I remember when a long- distance phone call was something special. When my mother’s hands would shake after she answered the phone and the operator connected her to a long-distance caller.
“Hush,” my mother would shout. “Run and get your father!”
People seldom made long-distance calls back then; only when the information was too urgent to send through the mail. The entire household shifted into an agitated state as word of a long-distance call spread through the house. It usually meant something bad had happened; Aunt Millie had a stroke, Uncle Harold was run over by a car, or Cousin Pete had been thrown in the slammer. Adrenalin shot all over the place.
It was a big deal in those days; my sisters and I bragged that our family had a long-distance call. Sometimes I’d run out the door before the phone conversation actually got underway to tell my friend Woody we had a long-distance call. “Wow,” he’d exclaim, as I hustled back inside, full of pride.
It was expensive; it was rare; and it was exciting. Even so, it didn’t cost a dime if you made a fake “person-to-person” call. A college kid, for example, would ask the operator to place a person-to-person call to his house after he arrived back at school. The operator would tell whoever answered the phone that she had a collect call for a specific person. Whoever answered the phone would say that person wasn’t there and hang up. Now the family knew the kid made it safely to school. No charges were incurred when a person-to-person call wasn’t completed.
The exciting, long distance call experience has been nearly wiped out by the cell phone. People call and text long distance, multiple times a day, without giving it a thought. It has no effect on their phone bill. Well, over 90% of us have cell phones according to Google. I kind of miss the thrill of making a long-distance call. A real one! And, especially a fake one.
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