JPay Blog

A Hint of Haiti on the Night Shift

Marie Jean-Baptiste

A Dispatch from Customer Service

By Marie Jean-Baptiste

I like the night shift.  During the day the customer service department buzzes like a beehive, but at night it’s quiet.  I can hear my customers better.  I can hear their accents better.

One night a couple of weeks ago I got a call from a customer in Nevada.  She was trying to send money to her son who was incarcerated in a Florida prison, and needed some help figuring out the JPay.com website.  I guided her through the money transfer process – which is really pretty straightforward, especially online, but I know it’s comforting to have someone walk you through anything the first time you do it – and after we were done I stayed on the line to chat with her a bit.

Her story was interesting, for sure.  She was from Florida, but had moved to Nevada for work.  Her son went back down south, though, and got himself into a little bit of trouble.  This was the first time she had to deal with anyone going to jail, and she was glad that a company like JPay was there to help her through it… but you know, most of our customers have stories like that.

Then it hit me.  It wasn’t what she was saying, necessarily, but how she was saying it.  Her accent.

I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on it earlier!  That little drip of French honey over her vowels. That singsong that stressed some syllables and swallowed others. She was speaking English with a Creole accent.

She was clearly Haitian, or of Haitian descent.

Just like me.

Tentatively, I asked: “Madame, ou pale kreyol?”  Do you speak Creole?

I think if she could have jumped through the phone and hugged me, she would have.  She erupted into a stream of extremely rapid Creole that I could barely keep up with.  She was from Port-Au-Prince, and moved to Miami as a child.  She had her boy and raised him in a neighborhood I was familiar with.  She didn’t want to leave South Florida, but she had to go where the work was, but she missed it, and she missed Haiti besides.  I got the feeling that she hadn’t had the opportunity to speak in her native tongue in a long time.

She told me that she was pou kontan (so glad) to know someone at JPay spoke her language, that it meant a lot to her to have some familiarity when so much of the corrections process was unfamiliar.  She said she’d call back every month to put money on her son’s account.  She said she’d ask for me at this time every time she did.

I find myself looking forward to next month.

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14 Comments

  1. Margo Woroniecki

    July 1, 2016 - 3:44 pm

    That was a awesome story yes you both should exchange phone numbers. It’s so nice to know people that really care in this world. My son has been in prison for almost 5 years soon to come home😁 and in the very beginning you all was very helpful to me to. I had know idea of what I was doing. So thank you all so much for your kindness.

  2. Jude Gervais

    May 13, 2012 - 5:19 pm

    I just wanted to say I love this services its a great thing to all the people of jpay thank you for the good service

  3. Longina Gallegos

    March 26, 2012 - 12:58 pm

    This is a great story. I’m so grateful that jpay actually cares about their customers. It’s great to feel welcomed even with the situation our friends and family are faced with. I’m in Haiti now and have been for about 5 months. My husband is Haitian as well. I love the people here. They are truly thankful to God no matter the circumstance and very cheerful. We can learn a lot from Haiti.

  4. Lesli Bergren

    March 25, 2012 - 8:07 pm

    Loved the post, and knowing real people who care are working here! The jpay email has been a wonderful, easy way to stay connected with a former student of mine. Have connected other students to him this way also. It’s good to be in contact with positive people. I’ve been to Haiti and love the people very much; glad you connected with that mom. Having a son in prison and missing her home must be so hard. God bless you, Marie!

  5. Teresa

    March 20, 2012 - 3:31 pm

    Thanks for the beautiful post!

  6. Fiona

    February 17, 2012 - 7:14 am

    I had tears in my eyes reading this.
    You should swap numbers and keep in touch with one another.
    You could share some amazing stories and become firm friends.
    Please keep us updated.

  7. Paul

    February 15, 2012 - 11:25 am

    That’s lovely. I think you should swap numbers and keep in touch – you will both have a new friend and she will not have to wait a month to speak to you..

  8. lostwithoutmygirl

    February 10, 2012 - 12:41 pm

    i have been to haiti 2x and I love it.. I really struggle being in the states… i think i left my heart in Haiti. I love listening to the kids speak creole and trying to understand what i am saying!!! The host family i stayed with told us the first day that Haitians are very friendly and no matter how many times you walk by say Hello–i had to think about how many times we are at walmart and avoid ppl cuz we dont want to talk and they take offense if you dont speak!!! Made me think about my actions!! So Bon Jour!!! Missing Haiti!!

  9. Editor

    February 10, 2012 - 9:10 am

    struck by admin

  10. joannie sparks

    February 9, 2012 - 5:21 pm

    Dear Editior i looked on the site but could not figure it out. He is in Austin in Georgia. Thanks Joannie

  11. Editor

    February 9, 2012 - 9:34 am

    struck by admin

  12. joannie sparks

    February 8, 2012 - 8:54 pm

    thats so nice, i am glad the lady found you to help her in more ways than one. how can you find out if the prison someone in has that music things ya’ll sell and how do you find out if they have the email. my stepson just got moved and we used to sent him up with calls to call us. but i don’t know even if they have that. can’t find out anything. all i have been able to do is send money. does anyone have any suggestions. thanks joannie you can email me at jscddmj [at] aol [dot] com

  13. Janice Hicks

    February 7, 2012 - 1:08 am

    It is refreshing to know that there are still nice, polite people like yourself, Marie Jean-Baptiste to help us when we have loved ones incarcerated. I know from experience how frustating it can be to talk with someone that gives you attitude, instead of help. God Bless You…PEACE

  14. Mona Bless

    February 6, 2012 - 11:12 pm

    So soothing! You should keep in touch with her.

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