“If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me.” (song title by Jimmy Buffet)
Let’s just say I’m not addicted to them. Never have been. Probably never will be. But last night I realized what an impact the phone has had on the love lives of the women in my family, so I have to share.
The Henrie-Jorgensen-Christensen women have a history with…the phone.
My Nana, Vonda Henrie, (born in 1903) worked as a telephone operator when she was a teenager. She was the old-fashioned kind of telephone operator, the kind featured in black and white movies or tv shows, the woman wearing a headset that you called and asked to be connected to a certain phone number—and she’d connect your line to another one by hand.
One important rule for operators was the one about never listening in on the conversations of other people. I think my Nana was obedient to that rule, too, until the night a boy she had been dating called during her shift and asked to be connected to another girl!
Can anyone blame her for breaking the rule that night? Of course she listened in! And even at age 90, as she recalled it, she shook her head in disgust at the “lovey-dovey” things she overheard her boyfriend say to the other girl. I asked, “Oh, Nana! What did you do?” She gave me a satisfied smirk, a wink, and a smile as she said, “Oh, nothing much…except disconnected them when I’d had enough of his nonsense!”
“There is something about saying ‘Ok’ and hanging up the receiver with a bang that kids a man into feeling that he has just pulled off a big deal, even if he has only called the telephone company to find out the correct time.” (Robert Benchley)
And then Nana had a son.
“No, sir. The Americans have need of the telephone — but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” (England’s chief engineer of the post office, when asked whether the new ‘Yankee invention,’ the telephone, would be of any practical value)