In the building where I work, on the second floor, are a group of younger people who work for a collections agency.
Yesterday afternoon, I stepped outside for a cigarette and was approached by a very young man who asked me if I had a light. I obliged him, he thanked me, and then he stood a few feet away gabbing with someone on his cell phone, while I just sort of dazed out, enjoying the sunshine of the spring afternoon.
As I was about to repair to the lobby of the building I heard him say, "I'm so stressed out." Smiling sympathetically, but as benignly as possible, I nodded my head and said, "A lot of that going around".
Thinking that this was his cue to engage me, the young man approached me and started telling me his tale of woe.
It seems that he worked for that collections agency on the third floor, "Man, all day long people are yelling at you, it really takes it's toll", he said puffing on his cigarette.
I replied, "I feel your pain, I'm a social worker, so I get some grief too".
"Sometimes it's just too much", he said nervously laughing.
"So quit, and find something else", I said, "You're young."
"Yeah but the commission we get is great!", again that nervous laugh, and then he added, "But I'm good at what I do, I can be very aggressive...but legally!"
"What do you mean aggressive but legally", I asked.
He went on to explain the do's and don'ts of dunning. He contradicted himself a lot, but I let him go on.
When he was through, I said, "Well, if you're good at what you do, I guess that's all that matters. But still, it must be tough calling people and asking for money".
He laughed out loud and nodding his head said, "Oh man, you don't know the half of it! " and then he added -- and here comes the punchline -- "You know what's funny? I owe Chase Manhattan about two thousand, and they were calling me for months on my cell phone, so I had my number changed!"
His words hung in the air and the sun kept shining. I shook my head in disbelief and smiled the smile of someone who can't believe what he has just heard.
The best I could come out with was, "Hmm".
And then I said, "Well, see ya later", and I walked back into the building.