In case some of this random group of people who have never ever met me in the real world aren't aware, I work in an outsourced call center answering customer service calls for an internet company.

I was taking calls yesterday, devoting the normal fraction of my attention that it takes to recognize the horribly predictable excuses that customers have to offer me on why we should offer them a product without asking anything from them, when I get a call from a soft-spoken and seemingly very kind lady.

I asked her to verify her name and address, as I am required to do, and she stumbled and stuttered over her street name and zip code. I laughed a bit, and explained that I understood, it had been a long week and I was barely capable of speaking coherently myself.

The lady thanked me, and explained that she was very frazzled. She explained that a family member had died, and that she was not able to make it to the funeral, which upset her, and times had been very difficult since her husband had passed away eight years ago, and really the only thing she had left in life was talking with her friends on the internet... ... ...

At this point, she began weeping.

In case you're wondering, she had called b/c her account had been suspended pending a payment of $18.90.

I had no idea what to do. I told her it was OK, I was here to help her, but the heart-wrenching sobs from the other end didn't cease. I put the phone on mute, and listened to this poor woman sob her heart and soul out to me. Pure, unadulterated sorrow was pouring through my headset, and there wasn't a damn thing I can do about it. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..." she cried over and over again, while she helplessly wept.

I listened to her for about eight minutes, before I came back on and asked if she was OK.

I wish I would have had something to say. Something pure, and true, and able to take the crushing pain from this broken woman. But I didn't.

A heart filled with human compassion, and a voice that can't express even an inkling of it to a creature that needed it. I've never felt so goddamned helpless.

So I did the only thing I could do.

I helped her get on the internet. I told her what was wrong with her account.

Soft and frightened: "I don't have any money... My social security check isn't here yet..." ::sounds of valiantly, but ultimately futilely, suppressed sobs::

Normally, I would have told them "too bad". But as little as it seemed, the only thing I could give to this person was a way to get back online. A way back to the only pleasure left in her life.

I helped her set up a new account. I told her it would come with a free month, and that she could use that, and just let the other account cancel out on it's own.

In all my life, with every drop of blood and sweat and tears that I've given to these delightful beings that enliven and frustrate me the way the do, I've never had someone be more thankful for me than this woman. For something as simple as setting her up with an account, and turning a blind eye to less than twenty bucks she owed a company that I have no loyalty to, she offered me her deepest gratitude, and even called on her higher power to bless me for doing this for her.

I don't know if this faceless lady knows, but she changed a person that day. After seeing such sorrow and pain in a person's life, it's easier to remember that I am strong and alive, and that the mate I have chosen in life is strong and healthy with me, and that I have friends and family in my life to lift me up when I can't carry myself any longer.

Just know that I am thankful for you all, and I am ashamed that it took the tears of someone I've never met to really make me stop and think about just how fortunate I am.

I am ashamed that I was not able to reach out and touch this woman's heart, not in the way I wanted to. I can only hope that the little bit I gave in my tongue-tied confusion was enough to get her to a place where she could find what she needed.

I really do.