Tag Archives: phones

June 2016 Column for Michiana House & Home Magazine: The Ninth Caller

phone            Somewhere during my childhood, I became obsessed with my local Top 40 radio station. I spent a lot of time calling DJs to make requests, chat during the wee hours of a slumber party (the fact that they were willing to talk to a group of 11-year-olds at 2 a.m. now strikes me as creepy) and trying to convince them to let me announce the Number One song on the “Hot Nine at 9.” I was also forever trying to win one of their contests. Never mind that I wasn’t 18, that my parents wouldn’t let me go to half of the concerts I was trying to score tickets to, or that with a rotary phone, I was unlikely to ever be the ninth caller, I kept trying.

One contest held me hostage in the house for nearly a week when I heard about it. The premise was simple: Be the ninth caller when the station played a certain four songs in a row. Although I can only remember one song on the list today, I clearly remember carrying a portable radio with me to every room in my house in order to catch this musical event when it occurred.

“Julie, take the radio off the dining room table,” my mother ordered as she brought in the pot roast and mashed potatoes she prepared.

“No problem,” I turned off the portable and flipped on the bigger stereo unit.

My father sighed. “You do realize that they could play these four songs in the middle of the night when you are asleep, don’t you?” He asked.

I hadn’t considered this, but it seemed unlikely. “They won’t,” I told him, silently planning to smuggle the radio into my bedroom at night just in case.

I skipped outings, no longer biked with my friends and turned down a McDonald’s run in order to stay close to home and my precious radio. Finally, as I played with my Barbies in my parents’ basement, I heard the first song…and then the second…this was it!!! They played the first two songs in succession three times to give the listening audience a heads up while I went nuts waiting for each song to be played. At the beginning of the final tune, I raced over to the phone we kept by my father’s desk and began dialing.

It took 30 seconds to make each call and naturally each time I finished, I was met with an unpleasant busy signal. Undeterred I kept trying thinking my persistence might prevail but eventually, I heard the DJ announce the winner’s name over the air.

“It’s not fair,” I told my parents later. “I gave up everything and got nothing out of the deal.”

With my parents unwilling to purchase a push-button phone, my career as a contest winner was limited, but I didn’t care. In an era where there was no participation prize, I had to take my lumps and realize I would lose more than I would win. There was no point in getting “hung up” about it.

Follow Julie on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorJulieYoung

On Twitter: @Julieyoung14

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March Column Michiana House & Home: Who ya gonna call?

phone           As a general rule, good things do not happen at 2:30 in the morning.

No one tends leaves the house that early unless they work the graveyard shift, have a family member in the hospital, or need to respond to another emergency. And if the phone rings at that ungodly hour, it’s a pretty safe bet it’s not the call telling you that you’ve won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.

So, the other night when I was jolted awake by the phone, I knew it wasn’t good news. I fumbled for the handset in the dark, pushed the talk button and croaked out a greeting. It was a dispatcher from my alarm company who wanted to let me know that my phone was out of order.

“Let me get this straight,” I replied, dropping my head back to my pillow. “You called to tell me that my phone isn’t working?”

The woman sounded perplexed by my response. “Yes, ma’am. You see, we received a code that the phone line was down and we wanted to call and tell you about the problem.”

Had it been any other time of the day, I would’ve laughed, but nothing is funny at 2:30 a.m. I told her I appreciated her concern, assured her I was in no immediate danger and politely explained that since we were talking from the phone line in question, she could feel free to disregard the code.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” she said. “That’s a good point. I am so sorry for bothering you.”

“Not a problem,” I told her, preparing to hang up.

However, she wasn’t quite finished. “Now, before I go could you please tell me your passcode so I can confirm that I am speaking with the homeowner?”

Now I am all for precautions, but I’m not always prepared for a pop quiz in the middle of the night. I rattled off the first four digits that jumped into my head and was told they were incorrect. I tried another set that was either my son’s birthday or my high school locker combination, but that wasn’t right either. I tried three more times, told her to give me a hint and asked to use one of my lifelines before finally giving up on trying to pass the math portion of her SAT.

“No offense, ma’am, but it is 2:30 in the morning. I applaud what you are doing here however; I can assure you that I really am the homeowner. If I were a burglar, I wouldn’t have answered the phone in the first place. I wouldn’t have taken the time to reason with you and I wouldn’t conveniently know Julie Young’s birthdate, her son’s cell phone number, her billing address and her mother’s maiden name!”

After giving her the digits of my landline, the one she had dialed only five minutes before, the dispatcher let me off the hook. I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t help hoping that the next time she fears there is something strange in the neighborhood, she calls Ghostbusters instead of me!

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MHH Column November: Good Call

bathroom_phone_2       I was not the first person on my block to get a VCR, cable television, an Atari video game system or a microwave oven. I did not have any designer clothes that didn’t come out of someone else’s closet first. I was only given one bike (which I was expected to take care of) and my parents did not buy a new car every other year. However there was one item in our home that equated us with those ultra elite, uber eccentric families that appeared on those horrible 1980s prime time soap operas:

We had a phone in the bathroom.

Over the years my parents talked a good game about the significant improvements that they were going to make to the lavatory facilities “someday.” I distinctly remember hearing whispers of a fairly solid plan to multiply the room (at least by half) in a corner of the basement. There was talk of building a shower at some point, replacing the vanity, etc. but the only things that ever really changed in there when I was growing up was the color of the towels, the cushiony seat cover and the washers when Dad switched them out every couple of months.

So WHY was the first big upgrade the addition of a telecommunications department? Beats me but if you’ve been reading my columns for a while, then you know that my parents were a little…unique.

Truth be told, neither one of them woke up one morning and said, “Hey, here’s what’s missing in our lives, a phone in the bathroom.” It was something that was tabled and voted on quickly over a bin of cheap, white plastic phones at the local Central Hardware store. It was a $7.99 impulse decision that led to a lot of unique reactions from anyone who ever visited and had to use the room for personal business.

“You have a phone in your bathroom,” guests would say as though we might not have heard the news yet.

My mother was always tactful with her response, but just once I wanted her to completely freak out, accuse them of putting it there and demand to see the evidence. It was a phone for heaven’s sake. What was the big deal?

Personally, I loved having a phone in any room that could lock and I spent so much time gabbing in there that I thought my mother was going to haul me off to the doctor in search of  a GI infection. However, in due time cordless phones became all the rage eliminating the need for a bathroom phone and when the original model died, my parents didn’t bother replacing it.

But even devoid of the phone, the jack alone could be a great conversation starter. After my mom’s death, I had to give the full scoop to the Realtor showing the place and more often than not, it was the one thing that everyone commented on at showings.

“Excuse me ma’am?” a woman asked me during the open house. “There’s a phone jack in your bathroom.”

“Really?” I said with a wicked grin. “That’s strange…it wasn’t there last night.”

 

 

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