Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Thank you, Judy
You never know where you'll meet a decent human being.
Most days they can be awful hard to find and if I went searching for one, a huge corporation would be the last place I'd look.
But that's what happened last week when I called my father's insurance carrier to find out what I could about his IRA.
My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and he's never been one for keeping records, a trait that I unfortunately inherited.
My mother was always the one that did the finacial paperwork for them, although my father always maintained he was the brains of the outfit, despite the acute lack of evidence.
Since my mom's death three years ago, his financial records have pretty much gone to hell. I've done my best to keep up, but my hatred off all things financial and my stunning lack of apptitude in these matters has resulted in some rather sizeable gaps in my dad's portfolio.
I had to call the insurance company to see what was going on with his IRA. I won't mention the name, but they've got a blimp and a cartoon dog on the payroll so you take it from there.
Naturally I had to go through the answering service contortions, pressing button after button until I got a real person. Her name was Judy, she had what I think was a southern accent and she wanted to know how she could help me today. So I told her about my father's scattered financials and explained that I was calling because of my dad's condition.
Judy told me she couldn't tell me much unless my dad gave her verbal permission. Since I was calling from work, this would be a little difficult. Now I'm not sure what happened next, but somehow Judy went from being another telephone android to being a kind, caring flesh and blood woman who really did want to help me.
I know what you're going through.
That's how it started, when Judy said she understood our situation. She told me about her mother, a former school teacher who had Alzheimer's. She was known for her great spelling ability, but as the disease progressed this same woman didn't know how to put her shoes on.
Judy said her mom had trouble recognized her--her own daughter--but always recognized Judy's husband. She called Judy's brother--her own son--"the heavy fellow" because he was a few pounds overweight. And she called her son's wife "the woman from Tennessee" and nobody knew why.
Judy went on and on with this story, pouring all into my brain from some telephone call-in center somewhere in America. It was such jarring combination of the intimate and the impersonal, I didn't know how to handle it.
Judy finally finished her story and she wished me luck. I was almost in tears by then and I thanked her for kindness. This kind of compassion, real compassion can't be taught in some kind of telemarketing school. You've got to be born with it.
I'm sorry I didn't get Judy's last name because I would have actually written a letter to her supervisors telling them what a great employee they had. I wonder if they would frown about such familiarity with the clients. You're supposed to be a heartless robot like the rest of us, Judy. Get with the program or turn in your headphones. Let's hope not.
So, Judy, I'll thank you through this blog. The few minutes you spent talking to me about your mom meant so much to me you have no idea. And I guess the best way to honor your kindness is to pass along.
Take care, Judy. I'm so glad we got to talk.