I graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in 1999. I had remained undeclared well into my second year and received a letter from the university stating that I better declare a major and soon. Throughout my entire life, I had never taken my education seriously. My approach was to get by with minimum effort. If my parents had not wanted me to go to college, I do not know if I would have gone. I had even tried to drop out after the first quarter, but my parents insisted that I go back. I thumbed through what appeared to be the easiest majors in the student’s handbook. Women’s Studies had the least amount of required prerequisites and core classes. That was all I needed to know to make an informed decision. This is what my bachelor of arts degree is in. I ended up loving Women’s Studies. The classes were engaging and girls thought I was cool.
After I graduated, I had an extremely difficult time getting a job that appealed to me. This was not due to my major. It was due to the fact that just having a bachelor’s degree (with no experience) did not mean much anymore. I did a lot of temporary work but did not secure what I consider to be my first real job until mid 2001. I was a customer care associate with a leading U.S. wireless carrier. I handled inbound calls in a state of the art call center. I loved this job. I loved my job so much that I would intentionally work through my breaks and lunch hour. I enjoyed the interaction with the customers. It felt great to help people use the same cell phone that they could not make calls on before talking to me. The money was good too. I moved out of my parents’ home and got my own one-bedroom apartment. Around this time, Maxwell’s Lifetime (2001) was released and it became one of my favorite songs. I would listen to it over and over again for hours. I would relate its message back to my own life and think about what I was doing and where I was going.
About ten months into my position, the powers that be decided that how much a customer care associate says to a customer defines the service level. I was now required to say about four things on every single call regardless of the scenario. If a customer had already hung up, I was now mandated to continue saying things just in case a supervisor was listening or the call was being recorded. I could not force customers to listen to me tell them four things that I knew they did not want to hear. The job that I loved had turned into nightmare. I was dependent upon this nightmare so that I could keep having nightmares with a roof over my head. Whenever I listened to Lifetime, I tried to find strength but I feared what would happen in the immediate future. As usual, the immediate future becomes the present and I was repeatedly written up for failing to conform to the company’s requirements. I did not know that I could have collected unemployment insurance if I would have let myself be terminated. I quit right before I was about to be fired. This was a decision that almost ruined my life.
I still love Lifetime and it brings all of this back to me. I hope that one day it will bring a time in your life that is a bit more pleasant back to you.