The big phone company strike ended more than a year ago, but the memory hasn't dimmed for Robert L. Glotfelty, of Olney.
Robert was sent to New Jersey to work as an interim operator. He came home with quite an education. According to him, many callers declare an emergency and demand to be put through to a number that is busy. But as Robert discovered, all too often the emergency isn't much of one.
"For instance," Robert writes, "one customer said they wanted to make an emergency call to the police. I connected them with the police station as soon as possible and stayed on the line to see if I could be of further help."
The trouble? Not rape, murder or mayhem. A person who wanted to know the name of the chief of police.
This was an emergency? Possibly. But much more probably, it could have kept until business hours the next day.
As Robert reminds us, phone company policy is better safe than sorry, so "the telephone operator has no choice." He or she can't refuse to break into a number that's busy if a caller says it's an emergency.
But as Robert also reminds us, "I keep thinking of the little boy who cried wolf."
One reminder from the Robert typing this: Every emergency break-in costs $1.25, whether the emergency turns out to be real or not. Perhaps it should cost $25 instead. That would make the lovestruck teenagers, the lazy term-paper writers and the just-plain-impatients think twice.
Wish I'd seen it. Luckily, Barbara Addams Harling did.
One recent Sunday morning, Barbara was helping out her mother (who had just had surgery) by driving her to a grocery store in Fairfax.
The store was scheduled to open at 8 a.m. Barbara and her mother arrived a few minutes early. They decided to sit and wait. But a man in a car parked nearby apparently wasn't quite as patient.
He got out, locked his car, walked up to the front door of the grocery, tested the door and peered inside. Then he returned to the car, stuck the key in the lock and turned it.
There was an instant gusher of noise. As Barbara describes it, "klaxons, bells, horns, sirens all went off for the better part of the two or three minutes that it took him to get into his car and turn the system off. Meanwhile, I had the best laugh of my week."
The unfortunate motorist? Oliver North.
High school reunions planned and trying to get that way . . . .
Coolidge '60. Sept. 15. Call Larry Shulman (230-5201 office, 468-2029 home).
Roosevelt '50: Oct. 6. Call Gloria Wallerstein Derkay (530-2199) or Ruth Bass Frager (460-9186).
Roosevelt '55 (January and June classes): Oct. 27. Call Ruth Wool Friedman (946-9281).
JEB Stuart '71: Aiming for spring 1991. Call Dave Findley (671-8840).
McKinley Tech '60: Sept. 28-29. Call Mike Miller (262-8246), Cecil Tucker (726-1158) or Steve Reed (667-9011).
St. Patrick's Academy '60. Oct. 13. Call Sue Anne Donahue (670-2798) or Eileen Sheehan Marletta (868-0049).
McLean '60. Oct. 20. Call Susan (347-9376) or Margaret (631-0790).
Eastern '65. Nov. 10. Call Marcia Middleton-Mitchell (635-2014).
Oxon Hill '69. Sept. 15. Call Roxana McCarter (550-8911) or Marc Harrison (292-9148).
Anacostia '55. Nov. 17. Call Dolores Lewis Clarke (660-6498) or Ann Crisp Gardenhour (773-1991).
Potomac '70: Date still uncertain. Call Tom Luminello (439-3410) or Elaine Kibler (894-9163).
Cardozo '45. Sept. 29. Call Rebecca Chandler Talbert (384-4039) or LaVerne Butler Edmonds (526-1084).
Mount Rainier '41 and '42. Sept. 21. Call Cappy Hillyard McGowan (242-0184).
Suitland '70. Sept. 29. Call Bob Nargi (856-1203).
Dunbar '70. Organizing. Call Angela Willis-Sloan (297-7180), Desira Tinch-Contee (336-7239) or Gennette Nelson-Kennedy (336-4576).
Wilson '57. Planning for June 1992. Write Maryanne Lyons, 1735 Ivy Oak Square, Reston, 22090.
Elizabeth Seton '65. Sept. 22. Call Sue Butler Kilby (798-6415) or Sue Wilkinson Burgoyne (798-1987).
McKinley Tech '55. Sept. 15. Call Anita Pryor (968-9814) or Lucy Harbin (279-9471).
Marshall '75. Oct. 6. Call Margie Commerce (893-6761).
Want your reunion listed? Mail full details to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071. Local high schools only, please.