Over the pandemic I got a customer service job that was primarily phone based. There was a great deal of verbal abuse, but what was even harder was the emotional labor aspect of it.
Every day, I spoke with over a dozen people on the phone. A lot of my conversations went well, we talked about some amazing things, laughed and I was able to help them navigate a complex process. These positive conversations were heavily overshadowed by lots of heavy, sad , heartbreaking interactions. Many of these people had battled cancer, other health problems, were recovering from heart failure, and told me about their countless medications, and the death of their family members. Some of them cried, got silent for a moment or openly told me how much they miss their deceased loved ones. Others shared their mental health struggles, and chronic pain. I could hear their heavy sighs and breathing patterns change as emotion filled their body. Listening to their tales, absolutely broke my heart.
It also reflected very strongly on the attitude of that boomer generation. They had a sturdy attitude of “suck it up, work hard, buy a home, and don’t complain” instilled in them and preached it to their offspring and grandchildren.Very few of them waxed on about their jobs and the the value of working hard. Most of them spoke about their hobbies and how much they loved, valued and missed those close to them.
Their stories really made me rethink the importance of my life and to reevaluate my priorities.
Life really is short and hearing their experiences really drove that point home.