In 1991 I began working at an answering service place, they
were fairly well-known in the Valley, I think this was in
Canoga Park, and the company was called 800-Direct.
'Answering service' is a pretty generic term, what we really
did was answer the phones in response to various ads that
played on TV, or took orders from magazines.
If you ever were watching TV in the middle of the night, and
saw one of those info-mercials come up where they say "Call
Now and have your credit card ready!"...I was the person
who may have taken that call! Our phones were hooked up to a
computer, and when someone called in, they went through the
computer, and a message would pop up on our screen giving us a
ready-made script to read that was tailor-made depending on
what phone number they called.
Our script would have us say, for example:
"Thank you for calling to order the Franklin Mint Coin, may I
take your order?"
"Thank you for calling to donate to Care International..."
"Thank you for ordering such-and-such CD or movie..."
You get the point.
Then we would collect their name, address, credit card number,
I worked the week-ends and the overnight shift. On a slow night,
we would be sitting around reading, when suddenly all the
phones would light up. We would nod to each other, saying,
"Yep, they must have just ran one of the ads on TV!"
We also got calls from people ordering stuff from magazines...
Joseph A. Bank, Barnes & Noble, What On Earth, Cracker Barrel,
Crabtree & Evelyn etc., as well as turning on certain cable
channels for their TV's.
Once in a while I got a call from someone well-known or someone
who was semi-famous...I talked to Gil Garcetti, who was the DA of
LA at the time, and we knew him pretty well from the local news.
I also talked to Alex Trebeck's sister...she was quite a hoot
as I recall. A very nice woman, we had a great chat.
Here is a little hint...these catalogue ordering places make
a large portion of their profits on what they charge you for
'shipping and handling'. For a plastic gizmo that weighs a
few ounces, they could charge you ten bucks for 'shipping',
when in reality, the fastest first-class you can possibly get
at the post office would only cost you about a buck.
Getting a 'free life-time supply' of Sham-Wow still makes them
money...it probably only costs them a dollar or two to make and
send you a new rag, and since they say 'Just pay Shipping and
Handling', they can charge you ten dollars, and they still make
Not that you can do anything about this, but it kind of annoys
me that they can just randomly 'make up' anything they want to
so they can charge you a fee for something.
I left this job somewhere in 1992 to work for someone my bride
knew who had his own clothing embroidery factory. But this gig
at 800-Direct will be re-visited a few years later, as we
shall see. Isn't the anticipation just KILLING you?
Peace be with you.