Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Miles from the Dingy-Ding

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Miles from the Dingy-Ding

Article excerpt

THE Minnesota Supreme Court has officially observed that telephone calls "... are uniquely intrusive. The shrill and imperious ring of the telephone demands immediate attention."

As one of the two or three living Americans who have not been conditioned to this intrusion by the blandishments of Mother Bell, I applaud the Minnesota justices for a brave remark. The utter obsequious devotion the public lavishes on the tinkle-tinkle makes a mockery of human reason and a slave of every subscriber. How I do, indeed, stand up and cheer every time I read in my local newspaper, "... but up to press time our call had not been returned."

Let us consider together. After driving all day, Bill and I arrive over a distant wilderness logging road at our vacation abode by our beautiful lake, and we unlock the door to enter and "make" camp. We are alone in the deep woods. Nobody lives close by, and the nearest telephone would be in the boundary town of Ste. Aurelie, Dorchester County, Quebec, in the office of a scaler for the International Paper Company. At least 75 miles away. That telephone, I should explain, speaks French, because it is connected to Canada.

So Bill and I arrange our effects and commence the week of meditation and profundity that is our basic reason for being there, and we have neither cark nor care. And, in due time, I will look out the window, and I will see Bill meditating under a spruce tree at the fringe of the limitless forest, and he may be holding out one hand with a biscuit to entice a handsome cock gorbey into philosophical discourse. I will smile in my charming manner and say to myself, "Now!"

So I open the camp door and I shout, "Bill! Telephone!" It happens every time, every year. Bill knows there is no telephone. But in that first instant of conditioned response, he tosses the biscuit at the jay, and the jay catches it on the fly, and Bill unwittingly makes a move to come to the camp and take the call. He doesn't, of course; in the second instant, he "comes to." He is in the woods of Maine, and all civilized obligations have ceased. He gives me a wave that tells me what I can do with telephones, turns back to his business, and reaches in his pocket for another biscuit. …

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