I swabbed my headset with alcohol and started dialing. Very few people listened to the end of my introduction, "Hello, I'm Natalie Lerner from … doing a short survey on a vital topic … will you be prepared … absolutely confidential … interviewing influential people." In my first hour of calls, only one person even let me finish. When I did, she said, "I'm not influential" and hung up. Amazingly, at 6:45 I got a business owner and at 7:10 a sales manager willing to do the almost 20-minute survey. Afterward, two supervisors called me in. Overall I got an "A," but they went over a number of mistakes I made, such as hitting the key for "extremely concerned" when my sales manager was only "very concerned" about making the right investment decisions.
I went back to the phones. It took two more hours before I convinced someone to do another interview. While I dialed, a woman from the cleaning crew began vacuuming the hall, making me feel grateful that I only had to sit in the little cubicle. At 9:45, when we start calling the West Coast, the older woman one seat down said she was worried about what time we would get out. Her trip required a subway and a bus transfer. Last night she just missed the bus and so had to wait 40 minutes for the next one, getting home around 1 a.m. "It's dangerous out there," she said.
The college student next to me, who used the names of his football teammates as a revolving pseudonym, finally completed an interview. Before he hung up, he said, "Thank you, thank you, you're my only one for the whole night." Then at 10:46, the supervisors walked up and down the rows telling us we could go home. By the time I got to the main computer to check out at 10:48, the office was deserted. I decided that was my last night. I had worked for 13.6 hours, dialed 370 phone numbers, and completed 13 interviews. My take-home pay was $77.24.
When I got out to the street, there was an older woman from the office, who walked with a heavy limp, already hailing a cab. When she got in, I hoped her trip was a short one.
Some minor identifying details were changed in this story.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Democrats’ War at Home
How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best
Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke
Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10
Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.
Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.
How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.
You Deserve a Pre-cation
The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.