After finishing a placement the previous week within a law firm, the recruitment girls at DN(*1) call her the following Thursday with an assignment, which starts the next day. Lixy is informed that she will be on the phones, calling schools, but will definitely NOT be selling or even cold-calling.
The business is only 10 minutes drive from her home, which is perfect as she is instructed to be there for 8.30 am.
Wanting to be early for her first day, Lixy arrives at the industrial estate at 8.20 and finds the correct offices. As she walks into the foyer, she calls on the phone which is marked “call for reception”. A voice answers and tells her to walk upstairs and enter through the double doors. She does this and is greeted by pretty girl (*2), who walks Lixy through to the second open-plan room and introduces her to two other temporary staff; Paul (who is there to undertake data entry) and Emma, who reveals that she is also representing the same agency, DT.
Emma tells her that the job is a teensy bit ridiculous; the firm sells ‘community trips’ to South America, Asia and Africa for 15-18 year olds, in return for UCAS points towards their applications for University. Lixy’s role, much as hers, would be to call schools from a database and try to get someone of authority to agree to one of the company’s sales team to travel to the school, present to an assembly the trip idea, which hopefully the receiving pupils would then inform their parents, who then would return to the school on a separate occasion for that sales person to present the details of the trip to them; including the extortionate £3,500 fee for each child.
Lixy and Emma both agree that with it being the end of June and nearing the end of term, the frantic calls to the schools will probably be met by stressed teachers, which will not be helped by the fact that the temp staff doing the telephone calls do not know the ins and outs of the business. In fact both girls are left wondering why the sales staff, when not out at schools, are not doing the telephone calls themselves.
To make matters worse, Lixy is taken to the ‘coffee room’(*3) by Katherine, one of the sales team, to bring me ‘up to speed’ on what the company does/sells/hopes to do/delivers. She, to give her credit, believed in the product. I asked her what her background was and did she go to University. She replied ‘oh yes to do an IT degree but I moved down here to be with my boyfriend and found this.’ Lixy is then introduced to one of the founders of the company, Matt. He is extremely well spoken and wearing a pinky ring. She establishes with him (as she guesses this company is his baby) exactly what he would like her to say to the member of the school she was calling. Excellent. Feeling up to speed, she is then led back upstairs to the ‘main floor’ where she is greeted by another founder, Jim and the rest of the office, who have arrived, as they are obviously not telephoning schools, at 9.00 am. Jim was even more (much to her disbelief) well spoken; one could even say plumy. Lixy looked closely for his leather elbow patches. No such luck but indeed a matching pinky ring.
Lixy settles down next to Emma and begins to make calls to schools, as required. After a while she offers to make tea and coffee for the few of them sat around the table. As she walks through the first open plan room to the ‘coffee room’ she finally gets to view the other employees. And an extremely strange view it is. There are no less than 20 employees; 4 of these being male, and that includes the 2 owners, Paul the data entry temp and a particularly geeky looking fella surrounded by 3 computer screens. The rest, oh yes the rest, were all females between the ages of 20 and 30, tall, leggy and not one of them would have trouble finding a suitor. Yes Lixy had walked into ‘office full of pretty girls employed by public school toffs who have too much money and a shoddy idea’. As she makes her hot drinks, she cannot wait to see what unfolds…
As Lixy makes her way upstairs, she is not disappointed. Not only are there 3 (yes that is 3) dogs (presumably owned by employees) roaming freely within the OFFICE.
Lixy delivers her drinks with a bemused expression. After a time (and many rejections from schools all over the country) posh Matt the MD enters the office with an older couple and points out several aspects of the business/office/kennel to them. As the male remarks that ‘this is where it all happens then’ it all becomes clear to Lixy. These are posh Matt’s plummy parents, the funding of the company, the silent partners, the naïve owners of this pretty-but-thick-staffed, good-idea-but-not-well-thought-out, extortionate-product-therefore-making-little-profit company.
But hey, Lixy thinks, she is but a temp and what is she to think of this company? She gets on with her telephoning, does as she is told, and towards the end of the day is greeted by Will(*4) who is, he says, the most senior member of the sales staff. After telling her his complete life story, amongst which how he was a badminton champion (*5) and obtained a law degree in the USA which was pointless here (*6), he asks Lixy how her day has been. She tells him that she has had no joy with schools and tells him what Matt has told her to say on the telephone. Will immediately rolls his eyes, says that ‘That is NOT what you are meant to be saying. I must talk to Matt.’ He then disappears, to come back just before it is time for Lixy to leave for the day. He nervously asks if she will be returning the next week. She honestly replies that she was thinking of not returning, but if he could promise a better(!) day on Monday, then yes, she would return for him. She picks up her bag, steps over a Jack Russell, walks down the steps, holds her breath past the damp-smelling hallway, and steps into the open air for the weekend. What an interesting day!
(*1) ‘Dozy Numpties’. It is advisable to keep them anonymous; they could sue….
(*2) They were all pretty; differentiating between them was difficult.
(*3) Actually a pretty awful office kitchenette which had a severe damp problem.
(*4) Cocky salesman. Nothing he said was to be believed
(*5) See? Utter bullshit.
(*6) More bullshit.