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By: weco in TELECOM | Recommend this post (0)
Fri, 18 Nov 11 7:29 PM | 962 view(s)
Boardmark this board | A Gathering of Survivors
Msg. 00045 of 00054
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When I was quite young, my father had one of the first
telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case
fastened to the wall.
The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too
little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful
device lived an amazing person. Her name was "Information Please" and
there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone's number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came
one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the
tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain
was terrible,but there seemed no point in crying because there was no
one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger,
finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the
footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. "Information, please" I said into the
mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my

"I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone, the
tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.

"Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.

"Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.

"No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and
it hurts."

"Can you open the icebox?" she asked.

I said I could.

"Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your
finger," said the voice.

After that, I called "Information Please" for everything. I asked
her for help with my geography, and she told me where
Philadelphia was.
She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk
that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died.
I called,Information Please," and told her the sad story. She
listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?"

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said
quietly, "Paul always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, "Information
Please.""Information," said in the now familiar voice. "How do
I spell fix?" I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific
Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston.
I missed my friend very much. "Information Please" belonged in that old
wooden box back home
and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new
phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the
memories of those childhood conversations never really left me.

Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would
recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient,understanding,and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane
put down in Seattle.
I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent
15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then
without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, "Information Please."

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so


I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying,
"Could you please tell me how to spell fix?"

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken
answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."

I laughed, "So it's really you," I said. "I wonder if
you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?"

I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your call
meant to me.

I never had any children and I used to look forward to
your calls."

I told her how often I had thought of her over the
years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my

"Please do", she said. "Just ask for Sally."

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different
voice answered,

"Information." I asked for Sally.

"Are you a friend?" she said.

"Yes, a very old friend," I answered.

"I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally
had been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She
died five weeks ago."

Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute, did
you say your name was Paul?" "Yes." I answered.

"Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down
in case you called.

Let me read it to you."

The note said, "Tell him there are other worlds to
sing in.

He'll know what I mean."

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on

Whose life have you touched today?

Now clear the decks.... Indict as needed...

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