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Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:34 am

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The time on the wall clock read 2:45 a.m., but Nanthan couldn’t sleep. In fact, he dared not, at least not while he was still in the office.

He suppressed a yawn. The graveyard shift was always difficult, despite the fact that he had been at his job for over six months already. It was just one of those things that he learned how to cope with, but never fully got used to.

The red light and beeping sound on his comm indicated an incoming call. Nanthan pressed the receive button and spoke into the microphone of his headset with a crisp American English accent.

“Hello, this is Hyper Solutions. How may I help you?”

“Hyper Solutions?“ an old woman’s voice replied. “Oh, I’m sorry. I think I dialed the wrong number.”

“That’s quite all right, Ma’am,” he responded. “Which number or company are you trying to reach? Perhaps I may be of assistance.”

The woman paused. “Actually, I’m not looking for a company. I thought this was my son’s number.”

“I see.”

“You know, you sound a bit like he does.”

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

“I know you’re probably busy, but would you mind very much if we chatted for a minute?”

Nanthan blinked. He knew that if he attended to the needs of this lady, it would mean putting other customers with business-related concerns on hold. His head said no, but something in his heart urged him on.

“I don’t mind at all, Ma’am,” he said.

The woman heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank you. It can get very lonely here, you know.”

“You’re very welcome, Ma’am. I understand where you’re coming from. We’re here to serve our customers, after all.”

“That’s very kind of you, young man,” the old woman told him. “I wish more people were as kind as you are.”

“Thank you for your kind words, Ma’am.”

“Can you tell me a little more about your company?”

Nanthan happily obliged. After several minutes, the old woman politely interrupted him.

“I have a confession to make,” she said. “I was just testing you, actually. My son’s name is Santhan Kumar. I wanted to find out what his people were like. Sorry for deceiving you somewhat.”

Nanthan did a double take. Santhan was the owner of the company.

“No problem, Mrs. Santhan,” he managed.

“Keep up the great work. Thank you so much again. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Mrs. Santhan.”

Nanthan grinned. He would definitely be sleeping better that morning.

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