No Answer

by Jinryu

One of my part-time jobs involves essentially data consolidation and analysis, but the actual collection is still done by telephone.  This is because the data relates to real estate sales, that happen in Australia mostly on Saturdays, and the need for the data for publication by late Sunday night.   The real estate agents couldn’t be bothered to use some sort of web form, so we usually  have to call up clients to collect the data from them.  Sometimes, the clients jump the gun and give us the data before we can call them. 

Our performance at work depends on how much we data we can process in a shift.  On average, a 5 hour work shift will produce something around 50 results.  Some people work faster or slower.


What I was rather surprised about was how at some point, there was a phone ringing in cubicle land– most likely, I thought, an agent calling in to submit results.  However, the person they were calling into was away from her desk, probably getting a drink or at the bathroom.  I was in a call myself so I didn’t do anything about it at first, but what surprised me was that by the seventh or so ring (there’s no voicemail) none of the other employees who were neighboring her cubicle picked up her phone to take the message.

I thought that was rather ridiculous, considering that the ringing phone was within a leaning arm’s reach from two other employees, and a few steps away from five more.

I was getting a bit pissed off so I went and picked up the phone, having to walk around an entire cubicle island to get to it.  I took the result from the agent, wrote it down, and left it for the person to see when they got back from their break so they could enter it. 


Basically, that person would be credited for the work that I did.  But big deal, right? It’s just an entry.  I can help out my co-workers, can’t I?


I’m just wondering if all those other people who were that much closer to that ringing phone were so hungry to get a better results score that they would begrudge their cubicle neighbour just to knock them down by one point. I mean… really?

When that employee came back, she noticed my handwriting on the note with the results, and thanked me.


Then she and her neighbours went on to chat about this and that– as if they were all best friends.