Thursday, December 12, 2013

How I keep my Sanity - A Decade Long Dilemma

I have been working for the Call Center Industry in the Philippines for a decade, and the best way to describe this experience is that everyday is a wild ride. I have made lifelong friends, some of whom have moved on to different careers, while others are now living and working abroad. The younger ones have saved enough money to go ahead and finish their college courses. I have met all sorts of people, some warm and friendly, some funny as hell, others are snotty, and of course, the members of the Royal Legion of Brown Nosers (can't have any company without them brown nosers!) 

A decade of doing the night shift can make you go crazy. Lacking sleep, having to deal with fast food for sustenance, and infinite trips to the coffee vending machine is the norm. I try to make my life easier by having a "touch of home" in my workplace. I have come to a point where I am already experiencing SSA or Severe Separation Anxiety.

In the past three companies I worked with as a Quality Analyst including the present company I work for now, I always have my little stuffed bear with me. I have a reason for this. I call my hubby "Poppa Bear." During those long hours at work, I maintain my sanity with my little stuffed bear sitting on my desk. This is one way to keep the feeling of connection with home and family. 

Another motivation strategy that I use is to keep pictures of my loved ones pinned on my wall. Instead of cluttering my cork board with schedules and reminders, I use most of the space with pictures of my family. Every time I look away from my computer monitor, I see the smiling faces of my angels.

In another company I worked with, my buddies and I had a standing joke about Manny Pacquiao's mispronounciation of the word "ethic." He pronounced it as "itik," a Filipino word which means "duck." Since then, the "WORK ITIK" was born. We had little rubber ducks on our work stations - to remind us of our "work itiks" (work ethics). We all had different kinds, one with a surfboard, one dressed as a ballerina (complete with a tutu). Mine was dressed in a blue printed Hawaiian shirt. I taped a little paper umbrella behind him and positioned him in such a way that it seemed like it was always looking at me, to remind me of the company's work ethics.

Unfortunately, we had a fall out with the way the company was being managed. It seemed that everyday, there was a new "corporate realignment" going on. We lost our best managers. We were stifled with very strict guidelines that would seem beneficial only for robots, not human beings. Slowly, we felt that the company was losing its work ethic. And so, we had to change our desktop mascots to define our sentiment. We named it "The death of the 'Work Itiks'" 

I have experienced working long, long LONG hours. Going overtime even on an 11-hour, 4 day work week. I felt that I needed an intravenous line started, and a catheter and urine bag so that I would no longer have any reason to leave my seat. It was so stressful that my brain refused to process information and left me stumped. For a time, I used the picture below as my desktop wallpaper at work.

It will still be a few more years before I leave the corporate world. My boys are still in college right now and they are the force behind my patience and perseverance. In this industry, most have gone gaga over gadgets, parties, team building activities, or out of town drinking sessions. I am part of the minority. My priorities are still Family, Home, FAMILY. I am proud of being just that - a homebody. I guess that is better than being a "somebody" at work, but a turns out to be a "nobody" at home. Priorities change when responsibility sets in.

It is amazing how workers of the Call Center Industry In the Philippines maintain their sanity. No matter how unforgiving the corporate world can be, at the end of the day, I still come home to the warmth of family life. Happiness and contentment replaces frustration and physical exhaustion.

I have kept a poem sent to me by my colleague when I first started out in this business. In parting, allow me to share it with you:

Midnight coffee,
Birthday pizzas,
Accentuated English,
Dashing clothes,
Irate customers,
Mood music in cabs,
So much money,
but so little time.
Late night parties 
and sunrise beer.
Crush on Team Leads,
The fight for appraisals,
Die hard friendships
and tears for love.
Nothing missing
Just everything!
People call it Call centers.


  1. These pictures cracked me up (especially the skeleton one!) Thanks for the chuckle!

  2. Your skeleton picture made me LOL. My husband would love that. haha!

  3. I was laughing at the pictures. It is such a shame you had to go through the whole situation. Glad you were able to have a sense of humor about it.

  4. I just LOL'd at the "work itik"! Hehe I can't imagine having to work the night shift but I like your ways of staying motivated!

  5. These pictures are fantastic! You had me laughing at your poem as well. I can agree with you though. Night shifts are definitely very hard on anybody. I love having as many pictures of my family at work as possible. Such a great reminder of what I am there for :)

  6. LOL! I love the pics! I worked in a call center for a summer and I can't imagine doing it full time! It takes a special person to do it!

  7. Love the pics and the poem! "Late night parties and sunrise beer."

  8. I love that you had pictures of your family at your desk!

  9. This is a great post. I love this look into your "work life" and how you have handled all of the stress over the years. It is so important to have some fun and have the attitude you have to get through it all.

  10. I feel you on this! Great pictures also! :)

  11. I'm so glad that you have a warm and happy escape from work in your home and family!

  12. I love your poem! My husband worked at a call center for a few years. That sums it up. :)

  13. These photos..ummmm freaked me out a little. LOL.

  14. LOVE your photos! You could have just gone with the pics and still had a great post!

  15. You definitely came up with some fun and clever ideas! I don't think I could ever work the night shift. I like my sunlight and I can't stay up past midnight without an extreme amount of coffee.

  16. Just like kids, they used stuff toys as they're comfort friend. That's good for you that you find something cool ideas to keep your sanity and a thing to play with when boredom strikes

  17. Love the pictures and your right in the end the warmth of a family is all we need! :-)

  18. This made me chuckle and thankful to no longer hear a phone ringing constantly. I used to be a receptionist, which is obviously different but still was tough. I love that you bring your bear with you to remind you of home and that your family helps you make it through the day... it just goes to show what's important! :)

  19. I used to work at a call center and I had a colouring book and crayons. I used to colour to pass the time and keep me sane!

  20. Lol, Nothing like a happy place to get away from it all.


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