I work in a large retirement community. Customer service is the key product that we offer in such an environment and the fact that I am system administrator in the IT department doesn’t insulate me from helping the residents; in fact I often am called upon to help residents with their “computer” needs and questions.

A couple weeks ago I received a note from the concierge desk indicating one of the residents needed help with her iPad; the note indicated she couldn’t remember the password to her iPad. The cynical side of me thinks “oh fucking well, too bad” but the customer service side picks up the phone and rings the resident in her apartment. On the other end of the line I hear a woman answer and speak to me in a very thick German accent and she informs that she isn’t having any problems at all so we hang up.

An hour or so later I get another message this time from the resident’s daughter and she gives me more details about the real problem: her mother needs help getting FaceTime to work in her iPad. That’s a hell of a lot different than forgetting the password to her iPad. The daughter is currently bedridden and hadn’t been able to visit her mom recently and would like to use FaceTime for its obvious benefits.

I offer to go to the resident’s apartment and see what I can do…. after she returns from German club.

At the appointed time, I begin the long walk to her apartment. Hers is literally the farthest apartment away from desk. Multiple flights of stairs, three buildings away, she could not be farther away. I knock. No answer. I knock again. No answer. I can hear her in her apartment. Dammit. Why do they do this? Just open the door! I didn’t bring her phone number so I can’t call from my cell…. I make the long walk back to my desk to call her again…. she answers after one ring. I make arrangements to visit (again) and make the long trek back to her apartment. (Seriously, it’s a long walk).

This time she answers the door and I introduce myself. She lets me in and points to her iPad. Turns out the real issue is twofold: she doesn’t know what FaceTime is and she doesn’t know her Apple ID or password.

I spend about 15 minutes going through and verifying that her password is nowhere to be found and resetting it via email (luckily her iCloud email was still receiving emails). I set the password to something somewhat easy to remember, notate it in my notes, and proceed to configure FaceTime.

It was an abnormally warm and sunny day so the resident opened her patio door to let fresh air in and she commented that it was a lovely day. I said I could hear the birds outside chirping… she looked at me with a blank look and that’s I when I noticed she had hearing aids…. she probably didn’t hear the birds… 🙁

When FaceTime is successfully configured I do a test by clicking on the only name I see in the resident’s available contacts list….. her daughter.

Being bedridden her daughter is available and answers right away. I am now having a FaceTime conversation with someone I don’t know and up till this point had been no more than a source of work as I perform this task I view as kind of below me.

And then I turn the iPad screen toward the resident and she sees her daughter on the screen and all of sudden this quiet, old lady who had maintained a plain composure the whole time is grinning ear to ear at the sight of her daughter’s face looking back at her from the iPad screen.

That made my day. I felt good. The chemistry in my brain went nuts and released happy thoughts. Mother and daughter were able to see each other for a chat and I was part of making that happen. I was elated. Seeing the joy on her face was worth all the work and the long walk(s) required to make her happy.

I let myself out as mother and daughter were both too excited to pay any more attention to me and I went back to my desk, heart full of happiness.

And then not a minute after I get back to my desk that lovely feeling is wiped away by a call from the sales team saying they can’t print…. sales people and printer problems can ruin even the most joyful of moments…


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