I lasted four days on my job as a telemarketer with “Global Prospects,” a local company hawking vacation packages in exchange for sales tours of timeshare vacation condos, where I’m sure the poor subjects got hammered for two hours to buy, buy, buy! Since I went into the job with utterly zero expectations I can’t say I’m disappointed to be fired, although I will miss the pathetic income ($7.67 to start, rising to $8/hr after probation, plus $6 for every booked tour, plus bonuses for extra tours, and so on, and so forth).
Reason for my firing: I never booked any tours. ”We need people who can book right away,” my manager explained; she was actually quite nice and polite about it. ”It’s just not something everyone can do. You’re a good communicator, I’m sure you’ll find another job.” Yeah, right, thanks!
I came home to find a message from the hiring manager at the local KMart on the answering machine, so now I’ve got an interview on Saturday.
I’m relieved not to be a telemarketer any more, the stress of the job was incredible. Reading the same script over and over for four hours, being hung up on or rejected 98 percent of the time… I tried to make the best of it, but it really wasn’t any fun. My jaws are tight, and my teeth are still grinding.
The job, or the necessity of getting any job working for somebody other than myself, was one of the elements that threw me into a mini-breakdown on March 20. The other was the interview I did for the TV webcast “Spiritually Raw.” The producers, Ajay and April Matta, still haven’t finished editing the show, but when they are I WILL post a link to the web site so anyone can see it. As interviews go it wasn’t too bad, I’ve been on the show before when it was a radio podcast so I had some idea what to expect. Still, rather than developing the ideas and themes expressed in the first interview, it was like we went all the way back to the beginning again, as far as my relationship with the dolphin was concerned.
To some extent, Ajay and April began playing “bad cop, good cop” with me. I don’t think this was deliberate on April’s part, but it was on Ajay’s. He asked me to explain, for instance, how I knew the dolphin was “coming on” to me, so I described how she would rub her genital slit against me. ”Right, kind of like a dog humping your leg?” he said, to canned laughter. To which April replied “Oh come on, he was in love with her!”
And when Ajay asked me why I decided to write a book about the experience, all I could say was that I felt compelled to. There was, of course, a little more to it than that. I think if everything was hunky-dory for the dolphins I might have kept my mouth shut, but the fact of Dolly’s death meant that of course it was not, and things have gotten worse since then. Their environment has been terribly degraded by human activity, fish stocks have plummeted due to overfishing, reefs are dying due to global warming and all around the world, dolphins are being taken into captivity (if not outright killed) for human entertainment and even “noble” causes such allowing autistic children to swim with them — which doesn’t help the kid anymore than spending some time with a dog, it turns out. And, it’s dangerous.
I didn’t get a chance to explain this to Ajay and April, but suppose I’d made contact with a woman from a tribe living on an island that was about to be taken over and developed for real estate. The woman and I didn’t speak the same language, but she was nonetheless capable of communicating that she found me attractive and wanted to make love to me. Afterwards, she died because the real estate developers ravaged the island, forcing her and her tribe to subsist on handouts.
Under those circumstances, I would feel morally, ethically and emotionally compelled to speak out against the injustice of the situation, which I might decide to do by telling my story. That’s sort of what Wet Goddess is all about, except with the added peculiarity that I found myself communicating, in one way or another, with another species whose legal status isn’t as humans, but as chattel. Even worse for them.
After the interview, I felt both exhausted and nervous. I went for a bike ride but it didn’t help, so I found myself stopping at my friend Cay’s house which is just down the block. Once inside, I just began pouring out my feelings to her: my fear of going back to work for somebody else, my struggles to get clean so that I could go back to work, and my profound sadness over losing the dolphin, which still wells up in me from time to time. I just felt like there was no place for me in this world, that I can never fit in.
Cay, bless her, was very understanding. She ended up bundling me into her car and taking me down to Ponce de Leon Park in Punta Gorda, which is right by the water’s edge. Not a big park, but it has some boardwalks through mangrove tunnels that are a little bit of beauty and mystery. It was a cloudy day, and we ended up getting caught in a rain shower and running back to her car, where we sat inside, wet and laughing. It was very therapeutic, and the next day I faced up to becoming a telemarketer. But you already know how that ended, don’t you?
What will happen next in my checkered career? I have no idea, either! Stay tuned.