The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 20, 1903
Etiquette for “Hello” Girls
A Book on “Polite Language” Causes Sensation in Fort Dodge Telephone Circles
Has Been Issued in Chicago
American Telephone Company Unloads Itself of Idea Which is Not Relished Here
“I think it’s all a pipe dream,” remarked Charley Demorest, manager of the Iowa Telephone company’s office in this city, as he buttoned up his overcoat, preparatory to braving pneumonia in the chill March breezes. Mr. Demorest was discussing the rumored “Polite Language” book, which has just been issued by the American Telephone company for the use of its toll operators.
“It may be all right,” continued Mr. Demorest, “but it seems to me that a busy man won’t feel any better after he has had all that string of courtesy, that could be condensed into three words, fired at him thru the telephone. For my part, I think that the operators can be polite, without learning a set of declamations.”
The news that a book of stereotyped phrases for the use of telephone operators has been issued, has been receibved with considerable interest here.
The book has been issued in Chicago by the American Telephone company, and will be in use in every city where the long distance telephone is used. The new and polite form of language is being used in the entire east, and the idea has been brought west by S.A. Crawford, the new manager for the company in Chicago, who insists that the new forms of speech must be strictly adhered to by long distance operators.
Here is a sample of what may be expected to transpire in any telephone booth after the arrival of the book of decorum, when a patron asks for connection with Waterloo, for instance:
Patron – Hello! Is this long distance?
Operator -You’re talking to the operator of hte long distance telephone line.
Patron – I want to talk with Main, 4873, Waterloo, Iowa, and hurry up about it.
One minute passes, and the patron becomes impatient. He works the receiver hook vigorously until he gets a responce, and another season of talk begins.
Patrons (sic) – Say, what’s the matter I don’t get that number?
Operator – I will endeavor to ascertain, what is the trouble.
Another delay, and the patron gets really impatient, with the result that he gives the receiver hook another juggling, and begins another appeal to the operator.
Patron – What in the dickens is the matter than I don’t get that number?
Operator – I’m endeavoring to ascertain why you do not secure your connections, and after I have ascertained I will call you. Please hang up the receiver.
If the patron gets frantic and asks the same question of the operator a dozen times he will receive exactly the same answer each time.
The state of mind of the Fort Dodge man who is trying to talk to Waterloo and is compelled to listen to this rigamarole, can best be imagined. It is bad enough to have to talk to Waterloo.
Judging from the general sentiment in the offices here, however, it will be a long time before stereotyped phrases come to Fort Dodge offices.