Sunday, April 15, 2007


You never know where you'll meet a decent human being.

Most days they can be awful hard to find and if I went searching for one, a huge corporation would be the last place I'd look. But that's what happened today when I called the insurance carrier on my car to find out what I could about a claim on the accident I had been in a couple weeks ago.

My mother has always been the one to handle the financial and legal paperwork of the family, although my father always maintained he was the brains of the outfit. Since his death, a lot of records have pretty much gone to hell. I've done my best to keep up, but my hatred of all things legal and financial plus my stunning lack of aptitude in these matters has resulted in some rather sizeable gaps in the family's portfolio. And of course, it doesn't help to have documents constantly exchange hands and move back and forth between here and the family home in Abu Dhabi.

So, I decided to call the insurance company and get it right. I won't mention the name, but they've got cartoon dogs and greed on the payroll so you take it from there.

Naturally, I had to go through the answering service contortions, pressing button after button until I got a real person. Her name was Anna, she had what I think was a Filipino accent and she wanted to know how she could help me today. So, I ranted on for a minute or two without pause for breath. I told her about the state of the scattered papers, explained that my car had previously been registered in my father's name and that I was calling because now I had no way of knowing.

Now I'm not sure what happened next, but somehow Anna went from being another telephone android to this kind, caring flesh and blood woman who really did want to help me.

I know what you're going through.

That's how it started, when Anna said she understood my situation. She told me about her mother, a former school teacher who had Alzheimer's. She was known for her great spelling ability, but as the disease progressed this same woman didn't know how to put her shoes on. She had trouble recognizing her own daughter and then slowly but surely began to fall apart bit by bit and gave in to death. Anna went on and on with this story, pouring all into my brain from some telephone call-in center somewhere in the UAE. It was such a jarring combination of the intimate and the impersonal; I didn't know how to handle it.

Anna finally finished her story and wished me luck. I was almost in tears by then and I thanked her for the kindness. This kind of compassion, real compassion can't be taught in some kind of telemarketing school. You've got to be born with it.

I'm sorry I didn't get Anna's last name because I would have actually written a letter to her supervisors telling them what a gem they had on their hands. I wonder if they would frown upon such familiarity with the clients. You're supposed to be a heartless robot like the rest of us. Get with the program or turn in your headphones. Let's hope not.

So, Anna, I'll thank you through this blog. The few minutes you spent talking to me about your mom meant more to me than you could ever know. And I guess the best way to honor your kindness is to pass it along.

Be well, Anna. I'm so glad we got to talk.


lol said...

hey, how you doing? this is lol over at the community website..... nice blog you got yourself here :) sorry i mistook you for a he at first :ppp

its true, a little kindness never hurt nobody..... wish more ppl were like that.....

jaime said...

Thanks so much for your comments, Ash. They were very, very comforting. :) Thanks for the welcome, too!!

rosh said...

Yup - even though most people are so lonely/sad out there, nice people are hard to find these days.

True that - can't teah compassion at Ivy schools, you've gotta be born with it.

Lovely post, pleasure reading.

So is Anna single?

Ash said...

Next time I speak with her, I'll be sure to ask, Rosh. Just hope it doesn't send out the wrong message :D

Jaime, don't worry about it. Ponder over it a little and let me know what you think about the situation between you and your Dad. All the best.

LOL, I'm sorry I don't know anyone that goes by that handle on the UAE Community Blog. Care to clarify? And it's alright if you mistook me for a he. It isn't the first time someone's done that and it certainly won't be the last ;)

lol said...

oh man i am the one who agreed with your comment over at the uae comm blog regarding the identity of the infamous wafi robbers.... ring a bell??? ;)