Confessions of a Political Poller

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Get a real job. You’re a low-life. How dare you call me at this time?!

During a regular shift at the political polling firm where I work, these are a few of the censored comments that blast through the headpiece. “Thanks for your time,” I always reply, sometimes through gritted teeth and other times dripping with kindness. I’ve never appreciated phone surveys myself, but now that I’m the person under the headpiece, I appreciate random people’s kindness much more.

My career goals aren’t in any way involved with political polling. After moving to Tallahassee to study at Florida State University, the first of September quickly approached and I needed a flexible part-time job and steady income. I stumbled upon the polling firm’s table at a student job fair, turned in my resume and scheduled an interview within days. At the interview, I learned that my boss is very understanding of students’ schedules. The firm closes for Thanksgiving holidays and for the holiday break between the fall and spring semesters. What more can I ask for as a college student?

When I sat in a cubicle and put on a headset for the first time, I anticipated that many people wouldn’t be pleased to hear my cheery voice asking political questions on the other end of the line. Most of the time, I brush off mean comments, but if they’re terribly rude, I consider rescheduling the call out of spite. I probably shouldn’t do that, but the things people come up with are just below the belt sometimes. I may be interrupting your dinner, but I don’t get to eat dinner until I get home around 10:30 p.m.

The last thing I want to do is arrange a pity party for myself. I’m one of the millions of college students working part-time jobs in order to get through school. If my greatest adversity is rude people over the phone, then I’d venture to say my life is pretty decent. I’m also not asking for every reader to answer every telephone survey that comes his way. I understand that some people don’t feel comfortable answering questions when they don’t know where the information is going.

What I am asking is that if you encounter a political poller or a telephone survey or even a telemarketer, just be nice. If you’re incapable of saying “No, thank you,” just hang up as soon as I start my spiel instead of telling me to go to hell. The best people I encounter on my adventures as a political poller are those who tell me I have a lovely voice, to get home safe or to call my parents to say, “I love you.”

The person on the other end of the phone is just that–a person. Just like the person behind the fast food counter is a person. Just like the person waiting on your table is a person. Just like the person restocking the shelves at a store is a person.

We all deal with universal struggles like making ends meet, finding love and moving up in the professional world. Many of us have been there (or in my case, I’m still there). If a simple smile or a kind rejection over the phone is all you need to do to make a less-than-desirable job more pleasant, then I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Celina graduated from FSU with a B.A. in English. As College Magazine's Editorial Director, Celina always pushes her writers to become stronger journalists and create an in-depth guide to campus life. She can't go a day without her cafe con leche and you won't want to cross her the day she does.

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