Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ring Ring

Our phone line sounded fairly fuzzy yesterday when I called 'Salina's playdate's mother. When I spoke to her, there was a very distinct "engaged" signal also blaring. I put it down to one of those glitches.

This morning, I tried to ring a friend, and got both the ring tone and her answering machine. As it was odd, I rang Telstra to check it out.

At first it was sort of cute - double ring tones.

Then it was weird - Telstra lady asking for the phone number to be entered - but in a dual, slightly-delayed manner.

Then it was downright bizarre - as I got the same voice (but twice over) giving conflicting advice and both offering keypad menu alternatives.

The first voice finally placed me on hold for customer service, so I chose the same option offered by the second voice.

The hold musics were different - or at least different parts of the muzak loop.
I got John from customer service on line one, who agreed to call me on my mobile should we get cut off. As the hold music on line two spooked him he decided to do so anyway and I should hang up when he got through.

As I answered my mobile, Barbara from customer service answered line two - I am sure she thought I was a nutcase as I tried to precis the problem and solution in 7 seconds without being abrupt. I don't think I succeeded. (I have just discovered while blogging that I somehow cared about what Barbara from customer service thought of me. How truly sad.)

Telstra should have fixed it - by Friday. Its probably down to all the high-rise apartments being built nearby. Or it could be all that rain we have had. Maybe it is to do with my ADSL. Heck, I am willing to blame the stock market. Nothing will change it until a technician looks into the problem. By Friday.

In the interim, it is not worth the hassle of trying to call anyone.

If they have call waiting, they can switch between their calls from me.

If they have nothing, the "engaged" signal drowns out all speech.

I have discovered, however, if their phone goes automatically to messagebank I can both have a conversation and have it recorded.

I just wonder - I am on a special plan with Telstra that means all calls, local and national, are free. Does that mean that they are charging - themselves - for both calls?

Haven't we come a long way technologically in (ahem) over 30 years?

My phone number when I grew up was something I could spell.

There were five households all connected to the party line, and we could work out whose call it was by the morse code of the rings. Our call was three shorts.

If there was a storm, Dad (or another of the menfolk from the line) would put a few kids in a vehicle and we would "check the line" to see where it was broken. He would then use a chainsaw, pliers, strainers - whatever was required - to fix the phone line.

You always started a call by picking up the phone and enquiring "working?" If someone was already on the line, you would hang up and wait for them to ring off.

When you finished a call, you had to make one short ring. Usually, the person on the other end did the same.

If the call went through the exchange, this would signal that the postmaster could disconnect the calls.

Old ladies with nothing better to do would often listen in on conversations. One had a chiming clock.

When there was an emergency requiring an ambulance from town, you would call the local operator - who would then call the operator in the larger exchange to the South - who would then call the operator in the nearest town with an ambulance - who would put you through to the ambulance.

When my Dad had one such emergency, the folk from the larger exchange to the South were having a tea break. It took nearly 30 minutes to get through to the ambulance. The ambulance took another half-hour to get to our home and administer laughing gas. My Dad is a convert.

Recently another accident happened in the neighbourhood. They got through to the ambulance call centre immediately. The person in some part of Australia (definitely not a local) needed the government issued number and name of the nearest crossroads. Luckily the local ambulance driver had enough nouse to call first and find out the correct location. There are a lot of crossroads in the bush that don't sit in government maps - or fit well with a numbering system.

Ah technology - its a wonderful thing - when it works.


Julie Pippert said...

No kidding...and how frustrating when it doesn't. My anger is personal, about it, as if I have been betrayed, LOL.

I remember those old time phone numbers. You can use them in our small village---some old timers do still. But it's just the number exchange, now.

I used to love memorizing the patterns.

jeanie said...

Ah, our bureaucracy don't believe in placating the old-timers!

I tend to see the problems as personal too - but I am more "they're out to get me".

Tracey said...

Being a city girl (albeit a tad older than you !) I didn't get to experience the old party line stuff. Worst we had was the old dial phones.

I do chuckle now when I think back to in my early twenties not being able to talk on the phone to my boyfriend (I'm thinking specifically of the husband here!) in a different room! Stretching that cord out and around the corner as far as it would go (but it was still in the living area dammit!) Now we all take the cordless phone for granted... as soon as the girls get on the phone they just automatically walk away to another room, or outside! (I confess I do too!) And the mobiles of course. And internet.

All fine when it works of course. Still trying to understand what on earth your phone line was doing! I hope it doesn't turn into one of those long Telstra repair sagas for you.

jeanie said...

Thanks Tracey

Luckily I was shunted to boarding school and then the big smoke for Uni before the boy thing hit - and by the time I could entice any boy to actually call me the party line phone had long gone!

There was no stretchy cord - you had to stand in the back corner of the kitchen where the big black monster resided!

Melody said...

I love the last line in this post - it is soooo true.

Alison said...

I love my old dial phone and still use it when I can. I had to get a 'normal' phone too though after an astronomical mobile bill - The old dials don't register on the telstra menu selection, so I made the call from my mobile and being telstra I was on hold for 45 minutes.
On emergency drivers getting the right directions - There was a house fire near us in Palm street not long ago.. It took the fire fighters nearly half an hour to respond because they went to Palm street in the town next door first. Opps?