A couple of Sundays ago I had a crisis. The crisis began with a phone call at 5:30 a.m. (Notice: unless it is a dire emergency, do not ever call me at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. More than likely I’ve been up until late-thirty working on a sermon.) Anyway, the person calling at that time of the morning to tell me they might not be at church because they had not gotten enough sleep messed up my phone.
Something happened. Maybe I hit the wrong button in my stupor. Maybe there was a glitch in the phone’s software. Who knows? At any rate, when the phone blasted forth its chime at the predetermined time to wake me, I hit the snooze button. After all, my sleep had been interrupted at 5:30. Eight minutes later the chime sounded again. I tried to turn it off. I couldn’t. The phone was locked up.
As I prepared for the day, every eight minutes the chime sounded. I couldn’t turn it off. On top of that I couldn’t make a call. I couldn’t receive a call. The phone was useless except for sounding a chime every eight minutes.
Before the worship service began, as I was placing my sermon notes on the pulpit a high school senior walked by. I told him my problem. He picked up my phone, punched it with his finger a few times, handed it back to me with the words, spoken in a tone that recognized my technological deficiencies, “All you have to do is punch the home key three times.”
“All you have to do is punch the home key three times?” Let me tell you about phones, you arrogrant teenager. I’ll tell you about phones.
As a child the phone number we had was CR 0120. That was it: CR 0120. The phone was on a stand in the central hallway at my grandparent’s house. When someone was calling our house there was two short rings followed by one long ring. We only answered when there was two short rings followed by one long ring. Any other combination was an indication that one of the other five persons on our party-line was being called.
Later, when I was a bit older, the number was changed to CR-2-0120. We were no longer on a party-line. It was our number exclusively. No one could listen in. We had arrived. But we were still limited in our conversations to that central hallway. Finally, my grandfather purchased a twenty-five foot cord to the handset. Now we could actually go into one of the rooms off the hallway, close the door, and have a bit of privacy. Amazing.
At my second church, we had a phone right out of Mayberry. The phone was on the wall and you actually had to crank a handle to notify Ms. Essie at central you wanted to make a call. It was a fifty-six person party line. When Ohio friends called us every day for two weeks while we were on vacation they got charged for the call even though we never answered. After all, Ms. Effie answered. And then there was the time we had a special meeting at my church to raise money to pay the Social Security for Ms. Effie.
So, listen Mr. Teenager, with all your techno knowledge about punching the home key three times, you don’t know squat about phones.