Birds have 'em. Bees have 'em. Even educated fleas seem to have those phone-answering machines. So Carol Vandrey of Silver Spring wasn't too amazed to run into a recording when she called the Copyright Public Information Office at the Library of Congress the other day.
But amazement was back with a vengeance when Carol heard the following:
1, 2, 3, 4
Mary had a little lamb
Its fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
The message is about to go
Chunk, chunk, chunk
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Thinking she must have reached a nursery school or a madhouse by mistake, Carol dialed again. Same result. And just as bad as the incomprehensible recording was the fact that it was 4:50 p.m. when Carol tried her calls. A human being should still have been on duty for 10 more minutes.
Well, it's a pleasure (and a relief) to report that neither sanity nor humanity has deserted the copyright office.
At the very moment Carol placed her call, workmen were changing the office's phones. "They were actually in the trunks of the lines and were testing them," said an apologetic Victor Marton, supervisor of the office. "While they were testing, they did not realize they were preempting all incoming calls. This did happen and the woman did get a message like that. She is not crazy."
In fact, Carol may unwittingly have unearthed a magnificent idea.
Why couldn't every federal office offer a sprightly verse as its off-hours message? What if . . .
FOR THE WHITE HOUSE:
Ring around the Rose Garden
Pocketful of Teflon
We'll call you back
FOR THE PENTAGON:
Subs be nimble, jets be quick
We'll call you back at Oh-Five-Six
FOR THE SUPREME COURT:
Lawyers, lawyers, quite contrary
How do your arguments go?
We'll call you back by 8:15
Can you appeal that? No!
FOR THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:
Tip's fortunes hot
Tip's fortunes falter
Tip will be glad to call you back
Unless your name is Walter
FOR THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT:
Another head-of-state casket
I'll call you back from Air Force Two
But I wish I had something to do
FOR DAVID STOCKMAN'S OFFICE:
David Stockman spoke in a hall
David Stockman touched off a great squall
So all of Ron's horses and all of Ron's men
Won't get me to call you -- or Congress -- again
And in the Sauce For The Gander Department . . .
FOR BOB LEVEY'S OFFICE:
I'm a busy typist, short and stout
Ring me up, and I am out
But I have a notion you might like
Why don't you try Causey, first name Mike?