Murderous charity.

Today I accidentally rang a murderer.

Yes I had a similar reaction.  His wife was lovely. She spoke softly and with a countenance that was completely at odds with the news she delivered. Its not every day that you ring the supporter of a conservation charity to hear  something that chills you.

‘He isn’t available…may I ask who is calling?’

‘Oh yes he loves your magazines. I take them to him when I visit, he says it is almost like being outside again. You see he’s in prison, so there’s that.  It was a Chinese girl you see, they had an argument and he hit her with the car.’

‘The pictures make him smile’.

As much as I hate to admit it, I very nearly hung up. Have you ever had the feeling that cement has been poured into your bloodstream? That is the only way I can think to describe it. Everything stopped working. My fingers would not click. My lips would not form syllables. Breathing shuddered. Then I informed her it was lovely to hear and we will make a note on the record. I hung up and opted out of further contact. I logged my phone and walked to the toilet. I threw up into that white bowl and tried to work out just why this freaked me out so badly.

My job is generally safe and sanitised. The most you will hear is abuse about your audacity, or the fact that the charity is not doing what the supporter wishes. Occasionally you get incidents of blistering stupidity or stunningly racist remarks, but these are often from people who just don’t realise that ‘darkie kid’ is perhaps not the best term for an African child, or that ‘those slopes in Fucky-whatsit’ is a less than honourable way to refer to people still recovering from nuclear abandonment. Actual evil, malicious people are rarities. And this wasn’t even aimed at me.  Consolidating the two sides of this person, the man who I looked up at home and discovered to have run a girl over twice because of a spat and a mild mannered charity giver who at one point must have cared about the world he was in…that is just such a strain. I wanted to revoke his right to sponsor us.

After all, call me prejudiced, but why the hell should he be given even the simulation of freedom? Blue skies and whispering glades are not there to be used as an escape from a grey box you put yourself in. Do not paper the insides of your mind with pleasantries you get from people who don’t know what you are.  I sicken  at the thought that his wife will on her next visit, mention the fact a nice young girl rang up and thanked him for his support, that she is glad to hear he enjoys the magazine, that the charity is thankful for his support.

I feel  grubby.

Later I was sat in the pub with friends. I considered telling them and asking their opinion, to judge whether their reactions were as visceral as mine were.  I refrained however – my gut reaction seems too big too overblown and the fear of them judging me for my own reading of the situation stopped me. So I will keep it here and try to forget the day I judged a man I didn’t know by his crime and actions, and found him on balance, wanting.

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Confessions of a Charity TeleFundraiser

So I have this dirty little secret. Its not even a fun one like ‘this one time I broke a riding crop across this guys buttocks before I even learnt his name’ (Thas a whole other blog post…). Nope. If anything this is even more sordid. I am a Telephone Fundraiser. I have been sinning for the last six months…and truth be told it feels kinda good. It wasnt originally by choice unless you class choosing to pay rent as a choice. But now Ive settled into my groove so to speak its oddly fun. Yes I am aware that ringing you halfway through Eastenders or at ten to nine on a Friday isnt fun for you, but oh if those telephone lines could talk what madness they would see….

I bet you didnt realise the average fundraiser centre is not actually staffed by charity fundraisers. Nope not a single one. If you pulled a vote in my branche the answers would run the gamut from ‘I’m a struggling journalist’ to ‘Im a screenwriter … used to work for the BBC you know…’ stops off briefly at ‘I produce psy-trance feminist inspired post-metal reactionary musicscapes’ right the way through to clothes designers, artists, photographers, actors and skateboarders. There is I believe, one honest soul who would freely admit that this is a back up for his full time job of selling his homegrown. Thing is all these people come ready equipped with huge egos, If you dont hang the phone up straight after youve told us to fuck off straight to hell and blow Hitler (or whatever your choice of insult is today) you’ll probably hear a full and frank discussion based around midgets in bondage gear, whose open mic night will have the best quality gossip or if you think that this line will work in a stand up sketch about low flying aircraft. Occasionaly you will hear the squeal of glee as someone brings around the sugar bucket and our grubby little hands fight over the Tangfastics. My bosses know their workers, and believe me the mid shift comedown sugar slump is so totally not a good time to be on cold calls.

Mind you, you guys are fantastic. There have been some truly surreal calls. My personal favourite was the gentleman who supports a well known conservation trust. After inquiring if I was blonde or brunette he was informed that I am a redhead. He giggled lecherously into the phone and told me if he got a sample of my hair from you know….the promised land…he would happily help us out. Unsurprisingly that one offer was one I didnt take up.

Oh…and please dont answer the phone to witheld numbers if you are having sex. In fact dont answer the phone at all if you are having sex. If I am trying to sell the concept of saving the lesser spotted civet wren to you then the very last thing I want to hear is the slapping of flesh in the background or the very obviously ill concealed grunts and sighs. When you moan ‘uhhuh….oh yeah…..YEAH’ into the phone I want it to be because you just get carried away with the thought of supporting MY GODDAM CHARITY. If I wanted to dial into a sex line on company time…..well that would be surprisingly easy in all honesty but dont quote me on that.

 

There is a whole deep  dark well of hatred to be plumbed on this topic…but for now I need a cup of tea and to psyche myself up for another longsuffering shift on the phones tomorrow. Or a shot of Absinthe. Whichever comes first.