The Other Side of the Story - Out of Order

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The Other Side of the Story - Giving People the Benefit of the Doubt

Out of Order

I was expecting an important business phone call one morning when I discovered that the phone lines in our house were dead. New in the area and not really knowing any of our neighbors, I drove a mile up the road to a pay phone, called the phone company repair service and reported the phone to be out of order. The technician told me to hold for a minute while he checked the line signal he got. He came back and said, "You have a phone off the hook."

Much relieved, I hurried home, checked all the phones in the house and didn't find anything wrong. So back up the road I went to the pay phone, talked to the same technician, told him there was no phone off the hook, and was again told in stronger terms "You do have a phone off the hook."

Another trip home, another check of all the phones, once again up the road and this time I fairly screamed at the technician that all the phones were O.K. and I was expecting an important call and needed my phone in working condition immediately. He told me that he would put in a repair order but I should know two things. One, that nobody could get there until Monday. And secondly, the only thing wrong was a phone off the hook! I was livid but what could I do?

On arriving home I asked my wife if she had used the phone at all that day, and she replied that her only use had been to talk to my son who said he just wouldn't be able to come to the house as planned the following week for holiday dinner. When I asked what happened then, my wife rather sheepishly replied that she was so disappointed she said goodbye and slammed the phone down. I thought about this for a moment, picked up the phone she used, listened to the dead line, hit the side of the phone hard with my fist and -- Lo and behold -- I got a dial tone. Proudly, I hung up the receiver and immediately the phone rang. I picked it up and when he spoke I recognized the voice. It was the repair technician. All he said was, "I told you there was a phone off the hook." And he hung up.

Clyde S. Brenner, Walnut Creek, CA

The Other Side of the Story Archives

Based on "The Other Side of the Story" by Mrs. Yehudis Samet, ArtScroll Series

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