Will You Be OK?

“Will you be OK?” That was the question I couldn’t quite believe I had just heard from the person at the other end of the phone. Did she know something I didn’t?

I had just called my bank to transfer some money and was asked for the usual identifying information–and then a bit more. Even though I find this annoying at times, I try to remind myself how happy I would be if these same questions were being asked of someone trying to access my account who was not me.

After asking all of these identifying questions, the bank person apparently had more hoops to go through at her end…or maybe this was her first day and she had to find out what to do next. She said she needed to put me on hold…and that’s when she asked the weird question of the day. “Will you be OK?” I laughed, and said I hoped so.

Then I started to think. What were the things that could happen while I was on hold that would make me “not OK?”

I suppose I could lose consciousness.

I could have a panic attack over latent abandonment issues brought to the fore by being left on hold.

I could choke on the stalk of celery I had started to crunch on, anticipating a wait of at least five minutes, and since no one would be at the other end of the line to hear my silence of distress, it could be days before I was ever found.

I could spill hot coffee in my lap and then try to sue the bank because it was the direct result of my having been put on hold that I had the time to attempt drinking the cup that would have cooled longer, had I not been put on hold.

Or, I could just generally freak out and lose it because of being in hold limbo yet one more time…and sue the bank for having pushed me over the edge. (I’m thinking that somehow it had to be money–the bank’s, not mine–that was the real motivation in asking the question.)

What more could she have been imagining when she asked the question? I really do hate to think.

I wish I had thought to ask her how many of her clients had not been OK when she’s returned after putting them on hold to find their previously OK status reduced to ‘seriously not OK’…or simply ‘gone.’

I’ll bet that happens a lot–people vanish into the ‘hold’ ethers, leaving the person who put them there in the first place wondering forevermore if the now somehow departed were ‘OK’…or not. That could lead to life-long sessions of psychotherapy just contemplating the potentially life-altering ramifications of being put on hold, and more than that, the stress of being the one to actually be placing people in that perilous state. No wonder this rep asked me that question. She was trying to save herself from another round of treatment for her guilt complex for having lost another soul that she had left holding and unattended.

What makes me definitely ‘not OK’ in these holding pattern circumstances is to be on hold and then to be inexplicably severed from the system–cut off without warning–and the person who placed me on hold likely never knows that I was not to blame for my ultimate absence.

But there I was, holding and still OK when this rep returned. I noticed she didn’t ask how I had fared during her leave–probably didn’t want to push her luck. But she did seem relieved, and perhaps a bit surprised, that I was still there and intact, and not overwrought or disappeared.

Maybe that’s it–maybe I am of a rarified breed that actually hangs on when put on hold. Maybe others refuse the ignominy of being wait listed for information that should not have required a wait.

Come to think of it, that rep was very lucky to have come across me. Maybe I’m now famous, if only in her mind–“The Woman Who Stayed on Hold and Came Out OK.” I do hope this is not how my 15 minutes of fame was squandered. What a waste.

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