Excerpt #3 from NOTES ON AN ORANGE BURIAL

It didn’t take long to realize Jona was a natural-born telemarketer. The keys to success in outbound calling are, as Brett often reminded his staff, perseverance and patience, and Jona seemed to have both in spades. He had become so accustomed to rejection in his poetic endeavors that he entered into each phone call without the slightest trace of fear or frustration. Most rookie associates burned out after the first week, their confidence and morale shot to hell by an assortment of such cold responses as “No,” “No way,” “Not interested,” “Not a good time,” “Don’t call me again,” “I’m busy,” “I’m eating,” “I’m unemployed,” “I’m dying,” “I’m twelve,” “You woke me up,” “You called last month,” “You’re wasting your time,” “You’re worse than death,” “Get a life,” “Leave me alone,” “Lose my number,” and “I have a gun.”

Jona, on the other hand, thrived on the negative energy and anger directed at him by the thousands of people he called, often complimenting those who chose their vicious words well. And unlike the other associates, Jona never paused between calls to scream out in anger or to gnaw on office equipment, thus, due to the law of percentages, he soon became the center-wide leader in terms of number of credit cards issued.

His seemingly effortless rise to the top, in addition to the fact he spent all of his breaks and lunches reading Rimbaud, caused him to become disliked quickly by his colleagues. What his fellow associates failed to notice was that, by refusing to engage Jona in friendly discourse between calls, they were only helping him to maintain his remarkably efficient work flow and to improve upon his already exemplary performance statistics.

Brett learned quickly to leave Jona alone. It didn’t matter that his star associate often strayed from the call scripts, or that he often agreed with solicitees who voiced their hatred of the company during the phone call. The important thing was that Jona was producing. Day in and day out he continued to plug away on the phones, sifting through the countless insults and hang-ups to find the rare gems, those incurable materialists who, sadly enough, thought a new credit card offered by a detached voice sounded like a good idea.

As a poet, Jona knew the importance of immersing himself in human interaction and experience, though his general disdain for people had always served as an obstacle in that regard. The telemarketing job offered the perfect environment, providing Jona with a chance to come into close contact with a wildly diverse sample of society without having to shake anybody’s hand or become anybody’s friend.

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