by Nic Olson

At 9:10am I called David at Paterson Auto. I had 4 hours of sleep the night before, and my enthusiastic salesman voice usually takes a good two hours to lube up properly to be able to butter the bread of my opponents/clients. I pitched David, like I get paid to do. I pitched him so half-assed that I thought there was no way he’d be interested in our service, which was my plan. But he promptly sent a fax of his information over, as I indirectly tried to convince him not to.
‘Don’t change, David. Stay naive and unsuspecting, it will do you good.’

I had a list on paper of ‘manual leads’ because our ‘legitimate’ ‘business’ couldn’t even have the one thing that is necessary in a call centre: calls.  I had Toy Stores in Alberta. I kept calling, desperately hoping that no one would answer the phone, and if they did, to be having a bad enough day or a perceptive enough mind to tell me to piss off. I was always surprised at the kinds of people that answered the phone at locally owned toy stores. Often old prickly men or women, with a raspy smokers voice probably wearing paint stained sweatpants with the aura of breakfast grease and cigarettes surrounding them. I called a man, a different man named David. We can call him David-2. He owned a Teddy Bear store. My sister once worked at a Teddy Bear store. I can’t think of any store in the world that could be considered more useless. I semi-pitched him, as I did to David-1. But this man laughed. Out loud. For several seconds, and I laughed with him. He told me we were a scam, and I told him I knew that. He told me to get an ethical job. And I told him I will.

Today my choice was to either Moron or Hypocrite. Moron, because leaving a job that easy is foolish. I need a job, because I need money, because I don’t live at home anymore. Hypocrite, because staying at a job that backwards, opposes what I feel is proper or principled. I was skeptical from day one (paragraph three, sentence five). For a while I thought I could choose neither, I could put off the choice for a week or two, siphon in the funds and do nothing until I got canned. I eventually started putting people on the company’s Do Not Call List, which apparently does nothing but delay another call by a week. I began to tell people that their rates were fine where they were. I embarked on a three day journey of trying to bring down the system from the inside. But then I got a fax from David-1, and talked to David-2, and that was the end of it.

I chose moron. I usually do.

I love quitting jobs. It is one of my favourite things to do. That feeling of liberty from a system you are forced into is a special feeling, paralleled only by free real love and/or free real DQ. But this time it wasn’t the same. Possibly because every other time I quit a job was to open the door for travel, school or a new job. This time I had nothing to open the door to. Except the desperate search for new employment. Or maybe it was that I didn’t actually get to quit, but had to do so through my hiring agency, and they told my boss for me. I didn’t have the satisfaction of packing my things and leaving in front of everyone, acting all self-righteous because I knew things they didn’t and my conscience did not allow me to perform after this gained knowledge.

I sat outside my building after I quit, leaning against the department store window, with water dripping on my head from above and snow dissolving into the sidewalk. And similar sentiments re-echoed from week two (paragraph two, sentence one). I listened to Good Riddance, as I rode the #24 bus right back home, to help solidify that I made the correct choice. This is what I heard.

‘There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious. Makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.’ – Mario Savio