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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Do Unto Others…

In HEALING HEART, Norman Cousins related a conflict he had some years ago with a telephone operator:

            I went to the [pay] telephone to call the office and promptly lost a dime when an operator came on and asked for a quarter. It was a recording. I put in another dime, got a live operator, told her what happened, and she said the phone company would be glad to send me the dime, if I would give her my name and address.

            It seemed absurd that the phone company would spend 20 cents in stamps, to say nothing of personnel expense, just to refund a dime—and I said so. I also pressed the coin-return lever.

            At that point, all the innards of the machine opened up, and quarters and dimes tumbled out in magnificent profusion.

            "Operator, " I asked, "are you still there?"


            "Operator, something quite remarkable has just happened. All I did was press the coin-return lever, and the machine is giving me all its earnings. There must be more than three dollars in coins here, and the flow hasn't stopped."

            "Sir," she said, "will you please put the money back in the box?"

            "Operator," I said, “if you will give me your name and address, I'll be glad to mail it to you."

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