Call Center Conundrum
It is a normal day in Delta, Kentucky. The month is June, and the sun is high in the air as the full force of summer weather sets in on the small Kentucky town. Harold Boggs zooms down East Highway 76 in his 2003 Ford Ranger with the windows down and George Strait blaring on the radio. He is a 21 year old man who has just completed a semester at his local community college, but is having some trouble figuring out his financial aid for next year. This forces Harold to have to contact a call center to figure out his problem. This, however, is not something Harold is fond of doing. He barely uses a computer and could easily tell you every part of an engine before he would know what his FAFSA is. Harold is from a blue-collar, southern, white family. He grew up simple, as his dad and his grandpa did. Work is life to Harold and his family, and he’s going to get his degree so he can work at a better job compared to the farm life he grew up knowing. Harold is also impeccably racist, as he has always been taught. He grew up in a small town that was pre-dominantly white, and rarely has he seen anyone of a race other than white and would not mind to keep it that way.
Harold finally gets around to getting ahold of the call center. He is already annoyed and upset before they even pick up. “These idiots here probably don’t even know what they’re doing themselves. Who the hell needs to know what FAFSA is anyways? I don’t need a degree to fix vehicles, dammit!”. The moderator on the other end eventually picks up the phone and asks how he can assist. Harold gives him the spill and says he doesn’t know what he is doing at all and is noticeably upset, even over the phone. Talking in a very aggressive tone, he insists that he receives help quickly. The moderator keeps his cool even though he just got an earful for simply asking how he can help. Call center moderators deal with people of this type every day, so he is accustomed to some callers being a little irritated over the troubles they’ve had. Still enraged, Harold listens as the moderator describes to him the steps he needs to take in a calm, friendly manner. Eventually, after a few attempts, Harold has, to his astonishment, completely fixed the predicament he was previously in. He cannot believe that he, a Boggs, has figured out this whole “FAFSA thing” on the computer. He also realizes how simple the fix was, and how he probably overreacted earlier to a more than helpful worker. He thanks the moderator, and repeatedly says that he was so much help. His southern hospitality shows as he asks the man’s name, stating that he is going to give a good report. The man replies with his name “Javon Maddox”. As the words leave his mouth, the information begins processing in Harold’s head and he is, for the second time in just a few minutes, mind-blown. He, Harold Boggs of southern Kentucky, 21 year racist, and now a man questioning his own beliefs.
This became more than just a phone call about school information. It became a point-of-view changing, lifestyle reconsidering moment for him because up until that point he had despised the thought of “Blacks” or “Mexicans” or anything that was outside of his comfort zone. He had grew up simple, and expected his life to always be that way, but on this particular day that changed. He had just went off on this man for no reason, and Javon was still calm and collected enough to see where Harold was coming from, thus he was able to inform him and help him figure out his problem. Harold doesn’t reply at first when he hears Javon speak his name. Eventually, after a brief pause, Javon says, “Is there anything else I can help you with today, Sir?”, to which Harold replies with, “No, thank you. You have helped me more than you realize.”
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