THE MANILA MAFIA: HOW THE EMERGING WORLD HAS TAKEN ITS REVENGE ON THE WEST.
I’ve been working in the call center racket now for close to two months and one thing that blew me away from the get go was just how closely monitored we were in all aspects of our work. It’s as if there’d been a quantum leap forward in the amount of ‘Big Brother’ type of monitoring going on since I’d last worked in a call center in 2001.
For example, as soon as you enter the building, there are security cameras watching you, since we are located in a downtown area where there are a number of bars and homeless people which sometimes cause security issues regarding undesirable behaviour brought on by alcohol, drugs or mental health concerns. It goes so far as to have to swipe our security card to even get into the front door of the building during evenings and weekends, as well as to get the elevator to go up to our floor. Then we have to swipe again to get into the actual office itself.
Once in, we are monitored by security cameras all day long. As well, our movements regarding when we ‘log in’ to our phones to begin our shifts, go on breaks, come back from breaks, go on and come back from lunch, and end our shift are all closely monitored and must be each logged into and out of the phone system with different codes which each mean different things commensurate with what action we are taking (e.g. break, lunch, washroom, end of shift, technical difficulty with computer, training, coaching, etc…)Every type of behaviour must be accounted for and monitored and controlled in the computerized Human Resources software system, which ironically enough is called ‘Empower’. Sounds more like management is being ‘empowered’ than the employee if you ask me.
Then there is the monitoring that occurs when we are on the phone. The kicker with this is that the ‘Quality’ department, as it is called, monitors us, from ‘the back end’ as management is fond of saying, literally from the ‘back of the beyond’, from Manila in the Philippines, on the other side of the world!!! This gives rise to all manner of ironic and ‘black humour’ type of situations whereby, if an agent remains for too long on what we call ‘after call’, that is to say they are not available in between calls to take another call because they are logging their notes from their previous call, then, after three minutes, a disembodied voice calls you on your extension and you answer, bewildered, only to be told by a person on the other side of the world, whose English you have difficulty understanding and who earns five times less than you do, relatively-speaking, to stop slacking off and get back to work!
It feels like the revenge of the emerging world, in a sense. This guy is telling you something to the effect of ‘get back to work you vanilla fudge white boy or I’ll teleport myself through these fibre-optic cables and whack you over the head with one of Imelda Marcos’ ten thousand shoes!’ Or something equally ludicrous. It’s sort of the payback I guess for all those years when the U.S. had that Naval base in the Philippines in Subic Bay. We now have them telling ‘us’ what to do as opposed to the ‘U.S.’ telling them what to do!!!
Oh, well, what can you do? What goes around comes around, I guess! Like Phil Collins sang, ‘It’s just another day for you and me in paradise.’ I guess in this case this is an example of ‘Paradise lost’ which is seeking desperately to ‘find itself’ again in a fallen world. Maybe I can just swipe my card and gain access to the ‘real’ Paradise? Hmm, hope there’s no security cameras watching me there…. Hopefully by then, everybody who makes it there will be sufficiently ‘secure’ that nobody will have to be monitored by cameras, swipe cards, log in pass words or disembodied dudes from the other side of the world exhorting me to return to the sweat of my labours upon pain of punishment from a deceased emerging market dictator’s wife’s piece of footwear!!!