“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” (Revelation 14:6)
It’s ironic that I now work at a telephone answering service because I really didn’t enjoy talking on the phone THAT much throughout my life. On any given day, I probably talk to hundreds of people on the phone. Most are located in New England- in fact, it works out that most that I talk to are either in Massachusetts or Connecticut. I also have spoken to people around the country, however, including Tennessee, Texas, Washington State, Utah, Idaho, and Virginia, among others. The overwhelming number of people we answer for are calling doctor’s offices. A few are calling lawyer’s offices or financial counselors. Some are calling businesses to have their septic tank pumped or to have their swimming pool closed up for the winter. I answer for callers from Weston and some of the other most wealthy suburbs near Boston, and I answer for callers from Boston’s toughest inner city neighborhoods. Whether the two-year-old is Latisha from Dorchester or Madison from Wellesley, the parents have the same tone of concern in their voices and are comforted when I tell them, “You’ll receive a call from the on-call pediatrician within fifteen minutes”.
Some of the calls we take are pretty exciting. A couple of months ago, one of my colleagues took a call from a very famous Boston television sportscaster. He was thrilled to be speaking to him, and they chit chatted for just a minute before the message of a doctor’s appointment needed was electronically sent. A few Saturdays ago, I answered for the wife of a Boston area media personality. I couldn’t resist asking if this was the famous so-in-so family and the wife pleasantly informed me that it was. Like my colleague, I chit chatted with her for just a little bit before sending the page off to the pediatrician who’d be calling them back about their little girl who wasn’t feeling well.
Today, I took a call from a young woman from the inner city. She was calling a medical practice to apologize for missing her appointment yesterday. She wanted to make sure I understood and that the doctor would understand she missed the appointment for a good reason. “I’m a relative of that two-year-old that was shot to death,” she informed me, “I really wanted to try to get to the appointment but with everything that was going on, I just COULDN’T.”
Boy, did I feel a sense of solemnity!
What do you say? This was a famous person of a much different sort.
“Like so many others, I’ve been saddened by that story in the news,” I told her, “and I want to say I’m sorry and I express my condolences to you.”
I felt like being quiet for awhile after that, but it was during the lunch period, and the phones just ring off the hook. I probably took at least eleven calls in the next five minutes. You get “on a roll” with the job. There are certain spiels that you recite over and over. Renae who trained me back in March gave me a lot of good tips on things to say when you answer a call. But I don’t think anyone can prepare you for speaking to the relative of a little child in the inner city who was shot to death.
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