Quick Note. The prior installment is here.
"I would like to make sure my intern is covered on my health insurance," the voice announced after giving her employee ID.
Rita flipped over to the company summary for the client. No specific intern provisions listed there. "Is your intern employed 35 hours a week with the company?" Rita asked.
"No, only twenty. He's also a student," the caller said.
"Okay, your company does not provide benefits to part time employees," Rita said.
"That's ridiculous. He can't work more than he does, he's in school," the caller said.
Rita nodded even though the woman obviously wouldn't be able to see her. It was a habit she had started in school so teachers wouldn't accuse her of daydreaming and now she did it even talking to people on the phone, or on giant video chat town halls, where the CEO likely didn't care that the HR rep on page three was paying attention.
"Okay," the woman's voice had gotten softer as if she didn't want to be overheard. "What if he was living with me? Would I be able to add him to my coverage?"
Rita checked the company rules again. "You could add him to your coverage if he was your spouse," she said.
"He is not my spouse, what a ridiculous suggestion. I can't even - young lady, you should really think about the things you say before you say them."
The click told Rita she wouldn't need to worry about a response.
Rita saw the email pop up, just as she was sending her notes about the errors on a client's medical file. It was from her manager Carla. "Please give me a call, when you have a moment."
Rita took a breath. Carla was a reasonable manager, but Rita had never been able to get rid of that flash of panic that came.
Carla sent her a video chat link and reminded her to set her status so no phone calls came through while they were talking.
"Hey, Rita, nothing to serious," Carla said from her home office. "I just wanted to check in on how things were going now that you've taken on some additional duties."
"It's going well," Rita said. They talked a bit about some of the files Rita had been working on. Somehow Rita couldn't quite shake the feeling that this was a conversation with a hidden dimension. In call center training they had talked about how callers sometimes start with what they think is the easy part of their question, and then slowly unfurl the true question and that savvy customer service sometimes meant giving space for that to be revealed.
"That's so good to hear," Carla said. "Oh, and I know we've talked about your love of reading. Do you read a lot of romance?"
Rita smiled. "Of course. Need any recommendations?"
"Always," Carla said. "But I wondered, have you ever thought about writing any?"
Rita shook her head. "Nope. I tried once, but I can't even write fanfic that lasts longer than a scene. A whole book is way beyond me. Are you thinking of writing?"
"Oh no," Carla said. "No time for that. I was just curious."
Rita nodded like and made a mental note to send Rita some reading recommendations. She had just read an awesome space romance that she thought would be right up Carla's alley.
Rita opened up the chat and then thought of Eden's worries about the corporate overlords. And well, she still thought Eden was paranoid, but that didn't mean Eden was wrong.
She DM'd Eden: Okay if I text you? Or call?
Eden: Phone duty so text.
Rita: [thumbs up]
Rita pulled out her phone and texted Eden.
Rita: So, chatted with Carla.
Eden: [eyes emoji]
Rita: It was fine. But she asked me if I had ever thought about writing a book which seemed weird. I thought maybe she wanted to start writing, but no.
Eden: Well, you do read a lot. Your Storygraph is like goals.
Rita: Thanks! Yeah, it could be that. Hope the callers are being nice to you today.
Rita decided she was clearly overthinking it. Carla was just being friendly. Good managers were friendly.