(Author's note: This story is based on Season 3, Episode 7 of The West Wing, "The Indians in the Lobby". No copyright infringment is intended.)
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Debbie hung up, hit the hold button, and stretched. Around her, the other team members were all on calls. Thanksgiving. Toughest time of the year. Which is why you can't slack for long. One more and you're done for the day. Come on girl, you're a pro, you can do it!
Okay, I'm ready. She took the phone off hold and, as always this time of year, it rang immediately.
"Hello, welcome to the Butterball Hotline."
Silence. Probably put me on speakerphone and went to do something else, she thought, glancing at the call info, they've been on hold for...44 minutes?! Damn! I hope they're in a good mood.
Debbie smiled brightly. "How can I help you, sir?"
"Well, first let me say, I think this is a wonderful service you provide."
Thank God, he wasn't mad. "Well, thank you. May I have your name, please?"
"I'm a citizen."
Weird answer, but after three years she'd heard it all. "I'm sure you are, sir, but if I have your name I can put your comments in our customer feedback form."
"I'm Joe Bethersonton. That's one 'T' and with an 'H' in there."
She typed it in, taking her best shot at the spelling. "And your address?"
As the call progressed, Debbie got an uneasy feeling. She would swear she'd heard this man's voice somewhere before. Never heard his name, though, she'd remember an odd one like that. "Thank you. Your voice sounds very familiar to me."
"I do radio commercials for...products."
"And how can I help you?"
The call continued, with some more weird bits. Mr. Bethersonton seemed a little...odd. A very smart man, clearly, but...odd. Actually, in the three years she'd been doing this job, she had to say this was definitely the oddest call she'd ever had. And his voice was still nagging her. Where had she heard him before? Not in an ad. He sounds so familiar...
"Very good, sir. You have a good Thanksgiving!"
"And you do, too. Thanks a lot!" Click. And that was that. She hung up and stretched again. A few of the other girls were getting their things together. 5:02. Done for the day. Now for home and some quality time with Chris and the kids. Half day tomorrow. She hated having to come into work on Thanksgiving, but hey, it's the Butterball Hotline, what do you expect?
She started to log out of the computer, then stopped. He didn't sound like a Midwesterner. He sounded like a New Englander. She knew all the regional accents by now, taking calls from all over the country. And he took so long, giving me his street address. Was he making it up? Why would he?
Debbie hesitated, staring at the call log for the last call, then clicked the button for the caller ID info. Huh. She was right. He wasn't from North Dakota. That was 701. This was 202, DC. 202-456-1414.
She wasn't supposed to surf the web at work, but she was off the clock now. She brought up the browser, clicked on search, typed it in.
And felt faint. Oh. My. God. His voice...that was... She stared at the screen in disbelief, her hand at her mouth.
"Thank you, ma'am. You have a good Thanksgiving!" Donna, at the next console, hung up and shook herself, loosening up, then glanced over. "Hey Debs. What's going on? You look like something weird just happened."
Debbie looked at her. No way. I can't tell her...she'd never believe it... She closed the browser. "Oh, nothing. Just a guy who was a little weird. Heard it all before, you know?" She smiled and shrugged.
"Yeah, know what you mean. Well, see you tomorrow."