Seven Pounds of Rude


by Mel Dawn

When you work in customer service, a certain degree of rudeness is expected. Call answer agents and telemarketers know that most people are good, but there’s that 1% who ruin it for everyone. A telephone customer service agent must be one of the most stressful jobs available today, yet as more and more jobs are lost, the telephone customer service agent field has been growing. All businesses need someone to man the telephones to answer questions and take orders. Some even have telemarketers who’ll call potential customers.

But the life of a customer service rep is hardly glamorous. Even the best days can be ruined by a rude customer. There’s that one customer you just can’t please. They contradict everything you say. They talk over you so you can’t have a say. Or worse, they swear and belittle you. And sometimes, you’ll answer in kind, then hang up on them.

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There’s that old saying to never judge, until you’ve walked a mile in a man’s shoes. Is it possible that some of these terribly rude people are also having a bad day? Perhaps their Dad died, or maybe they’re getting a divorce. Mind you, after how they just talked to you, that’s no surprise. Or, perhaps they’re battling cancer. We all know that chemotherapy can make a patient extremely ill, and they could lash out at someone in anger.

Is it right to treat someone poorly, just because you don’t feel well? We’ve all heard of cases of terminally ill patients whose personalities don’t change, they are still as sweet and likable as when they were well. They valued the saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Why do some people go off the bend, while others don’t?

In the “Seven Pounds” film, starring popular actors Will Smith and Woody Harrelson, there’s a good example of rude behavior. This is a puzzling film, with a twist ending.

In the film, Woody Harrelson plays the blind telemarketer for a meat firm.

Since even blind people must have jobs to make a living, this is the best choice for him. Ezra received a phone call from Tim Thomas. We assume he wants to place an order, so his family can have a BBQ. But something goes wrong during the phone call. When Tim doesn’t get his own way, he raises his voice and proceeds to ream out Ezra. You can see Ezra is starting to get upset. His eyes start watering. But as Tim continues belittling him, Ezra forces himself to remain calm. Tim does not alter the behavior of Ezra, as Ezra remains in control. The phone call ends and Ezra tells Tim, “Thank you for calling, and have a nice day.” Not once does Ezra consider hanging up on him.

What possesses people to treat others the way they do? Was the meat order really that important to Tim? Couldn’t he have just driven down to the local supermarket? Did he really want to order the meat, or did he just want to call a customer service agent, to have someone to yell at?

It’s easy to treat someone at the other end of the telephone like dirt. That’s how many couple’s break up. You can’t see them, and you can’t view their emotions. It can get out of hand.

As it turns out in the film, we learn that Tim has been in a bad car accident, where his fiancee died, and several others lost their lives as well. We feel a touch of sympathy for Tim. Did he lose control, as he was talking to a stranger on the telephone? Maybe he used to have BBQs with his fiancee, and it was really important to him. He may even be mentally unstable after the car accident. Was it a valid reason for being rude to a stranger?

We also find out that Tim has donated a lung lobe to his ill brother Tim. That’s great, maybe Tim isn’t such a bad person after all. Even the best human being is going to yell at someone on occasion right? Because we all have our disasters in life. Show me one person who has a stress-free life and I can show you the person in a cemetery. Because only a dead person has a stress-free life.

We saw Ezra, our favorite call-answer agent visibly upset by his phone call. There were tears in his eyes. He was quite unsettled. Perhaps he had to get off the telephone for a bit after that. Ezra is obviously a good person. Why are people so mean?

Tim’s next activity is to donate a kidney to a junior hockey coach. Once again, we’re puzzled. Is this character unbalanced? Why can he be rude to one person, and nice to another one?

It turns out that in the film, Tim has a good reason why he was rude to Ezra on the telephone.

He was rude to Ezra on purpose. Tim was trying to find out what sort of character Ezra had. Would Ezra break down and start being rude back at him? Would he also yell and swear and hang up on him? Now, why exactly would someone want to find out if another person is good, by being rude to them?

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Tim needs to find out if Ezra is a good person, as he’s going to donate his eyes so that Ezra can see again.

This is the big secret of the film, kept until the end. Tim was text messaging on his phone, when he caused a big car accident, where seven people died, including his fiancee. He’s been so guilt-ridden over the incident, that he’s been donating his live organs to patients in need: skin, bone marrow, kidney, lung lobe, and part of his liver. We’re a bit shocked he’s going to lose his eyes, but that’s the price of penitence.

The twist ending of the film shows him committing suicide, so that the last of his organs can be donated to deserving organ recipients, including Ezra. The Seven Pounds title of the film refers to seven pounds of organ harvesting.

The reason why Tim was rude to Ezra was so he could find out if he was deserving of his eyes. He didn’t want to donate his eyes to a bad person.

Tim calls 911, then kills himself in a bathtub of ice cold water, so his organs will be ready for donation.

Obviously someone isn’t going to go to extremes to be rude to someone in real life for an organ donation. But sometimes, there are special reasons why someone would be rude to someone else. Whether you want to give them the benefit of the doubt and just walk away, or if you want to fight them, then it’s up to you. In the end it all comes out in the wash.

Mel Dawn

A professionally published online content writer who enjoys writing speculative fiction. She has three short stories published in anthologies, and is working on more.

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