Call Centre


Since my various part-time remunerative activities have now been reduced to zero, E.g. thought it wise to pass on a suggestion from the building receptionist where she works.

“Turtle should go work in a polling station on election day,” said Flavinia.

“Great idea,” replied E.g., and took down the phone number.

“Great idea,” I thought, when I received E.g.’s e-mail, before going back to my new game of Packntoss.

That was yesterday.

This morning I was out with the furchildren at the dogpark, when my hip pocket rang. It was E.g. It is almost always, in fact, E.g., because our couple’s plan allows us to phone each other for free. I don’t give anyone else my number, and can’t even remember it. It’s a nice private adventure, our cell phones, like walkie-talkies between two mountain explorers.

“So, did you call Elections Canada yet?”


“We had an agreement, remember?”

“We did?”

“I would call for an appointment with the dentist, and you would call about the job.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Well, I do. And they had a cancellation, and my appointment’s the same time as yours. I’m going to call you again in half an hour to see if you’ve phoned the elections office.”

“Forty-five minutes?”


The election is on the 14th. How could there be any polling-station vacancies left? What would prevent the phone answerer from snickering in derision at my ridiculous query? Why would anyone want to hire me, anyway? Blah blah blibbityblah — suddenly my pocket was ringing and my mouth was full of summer sausage.


“Sho, like, it’sh probably too late anyway. They won’t need me.”

“Look, Flavinia is in the know about things like this. Besides, what would it cost to just call and get a yes or no answer?”

“The remaining shreds of my self-esteem?”

This answer was not, however, satisfactory to my exacting partner. So I wrote out the phrase that E.g. suggested and set the cell phone down in front of me, with E.g. still on the line, while I dialed the home phone.

Five times.

The first time, I was given a different number to call.

The second time, I was given a different different number to call.

The third time, after being put on hold three minutes, I suggested E.g. hang up, and I would take my chances. I was finally told that the person I wanted to speak to was unavailable, and could I try again in twenty minutes?

Twenty minutes later, after holding for five minutes or so (no muzak or anything) , I was told by an automatic recording to please try again later.

In all, I made five phone calls and was transferred about eleven times.

“I would like to know if there are any more openings for work at the poll stations on election day.” It’s amazing how much one’s voice changes when asking about job opportunities, even after only the sixth or seventh repetition. The fact that no one ever said “No” made me more hopeful, and I went from sounding like someone barely old enough to vote to sounding like — well, her big sister, at least.

Finally a nice fellow replied, “There certainly are!” to my inquiry. He even knew how to spell my oddly-spelled street.

There was a moment of high drama when he asked for my Social Insurance Number. Yanking all the I.D. pieces from my wallet, I flipped through everything from my bank card to my Justice to Ostriches Society membership. No SIN card.

I apologized as I skipped upstairs with the phone (cordless is so cool!) to my dresser. I had left this card at home when I went to France, and hadn’t put it back in my wallet. What, I’m organized! It’s only been… four months…

I also, of course, was unable to tell him my cell phone number.

But he signed me up as a poll clerk anyway. Scary thought, isn’t it?

There’s an information session tomorrow, just after I get my teeth cleaned at the dentist’s. At least I’ll look my best. After all, this will be my first government job!

11 Responses to Call Centre

  1. Gina says:

    Good for you, I think. I always thought it would be fun to work the election polls.

  2. Mutual friend Jane says:

    Let’s hope you don’t get the one Niqab-wearing voter who doesn’t want to unveil to cast her ballot.
    Latest ruling from elections canada is ‘no see-a da face, no cast-a da ballot’.
    Throw in a few extra ballots for anyone but Steve ‘yo’ Harper to while away your free time. Especially if you see anyone you know is deceased on the voters list.. or anyone named Humphrey or Dudley Gerrior..

  3. lavenderbay says:

    It’ll certainly be an experience anyway, Gina! About thirteen hours in one day, twelve of them spent with the public and one other person I’ve never met. I’ll let you know if it’s fun or not; getting paid will be, anyway.

