After a whirlwind two week tour in Rio where she battled the most talented athletes the world has to offer and defeated them all, Olympic water polo gold medalist Tessa Banks returned to her $8 per hour telemarketing position Monday. Now that the games are over, she’s excited to get back to doing real work.
“Gold medals are great, but it’s nice to return to my normal routine,” said Banks, briefly removing her headset while the potential customer barraged her with racial slurs. “Traveling abroad can be stressful. It’s always a relief to come home and recharge your batteries a bit. I’m sorry sir, say that again? No, I’m afraid I can’t text you a photo of my vagina. Right, I understand. Well, these facecloths are made of Egyptian cotton, so it’s your loss.”
Waiting at Banks’ desk that morning was a generic greeting card signed by eight of the company’s 47 employees, a cupcake that was left on her desk Friday and is now stale, and a written notice that her next check will be docked for the days she missed work. The notice included a reminder that dropping below 30 hours for those weeks has put her at risk of losing her health insurance.
“I’m relieved to be back in a first world country again where things are more civilized,” said Banks, swiveling her chair to keep from seeing her co-worker clipping his toenails in his cubicle. “I felt so bad for the poor people in Rio. They live in tiny shacks and barely have enough to eat. I don’t know how residents there can just sit back and do nothing, knowing their city is so impoverished. The conditions are awful.”
Banks’ apartment in New York is 90 square feet with no windows, heating, or working smoke detectors. Nearly 300 residents live in her building. The fire escape down the hall, which only extends down to the fourth floor, was last inspected in November of 1986. Her neighborhood is filled with mentally ill transients who break into people’s cars not to steal them, but to sleep in them or use them as a toilet. Her rent is $1,800 per month plus utilities.
Living in New York isn’t without its perks. In Rio, Olympians heard gunshots outside their hotel roughly 4 to 5 times per hour, while Banks only hears one or two gunshots per hour at home. Vagrants in New York’s public transit system often remove their fake eyeball and use it to taunt tourists into giving them money, while in Rio tourists are simply shot dead on sight and looted. Banks also said New York’s overwhelming urine smell is a bit nicer than Rio’s, with a slight hint of wheatgrass or lemon.
In her first day back at work, Banks sold 10 bath towel sets. Not exactly Olympic numbers, but passable. Fred Merced is the gold medal champion for the company, selling nearly 30 towel sets per day. As the 1.2 millionth best telemarketer in the world, Merced makes close to $60,000 per year. This is $60,000 more than Banks earned at the Olympics.
Banks argues that being treated like a piece of talking garbage and working for borderline slave wages keeps her humble, just like regular Americans. That empty hole in her heart that gets a little bigger every time she’s cheated out of a performance review or passed up for a promotion provides the angry, pent up motivational fuel she needs to beat the living bejeezus out of her competitors in the pool.
“It was nice getting away for a few weeks, but I miss so much when I’m gone,” said Banks, turning down her headset volume as the stranger she called moaned her name while loudly pleasuring himself. “I get to meet a lot of interesting people. This guy’s a little gross, but if I’m patient and let him finish, he’ll probably feel bad and buy some stuff. Once he goops out, he’s going to absolutely love these 900 GSM cotton bath towels. The long fibers of high-end cotton allow it to be spun much thinner than other fabrics, giving it an extra soft texture that feels really great against your skin. It’s absolutely perfect for his needs.”
In the end, it’s really the work that makes Banks’ day brighter. Knowing she makes a difference with what she does is worth more than any gold medal hanging around her neck.
“I just love what I do. Working here makes me feel important,” said Banks, hanging up on a drunk customer who fell asleep during her sales pitch. “I love having a job where I make a difference in the world. I touch thousands of lives every day, and each one warms my heart in a completely different way. What’s that, sir? I’m sorry you feel that way. I would love to eat a bag of dicks, but I’m Catholic, so it’s tricky. I’ll be sure to share your feedback with my supervisor.”