For whom Ma Bell tolled
Monday February 05th 2007, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

I have an AT&T Princess phone, nearly as old as my marriage–1980–that has served me well for a long time. We gave it a handset that Ma Bell sold for the hearing impaired at the time. It wasn’t perfect–it amplified all the frequencies, when I just wanted the high ones, which is where my hearing loss is and where the consonants of speech predominate, but that’s the way it is. Amplify the vowels too, oh well, beats deafness. (And if you know anybody who complains that people mumble these days, people don’t, it’s that they’re missing the higher-pitched consonants while hearing the rest of the words as loud as ever. Take that sentence, strike out all the consonants, and see how intelligible it looks. Mumble.)

Later, we found that phone didn’t buzz if the computer was on the way the newer cordless ones do. Point for it. It drew enough amps from the phone system that several friends mentioned to me, when I left messages on their answering machines, that they couldn’t make out what I’d been saying. Apparently too much of the juice went to amping up their machine to me, at the expense of my voice to them: making them the ones being, for that moment, the hearing-impaired one. I thought it was rather funny, actually, but used the other phones to leave messages after that.

It tried to die once before, and Richard spent $20 on electronic parts to revive it again. I’m not sure that’ll work this time. It’s the phone I keep–or kept, anyway–just above my head in the headboard at night, so that if the phone rings when my hearing aids are out I have some chance of responding. Richard once slept through dynamite going off outside his dorm room. I wake up for anything, if I hear it.

As a matter of fact. I inadvertently became part of the local Red Cross’s training manual for Disaster Services operators. He’s on their DS team, and they called in the very dead of the night one night: some house fire, or some such thing. People in need. He’s the modern-day equivalent of the Boston Minute Man.

At the time, we had been getting a slew of New York City brokers making cold calls and not having a clue where we were or what time zone we were in, and often calling right when they got to work at 8 or 9 am. We are in California. This did not prove to be a fabulous selling point on their part. So when the phone rang at dark o’clock this one time, I picked up that Princess handset and simply dropped it back down on the phone. Somewhat gently. I was so proud of myself. I hadn’t slammed it down after giving them a piece of my very opinionated mind on what they had just done to my good night’s sleep, and no, I did not want to invest in Kansas oilwells!

I stewed for about 20 seconds before it hit me that, um, wait, that could have been the Red Cross instead. Oh. My. I hoped they would call back, but the dispatcher at the other end was sitting there holding out the phone staring at it going, Great. NOW what do I do?

So now the training manual says, if you call in the middle of the night to one of the volunteers and get hung up on, count to ten, then dial again. Let the person wake up enough to answer. They don’t name me by name. But everybody knows. I will never totally live it down, but that’s fine, everybody needs a conversation piece for the annual Christmas party, right?

Too funny.

Dropping a cordless phone back down just doesn’t have the same effect. Where on earth am I going to replace this old thing? I’ve never yet found another phone I could hear as well on.

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I’ve now entirely given up my land line, can you believe it? It’s just irrational to have a cell phone and a land line for me, I’ve no need for it…maybe I’m just spoiled, I don’t know.

Pretties from Lisa today, did you see? Camera had better get here tomorrow!

Comment by Kristine 02.05.07 @ 7:46 pm

Ah, my. To be young. The one thing a landline can do that a cell can’t, is, if you’re ever on a heart monitor like I was for a month, the instructions are to phone in the results every day, over a landline only so that there’s no risk of interrupting the signal to their computer and hashing the results. Other than that…

I can’t wait for your new camera to arrive either!

Comment by AlisonH 02.06.07 @ 12:03 am

We all have one of those stories we will never live down. I won’t tell you mine…too embarassing lol. Thanks for sharing yours though!

Comment by Lisa 02.06.07 @ 5:22 am

What make are your hearing aids and have you worn those made by any other company?

Comment by Anonymous 02.06.07 @ 5:26 am

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