Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Not My Job To Flirt With You

Not your girlfriend.


As regular readers will know, I've worked in call centres for years.

Often, people tell me that I have a pleasant voice. Sometimes, guys flirt with me.

"Can we try to reach you some other time?"
"Only if it's you, sweetie."

"Thank you for your time."
"It was my pleasure. It's not every day I get to talk to an attractive young lady like yourself."

I've had guys ask for my phone number. "So, uh, can I call you sometime? That sounds fair, doesn't it?"

I've had drunk guys repeatedly ask me to come over.

Once, a (sober) survey respondent told me all about his business successes, and suggested that I come and join him in Saskatchewan.

When I was doing customer service, a guy called in and asked me what I was wearing. "Business casual." He hung up.

It's always nice to hear that someone enjoyed doing a survey because they got the chance to speak to someone and share their opinion. It's creepy to hear that someone enjoyed doing the survey because they were imagining talking to someone attractive. Substantially, it's not much different from saying, "by the way, I was masturbating to the sound of your voice the whole time." Why do you think I want to know that? It's not a compliment. It's a way of reinforcing the idea that my attractiveness to random dudes should matter to me in some way.

"Congratulations, you're successful at fulfilling your job as a woman, to be attractive to me, a man."

I don't know how often male interviewers are subject to being flirted with compared to female callers, but I know that it does happen. While gender certainly is an important factor in such interactions, it isn't the only dynamic at play. There is an automatic power dynamic between a service worker and the customer they're serving. When you flirt with a service worker, you're taking advantage of that dynamic.

When guys flirt with me on the phone, it can be pretty uncomfortable. Usually, I can't hang up. I'm not allowed to engage in small-talk. I'm representing my employer and our clients. I have to be pleasant. Because I have to be nice about their advances, these guys think it's okay to keep it up.

I have the comfort of being on the other end of a phone line. The interaction ends with the call. I don't have to worry about getting rid of people or having to deal with them again at some point in the future. I can only imagine what sales people and wait staff have to deal with.

It's not okay to flirt with people who are not in a position to tell you definitively to buzz off. Doing so is not about expressing romantic interest, but about the flirter asserting their power over the flirtee.  

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6 comments:

  1. "I don't know how often male interviewers are subject to being flirted with compared to female callers,"

    As a monitor, I can tell you, no where near as often.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a former server and a former fast food worker, I can tell you from experience, it sucks. The drive through window is the absolute worst. I think when they can't see you, people have this idea they can say whatever they want, no matter how outrageous or offensive. I've been called all kinds of disgusting names, though rarely to my face. Generally, as soon as the car pulled up to the window the guys inside would lost their nerve and just kind of giggle or stare. But not always.

    Serving in a restaurant wasn't as bad because I had a very supportive female boss. This is not always the case. It was the hotel serving, when I had to deal with drunken wedding guests and drunken graduation parties on a nightly basis, that was the most brutal. And it doesn't matter what you look like either. Every single one of us, from the young eighteen year old to the older middle aged women - and some men - had to put up with the "flirting" from customers. It got old very fast.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi! Followed your link from Shakesville. I work at the front desk of a magazine company, and I get this all the time. People on the phone call me "sweetie," "darling," "honey," (once "babygirl") and it drives me nuts. I am not your girlfriend, your niece, your grandaughter. I am adult professional. Have the courtesy to treat me like one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. So it means that you have a nice voice even its not your intention but you take advantage flirting with someone using your attractive voice.

    isey

    ReplyDelete
  5. ...?

    I said in the post that I'm not allowed to make small talk. We're on a script. We cannot flirt. I have no interest in flirting with random dudes. All I do is talk.

    Dude, women do not exist to tempt/trick you. You're not that important.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice blog, thanks for sharing the information. I will come to look for update. Keep up the good work.
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    ReplyDelete

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