Some have asked me if my weirdness developed later in life, or if I’ve always been this way. So to help answer that, here’s a story from 27 years ago. But first, a bit of background. I was working at Ameritech, shortly after the old Bell System had been broken up. Due to some truly Byzantine time-keeping rules, I found a loophole that allowed me far more vacation time than the standard two weeks. Because of this, I had done a fair amount of flying around the country, and quickly learned the lingo of airline reservations. You’ll see why I mention this.
A small group of programmers (myself included) were working on a Saturday when a phone started ringing. This particular phone was supposed to be an outgoing data line only, and was totally unlisted. Someone closer to the phone than I answered it, to find some guy trying to get American Airlines reservations. Our fellow explained that we were not American, that the line was only for computer data, and suggested the caller check his number and try again. Our guy then hung up, and we figured that was that.
But it wasn’t. “Reservation Guy” kept calling back, repeatedly (and with increasing hostility) insisting he had the correct number, and demanding we connect him with reservations. This went on for over half an hour, with our people getting just as angry at the repeated interruptions and frustrations as “Reservation Guy” was. When the phone rang again, I jumped in and said “I’ll get rid of him.” I’d only been with the company for a year, and was still considered the naive “kid”. Little did my coworkers know …..
So, I strode over to the phone, sat down at a handy (but switched off) electric typewriter, and answered the phone with a cheery “Good afternoon, American Airlines reservations, how may I help you?” Reservation Guy responds with “Well, it’s about damn time! I’ve been calling all day, and I keep getting some idiots with Ameritech!” I apologised to the guy, explaining that “we’ve been encountering some problems with crossed wires”, and then I took his reservation.
Yep. You read that right. I ran that sucker through the WHOLE shebang – window or aisle seat, smoking or non, I even arranged the guy a rental car with an upgrade for his troubles! (It helped that I had made a reservation, with rental car, just a few days previously.) I gave him fictitious flight numbers, departure and arrival times and gates, even a confirmation number. Mind you, I’m trying to keep a straight face through all this while my cohorts are laughing their butts off and trying to crack me up! But I got all the way through, thanked him for his patience (and he thanked me for my help! 😯 ), and hung up. The phone remained blissfully silent the rest of the day, and my coworkers were duly impressed.
To this day, I would give an arm, leg, and kidney just to go back in time to O’Hare airport on the day of his supposed flight, so I could watch the guy’s head explode……
So yes, I’ve been warped all my life. (Like you hadn’t already guessed that!) Happy Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or just plain ol’ Thursday!