Tuesday, September 21, 2010

" don't grow old ... "

it was near the end of my shift when i received this call. during one of those periods in a typical call center's workday when calls come in trickles and one's mind starts to wander and march ahead to what one needs to do after work -- visit a friend, window-shop in a mall, or actually step inside a favorite restaurant and pig out on some glorious food normally reserved to be eaten only if there is a special occassion.

"i need to close my account," her voice is soft as if she is whispering over the phone, "i need to close my account," she repeated without me prompting her to do so. i noticed this hesitancy in her voice. i strained my ears to listen to her carefully.

"why? what's the matter?" i tried to sound as concerned as i can.

"i won't be able to afford this anymore," she replied."in fact, i won't be able to afford anything anymore. my husband had died and i will no longer receive his pension. mine is not sufficient enough to sustain my needs." she continued. now there is a hint of sadness in her words.

"i am alone now, i'm selling this house and i'll be moving in with my daughter. and she has her own account for your service so i don't need to keep my account anymore,"she explained," oh, i don't want to leave this house, i don't want to sell it, me and my husband has lots of fond memories in this house,"she exclaimed.

before i can say anything she blurted out again,"but i can't help it, i am old now, and none of my children wants to live with me, they have their own families to attend to now. oh, it will be difficult to live with any of them, i wont be able to do things that i am accustomed to do in this house. it's different if you will live in a house which is not yours, even if you're with one of your children."

"i agree with that,"i was able to squeeze in,"no matter how small your house is, the feeling is different. a man is a king in his own home,"i quoted. i don't know where i read this but the words were forced out of my mouth.

she is sobbing now over the phone. i can't help but picture her in my mind -- an old lady in a very big house, with lots of furniture inside, lots of pictures hanging on the walls, silent witnesses of happy days long gone, amusing herself with her favorite television game show, passing the time away by herself.

" i think my daughter will transfer me soon to a nursing home,"she suddenly confided to me, she is really crying now, i can sense fear in her hoarse voice," i don't want to go ..." her voice trailed off.

i don't know what to say. "now, now, why will she do that? i know she loves you!" i reassured her.

"she does, i know,"she answered back,"but she wont be able to take care of me. she has her own family to attend to now,"she sighed. she is still weeping. oh, how sad she was! but this is america. i reminded myself. this is an american reality.

i really don't have anything to say now. in my job we have parameters to meet, to keep. one of those is the handling time for a call. i have to meet the standard handling time. i cannot allow a call to be long.

"at the onset,"i told her,"you said you want to close your account. i'm sorry to hear this, but it's your decision. i have to connect your call now to our permanent disconnection team so you can formally terminate your account. kindly hold, i will transfer your call to this group."

"ok, i'm sorry,"she replied apologetically, still sobbing.

"no problem,"i said," i'm transferring your call now."

before i pressed the transfer button i heard her whisper on the phone."thank you, if you can help it, don't grow old." and she was gone ....

i would have said to her i can't do that. i can't fight time. i can't fight nature.

but .... i can age gracefully. i can be alone but not feel unhappy. and if my child will not take care of me i will seek refuge elsewhere. to where Love is Unending, and Love is Unbending. i have great faith in the One that makes us all and makes us be. i am confident He will keep me in His Holy Company.

i was able to resolve the issue on her call. yet, i feel empty after. i was not able to serve her. closing the account is not the real help she needs ....


Anonymous said...

i don't want to grow old...

margie said...

i luv it!! very touchin..