"Information Please"  

HardNhorneee 52M
127 posts
8/30/2005 12:29 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

"Information Please"

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first
telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the
polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny
receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little
to reach the telephone, but used to listen with
fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful
device lived an amazing person. Her name was
"Information Please" and there was nothing she did
not know. Information Please could supply anyone's
number and the correct time. My personal experience
with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my
mother was visiting a neighbor.

Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I
whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible,
but there seemed no point in crying because there was
no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger,
finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I
ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the
landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the
parlor and held it to my ear. "Information, please" I said
into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two
and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.


"I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone, the tears
came readily enough now that I had an audience.

"Isn't your mother home?" came the question.

"Nobody's home but me," I blubbered.

"Are you bleeding?" the voice asked.

"No," I replied."I hit my finger with the hammer and it

"Can you open the icebox?" she asked.

I said I could.

"Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,"
said the voice.

After that, I called "Information Please" for everything.

I asked her for help with my geography and she told me
where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math.
She told me my pet chipmunk (that I had caught in the
park just the day before) would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I
called, Information Please," and told her the sad story.
She listened and then said things grown-ups say to
soothe a child. But I was not consoled.I asked her, "Why
is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to
all families - only to end up as a heap of feathers on the
bottom of a cage?" She must have sensed my deep
concern, for she said quietly, "Paul, always remember
that there are other worlds to sing in." Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, "Information Please."

"Information," said in the now familiar voice.

"How do I spell fix?" I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest.

When I was nine years old, we moved across the country
to Boston. I missed my friend very much. "Information
Please" belonged in that old wooden box back home and
I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone
that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens,
the memories of those childhood conversations never
really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity
I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I
appreciated now how patient, understanding and kind
she was to have spent her time on "a little boy."

A few years later on my way west to college, my plane put
down in Seattle. I had about a half-hour or so between
planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my
sister who lived there now. Then, without thinking what
I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said,
"Information Please."

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.


I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, "Could
you please tell me how to spell fix?"

There was a long pause.Then came the soft spoken
answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now."

I laughed, "So it's really you," I said."I wonder if you have
any idea how much you meant to me during that time?"

"I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your call meant
to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward
to your calls."

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and
I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit
my sister.

"Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice
answered, "Information." I asked for Sally. "Are you a friend?"
she asked. "Yes, a very old friend," I answered.

"I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been
working part-time the last few years because she was sick.
She died about five weeks ago."

Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute, did you
say your name was Paul?"

"Yes." I answered.

"Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in
case you called. Let me read it to you."

The note said, "Tell him there are other worlds to sing in.
He'll know what I mean."

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on
others. Whose life have you touched today?

DjadaP 29M
2 posts
9/23/2005 8:40 am

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