By Sister Nancy Linenkugel, OSF
It was one of those hidden blessings that I never expected in a million years. After several power outages in the neighborhood where I live due to weather, I was having issues with the cable TV and internet, provided by the same carrier. After almost daily calls to customer service and actually getting the same rep two nights in a row – which is incredible since there’s a huge network of customer service centers across the country—my final in the string-of-calls landed me with a helpful rep named Sarah.
Calling the 800 service number can be a lengthy process depending on how busy the cable service is. I ignored the customary invitation to opt for a rep to call me once someone was available, deciding instead to take my chances that I had mastered the right sequence of automatic phone choices in order to get to a live rep. After four prior days of calling the number, I felt like a pro sailing through the commands.
It wasn’t long when rep Sarah answered. She quickly brought up a computer screen at her end and read to me the notes from the prior calls, interjecting an “oh my” several times. “Goodness, we’ve got to fix this situation so you can stop calling!” a pleasant Sarah responded.
We exchanged several questions and answers in order for her to better pinpoint corrective action. After a few minutes of giving me instructions about what to do with the cable box and the modem, she said, “OK, I think we’ve about completed the repair. I just need to have a supervisor verify everything and sign off to authorize the settings I changed. Would you mind staying on the line for a few more minutes? I’ll be here, too.”
So we both stayed on the line and Sarah continued to chat. I told her that of all the company reps I’d encountered on phone calls over the past week, she was the most helpful and really took charge of the situation. She thanked me and said, “I’m glad to help. This is what we’re supposed to do. But this is part of my culture. I’m from the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, one of the original Iroquois clans. Oneida women are expected to help. Do you know anything about us?” Sarah asked. “Not really,” I said.
Sarah continued, “We Oneida are a matriarchal society. Women are in charge of farming, property, and family, while men are in charge of hunting, trading, and war. Although men represent the clans at the Great Council, it’s only the women who elect them. In our society, women are the keepers of the faith and of the news.” We talked about that for a bit.
It wasn’t long when Sarah confirmed that a supervisor had approved all the system changes to my home equipment, so she instructed me to do a few more checks and then we were finished. I thanked her for the experience and for sharing so much about her Oneida world. Along the way I had told her I was a Franciscan nun, so we felt a special bond when it comes to keeping the faith.
“I, too, thank you for the call,” responded Sarah. “I talk with hundreds of customers every day and this call was one of the most uplifting for me, too. I know a little about your St. Francis and his love of nature. We believe that a great turtle carries the world. We both have big responsibilities in our faith pathways, so it’s good to know that I have a partner in this endeavor across the miles. All the best.”
“To you, too,” I say, “and may our faith keeping result in faith giving.”