In my second year of university I worked for them as “donation support” which was really just a nice way of saying, a call center that calls alumni and recent graduates and asks them for money (to be put towards scholarship funds but still). The phone numbers were wrong half the time, and when you actually did manage to get someone on the phone they were usually upset because we called around dinner time or didn’t want to deal with someone asking them for money. We also called different time zones a lot. When the call hung up the default option was ‘call at a later date’. But there were other options like ‘wrong number’, ‘number no longer in service’ , ‘take off call list’ , and ‘deceased’.
My fourth shift there I’m calling someone and when the phone is answered the conversation goes like this:
Me: hello, I’m calling to speak to Mr. X on behalf of Y university-
Woman in the other end: this is a bad time.
Me: of course, my apologies. I can call back another time.
Woman: no, please don’t. (Starts sobbing)
Me: ma’am? Are you alright?
Woman: I-I’m Mrs. X. Mr- Mr. X isss dead. (Starts to sob again)
Me: oh, I’m so sorry for your loss-
Woman: I’m a-a-at his, oh god (starts to sob even heavier, I want to hang up the phone but idk if that would be rude, and we did not receive any kind of training for this job, we were just given a script and a computer and my supervisor was busy talking to her bf on the phone and no one else had been working there long, so I didn’t know what to do until a different woman took the phone from Mrs. X)
Other woman: hello? Who is this?
Me: Hi, I was calling for Mr. X on behalf of Y university when Mrs. X informed me of… The situation, I’m going to put down this number as remove from call list (I didn’t want to say mark as deceased cause I thought that might make things worse), but I didn’t know if I should hang up or not because of how upset she was.
Other woman: you should definitely hang up. You interrupted his funeral.
Me (internally): fuck
Me: I am so, so sorry for the loss of Mr. X and I sincerely apologize for interrupting his funeral. Take care.
I hung up, took note of his student number, marked him as ‘deceased’, and emailed my supervisor, the other shift supervisor, the manager and the director of the department with his details, what happened on the call, we might get a complaint, would it be possible to maybe send some flowers or something?
I know they sent Mrs. X flowers and apologized again for interrupting the funeral, but idk if anything happened after that. I also don’t know why Mrs. X didn’t hang up the phone, but her husband just died so she was bound to be a little off. Tbh that call still haunts me.
Edit: I seem to be getting comments about he’s not actually dead a lot, so I just want to reiterate that the university confirmed he IS dead, and I DID call his widow at his funeral, the university also sent flowers as an apology. No complaint was filed against me and I’m unaware of any other contact my university may or may not have had with Mrs. X.