Sunday, February 21, 2010

Handle Time by Lincoln Park
Released: May 2008

Handle Time is an alleged satire about working at a call center.

I only say "alleged" because at the time I read this novel, I was about 10 years into my career at various call centers. I hated working for call centers, and I think during that time period, my cynical attitude toward call-center life disagreed with the portrayal of the same environment in Handle Time.

Although author Park has had call-center experience, I felt that she did an awful job at replicating a true call-center environment.

At the beginning of Handle Time, there is a page that lists all types of "AUX" codes used in a call center. For those of you not familiar with "AUX" codes, they are usually buttons on your phone-pad at work labeled according to their function. For example, if you have to go to the bathroom, you push the AUX code button labeled "bathroom break." If it's time to take your lunch break, you push the AUX code button labeled "lunch," and so on. The purpose of these buttons is to alert your management team to your daily activities - to the very minute. (See, doesn't call-center life suck? Why should your manager have to know that the pumpkin muffin you grabbed in the break room during your first break prompted an extra bowel movement?) But, I digress.

Anyway, I thought Handle Time would be nothing but all fun and hilarity and rainbows and OMG-I-just-peed-my-pants after reading the first page that listed all the AUX codes, but I found nothing witty or humorous about this book. Maybe it's a regional or cultural thing too, but I couldn't relate at all to Park's descriptions of the different types of call center folk. Perhaps call-center life in Brooklyn (or wherever Park got her experience?) is far different from call-center life in the boring mid-west, and the west coast.

Perhaps if I gave Handle Time another try after all these years of being out of the call-center mix, I might genuinely enjoy this book.

Will victims of call-center employment enjoy Handle Time? Maybe. Although I didn't enjoy this book, I bet many other people will! Either way, you should definitely give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Books that Handle Time reminded me of are Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, Company by Max Barry, Nothing Happens Until it Happens to You by T.M. Shine, and The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter.

Click on any of the book images below to review them in more detail on

What does Handle Time's synopsis remind you of? Are there any movies or other books about this topic you would like to mention? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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