Governments in many cities have launched helplines for citizen's first-level complaints regarding covid queries, emotional issues, or any medical help that may be required. The helplines have been operational recently but given the tidal wave of COVID and the lack of trained human resources the staff has already reported being overworked and exhausted.
Aishwarya Chaudhary, one of the helpline desk in-charge, based in Ambala city, said, "I am so tired. I haven’t been able to sleep or rest in many weeks--ever since I started the job. Even though I have to answer the calls and reroute them to the doctors based on the query or answer the basic information myself it gets taxing after a while. Honestly speaking, the phone never stops ringing and I have to repeat the same things with the same details over and over again.
THE ENTIRE CYCLE OF ANSWERING THE CALLS HAS MADE ME FEEL LESS HUMAN AND MORE OF A MACHINE. I HAVE NO EMOTIONS, FEELINGS, OR COMPASSION LEFT IN ME."
When asked about the work environment she said, "This is not a very happy work environment right now. I mean, we all are so tied up with the calls sometimes I don't even get a chance to talk to my colleagues who is literally sitting right next to me. We spend hours working with our eyes focussed on our screens and our headphones on that we hardly recognize, speak or even smile to the person sitting next to us.
Eating meals properly is a luxury that I have long foregone. Food is just stuffing and gulping.
My body rhythm had been disturbed. All I do is answer calls and more calls and more calls.
Even in sleep, I get dreams of phone ringing.
Sometimes, when at home, even though the phone is no rigning, I feel it is.
ALL THIS HAS MADE ME VERY JUMPY AND ANXIOUS...I AM CONSTANTLY...BREATHLESSLY...ON CALL
My mind feels disturbed because I am always thinking about how many more calls to answer, what is happening next and so on.
And then there is also the risk of coming to an office to work. Even though we follow the protocols, what if I contract the virus somehow? As everyone just says the virus is in the air, what if I get it someday?
I have so many emotions and feelings both positive and negative that I don't know how to process them anymore. Addressing situations and emotions had become a mechanical process for me since I don't necessarily acknowledge them anymore--neither my pain nor anyone else’s--and that is what's worrying me…I am more of a program than a human, thanks for this tele-calling job of mine."