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No Straight Answers From the Phone Company

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Long ago, in a moment of profound thought, I stated in a public place that telephone companies are run by a lot of people who don't know how to run telephone companies. At the time, I was surprised at the number of people who agreed with me and related an amusing anecdote to support my hypothesis.

The particular situation that caused me to speak out thus rashly had to do with a rural party line for which we paid a princely monthly extortion.

Our telephone service amounted to opening the back door and shouting down the valley.

Expostulating and vituperating did no good, and when we tried to telephone to management we couldn't rouse Gladys, who was our Hello Central. We could reach Gladys in person at the post office when she went for her mail, and Gladys would say she didn't know, she just worked there. We also had a pleasant young man who lived in the village and was a vice president of the telephone company, but all he did was distribute directories.

This was long enough ago that, with the infant retirement dates now in use, nobody who then worked for the telephone company is around. Which may help some; I don't know.

Our area still had a magneto switchboard, which had long been antedated in all parts of the world except our town and a mud village in New Mexico. To engage the attention of Gladys, we had to stand on a Carnation Milk box and reach up to turn the crank. A vigorous and forthright twist would enervate the magneto, and this was supposed to release a ''drop'' on the central switchboard, which Gladys was supposed to observe and attend.


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