CALL CENTER CONFIDENTIAL: No Way Out. Sally, 65 Years Old, Must Keep Working

No Money.  No Future. At 65 Years Old, Sally Must Keep Working at the Call Center
by: Gordon Lawrence
It is 10:00 pm and the team logs out for the last break of the day.
Sally asks me to join her and we head off to the break room. Our team shuffles into our regular break routine. Don scrounges through his insulated lunch container and glances up at the TV, which is locked on CNN Headline news. Patricia, Juanita, Lashawn and Jake fire up their phones and check in at home.
Their voices rise and fall with the feedback from their family.
Demetrius is on his cell, angling for a date.
Khalid sits alone, staring out the window.

Shaquita is on the cell with her mom.

And Justin focuses on his poli sci assignment.

Sally gets started immediately – we only get 15 minutes.

“Gordon, I think I’m going to lose my job.  I just can’t keep up. My sales are terrible. My talk time is way over. And the boss wants to see me when we get back.”

Sally’s eyes fill up.   I jump in as she begins to sob.

“Sally, you don’t know what he wants. Maybe somebody wrote in to say that you helped them. It could be anything.”

Sally’s expression – fear and profound sadness – don’t change.

“No!  I can’t lose my job.  I need the money.  My credit card company raised my finance charge by almost $100 per month.  The interest rate is 30% because I couldn’t pay. The electricity bill is way up. My gas is way up. And I’ve been putting off getting the car fixed. I need clothes. I don’t eat right.  I can’t sleep.”

“Sally,” I try to help,  but she puts her hand up to stop me.

“Wait, here’s what I want to say.  I’ve been working on the phones for 25 years.
I have a lot of bills and no savings.  I’m 65 years old and struggling to do this job.
I thought I’d have a husband and a family and a nice house and days to myself.  Instead I’m alone, I’m in a small apartment, I work the 4 PM to 2 AM shift at a call center and I owe so much in bills I don’t see how I’ll ever get to stop working.”

And with that, Sally begins to sob, deeply and quietly.

“I just feel so alone. I know you could help me, at least with the money part.  Would you.”

“Of course, Sally, I’ll help.  Bring your credit card bills in tomorrow and we’ll get started.”

“I will.  I’m so afraid. I don’t have enough money. I just don’t see how I can keep working here forever.”

“Sally, don’t think of working here forever.  Just think of finishing tonight and then work on tomorrow.  One day at a time.”

Sally was feeling better.  I almost saw the start of a smile.

“And Gordon, you really will help me manage my money.”

“Yes.  Tomorrow at first break let’s talk about Social Security.  Maybe you could file and start getting a monthly check. And I’ll do my best to help you get a big tax refund this year.”

Sally began to feel better.  She made full eye contact and said “That would be great. Thanks.”

“You are very welcome.  And we had better get back, time is up.”

As it turned out, the manager asked Sally to switch days off in the coming month. No big deal.

The next day, I found a beautiful red, embroidered snowflake under my phone.  The hand-written note read, “Thank you. I sewed this for you. I’m not good at much, but I do sew well. Thank you. Your friend, Sally.”

…> Thank you for reading Call Center Confidential.  Please invite your friends,  family and co-workers.  I welcome your comments.  Next time:  Death by Cellphone.

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One Response to CALL CENTER CONFIDENTIAL: No Way Out. Sally, 65 Years Old, Must Keep Working

  1. It is too bad that people have to work even after 60.

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