Operator? Hello? Hello?

17 01 2010

Has anyone ever tried one of those phones in an elevator to see if they are answered somewhere? Long gone are the days when there was an actual brass box opened to reveal a phone. Now it’s an intercom. You push the button if the elevator stops and the door doesn’t open.

“Thank you for calling the elevator emergency hotline. Your call is very important to us. If you are stuck at a floor, press 1. If you are stuck between floors, press 2. If you are alone, press 3. If you are with others, press 4. If you are with others and everyone is losing their head and you’re keeping yours, press 5. Beep. You’re a head taller than everyone else.

“Thank you for continuing to hold. Your call is very important to us. All of our emergency operators are helping others stuck in elevators. Please stay on the line and the next available operator will assist you. Your wait time is approximately 3 hours. Have you considered elevator insurance from AIG. This new policy will pay you anytime you are stuck between floors in an elevator. Policies require no physical examination, no questionnaires, no blood tests. If you want to talk to a representative about elevator insurance, please press the pound key. You will not lose your place in the queue for emergency assistance. Our courteous insurance agents cannot help you with a stuck elevator, you must wait for our emergency service person.

“Thank you for holding. Your call is every important to us. The next available operator will be with you shortly. People stuck in elevators for extended periods of time are known to have serious mental impairment and post traumatic stress syndrome. The law offices of Gipsee, Trampe, and Theeves specializes in litigation finding deep pockets for elevator compensation. If you want to initiate litigation and for a news conference calling attention to you plight, press the star key now. You will not lose your place in the queue for emergency services.”

Someone suggested that I start with “Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Spanish.”

It reminds me of the vignette from Thurber’s “Carnival,” a play derived from some of his cartoons and New Yorker stories in the 1930s. In one scene, an older elevator operator is being let go for a younger elevator operator to take his place. Many don’t even know, let remember, that until well into the 1970s, many older buildings had elevators requiring operators.

Anyway, in the Thurber vignette, when the older operator realizes he’s grooming the younger elevator operator to take his place, he rushes into an elevator and “takes it up for one last time to show you what this old guy can do.” A crowd of building employees try to coax him down by calling on the elevator phone. The older man shouts, “I know what this is about, the young get the elevator and the old get the shaft.”

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The new decade

6 01 2010

It’s a new decade, and that means it’s a time to refresh the spirit. For me, this decade means I’m starting the third half of my life. For the last four decades, I’ve worked for others. Now I’m following what I wanted to do … write. This week marks the kick-off of my website, www.EricTollOnline.com, and a full court press to begin generating business for my business.

Making the jump to self-employment is like walking off the edge of a cliff. It wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of encouragement from my existing clients, friends, and colleagues. It also, frankly, wouldn’t have been possible without a very interested book from www.WellFedWriter.com

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