Never ask ‘What’s wrong?’ Again

Obligatory long time lurker, first time poster. Also on mobile, so sorry for formatting.


So I used to work in a call center doing outbound cold sales for charity selling raffle tickets. As you can imagine it wasn’t very glamorous and neither were the upper management, but this isn’t about the staff this time.

This is about one of the calls I did in the first few months working there (I was at that place for about 3+ years).

Now I don’t remember how the call went exactly, but I remember it for the most part. I’ll be me: ME and she will be Elderly Woman: EW

EW: Hello?

ME: Hi it’s Killernitrox from Company for the Charity. How are you today?

EW: Not Good.

ME: Sorry to hear, what’s wrong? (This is where I messed up)

EW: My 7 year old Granddaughter hung herself yesterday.

Now the appropriate reaction to this is whatever I didn’t say after hearing that.

ME: Shit! (Cue awkward silence for ten seconds where I’m uming and ahing) Oh, um, I’m so sorry.

EW: No, it’s ok. But I’m not in the mood to talk right though. I’ll have to let you go sorry.

ME: No no, of course, no problem at all. My condolences.

And left the call at that. This was slightly paraphrased for the part after the bomb drop, but it was super discomforting and you could tell from her voice that this was genuine. The amount of distress in her tone was unsettling and didn’t feel like something you could fake.

Out of curtisy I delayed us contacting her for 12 months to let her grieve (the usual cooling off period being 3-4 months), this resulted in confirming that her story was legitimate.

After that 12 months and this being a water cooler story, I was talking with some of the newer trainees giving them advice and chatting. During the flow of the conversation, one of the girls mentioned that she had a similar call an eldarly lady whose granddaughter had passed away juuust over a year ago.

But all that being said, I didn’t ask people why they were feeling down anymore.

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