Do Not Ignore

Sanam - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: golden rule

Always pick up the phone, this is one lesson that I have learned with time. Working at a teen-to-teen hotline, you’d be inclined to think that most of the incoming phone calls are from young teenagers who have just had their hearts broken or who are contemplating suicide. Yet, from my time volunteering at this hotline, I learned a lesson not from someone who had a broken heart or someone who was suicidal, but rather a young girl who simply wanted someone to talk to; and so, I believe in always picking up the phone.

It was a “slow night”, meaning that we had not gotten many calls that night, and it seemed as though nothing interesting was going to happen. However, around eight o’clock the hotline got a call and I happened to be the one answering the phone. The caller was a teenage girl, around fourteen or fifteen. I had the impression that she would want to rant to me for hours and, to be honest, I wasn’t in the mood to hear anyone’s problems. Yet, she didn’t complain that a boy had broken her heart or that she was angry with some girl, she simply spoke to me as though she were talking to a friend on the other line. She spoke so calmly and naturally, that I almost mistook her voice for a friend’s. As volunteers, we are constantly advised to listen. Just listen. Yes, it may be something that we aren’t interested in or that we completely disagree with, but it is of utmost importance that we simply keep ours ears open and our mouths shut.

The caller began talking about her school and that she had no friends and felt as though she was invisible, standing in a cloud of loneliness. She told me how she and her family had moved from a foreign country and how fellow classmates ridiculed her because of her accent and her traditional ways of life. Why did this girl have to be ridiculed? I remember in school when we were taught the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. What has happened to this saying? Do we no longer respect one another?

But still, when I say this I myself am a hypocrite. I ridicule, I mock, and I do what others do. Yet, as cliché as it may sound, we should always be there for one another. For who knows when you may desperately need the help of a particular person. As tempting as it is to simply press the ignore key, we must resist that temptation and answer to that person whose name and number flashes feverishly on the telephone screen. It is important to listen, because we always say what may be on our mind and don’t take the time to process the feelings and emotions of others. And so, I believe in always picking up the phone and hopefully by listening we can reestablish the “Golden Rule”.