For about four years I worked at a call center as a teller. We took bets over the phone on horse and dog races (legally, Oregon has some regulations turning this into a local industry.)
We had the normal characters. All relatively normal except for one man I’ll call $Harold. His speech was very hard to understand. VERY HARD. During my probationary period I once listened to him for five minutes and didn’t understand a single word he said. This always infuriated him when you couldn’t understand him. He’d start yelling and hitting things. But a few folks there had taken his calls for years and had learned how to interpret his mumbling. If there was no queue and they were free (and willing to to do it) they would take his calls.
After about two years I got the hang of his speech too. Enough to fully realize the real problem with his calls. $Harold didn’t make bets. He almost always just wanted to know the morning line for upcoming races and the results for past ones. That combined with his slow and unclear speech meant you could easily spend 10 minutes with him and he wouldn’t make a bet. He had funded his account, but never actually made bets. (Or almost never, as part of one call with me he did place two bets.)
In our call center the average call was about 40 seconds if I remember correctly. The record for the shortest call when I was there was 10 seconds (bet placed with process followed, I took the bet). It was always about speed. When a race is about to go off you only have so many minutes to get in all the bets before that opportunity is lost forever. Occasionally I’d hang up on a customer when they weren’t ready with their next bet. The goal was to have no queue just before the race closed. So time with $Harold was time wasted; we could have been productively clearing the queue. However, he never saw it this way. He never cared about anybody else. Ever.
Shortly before I left I talked to some people who had taken $Harold’s bets when the call center first opened. He wasn’t always this way. He had gotten whacked in the head during a bar fight. Someone hit him with a brick a couple times. Apparently $Harold was an a——- before the fight. And after the fight. Just after the fight he was hard to understand.
Shortly before I left I happened to be walking by one of our new agents on a break. I overhead her talk in such a way that she was obviously on a call with $Harold. She seemed confused and intimidated (the yelling, the pounding) so I volunteered to talk to him and took the phone from her and leaned over her cube wall.
My last conversation with Harold went like this (H = $Harold, M = Me. I’ll just type what I thought Harold was saying, I was pretty good at this point).
M: Hello sir. I can help you from here.
H: Who is this?
M: This is Dave. My coworker was having some trouble understanding you so I took the call.
H: I want to know the results of the last race from Aqueduct.
M: I’m sorry sir I can’t understand what you’re saying.
H: I don’t believe you. I think you can understand what I’m saying.
M: It makes you no difference if you believe me or not. I really can’t understand what you’re saying.
H: THAT’S CRAP! I KNOW YOU UNDERSTAND ME!
M: Really I don’t.
H: More yelling and pounding the table.
M: Hangs up.
To my knowledge he never called back. Which thrilled one of our bosses.