Life Lessons Learned from Answering Phones

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In the rat race and mayhem of everyday living, it’s easy to forget that life is truly a gift. When I took a job answering sales calls for a nationwide company, who knew that my customers could teach me so much about living. My company sells magazines at a deep discount, and holds a yearly cash prize drawing for its customers. When asked what they would do with the money if they won, the range of answers varies, from buying one’s entire family a fleet of Jaguar luxury cars, to donating the entire amount of money to charity. It’s fascinating to see how the minds of others think, and what they value.

During natural disasters, my customers living in the affected areas tell me about how they lost their house or family members. It’s sobering to know that these kind souls suffered like that, yet they are still working hard to survive. Many are amazingly upbeat, determined and humble. Listening to them, my little problems such as worrying about what to make for dinner or frustration over the vacuum dying just don’t matter so much anymore. Life is more than that. One kindly old man told me that he lost his entire family and his house in Hurricane Katrina. He was soft-spoken, friendly, and at peace. That takes an amazing amount of strength to go such loss and not be angry and bitter. Asking him how he did it, he said that his faith has gotten him through it all, and that he takes one day at a time. He takes comfort in knowing that his wife and daughter are no longer suffering. This brave man is pressing forward all alone, in a one bedroom apartment, with conviction that life will improve. Seeing the disasters in the news just doesn’t describe the reality of the situation he’d been through. Despite tragedy, he triumphantly perseveres with a smile on his face. It is truly inspiring.

If you feel life is horrible, and that your luck is nonexistent, remember to put these thoughts into proper perspective. Sometimes life feels that bad, that nothing goes right and that it’s just one problem after another. You are the only one in control of your destiny, so be careful in what decisions you choose. Being good to your mind and body is the answer to many problems. How you treat yourself now can influence what quality of life you’ll have later. Some people spend their younger years abusing their bodies and end up feeling old way too young, due to complications from illnesses. The lesson I learned here is to remember that we aren’t invincible, and that mistreating yourself with food, substance abuse or recklessness can lead to big problems such as diabetes, lung cancer and car accidents. Simply put, many of us need to take care of ourselves if we want to live long and productive lives.

Talking to terminally ill patients is sobering. When renewing subscriptions, I’ve had customers tell me, “I cannot do a two year subscription, because I won’t be alive then.” They go on to explain that they have some sort of terminal cancer or other equally grave illness. Ok, some of them may be lying, but it’s easy to tell which ones are being honest. Those that are have an earnest and frank way of discussing what is happening to them, and don’t put on a show. They just tell it like it is. Talking to them, I sense that most of them are at peace, and keeping positivity about themselves, to get through the remainder of their days. It’s inspiring to see human nature at work, with quiet strength during the most difficult of times. We keep going on faith, until the sun comes out again, and the grey storm clouds go away. As long as we’re alive, there’s hope.

To sum it all up, life is too short to worry about dumb things that don’t matter. The body is a temple and needs to be taken care of. So many people have illness brought on by smoking, overeating, too much sun tanning or other preventable means. Who cares if the dishwasher broke, the car won’t start or dinner got burned? In the grand scheme of things, those things truly don’t matter all that much. Our lives, however humble they may be, are gifts that we must appreciate before it’s too late. When you feel your life is lousy, remember that tomorrow is another day. Whatever the problems you have will most likely pass. The best thing to do is handle it, putting emotion aside, and keep going. Life may not be easy at times, but as far as I know, it’s the only one we’ve got. I’ve learned from my customers to not sweat the small stuff, because tomorrow is another day, and we can be thankful that we indeed do have a tomorrow to enjoy.


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