This true story originally appeared in Temp Slave magazine. It has also appeared in two books, The Best of Temp Slave and The Factsheet Five Zine Reader.

Thank You for Calling Sega



There are twelve year old boys who would suck your dick to have the temp assignment I just completed. For the last three months, I went behind the scenes of what most kids consider the coolest company in the world. I worked for Sega of America's Consumer Service Department. I spent eight hours a day answering the phone and getting berated by angry parents whose children's videogames weren't working.

The department was staffed by about a hundred phone reps, most of whom were temporary. Our primary function was to talk people through the installation of Sega's home videogame system, the Genesis. If somebody's Genesis wasn't working, we would troubleshoot it over the phone, and if that didn't work, we would have them send it in for repairs.

If you consider the demographic you're dealing with, you'll understand that this job was a prescription for misery: videogamers tend to be losers. They have no friends. They sit in their dark little rooms with the curtains closed, playing Mortal Kombat while the rest of us are out there having lives. From this demographic, there is a special sub-class: those who are too stupid to connect a Genesis to a television. These are the ones I dealt with.

The stupidity of our callers was usually a function of age: I often found myself talking to ten year old pieces of shit who could barely tie their shoelaces, but somehow had mustered the brain-power to dial our 800 number. Kids are passionate about the industry. They would sometimes ask me, "How do you get a job at Sega?" I worked for the company that had created Sonic the Hedgehog and Altered Beast. In their eyes, I was the luckiest guy in the world. I was part of the inner circle, and they wanted to talk to me for an hour.

Our callers' passion for videogames had a dark side. It was damned easy for them to become irate. Adolescent boys would call just to harass us: "Why do you guys make such crappy games, man? I think Nintendo really kicked your ass with Donkey Kong Country. You guys don't have anything to compare with that game! I've got over a thousand dollars invested in Sega products, and all you give us is crap! I guess Sega just doesn't care about their customers. I think Sega fuckin' sucks, man." Blah, blah, blah. Like I care.

I felt like saying, "Listen, you little punk, let me get you alone in a jail cell for two minutes and I'll beat you until blood comes out of your ears." But I couldn't say that, because our calls were randomly monitored.

Once a week, my supervisor would listen in on two of my calls and then grade my performance. He used a scorecard of Standards and Expectations, which was a list of things we were supposed to do and say in every call. "Thank you for calling Sega" was supposed to be the first thing a customer heard when we answered the phone, and the last thing they heard before we hung up.

Before we ended a call, we were also expected to say, "Is there anything else I can help you with?" This is not a good thing if you've got an idiot on the line who just called to chat, or worse yet, a complainer. That offer of additional assistance could turn what should have been a five minute call into a twenty five minute ordeal: "Oh, yeah, actually, there is something else. Can you tell me why it's so hard to get through to you people? I've been trying to call since Christmas, and the lines are always busy, and when I finally did get through, I had to wait on hold for twenty minutes....." Blah, blah, blah.

You didn't want a call to stretch on like that, because a computer kept track of your average call lengths. If you weren't careful, you'd get a voice message from your boss saying something like, "Hi, I was just looking at your stats for this week, and you did well on the monitoring scores, but you really need to work on reducing your talk time."

The worst thing about the job was that it was an endless grind. Day after day, you had to listen to one irate parent after another, all with the same complaint. Because the complaints were totally predictable, you would find yourself having the same exact conversation over and over:

"We sent away for the free game promotion over three months ago, and it still hasn't arrived! I've got a very impatient five year old who asks me where his game is every day. I've called you people twice already, and both times you've assured me it's been shipped, and I'd like to know where it is....." Blah, blah, blah. I listened to that complaint hundreds of times.

If the customers weren't getting what they wanted, they would fly off the handle. The stupider people would threaten legal action: "The store told me I could get a free game if I bought the Sega, and now you're telling me I bought the wrong system? This is bullshit, and if you don't do something to make me happy, I'm going to the State Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau!" There's somebody with a keen understanding of our legal system. One bitch threatened to take her story to "some big radio station". Yeah, right. I'm sure the news director will devote at least an hour of air time to your complaint.

In almost every case, Sega had done nothing wrong. The more baseless the customer's complaint, the more likely they were to scream, ask to speak with my supervisor, or claim they were going to the authorities.

It was grueling to take this abuse, and I dealt with it by using my favorite stress reliever: Sabotage and theft! Here's a brief overview of my activities:

Masturbating at work:  The computer kept track of every minute you were logged on to the phone system. You were expected to be logged on for a minimum of seven hours and fifteen minutes a day. This made it especially thrilling to run into the bathroom and furiously pump my erection, knowing my time was limited. Having beat off in a wide variety of work environments, I've mastered the art of the quick jerk. I could usually have a satisfying fantasy and reach orgasm within two or three minutes.

Drinking on the job: One day, during lunch, I decided to get bottles of orange juice and load them up with vodka. I gave one to the guy I shared my cubicle with, and we were pleasantly buzzed for the rest of the afternoon.
On that day, we had a "stress buster", which meant we got to log off the phones early and have a pot-luck party. I still had plenty of vodka, so I turned a few of my co-worker's beverages into cocktails.

