|All the amenities of home. In a shed!|
As the summer progressed . . .
Our five-year-old, Anita had almost free run of the 'house' and she had learned to dial the telephone.
She couldn't read the numbers but she could count, and, beginning at one end, she could count the holes and dial the number.
I didn't know she could do this and I very innocently rattled off the number of a girl friend upon her request, thinking, "No harm! She couldn't dial it anyway!"
The next thing I knew, she was talking to her friend.
"We are going to visit Mortons this afternoon. You know Mortons. MORTONS! (Very indignantly.) "Mortons! Mortons!" And then in exasperation spelling it out . . . "T-I-T-T, Mortons!"
Well, I discovered she could count, but she couldn't spell. Yet!
She appointed herself Chief - in charge of almost anything - and one was Telephone Answering Service.
When she first appointed herself to this assignment, we were more than a little dubious about her ability to handle the clients. But we didn't want to come right out and tell her that we thought she might not be capable of handling the job - so when the telephone rang, we just tried to get to the phone first.
It turned out to be a race sometimes and we knew that she was beginning to get the message but she wasn't about to give up, either!
So, after a brief counsel, we decided to let her take the calls. Only we would have to give her more advice.
For one thing, there would have to be a little more consideration for the customer.
The Office Secretary would have to change her answering procedure from 'Hello. My Daddy is not home. Goodbye.' to 'Hello, Dr. Stringam's office. He is not here at the moment, but he will be in at such-and-such a time. Can I take a message?'
Then, since she couldn't write, it was difficult to keep everything stuck together right and some of the messages came out mighty strange . . .
"The man said . . ."
"I don't know his name, but he said his cow had pushed herself inside out and would Dr. Stringam please come and push her in immediately!"
We had a man out there somewhere with an emergency! He would have to call back and, hopefully, I could reach the phone first!
Or another time . . .
"A man called."
"Did you get his name?"
"I forgot his name, but his cow is having a calf and he wants Daddy to come right away."
Fortunately, with that one, we found out later that his cow had managed to get into the granary and engorged herself with grain. The 'calving' was a case of bloat!
But we had more counseling with the Answering Service.
"Hello. Dr. Stringam's shed. He is not here right now, but his mother is! Here she comes now!"
Generally, our customers were very patient with Anita and would exchange a little conversation with her and then ask for me.
Or if I wasn't immediately available, they would leave a number to call. (Though this, too presented a bit of a problem sometimes because the number wouldn't come out exactly right.)
With all of this, it was probably a miracle, but very seldom did a client become irate.