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    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2012
    Yes. This.

    In any and all jobs, don't skimp on paying for decent footwear. Black goretex lined combat boots are appropriate for a wide variety of situations, as they can stand anything you throw at them and go anywhere, but also be cleaned up enough to go with a suit, and you can run in them if you have to as well.

    The rule really, is to spend money on the things you use every day and make do on the things you use rarely. So; shoes, bags, underwear, phone, laptop, tools, get the best you can afford. Shit you use rarely, skimp on it and don't spend out on stuff you just keep for special occasions. Fuck 'collectables' of all types. You don't need them. Spend the money on shoes and stuff that makes your day to day life easier.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2012
    How to Survive a Call Center

    In my working career I've worked in two call centers. The first was an answering service which businesses contracted with so we'd essentially take messages and give information to callers who called the businesses after said businesses were closed. The second was an in-bound call center for patients trying to leave messages for their doctors, schedule appointments, call advice nurses, and get information; this was for a giant medical care provider in California whose name rhymes with "Sizer".

    1. Dress up your work space - If you work in a call center where you have your own desk, or even if you share your desk, put up some things so you're not looking at bare gray or beige fabric walls all day. Pictures, posters, some flowers, something to stimulate your mind because a little distraction can go a long way.

    2. Bring something to do - There will be times when you don't get calls depending on your call center; be prepared to fight the boredom.

    3. Develop a thick skin - People can be assholes but people have less of a tendency to be a complete prick to you in person. Unfortunately for you, you're not in person and so an old lady who probably would be kind and understanding while seeing your face as you try to explain how you can't help her will curse you out in such a way as to shrivel your soul, crush your spirit, and teach you the true meaning of vulgarity if you're on the phone. Working in the patient call center was even worse because you take that factor, plus the possibility that the person is being dicked around by their doctor, AND throw in they're sick? Yeah, they've several large bones to pick with the company and, by God, you're the closest thing to a perfect punching bag: a representative of the company whose face they don't have to see and they'll never talk to again. They will be mean, probably cruel, and some few will even be some definition of evil; learn to deal with it.

    4. Follow your procedures / The customer is always wrong - The answering service was the first place I worked at that had the policy that the customer is always wrong. Why? Because the business contracted with its customers to provide VERY specific service and if the customer asked to go outside of the parameters that the customer set up, then we'd get in trouble. If the apartment building we're answering for specified no calls to the apartment manager for lock outs, don't fugging bother them about a lock out even if the person on the phone starts ranting. If a person mentions an emergency symptom on the phone (like numbness in the left arm and chest pain), put them through to the nurse even if they don't want to. I had a situation once where I followed procedure and lied to a patient who said she was suicidal and told her I was putting her through to psychiatry like she asked (I didn't, I put her through to our nurses like I was supposed to); when she invariably tried to get me fired the recording of the phone call showed I did exactly as I was supposed to and my employer and my union stood behind me on that. The callers will try to get you to do things that will get you in trouble; don't do it.

    5. That being said, do what you can for them up - That being said you're still there to provide customer service. If a customer says no after hours contact but the caller has an urgent request, make sure you put into the message that its urgent. If your caller needs an appointment, do everything you can to get them one even if it isn't with their regular doctor (if that's ok with them and their doctor). Are they having trouble talking to a specialist? Call up that department and see if you can't get them connected through a back channel if possible. I hated the patient call center job to the point where it required two hours of decompression afterward before I was fit company for my wife but the times I made a sick person's day genuinely better and brought them some small amount of relief was worth it. Unfortunately, those times were outweighed by all the other bullshit.

    6. Get out before you burn out - I can't tell you how important this is. My two experiences in call centers found the work to be pretty soul crushing to where I would tell people, and believed it myself, that I hated my life while I was doing those jobs. I saw people who had been at those jobs two or three times longer (or more) than I was and they just didn't look like they had any joy anymore. Maybe it was different at home or off shift but when you're spending at least a third of your day at work there should be something, anything, that you enjoy about it. And if your job is to provide good customer service, treating every call like you're attacking your most reviled enemy isn't going to be the way to do that.

    7. Find a good manager and do everything you can to work for them - I don't know what it is about call centers but most of the managers I've met who work in them are absolute shite. Luckily, when I worked at the patient call center I worked for a good manager who took the time to try and help her team do better, offered constructive criticism rather than negative (or no) criticism, and stood by us against upper management if we were clearly in the right (rather than simply throwing us under the bus). Find them, cultivate that relationship.

    8. Leave your work at the office - Seriously. Some call centers, I'm sure, are more stressful than others, but learn to leave that shit at the door so you don't take it home with you. I never mastered this skill, I wore my irritation home like a badly fitted sweater, but if you can do this then you can probably survive a call center better than I did.
  1.  (10916.3)
    Any advice for finding good shoes?

