Fisherman’s Blues material, Foreign Property Scams, big lads with tattoos goin throwing shlaps…

Jamie and Amanda announced they were having a baby. Everyone clapped, oohed and ahhed over the scan, and then they were brought into the office and fired. Not hitting the target. No job, folks. Been coming for a while. Pressure from headquarters. Pack up and get the fuck out.

They came back from the office and she was crying and he was trying to comfort her and then they left and everyone got back to making phone calls.

We were given a sheet with a list of leads, but it was fairly obvious they were photocopied from the phonebook. The job was to call to numbers and make appointments. Four appointments a day was the target. Evening shift – 4-8pm. I was hitting ten a night, so no worries there. Making good dusht. Polite English people loving the Irish accent. The others struggled, asked me for advice, listened to my pitch.

Chris spent most evenings up top calling back the clients and confirming their appointments – today’s version of a Quality Check. The essential thing was to book them in for a free night at a hotel down the road. Tell them they won a prize, selected from a pool of lucky winners, filled out a questionnaire at the local Supermarket and here we are now returning the favour.

Most of the customers were delighted. Can’t believe this, just got married, now a free night at a hotel? Wow, just gets better and better. The ideal clientele, according to Chris, were the retired. They had money, no mortgage, looking for an investment, a night away, lonely at home, some trust left in the way the world used to be. You call them up, said Chris, and if the husband answers you tell them the wife filled out the questionnaire, and if the wife answers you tell them it was the husband. Sometimes the wife or husband had died years before, but other than that it worked out ok.

Above Chris, was Sharon. Super bitch altogether. Did all the firing and loved it. Well in with the big knobs. Pants suit and predilection for chocolate at her desk. Take too long advising the new lad beside you and she’s shouting down, wondering what’s the story. Calls recorded, see. Time spent on presentations, numbers of calls made. Leads used, divided by sales should = x amount of conversions.

Conversions were calls made that resulted in booking an appointment (free night at hotel) and approved by quality check after.

As far as I could tell, they were selling something else down at the hotel when the guests arrived. Some other crew down there pushing new properties abroad or something. Not much more information divulged for now. Take your cheque, make your commission, don’t ask questions.

Soon people starting turning up outside. Randomers peeking through the window, hands cupped and squinting to see what was going on. Sharon had to lock the door and only allow people in or out that worked there. When asked about the gathering crowd she’d shrug and reply they were unhappy customers. After a while an odd journalist started to arrive, asking us questions as we came in. And one or two big lads with tattoos were looking for managers to go throwing slaps. Not the best atmosphere really. Wasn’t long before there was cops around and Chris and Sharon would spend most of the evening answering making statements and trying to brush it all off as a misunderstanding. There seemed to be a lot of reference to a man called Frank.

Have you met Frank? Asked Charlene beside me one day.

No, I don’t think so.

Oh, you’d know if you had, she said. You’d certainly know if you had. You’re a writer, aren’t you? She asked.

I am, I said.

Good, she said. You’ll get a book out of this place for sure.