“This call is being recorded for quality assurance.”
His thick accent threw me off, and I almost hung up, thinking a telemarketer had called me.
“Is this Ms. Magagna?” he asked, and my heart sank. The hospital sent us to collections for bills our insurance has finally begun paying from 2021—but they’re paying in chunks and apparently it’s not fast enough for the cancer center.
“This is she.” My voice sounded exhausted, even to my own ears.
“You’re two days late on your [xx] payment. We show you’ve never been late in nearly two years. Is everything okay?”
I know it sounds terrible, but I could’ve broken in that moment. Plus, when you’re having a hard time it’s easy to get frustrated about dumb things! Like when you hear someone with a thick accent, sometimes they can’t understand everything you’re saying. And it’s aggravating that people I know are searching for jobs, when American companies are outsourcing work to people in other countries who struggle to speak English.
I set my feelings aside. This man tried to do a job. Who knows what he’s going through? And maybe it’s incredibly hard to find work wherever he lives.
“I have cancer,” I said, completely deflated. “My most recent treatments were…quite frankly…horrendous. There’s just so much on my plate. I’m sorry I forgot about this. I’ll make a payment for this month and next month as well.”
I thought then about four people who’ve either called or messaged me this week saying they feel bad we don’t go out to lunch anymore or that I don’t call them enough. They made me feel like I’m on “the rack” (remember that medieval stretcher), and that they each need a piece of me to stay happy. “Life can be hard,” I whispered into the silence because either we’d gotten disconnected or the man didn’t know what to say.
“Ma’am,” he finally spoke, his voice breaking a little, “I am so sorry for what you’re going through.” Then that man, who I’d judged for absolutely no reason, had the most meaningful conversation with me. I held back tears, and I know he did too. He said such profound things to me.
“I’ll be praying for you,” he said.
“And I’ll be praying for you too.”
It reminded me of when I’ve played music with people who don’t speak the same language as me. We talk through the melodies and harmonies. It doesn’t matter what our backgrounds or beliefs are because there’s a much deeper understanding that ties us together in those musical strings. It’s sad to say that the common ground I had with this man on the phone was heartache, but we also found joy through the conversation as well.
After he took my payment, he hurried to say something before I could end the call. “Don’t lose hope, ma’am. I just know you’ll get better.”
“Th—thank you. I hope things will be great for you as well.”
I hung up the phone and cried. Who knew that this collection officer from another country could so profoundly impact my day in such a positive way.
I guess we’re all struggling to get through life and make the best of things some days. I’m so glad I talked with that man. Thank God he has that role at work because he does one hell of a job. He deserves it more than most. And I think he needs it far more than a lot of people here who have a roof over their heads, multiple cars, and the ability to get the care they need. I’m embarrassed to share this with you, to say that I judged him; how entitled can I be?
Anyway, it’s good to reassess my perspective and grow. I’m grateful for that at least.
Plus, I swear that I meet the most wonderful people—even if they are trying to collect on bills. God bless that man. It’s not every day I get to talk to people from all the way across the world! 😉