The Invisible Torchbearer

An office call center quietly buzzes with the sounds of “Hello, thank you for calling” and “Well, you have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend, Catherine. Buh-bye now.” Most of the cheery tones being forced out of the recipient’s mouths with remarkable on/off light switch speed. Daniel, however, had no need for the on/off talent to get him by, and that was because Daniel preferred to keep his light switch off all the time, it seems. A good Help Hotline employee. Helping the customer one step at a time with accurate and useful solutions. And, it wasn’t like he didn’t enjoy his well-paying job… He didn’t, that’s just not the reason why Daniel kept a sullen persona over the telephone.

Simple boredom. A preposterously vague answer, I know, but that is the truth of it. Daniel just lost the flare for excitement too many years ago. Granted, being only 23 years old, it wouldn’t take much time to go back and find it. With that in mind, Daniel was busy as usual with the calls coming in. Answering the phone with his usual degree of corpse, “Hello, thank you for calling. My name is Daniel. How can I help you?”

The far-off voice of an elderly woman echoes in underneath a harsh static. “H-Hello!? Hello, yes? I’m calling in because I’m trying to set up a payment plan for my granddaughter, Renee?” She said it like a question as if she wasn’t sure if that was the correct name that was attending school. Luckily, Daniel is a heartened veteran of over 2 years, so the joke has worn to glass.

“Alright, ma’am, can you let me know what part of the plan you’re stuck at?” A twitch of his thumb and the blue pen in his left hand was cocked and ready for action. He lowered it to his notepad and waited.

A brief shock of static clouded the call, and then the woman’s voice began to overpower it, “Wel…I…ca..’t…seem to find a way to the next page on the screen.”

Daniel’s left hand opens, dropping the pen onto the notepad like a useless tool that was worth nothing to him anymore. He uses the now-empty hand to pinch the top bridge of his nose while taking a long blink of annoyance. A moment later and he’s back to normal. Daniel adjusts the microphone on his headset and says, “Alright, ma’am, I can help you with that. Tell me, do you see a big green arrow at the bottom right of the screen that reads Continue?”

Another brief pause as the woman searches the screen. “Hang on a moment while I…” the woman trails off as she continues scanning the webpage. 30 seconds of static and heavy breathing pursue until the woman finally responds. “Oh yes, I think I see it. Is it the arrow that says Continue on it?”

Daniel is quick to move past the frustrations. “Yes, ma’am. That’d be the one. Go ahead and give that a click.”

She does, and says once the new page loads, “Okay, it wants me to put in my billing information. I think I can handle it from here. Thank you.”

“No problem, ma’am, that’s why I’m her—”

“—What was your name again?” interrupts the old woman.

“My name is Daniel.”

“Thank you, Daniel. I really appreciate your help.”

Daniel moves to his end-of-the-call wrap up with a quick spurt of words, “Happy to help ma’am and there is a brief survey at the end of this call have a nice day.”

“Yes, yes, you t—”

The woman’s thanks were cut short by Daniel reaching over his desk to manually end the call on his phone. Leaning back in his “orthopedic” desk chair, Daniel grabs his cell phone and scrolls through Reddit; patiently awaiting the next dire call for help.

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