Following the Routine

Customer-service reps repeat the same tired phrases so often that we can do the job in our sleep. We hear a beep telling us a customer’s on the line, and we’re on. I never knew how this humdrum routine affected us until a co-worker had heart surgery.

She was coming to, following her operation, when she heard the beep of the heart monitor. In her anesthetized stupor, she groggily said, "This is Sue. Can I help you?"