the person on the other end of the phone

Hi. I’m the person on the other end of the phone. The one you just called and belittled, laughed at and mocked, at 4:30 PM on a Friday, when moments before I’d been thinking what a good day it had been and how great it was that it was the weekend.

In a given year, my job brings me to tears about, I’d say, four or five times, and I’m not really the crying kind. But the stark, mean, unmitigated venom of some of the people I talk to on the phone sometimes just breaks me down, and today, thanks to your call, was one of those. If I was anywhere else, of course, and someone talked to me like that, I’d stand up for myself. But when you work in any job where you deal with the public (and who doesn’t?), and you’re not, you know, Oprah, you have to take a certain amount of abuse. I’m used to that, but you went above and beyond. So while I would have liked to tell you off, that’s not how it works, and you know it — which I’d also like to call you out on, a little. Is it particularly empowering to berate someone you know can’t defend themselves? I wouldn’t think so, but maybe that’s just me.

You know, I know you’re angry. I know you think your bills are too high. I know you can’t get through to the right department on the phone, I know you think it’s just incomprehensible that someone is asking you to spend eight dollars to license your dog. But to be perfectly frank, you’re barking up the wrong tree (pun intended).  Do you really think the girl who answers the phone is the person who can do anything about that? That I can tell you, no problem, then. Don’t pay your bills — whoosh — I’ve erased them, you don’t have to. I’ve also abolished licensing of all kinds, and I’ve fired everyone in every department, anywhere, that’s not answered your call. Because that’s the kind of power I have, and at most companies, after all, the girl they stick with answering the phones is the one who gets to make the big decisions, right?

The thing is, I’m just trying to do my job, quickly and efficiently and without getting yelled at. I like to go to work, do work, and then go home and live the rest of my life — that’s pretty much what you do, too, isn’t it? Well, given that, I was just wondering if you could possibly remember, next time, that the person on the other end of the phone is you, just somewhere else. Just a regular person, doing their job, and maybe someone you shouldn’t treat so badly, or yell at quite so much.  I would very much appreciate that.

Thanks.