I told her. Ah, said the voice, it is too far for you to commute, especially as you are only thinking of part-time jobs. Why don't you write to us, the voice urged, giving me an address, and tell us about what skills you have, the kind of work you are looking for and your expectations? I resisted the temptation to tell her that I expect the moon. I jotted down the address, though; you never know.

Well, that was painless enough. So I called the other number: a scratchy reception and a young male voice. I was asked my age again. Sigh. The young man asked me what exactly I was looking for. I suppressed several irreverent responses that sprang to mind and said that I was considering getting part-time employment. He launched into a slightly incoherent explanation of what his company did, and suggested I go over to their office and find out further. He gave me the address.

I was between books and I had an afternoon to kill, so off I went to check this out further.

It was an insurance company. It was in the business district and the office was definitely stylish, even though the building itself was slightly decrepit, and the elevator definitely antediluvian.

I gave my name to an uniformed doorman, and barely sank into the plush sofa in the lobby before a neatly turned out young man came and ushered me into a large-ish office.

I was asked to fill a couple of forms, giving details about my qualifications (woefully few), experience (nil) and expectations (an afternoon's entertainment).

He then launched into a paean about the firm; talked a lot about "need-based" sales, and how I wasn't going to be a tele-caller or an insurance vendor but a provider of "need-based" solutions to a) my family b) my circle of friends c) my acquaintances d) my neighbourhood, and then e) the world.

He asked me if I understood what he was saying. I said that I'd gathered that selling insurance is providing "need-based" solutions in other words. I also pointed out that given my age, all my friends or acquaintances probably are already insured up to their gills.

Oh, its not so simple, he laughed, you will find out during training what a service you will be doing to the world, while making some effortless money.

He went on to say that if I worked four hours a day and contacted two people and managed fifty people in a month, and of which if ten per cent bought insurance I'd get thirty percent as commission (which he kept calling Incentive); then he quoted more numbers, and I tried not to get cross-eyed.

Then he whipped out a large form, and said I had to fill it up with names of family, friends and acquaintances. There were details to fill up: names, occupations, a rough guess of how much they earned in a year, their marital status, number of children, where they lived, what car they drove and where they vacationed last year. All right, I made up that last one.

Come back in three days with that filled up, and my superior will talk to you and you can start training, he said.

Sure, I said. I will talk this over with my husband, I said. Of course, he said. You will be making a contribution to your family income in a major way; of course you must talk it over with your husband.

I got up to leave. He pressed the form on me. You are forgetting this, he said. I will collect it when I come back, I said, crossing my fingers behind my back. You aren't comfortable with the proposal, are you, he asked.

I stopped hedging. I said I was not happy with the idea of compiling dossiers of people I know so his company can sell them "need based" solutions. I thanked him for the interview and the excellent tea and left.



Anonymous Ash said...

the office was definitely stylish, even though the building itself was slightly decrepit, and the elevator definitely antediluvian.

Wonderfully terse. Bravo, Lali.

8:18 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

Is that all true? Or did you make up more than the last requirement?

Why do you never disclose these things when we chat? sigh.

11:05 pm  
Blogger Speech is Golden said...

Easy, effortless money, uh??? Wonder which tree it grows in.

(An overzealous desi who was trying to get me in to network marketing or something fancy like that, to make easy buck curses me in his nightmare)

5:57 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- Thank you. :D

Rajesh- It was all true, except that little thing.

Ram- Tell me when you find that tree, I could do with it. :D

Network marketing? This phrase is new to me.

12:44 pm  
Anonymous badari narayanan said...

You are richer by a cup of tea - this business is certainly profitable : )

10:06 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Badari- I am poorer by the cab fare. On the other hand I blogged about it, so it's fair trade. :D

2:15 pm  
Blogger Priya said...

Hats off to you for even going through it! Now you inspire me to move my heavy feet and go find some work!! Damn damn damn...why did I come to read your blog;)

5:50 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- What lovely left-handed compliment. :D

6:35 pm  
Blogger Speech is Golden said...

Haven't u heard of Network Marketing *gasps in disbelief*. Really!!! Is there anyone in this world who has been spared by the hands of the network marketers???

Network marketing is the supposedly simple thing where u join some company by paying a truckload of cash and then decide that you shouldn't suffer alone and entice your friends and family to join and they in-turn find more people and so on and so forth until it spreads like cancer and everybody is bankrupt. Oh! u wud get commission for every new bakra in ur chain. (this marketing thing goes on in many names - NM is jus one)

9:17 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- Oh, you mean the pyramid schemes. This is the new name for an old scam. And I'd have known it if it ever featured as a crossword clue. :-)

9:33 am  

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