After entering it to the system Bryson pressed enter and came up empty handed once again. He rubbed the back of his head and tugged on his hair in frustration. “I'm sorry,” the lies he told to keep his job, “but I still can't find you in the system. Do you have an account with us?”
“Yes,” the interpreter replied for Paulo, “I'm calling about my credit card.” Believing that Paulo was talking about a card that was being billed for his account, Bryson pulls up another program to search for Paulo's account by credit card number. This is really starting to get ridiculous, he thinks as he asks for Paulo's credit card number, why no one is ever prepared when they called in to talk about their account will forever remain a mystery to Bryson. He hears some rustling around in the background through his headsets as he lets out a sharp exhalation of breath.
Finally, the interpreter relays the full credit card number to Bryson and he enters it into the system, once again coming up with absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. What the hell was going on here? Bryson runs his frustrated hand through his frustrated hair as he tells Paulo through the interpreter that once again there is absolutely nothing on file to prove the client should even exist, and by comparison maybe the client shouldn't exist if he was incapable of giving Bryson the proper information. Now he's curious as to the exact reason this client has called in today and why it was that he, Bryson, had to be the one to receive such a call. “Well,” the interpreter relays, “I just received my credit card statement and I had a few questions about some charges that appeared on there.”
Incredulously, Bryson asks, “Were you trying to reach the credit card company?”
“Yes,” the interpreter interprets, “and I tried calling the number on the back of my card but they don't have a menu in Spanish I could follow, so I got a number off the statement and tried calling it.”
Bryson slams his hand down on the desk. I'm now late for my break because this fudge packer can't speak English, Bryson thought. Seriously, are you kidding me? “Sir, this is not the credit card company,” Bryson said. “I’m fairly certain if you call the number on the back of your credit card again, you could possibly keep hitting one or zero and you’ll eventually get someone that can get an interpreter to further assist you.” But don’t you ever call here again, chum bucket.
“Thank you,” the interpreter said for Paulo, “I’ll try calling the credit card again. Have a good day.”
It’ll be much better when you’re off the line. “You too, is there anything else I can help you with?” Bryson felt no point in asking this, but it was still unfortunately protocol.
“No,” the interpreter said, “that will be all for today.”
“Okay,” Bryson replied, steeling himself for the next lie he had to tell, which at this moment felt like a whopper. “Well, I hope you have a great day,” and don't get hit by a car while crossing the street, or get the shit kicked out of you in the local gringo bar, or die of a massive myocardial infarction while taking a crap.
Paulo hangs up and the interpreter inquires, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No, that'll be all for today, thanks,” Bryson responds. As the line goes dead he takes his headphones off and tosses them next to the monitor on his desk and just sits for a minute. In his head he's musing over the fact that the sound of every call that comes through those stupid little headphones seems to be the sound of the requiem for the death of his career and his dying life. Twenty-eight, and with every call he takes he sees his life flash before his eyes. This rut, this murderous rut, how would he ever escape it?
There's more that he wants out of life but he can't seem to find out what it is, doesn't the world owe him more than this? He knows the answer is no, but as long as he looks around and sees others take take take, he no longer feels he needs to give give give as a member of society. Unlike some though, he has a conscience, he feels, and he must continue to work as a functioning member of society. The real question is how can he get out of this funk. He can go back to school. But then where is the money and the time going to come from? He can look for another job. But what skills does he have to market to a new employer? He could drop out of the race and become a wino sleeping on street corners and park benches holding signs begging for money for food. Unfortunately he doesn’t like wine, and has never been one to rely on the kindness of strangers because strangers are rarely ever kind
He reaches over to his phone and pushed a button marked Aux and then tapped the 1 button. Finally, Bryson gathered the energy to stand up, and walked down the aisle past the rows of empty cubes that earlier held other representatives, trapped in their rooms within the customer service prison. Following the walls past more cubicles, formerly stacked full of representatives like hens in a hen coupe, there to take the never ending string of calls from the cretins who can't figure out things themselves, he made his way to the break room.