"So, welcome," the team manager said, "to the team here at the Safe Hotline."
Others in the office also said hi, some just nodding. I smiled and nodded. The Safe Hotline was a mental health hotline that people could call if they felt they needed someone to speak to about mental health issues, and they -- well, we, now -- would try to assist as best as we could. This would sometimes include calling police for their own protection, just talking with them for a while and offering a listening ear, or even getting them in touch with those who could help them even more.
"Your work station's over here," she said as she pointed at a desk in the corner, "and Jesse will be your work buddy, get you started and all that. Your work stations are adjacent."
Jesse raised a hand and smiled. I smiled back and nodded again.
After a round of shaking hands, Jesse and I walked to our work stations and I sat down. After logging in and setting up my computer using the provided guide, Jesse looked over.
"You ready for some instructions?" he said.
"So the calls come in randomly, and the system picks up on the phone number automatically once you take a call. Any previous calls will be shown and you have about half a minute before the caller really comes through. This is so you can prepare."
"Yeah, I've done the training, I've seen it before."
"Good. So, I'm sorry if this is an odd question, but may I ask why you wanted to work here? I heard you said this place was special to you?"
My throat clenched. I coughed a little to loosen it up and turned to Jesse.
"It's okay. Safe is special to me. A couple of years ago, my mom was in a bad place -- suffering from depression -- and since it was just the two of us, there was nobody who could really help me help her. So I used to call here from time to time and it really helped. One of the last calls was when I was put into contact with a psychologist who was specialized in depression, and it changed everything from there."
Jesse looked at me intently and had been nodding along. But when I mentioned the psychologist I noticed a change in facial expression.
"Wait. You're that Alex?" Jesse said slightly quietly.
"What do you mean, am I that Alex?" I said just as quietly.
"I thought I recognized your name, but I didn't connect it until now. Alex Montrose, mother's name Elise?"
I looked at Jesse and suddenly something clicked. I did recognize the voice.
"I talked to you a few times, actually. I had just started working here back then, and I was the one who helped you get your mother into therapy."
"You're that Jesse?"
I must have looked like an idiot, staring at Jesse like I did, but this brought back a lot of emotions from back then. A thankfulness for all of the help, a shoulder to lean on, not having to do it alone.
But most of all, that because of the Safe Hotline, there even was a psychologist to help my mother cope and improve bit by bit over the years. There'll always be times when things to bad, but they've never gotten as bad as it was back then again.
"I think you saved my mom's life. And mine. I've never been able to thank you."
"Don't thank me. Just promise me you'll do your best to do the same for someone else."
I smiled and nodded yet again. Time to give back.