    One fellow asked about that during our training session today, Mutual Friend Jane. One thing is that she can be looked upon by a woman — and the vast majority of poll workers are women. The other is that one does not need photo ID to vote in a Canadian election, so we’re not compelled to try matching her face to her driver’s licence.
    You know I’m not the cheatin’ kind, MFJ — but if I were, it would be anyone but Stevie.

  4. Alyson says:

    You know, I totally get why you would have reinserted your Justice for Ostriches card, and not your SIN…it’s all about the priorities (sometimes it’s the heart ones that work instead of the head ones 🙂 )BTW, why do Ostriches need justice? ANd is voting compulsory in Canada? Enquiring minds downunder want to know !

  5. lavenderbay says:

    Since you didn’t comment on my Justice to Ostriches Society post, Alyson, I’m assuming you didn’t see it. Go here for more information! And while I didn’t receive my membership until returning from Paris, I admit that I’m much more heart-centred than head-centred. This has some disadvantageous circumstances, such as cutting ties when I’ve been hurt, but I suppose it also makes for the quirky, otherwisedly-lovable me that I am.
    Answer to your second question: Voting is not compulsory in Canada. It is occasionally compulsive, as Mutual Friend Jane implies when she suggests that I relieve my stress on poll day by voting in the name of some darling cats of whom she and I have the acquaintance.

  6. I bet it will be interesting! Do you often have the sort of fiascoes in Canada that we have down here in the U.S. with polling places, like where the software doesn’t work, or the lines are out the door for six hours after the polls close, that sort of thing?

  7. lavenderbay says:

    Those problems weren’t discussed in the training session, James, so short answer is “I dunno.” The voting, tallying, and counting are all done with good ol’ graphite pencils, and then the boxes are taped shut and carried to the central elections office of each district. Whether the votes are counted all over again at the offices or whether they take us at our word, I’m not sure yet (she says, glancing at her unopened book and wondering whether the answer is in it) .
    Not sure about the long lines either. What I’m eager to see is the number of people voting in this election versus the number of people voting for the new Hockey Night in Canada theme song!

  8. This should be an interesting venture — one way or another! Looking forward to your report(s) on the experience.


  9. lavenderbay says:

    I went to vote at the advance poll this evening, Bobbie, and ten people ahead of me, someone was complaining that his passport had always worked before, and what was wrong with it now, blahblahblah, and finally the one poll worker said, “if anyone in the room –” and I knew, beccause of the training session, what she was getting at. And I said, “I’ll take the oath for Niall, he’s my next-door neighbour.” And then they let me vote right after him! Yeay!
    Hopefully there won’t be a lot of this on Election Day proper, as there will be a bouncer — oops, I mean an information officer — to ensure that voters have the right ID before they get to my table.

  10. themarvelousinnature says:

    I signed up this week to work the election, after some humming and hawing about it. I’m not crazy about having to stand around for 12 hours talking to people but the money is good, and money is always good. I missed the advanced polls, though, and so got a transfer. They’re still looking for people, the woman at the training session says they’ll continue to hire right through this weekend. Unfortunate timing, being the day after a long weekend. At least you get to sit down! I’m an Information Officer (love the names they come up with) and have to stand and greet people the whole time.

    I’ve been following my regular blogs through an account with a reader,, which really saves time when you’re on dial-up by meaning you don’t have to spend several minutes to load image-heavy pages just to find out they haven’t updated. However, it has a few hiccups now and then, and it hadn’t been showing me your posts for the last week, so I’m just catching up now.

  11. lavenderbay says:

    Wow, standing for twelve hours, yikes! At least if you were walking around it wouldn’t be as bad. But as you say, money is good. Good luck!
    I’m glad to know there’s an out for dial-up blogging — even if it occasionally hiccups! Glad to have you back in my comments section.

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