Our telephone has not worked for over two weeks. It hasn’t been terribly inconvenient for us, since we mostly just get annoying sales calls on our landline. However, that is the only phone from which we can make affordable calls to Lina, and tomorrow is the monthly appointed day.

A few days ago I went on to the phone company’s website to see if I could figure out what was going on. I had thought it was a billing snafu at first, but I had made sure our bill was paid in full on the very day when we became aware of phone’s lack of dial tone. The website wasn’t terribly helpful, other than to tell me to check all our in-house wiring and jacks to make sure everything was shipshape. My husband did that and there was still no dial tone.

So today I did the thing that no introvert wants to do, ever, and that is to make a phone call to a stranger. In this case, as I had feared, I found myself talking to a rather smarmy computer program that kept asking me multiple choice questions but not offering me any answers that made sense for my situation. I responded with increasing hostility, only to be sent round again on the same list of questions.

After at least fifteen minutes, I must have done something a little differently because suddenly I was given the option of talking to an actual person. The person I got was very nice and soothing and sympathetic. After lots of checking back and forth and leaving me to listen to rather bizarre drum music, she finally announced that there was an actual problem somewhere on the line, and a technician would be sent to deal with it.

Then I talked to yet another person on the phone, trying to pinpoint what the problem might be before she committed manpower to it. What can you say in that situation? “There is no dial tone. I can’t make or receive calls.” She told me that someone would be here before 8:00 this evening.

In actuality, I received a phone call about an hour later from the technician, telling me he was on his way. I was delighted. It turned out to be a rather complex issue, apparently, because it took the guy two hours to fix. I think we both felt rather triumphant when he announced he was done and I picked up the phone and heard a real live dial tone! Here’s hoping we can get a decent connection when we call Zambia tomorrow!

So that was my big excitement for the day. I organized my class files and did some editing and research for geography and even tuned my autoharp. I didn’t come close to doing everything on my list, but at least I now can use the phone! And that of course, made me think of this poem:


by Laura E Richards

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)



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