Yesterday, our much anticipated ANCA Telethon was held. I had the honor of taking many of the calls and speaking to our generous contributors from all over the country. I always imagined that being a telemarketer or working at a call center would be one of the most difficult jobs for me. I have an insatiable curiosity about the lives of strangers.
When my tech support phone calls are outsourced beyond our shores, I will usually pause to ask the person I am speaking with unrelated questions, like, “Where are you located?” or “What time is it there?” and “What is the weather like today?” That they have a script to follow makes it that much more unbearable for me. The idea that I am communicating with someone in Manila who I’ll never get to meet is remarkable to me, and it’s maddening that our conversation must stay within the confines of, “Did you reset your router?” “Yes, I reset the router.”
Yesterday, I got to be that nameless, faceless person at a call center. With the mask of a call script and an unusually saccharine voice, I became a tool for processing a transaction. I received calls from people who spoke only Armenian and calls from those who have been speaking only English for generations. One of my most intriguing calls was from a woman with such a quintessentially American name that I would have never suspected any Armenian lineage. She offered a $100 dollar donation in the name of her Armenian grandfather whose name she could not pronounce or spell—I helped her take a guess. I was dying to know her story, but I was the professional with the script this time, so I had to skip any personal engagement.
Regardless, I don’t think I’ll ever forget her name or that she, for some reason, felt compelled to donate money to a cause, even after she has lost the first name, the last name, the language, and most of the knowledge of Armenian culture.