I had finished my training and been accepted as a telephone counsellor and was now sitting in the cubicle waiting for my first call.
Everything I had learned to prepare me for each type of call was running chaotically through my mind. I had notes in front of me to refer to as well: Emergency, Suicide, Domestic Violence, Child abuse, Partnership breakdown, Death and Grief, Problem Solving process, and more.
Ring ring! ring ring!
This is it.
Shakily I picked up the handpiece and answered in the correct manner, remembering the rhyme: ‘smile when you answer the phone, it gives your voice a softer tone’.
The caller did not respond. I gently repeated that I was there for them, and immediately heard a large sigh.
A little gap and I tried again. This time a moan sounded.
My thoughts were frantically racing and my heart pumping. Oh my gosh – this caller is in trouble. I told myself – stay calm, take some deep slow breaths. I signalled for my supervisor to come over.
The moaning became faster and more urgent. I looked up at my supervisor and whispered: “emergency”
She had a quick listen and then with a sneaky smile on her face wrote one word on my note-pad ‘M……ator’.
I was embarrassed and disappointed when it finally dawned on me that my first Helpline call would be classified as ‘A Nuisance Call’.