I spent a stint in my late twenties working in a call center. (You can read about my days collecting a W2 from the hot flames of Hades here. It’s a good time. Or at least a better time than the actual years themselves.)

Have you ever worked in a call center? Putting aside the typical, everyday, corporate call center stuff like, you know, cubicles and faulty printers…interacting with the public all day every day over the phone demands a certain skillset. Patience helps, or at least the ability to fake patience convincingly. Quick thinking. Butt muscles of steel. Oh, and a steady supply of vodka doesn’t hurt.

Just kidding. I’d never advise drinking on the job. We had chocolate for that. As for after the job…that’s a story for another time.

So all day long I sat there, taking call after call, for the patient customer service department. Guess what folks weren’t waiting twenty minutes on hold to say. “Gee, I had such a great experience last week. Thank you so much for your courteous and professional employees.” Did they meet courteous and professional employees? How should I know? They were calling me about their bill, and it was never – not once – because everything was hunky dory.

For your reading pleasure, here are a few of my most common calls.


me: Good morning, thank you for calling patient customer service at The Corporation. How may I help you?

caller: I got this bill and I want to know what the diagnosis means.

me: Ma’am, the doctor’s office puts diagnosis codes on their billing. You’ll need to contact your doctor to discuss that.

caller: I don’t want to discuss it, I just want to know what this code means.

me: Ma’am, I don’t have the ability to tell you what that code means (totally true, btw), you’ll have to contact your doctor.

caller: Give me a break! You can’t tell me you run these tests all the time and don’t know what V41 means!

me: Ma’am, we don’t have access to those –

caller: Dammit! [click]


me: Good morning, thank you for calling patient customer service at The Corporation. How may I help you?

caller: This bill is too much.

me: Alright, let’s look at the invoice.

caller: I’m only supposed to pay a $10 copay!

me: Yes, sir, but if you look at the third column you’ll find your insurance company denied a test as non-covered.

caller: So?

me: If a test is non-covered then it becomes the patient’s responsibility.

caller: Like hell! The doctor ordered it, I had to have it.

me: Yes, sir, then you’ll need to take that up with your insurance company.

caller: No, YOU need to take it up with them, I’m not paying. [click]


me: Good morning! Thank you for calling patient customer service at The Corporation. How may I help you?

caller: Hello?

me: Hello, ma’am. This is Laura. How may I help you?

caller: Hello??

me: Yes, ma’am. I’m here. How may I –

caller: HELLO?!? Charles, dammit, I can’t hear a thing, my hearing aid batteries must have died. Come over here and get this phone while I find some new ones!

me: [sigh]


Call centers. They’re not for the weak. And chocolate always helps.

Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday is always fun. This week’s prompt is “call. Use the word “call” or any word that contains those letters in that order.”