I was listening to Jim Florentine’s CD, Terrorizing Telemarketers, on the way to work today, and it brought back memories of the few awful weeks I spent as a telemarketer for Time-Life back in the early 1980s, trying to get old people on fixed incomes to buy some series about the Civil War called Brother Against Brother. It may have been a good product. I have no idea; I never saw it. None of us ever saw it. In that airless room somewhere off Wisconsin Avenue in northwest D.C., I felt cut off from time, space and anything else that suggests reality.

Other workers could tell I was miserable, and they reached in their pockets and offered me all sorts of remedies in little plastic bottles to help me get through my shift. I never took them up on their offers, even after one caller asked me if I was near a bathroom, and then, after I said yes, told me to go lock myself in it.