Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kay on the phone

She called to get my help.

Her name was Kay and she needed help transferring a load of files onto her new computer.

My new job is to help people like Kay troubleshoot the issues on their computers over the phone.

Before you go congratulating me, know that this job thrills me about as much as any service industry job can thrill you. Some days are reminiscent of waitressing endeavors, when all the regulars came in and asked how i was doing or left an extra tip because they knew my rent was due soon.

Other days are like when there would be a big lunch rush, the restaurant slammed with hungry patrons, tables pulled and pushed around to fit the needs of the people. i would be walking as fast as i could to keep glasses filled, tables wiped down, incoming guests greeted, and over the din of all of this, a woman in a too-small sweater snaps her fingers at me as if i were a dog being told to ‘Sit’. She pantomimes for me to come and wipe down her table, my ears and face burning with shame, i quietly acquiesce to her demand.

Except, now the pantomimes are through the phone line, and i have one defense in my arsenal: the caller (angry or naive or rude) cannot see me roll my eyes or grind my teeth in annoyance.

But i wasn’t rolling my eyes at Kay. No, i was nodding and grinning while fighting the urge to cry. willing my eyes to suck in the tears that were welling up in the lower lids.

Luckily, the process we walked through in the moving of her files was a long process. We got to talk for over an hour. Throughout our conversation, i found out that Kay was a writer (she didn’t want to lose her Final Draft application). i asked what type of writing she does, and she modestly responded “for television, but that was a long time ago”. when i asked for a little bit more information she casually says, oh ya know, “Cheers”, as in, Danson, Long, Harrelson, Alley, Grammer and so forth.

Wow, this woman wrote for HIT television shows. i tell her that i want to be a writer and that i want to have a book in Oprah’s Book Club one day and i laugh at my silly notion.

Kay cuts me off mid-laughter. She is not laughing. i sit up straight in my chair and grab my pen to write down what she was saying to me:

“Make life choices to reach your goals, and NEVER be embarrassed of your goals”.

If i want a book in Oprah’s Book Club, then Kay thinks i should aim to do so. but whenever i think about doing what i’ve always dreamed of my head starts swimming with all of the possibilities and all the ‘right steps’ to get there.

i don’t know much about Kay other than her friendly speaking voice and the state of her migrating files, but i hear exactly what she is offering me, she is offering me hope and faith through the phoneline.  Kay has never met me and yet, she is willing her optimism to me.  i needed it, and she knew it.

Kay wanted me to understand that life isn’t about figuring it out, it’s more about showing up and doing whatever it takes everyday.

Before we were finished, i told Kay that it had been a blessing to speak with her. it was a pleasure and a gift to speak with someone a few states away, a stranger who invested in the nameless call-center operator on the other end. i was encouraged to dream again, even if it means reading and writing in the 15 seconds i get between calls at my job.

Now, everyday at my desk, in my stack of work notes and bulletins, i bring in my red notebook. the one where my Oprah’s Book Club novel might start.

Maybe one day i will dedicate that book to Kay.

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