P enters my apartment, his opening statement hanging off the edge of his tongue:
'I had a rude awakening today'.
I checked to make sure he did mean something negative, ''Rude? Not pleasant?"
'Yep, rude as in bad. Well, actually, it wasn't bad, It was just the shock of reality, really'.
P deposits his bag on my couch, sits on its arm while making a half-hearted attempt to fend off my lascivious dog. (No, I'm serious. She just about molests all my guests, or is that 'our' guests? Well, they certainly don't come to see her, at least not at first).
I'm chuckling internally which results in a broad smile on my face.
'Oh, tell me all about it', I say, really eager to know. 'But hang on, let me just sort this molester out'.
I can see a mixture of emotions reflected on P's face - impatience, relief, eagerness, excitement....
Well, we were put on the phones today with real customers for the first time. It was real. This lady was really ticked off,
'I've been waiting four hours to get through. /This is just not good enough. No, I'm not going to create another account. I expect you to sort this out....blah, blah, blah'.
'I didn't take it personally', P was eager to assure me. 'They told us all about this during our training so I knew not to take it personally, but it was still a shock. Some of the girls cried. But it was good, good experience, continued P, nodding his head as if trying to convince himself.
'I just wished I could have actually solved some of the problems. But I couldn't and that was not so good. I mean, we always suggest things to them but they don't necessarily solve anything, just sort of gets them off your back, you know? But there were some good calls. One customer called me 'god'.'
P has recently started working for a very large and well-known IT company in customer service. After three weeks of training, this was his first day on the phones with actual customers.
It was good to hear his experience as I warmed up the meal I'd prepared for us earlier. It felt like I was with someone who'd just stepped out of a battlefield -slightly traumatized but mostly determined to find meaning in it, knowing he would be back for more the following day and for a while hereafter.
Bonnie had finally settled and P was heartily tucking into the osso bucco I'd pressure-cooked with carrots, celery, onions, garlic and a tiny sprinkling of dried red chilli, served with rice cooked with brown lentils. I'd bought the meat for him as I generally don't eat meat. I was pleased with my cooking as clearly was P.
After he'd finished, he went outside to the courtyard to drag on a cigarette. The evening was mild enough for my t-shirt over a light cotton dress. P shared his music with me, his favorites as well as his own compositions. I enjoyed the soothing sounds of electronica although I didn't care for one where the tempo was 160 bpm. The lack of variety in the sound at this tempo just makes me feel anxious, as if I'm hopelessly trapped :). P laughed understandingly when I told him this.
He left not long after, concerned that he'd need a good night's sleep in preparation for another grueling day on the phone with real customers! I was all for it. I walked him to the bus stop and gave his a hug and kiss when his bus arrived. I was glad for his company, brief as it was.
As I walked home, I finally gave the thought that had been rattling in my head some attention:
"If you hadn't taken it personally, why did you feel upset?
Isn't it true that we always take things personally, to a greater or lesser degree and with a greater or lesser recovery rate?
What do you think?