Back before the Google, when people needed a phone number that they didn’t have, they picked up their landline and dialed 4-1-1.
The formal name for this service was “Directory Assistance”, but everyone called it simply “Information”. Need to call the movie theater to find out what movies are playing, but don’t have the number? Just call Information!
Well, one day, when I was in college, sometime in November 1984, I was hanging out day-drinking with my buddies, we had purchased a frozen turkey the day before, but we were grappling with the fact that not one among us had any idea how to prepare and roast the thing.
In my drunkenness, I joked that we should call Information and ask. After all, it’s called “Information”, not, more narrowly, “Phone Information”. (These things are always funnier when you are intoxicated.)
Anyway, my joke was immediately met with an uproar of approval and insistence, and, before I could protest, the phone was passed to me, 4-1-1 dialed, and I was on the phone with some gal from who knows where.
Much to my surprise, rather than being met with massive annoyance and summarily hung up on, the operator was delighted and humored me, providing me with her family’s recipe from memory, along with cautions about thawing and a warning not to cook the stuffing inside the turkey.
Anyway, I was reminded of this memory when I saw this tweet today:
I didn’t know about the Butterball hotline back in college, but I’m actually glad that I didn’t. I’ll always fondly remember that directory assistance operator’s act of arguably undeserved kindness.
Just as I’ll always fondly remember this scene from The West Wing:
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!