Antagonizing customers: In spite of the possibility that the call was being monitored, sometimes I just had to make these people unhappy: "You want to talk to a manager? Well, I hate to say it, but my manager's not gonna tell you anything different from what I'm telling you. There's just no way Sega's going to do what you're asking....."

Free subscriptions: If a customer was irate, we could set them up with a free subscription to Sega Visions, the company's magazine. This subscription normally costs $14.95. Needless to say, every friend I have now has this magazine coming to their house.

Adding customers to my Shit List: The Shit List is something I've been compiling for several years. Having worked in the service industry all my life, I've been abused by all sorts of customers. I've often had access to my customer's phone numbers, addresses, and credit card numbers. If somebody was very nasty to me, I would record said information, with the intention of tormenting them until they die.

The easiest way of doing this is to fill out those little postage paid magazine subscription cards and check the box marked "Bill me later." The customer then gets magazines they didn't order and bills they weren't expecting. For this very reason, the raunchier porno magazines don't have "Bill me later" cards, but Playboy and Penthouse do. Some of those subscription cards even give you the option of sending gift subscriptions to other people. This makes it possible to have one asshole customer get billed for magazines being sent to some other asshole he's never even met.

Of course, subscription cards are for amateurs. The next level is credit card fraud: You call a mail order catalog and, posing as your customer, use his credit card to have crap sent to his house. I do feel sorry for the phone rep from the catalog who will eventually have to deal with someone screaming and yelling because merchandise he never ordered is arriving at his house and being charged to his credit card.

Mail order catalogs are happy to send gift orders, so, as with the subscription cards, you can have one schmuck sending products to some other shithead he's never met. If you're lucky enough to know the name of your customer's wife, you can have him send her expensive flowers or other presents. Most catalog companies will include a gift card that says, "From your adoring husband" or whatever. Imagine the predicament of your asshole customer when he comes home from work to find his wife creaming all over herself, thanking him for the beautiful jewelry. He can't very well say "I didn't send you that!"

Unfortunately, catalogs dealing in pornography usually send out disclaimer letters telling your victim that he's about to receive smut in the mail. The recipient must send a little card back to the company stating that he does, in fact, wish to receive smut. This makes it difficult to have Butt Pirates Abroad and The Unbearable Rightness of Peeing unexpectedly appear in someone's mailbox.

A word of caution: credit card fraud is serious business. If you get caught, the authorities will bury your ass in a hole so deep, you'll never get out.

Another great thing about my Shit-List is that I can make it look like my customers are harassing people. A friend of mine had this boss, who we'll call "Ann". Ann was a bitch, and she was making my friend's life unbearable. I had this customer, who we'll call "Jim". Jim made my life unpleasant for a few minutes. I wrote Ann a letter on Jim's behalf. The letter started out by saying "Hello. I got your name off the Internet. I understand you're interested in "YOUNG LOVE" and raunchysafe piss-play. You sound like one hot little number!"

I had Jim go on to describe the things he'd like to do to Ann. Jim happened to live in a town close by, so I made it clear that he traveled to Ann's city often, and that he and his wife would love to be involved in "a variety of hot and horny scenes" with her. I made sure Jim's spelling and grammar were erratic and haphazard, in order to convey a sense of dangerous insanity.

Misuse of company mail: We were provided with all the envelopes we could use, because customers were always requesting instruction manuals, promotional materials, and game-play hints. Nobody thought anything of it if I sent out twenty large envelopes a day. Naturally, I felt the need to steal things from the office and mail them to my friends. All of my friends. Every day.

Sega knew we were a bunch of temp scum. They made sure there was hardly anything in the office we could steal, so I had to get creative. I would send people confidential documents, memos on how to dispose of confidential documents, memos on awful, hidden flaws that had surfaced in our products, and so forth.

In my desperation to steal something, anything, I stole packets of tea from the employee kitchen. Sega provided us with all the tea bags we could use, in various flavors. One friend received twenty packs of flavored tea every day for a month straight. He was able to host wonderful afternoon tea parties as a result.

Sega also provided packets of instant soup, so I sent a lot of those out as well. Towards the end of my assignment, it occurred to me to snoop through the emergency medical kit. It was a cornucopia of over-the-counter pain killers and PMS medications, as well as lewd rubber gloves! Needless to say, I stuffed countless envelopes with these things.

I wanted to find new and interesting items to put in the daily care packages from Sega, but there just wasn't much for me to pilfer. I started bringing garbage from home and mailing it; ten year old copies of People, dirty cartoons, unknown pills, used Kleenex, I didn't care. I just had to send shit!

So there it is. Life at Sega. You'll notice I spent a lot of time complaining about my customers, and not much time talking about Sega's faults. As temp jobs go, Sega wasn't all bad: I got eight bucks an hour, forty hours a week. I could park my ass in my cubicle all day without seeing the boss, so shaving and showering were optional. We could play all the latest games in the lunch room, and our immediate supervisors were cool. So why was I dishonest and subversive? Well, I've been sabotaging employers for so long, it's become second nature. It's in my blood. I couldn't stop if I wanted to.

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