So I used to work in a call center back in the day and ended up quitting weeks shy of my fifth anniversary. Let me tell you, though, saying that it was an eye-opening experience has to be the understatement of a lifetime. I learned in real-time during those many months that communication has nothing to do with what we say but what we hear. And while as an individual, I thought I had an excellent command of the English language, many days, I went home feeling like my elevator didn't go to the top floor.
At first, it was all kicks and giggles, as though it was curated for the newbies to be routed the colourful folks—you know, baptism by fire, I called it. Like, how were they doing this to us? How was it that every day, things I thought were standard verbiage became complex that I had to water it down? No lie, I was so excited for the opportunity to walk people through issues. Me, a problem solver. A superhero in my own right. #avengerassemble Yet, I walked away from that experience, second-guessing everything I said before I said it, and I developed the annoying habit of over-explaining.
By year 2, I was over it. You know it was pure mayhem and madness when, as a group, we would compile a list of the most classic customer responses. Typical conversations went like this:
Agent: Thank you for calling Whatcha-ma-call-it Inc., Raquel speaking, how may I assist?
Customer: Yea, Miss, this box isn't working.
Agent: Okay, when you say it's not working exactly, what is it not doing?
Customer: Miss, I say it's not working. Nothing is on the box! Nothing!
Agent: Okay, when you say nothing, do you mean the box is not powering on, or are you not getting a picture?
Customer: No, no picture.
Agent: Very well, what message do you see on the screen?
Customer: Nothing, Miss, Nothing at all, it's blank.
Agent: Can you tell me then what colour is the screen?
Customer: Miss, it's blank, it's clear!
Agent: Ma'am, what colour is clear? Is it yellow, is it gray? Is it black or white?
Customer: No, all it says is to 'per-subscribe,' call you'll.
For the record, that message only appeared on a neon yellow screen with cobalt blue and red writing.
I absolutely loved working in Customer Support! And when I say love, I say that with all the sarcasm I can muster. Every day I discovered that there really are at least one thousand exciting ways that challenge the depth of what I considered intellect or the lack thereof. No matter how simple I thought I asked a question, customers found new ways to make me question my level of understanding.
While I was there, I learned that words aren't the same to everyone in every situation. It indeed came down not how you say it, but more importantly, it's what you say. Whenever I think I'd simplified the English language down to the lowest common denominator, along comes another person adding one more dimension to the already complex language. Because the presence of a clear and concise message, "Call Whatca-ma-call-it Inc.," really means there is "nothing" on the screen. But wait, there's more!
After a while, we agents had to realize that blank and clear were primary colours. The power cord is not the same as the plug. The word initialize must begin with the letter 'T,' hence the constant enunciation – 'tantalizing.' And it took me a minute to realize 'wi-five' was really Wi-Fi. But wait, there's more.
You're the 43rd person in a queue, with repetitious reruns of products and services offered by the company you're calling, saying its name over and repeatedly. Yet when you finally get a live person, your first question is, "Hi, is this Whatcha-ma-call-it Inc.?" (insert deep sigh) So I sit there thinking, 'Really?' Can it honestly get any worse? But wait, there's more!
"Sir, can you kindly power the box off and on, please?" Only to hear this reply, "How do I do that?" Or better yet, a customer demanding, vehemently, "Miss, please remove the free-on-demand from my bill, 'cause it never works." My inner response: "Ma'am, the operative word there is "FREE!" But then again, the word 'operative' may very well go over her head too.
I eventually realized that I was having great difficulty expressing my thoughts clearly. I started using illogical expressions and having incomplete thoughts, using words out of context, further confusing the listener, who is apparently now VERY lost in translation. How frustrating it is to speak and not have someone understand. This environment was getting contagious, and I was losing my sparkle in this crayon box. But, yes, you guessed it, there's more.
"Miss, why is my cable off?" "Well, ma'am, you're pending disconnection for a past due amount of $90.00." "What!! $90.00? That's what you'll turn me off for?" "Well, yes, ma'am! Your monthly bill is $30.00, which would mean we've not received a payment from you for 3 months. According to our contract, that's grounds for disconnection." "Well, my sister's bill is almost $400.00, and she's not off!" Sigh, a classic example of looking at someone's green grass but never considering their water bill.
There were days I took the scenic route home, looking at the crystal blue water, wondering if I, Miss-Articulate-Encyclopedia-Brown, was the problem? Was I not as bright as I thought myself to be? Could I, in fact, be the wise fool?
Wise people possess the ability to discern and judge what is true or right; they have discernment, judgment, and discretion. Fools lack wisdom or awareness and reject the truth.
While you don't know what you don't know, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know compared to all the available information. I'll tell ya many times I sat on my tuffet harshly judging those folks calling in. But what if they were seriously exercising that rule teachers taught us, that there is no such thing as a stupid question. What if their inquiries were genuine from their place of not knowing?
For example, it's not uncommon for some items to come with what we deem 'obvious' instructions. #soeasyacavemancandoit "Do not iron clothes on the body." "Do not drive a car or operate machinery after use." "Do not operate near water!"
I don't know anyone in churchdom who doesn't think of Solomon when we talk about wisdom. Now, I'm not saying Solomon was a fool; I'm just asking, "But how did he finish, though?" While he was the crown jewel among the gems of wisdom, fam ended on a real wonky note.
It is not my intention to imply that Solomon wasn't a good leader or that he didn't have God's Spirit at one point. Despite being wise for a long time, he soon began to trust himself more than God. Listen, ignorance (not knowing) is one thing, but outright going against what you know is right is pure dumbness!
Why am I saying all of this? Could it be that when we ask God questions, He answers them, but we're not listening? Could it be that He's giving you instructions, but because you expect Him to just zap it with his abracadabra and fix it, you ignore the obvious? Could it be that He's given you an extensive manual that you refuse to read because, hey, you know everything, right? I'm sure if I played back many of my prayer times, it would sound a lot like a conversation between an agent and a customer.
What I found most common with folks calling in is that they hardly wanted to be bothered by the exercise of helping themselves. "No, I don't want to power off the box. I'm paying you, so you come and do it!" #whatyouthought Paying the bill (which I am not discounting) was all they felt they needed to do. For many Christians, I suppose we think, "Well, I'm saved now; what more does Jesus expect me to do?"
But if we look closely, everything needed to help a person out of their situation was within reach, but they had to do something. Naaman had to dip seven times, but he had to go to the river (see 2 Kings 5). The widow with the oil had to borrow jars from her neighbours (2 Kings 4). For the feeding of the 5,000, a boy had his lunch (5 loaves and 2 fish), but he had to give it (John 6). And those who didn't have to do something physically had to believe. Biblically, a fool is not someone who lacks intelligence but someone who does not believe. Do you really take God at His word?
So I ask, how many more things will God have to do for you to take Him at His word? How many more times will you see the neon screen telling you to call your service provider, and you ignore it? How many more obvious questions will you ask God when He has already given you the answer?
Solomon could have chosen anything - courage, strength, even fame or money. But he asked for wisdom that would give him the knowledge to make the right decisions. He was so wise that he discerned everything in life is a matter of vanity; yet, vanity was still the thing that caused his demise. Fools aren't fools because they don't know, but they are those who know but don't do.
Listen, all of us have had our questionable moments, some more than others. All I'm saying is let Solomon's life be a lesson to you that you will never reach a place in your life where you don't need God. Your dependence on Him will always distinguish you between those who take their lamps with no oil and those who do (see Matthew 25).