    And I'm seconding RenThing's #7. A good boss/manager goes a long way. I'd rather be paid less and have a good boss, than be paid more to work for people who make me miserable.
  2.  (10916.4)
    6. Get out before you burn out - I can't tell you how important this is. My two experiences in call centers found the work to be pretty soul crushing to where I would tell people, and believed it myself, that I hated my life while I was doing those jobs.
    Have you been eavesdropping on me?
    8. Leave your work at the office
    That's been the silver-lining part of my current job. Punch the clock, and forget all about it. Except now they have me "on call" one week out of the month.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2012
    Have you been eavesdropping on me?

    No, and ignore that chip implanted behind your ear.

    That's been the silver-lining part of my current job. Punch the clock, and forget all about it. Except now they have me "on call" one week out of the month

    Don't go corporate if you ever hope to retain this.
    • CommentAuthorScrymgeour
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2012 edited
    @ renthing and Quest.
    8. Leave your work at the office
    That's one I've struggled with for years now, and It can really really burn you out. I ended up with a stammer, was pulling my hair out, and still to this day cant handle an aggressive phone vibrate as it sets my heart pounding from a particularly nightmarish boss
    so also

    7. Find a good manager and do everything you can to work for them

    My two cents:
    If your ambition is to become a great bartender, firstly have a long hard think about it. The hours are terrible, the pay (outside of the US) is terrible, and the clientelle are varied at best.
    Secondly try try try, never ever give up an opportunity to try something new, a product, a cocktail, equipment, a bar, because the only way to progress is to get good. You need to be making yourself a cocktail, trying a new spirit etc. every time you'd normally have a beer.

    ETA: I know my point and comment 8 from the previous post are contradictory, but in the beverage industry your work needs to be your hobby or you're in the wrong career
    • CommentAuthorDarkest
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2012
    Things I have learned from running a comic shop:

    1) Always have a pack of sandwich bags or ziplock bags. Preferably near the cash register, they've been really useful.

    2) Be read to pass up a whole load of awesome stuff in the previews catalogue. Try to keep to a budget when you do your monthly order.

    3) Be prepared to let people down. The customer will expect you to be able to get things in five seconds before they came in and sometimes that will not be possible. Explain it to them and always give your self as big a margin of error as possible.

    4) Read Warren Ellis' bad signal etc. great advice in there. Especially about the sofa.

    5) Keep your order spread sheets simple and name them something easy to keep track of.

    6) Keep as broad range of stock as you can. Your job is to provide not "educate". Don't belittle anyone's choices. Instead recommend something to them.

    7) Is someone new to comics? Don't know where to start? Ask them why they wanted to start reading comics. What tv do they like? What games? etc.

    8) Wheaton's Rule.

    9) Bee nice to your suppliers. Just because Diamond own's the world right now does not mean you can do without a goood working relation ship.

    10) As above make everyone feel welcome with the layout. Don't block the windows. Lots of light and space, common sense layout. I have a large number of customers who I wouldn't normally because A) my shop is family friendly and B) they feel comfortable there.
  3.  (10916.8)
    I've been an artist for forty years. Sold my first painting in 1983, still stupid enough to be doing it now.

    1) Plywood and gesso are your best friends. You can buy a 3'x4' Craftwood panel for a few bucks, give it a couple of coats of white primer (or cheap plastic house paint if you have leftovers from renovations), then either saw it into smaller pieces or use it for a large single painting. You can get larger panels which work out even cheaper by the square foot, although they can be a pain in the arse to transport home.

    2) Custom framing costs ungodly amounts of money. Learn some basic woodworking skills and build up a toolkit for yourself, and you'll save a shitload of scratch. A tenon saw (short saw) for framing, long saw for plywood, claw hammer, set square, nail punch, about a dozen adjustable clamps, a few packs of assorted nails and a bottle of carpenter's glue will see you right for most jobs. If you're painting on plywood, you can cut strips of lumber for the frame, paint them, then glue them straight onto the edges of your work (this is where your collection of clamps proves indispensable).

    3) Premium paints are absolutely worth saving up for, when you're producing work for sale. They have richer, more vibrant colours because they contain more pigment than the budget brands, and they're much more hard-wearing and don't readily fade in the sunlight. If you've wondered what the 'schedule' price chart for artists' paints is all about, it's directly related to the cost of the pigments used; schedule 1 is the inexpensive stuff like titanium white and carbon black, running all the way up to schedule 6 and 7 for some of the exotic reds like rose madder and DPP Scarlet. There's an old post here with more about paint.

    4) Don't stack your paintings directly against one another along the wall, you'll scuff the shit out of them.