A call I can never forget

One afternoon, years ago, while I was manning a service line, I received a call from a man. He called to check on the account balance of his son. When he called, the account was already about 3 months overdue.

When I requested him to get his son to call back, he calmly told me that his son had recently died. He did not mention when but mentioned that he died in an accident. I was shocked and speechless. I was also in a difficult position as we are not in the liberty of revealing information to any third party. But I did ask a series of questions about his son, which he could answer as he also happened to have some of his son’s statements with him. I thought to myself, the call should be genuine as who in their right mind would make a sick joke out of this.

I told him the account was a few months overdue and the old man apologised, mentioning that he was busy with the funeral arrangements earlier to have time to call. He had called because he had wanted to settle the account and did not want his son to owe anyone any money.

As I go through his son’s account, I felt so sad. That young man, who was only 3 years older than me had to die so young. Only about 3 months before, there were transactions coming in from places like Coffee Bean and other places like clothing shops, groceries- just like any regular customers. Who knew that 3 months later, he’ll be gone. He had also been a good customer, always been paying on time and normally in full payment.

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All the while, the father sounded composed. At first, I suggested he write in with a copy of his son’s death certificate- but the caller told me that all he wanted was just to clear his son’s account and then request for closure. He just asked me to give him the lump sum and not the breakdown. As I felt so sad for the father, understanding the sorrow he could have felt since I had also lose a loved one not long ago, I quickly calculated the amount and told him, “Your son currently owes XX. But why not like this, Mr ___, I’ll waive all the interest and late charges on your son’s account. Your son had always been a good paymaster and a valued customer with us and that’s the least I could do. You just need to pay whatever he had used, that’s ___ after deducting all the charges.”

There was a short pause of silence. Then, it’s suddenly followed by sobbing sounds from the other line. The sobs from the grieving father really broke my heart. I could hear that he tried very hard to compose himself as fast as he can. He then apologised and thanked me and then quickly said goodbye.

After a few weeks, I checked the account again. The account was closed- with an indication that we have received the copy of the customer’s death certificate sent in by the father. The balance had also been paid in full.

Until today, I can never forget that call. It’s one of those defining moments that changes your life- we can never tell the future- anything may happen. Never take your life or those around you for granted. Make your life worthwhile and meaningful. Don’t waste time in grudges and regrets.

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