The Old Geezer: How are you doing?

A comment made at the end of a recent phone call, set me to thinking that maybe we could all do a better job of keeping track of our friends and loved ones.

By Walt Trandum

He simply said “Thanks for thinking of me!” Most of us receive a few phone calls and it always breaks up the day to spend some time thinking about others, than the usual mundane things we have in our lives. I have to admit that I enjoy those who have some good news or want me to know that something is happening.   Calling someone you know is not difficult and could be appreciated.
There is a new kind of call that comes now and then. They are called “butt calls.” It happens when someone accidentally pushes the button on their cell phone. I would guess those are the least appreciated calls but sometimes good for a laugh.
It is no secret that I spent much of my working time in the telephone business. There are not too many people that I associated with still around and I would sure like to bring them up to speed on what has happened in the communications world. All of the wonders of the automated equipment that moves calls around the world in seconds are a lot more efficient than we could ever imagine. I would guess the largest surprise would be the fact that most everyone who can talk now carries a phone with them at all times.
One of my brothers was a traveling salesman and had one of the first car phones. It was a large unit that was mounted in the trunk and had a pretty conventional phone that rested on the dash board. His business was dependent on submitting bids for various materials and so being one of the first in line was important. He had exorbitant phone bills but felt they were justified and made him a lot of money.
Hard to believe how mobile we are now days with those phones that do just about everything you could imagine. Unfortunately, this old brain of mine can’t really grasp all the ins and outs of using those devices. I do carry a flip phone that keeps me in touch and occasionally it rings and scares the dickens out of me.
Those old bell shaped heads that ran the communications business years ago would not believe the progress that has been made. Along with being well aware of their monopoly, they also were dedicated to being good citizens and all of us employees were encouraged to help in our communities. We were all involved in activities that served those who needed some assistance. We tried to be understanding when people were in financial jams and even when faced with unpaid balances we tried to be kind.
I remember one Christmas when I had been selected to be the person who would be contacted when problems occurred. We had suspended the temporary disconnect collections procedures until after the holidays. There were a few hard cases and those numbers were on a list in the event there were questions of activity. Christmas Eve I had a call from an operator who said a lady was complaining that her phone was not working and she couldn’t imagine what the problem could be. When I got involved it was discovered that someone had transposed a number and sure enough her phone was purposely disconnected. A quick couple of phone calls and she was back in business and our apologies were extensive.
Yes, there were those days when we were the only show in the business but we spent a lot of time trying to not act in bad faith.
I guess one of the biggest complaints I have with the modern communications is answering those questions posed by a machine that makes talking to a real live person almost impossible.  When I worked in the business office, there was a rule that every phone call had to be answered by the third ring. If that didn’t happen, a big horn would blow and everyone would look at me. Their goal was to make sure one of them took the call before I got involved. I didn’t think I was that bad, but they all had their own opinions.
Lots of information is shared these days and I wonder if maybe we aren’t getting too much. Being well informed is one thing, but packing the worries of the world around is way too much stress. I look at news reports from foreign countries and am usually surprised to see that people everywhere look pretty much the same and getting along with one another makes for better lives for all of us. Give a friend a call and let them know you were thinking of them, you will both get a lift.