“Who’s the one obsessed with the melted clocks?”, Laura asked, dipping her celery into a strawberry cream cheese TravelPak. “Matisse? Rembrandt? Probably Rockwell. Is there anything more inspiring than his Clock Period works?”
I brushed an errant curl away. It was only 12:30 and I’d brought my new ergonomic cushion ($19.99 plus shipping and handling, a second one for only $4.99 extra, no CODs) for my cube, but my posture was telling everyone I’d been doing backbreaking labor at the salt mines. How was this still only Tuesday? “It sounds like you’re just saying names.”
“You’re right: definitely Jackson Pollock. I heard he was buried in an oversize watch, which then got airlifted into a volcano. So dramatic.”
I had determined long ago that Laura’s conversational fiddle-faddle was best digested in small portions, but it was a relief to finally talk about something other than reverse mortgages and competitive interest rates. Before I was hired, I’d always assumed that a passing understand of finance or at least adulthood was a requirement for the job, but Laura had assured me that 85% of the process was just clicking a box. Most gigs in this town didn’t include benefits, so I had zero qualms about leaving my half-time custodial position at the church. Ninety calls per day in exchange for being able to schedule a doctor’s appointment? It really shouldn’t have sounded seductive.
Five minutes before we punched out for lunch, the gentleman I’d been wheedling into a 15-year reversal interrupted our session by screaming that his clocks were dissolving. It was the closest I’d come to an actual sale all shift; I’m convinced that he had second and most likely third thoughts after my windup, but couldn’t determine how to gracefully back out when he’d already been speaking with me for so long. If I couldn’t convince at least one Lipton-quaffing crumpet by the end of the day that our experts could exponentially improve his portfolio, I’d have to delay paying my car insurance bill again.
I glanced across the crowded break room. My own shadow loomed atop every head, though it wore different clothing: daycare, the car that already broke down three times this month, student loans with deferments about to expire, the type of bloodshot eyes that know they’ll never sleep more than three hours a night. A room full of anticipation with a shallow ladder to climb.
I smiled at Laura to signal that I was listening, and I hoped my eyes didn’t betray me. Even telemarketers have hearts. Maybe more than anyone else, really.