Line 72


            Sometimes at work when I pick up the telephone and hit nine to get an outside line, I get nothing. No dial tone, nothing.

            At first I thought it was just a glitch in the system. It is my understanding that the company got this equipment shortly after Don Ameche invented the telephone. When I first started here you still picked up the receiver, gave the box a crank and said, “Hello, Central, hello Central, give me 603,” or words to that effect, and it seems like only yesterday that my extension changed from three shorts, two longs and a short to numbers.

            Anyway, as I sais, I sometimes don’t get Central or a dial tone or anything. A few days ago, I learned that the problem might be with Line 72.

            “My phone’s not working again,” I said to a co-worker. “Does yours work?”

            “It’s Line 72,” came the reply. “If you get Line 72, you can’t get a dial tone.”

            “Why don’t they fix it?”

            “Because there isn’t any Line 72 in the first place,” was the answer.

            OK, for a recap, when you punch nine and the telephone croupier spins the little roulette wheel and the ball happens to land on Line 72 you lose. I don’t know who wins, but you lose.

            Question: How does one avoid Line 72 and get Line 39 or Line 27 or Line 1776?

            Answer: One does not avoid Line 72. One just gets lucky.

            Question: If one is unlucky and hooks up to the phantom Line 72, what does one do?

            Answer: Now this is where it gets a little tricky and takes help. If you get Line 72, you embrace it. You then hang up and pick another phone across the room, or have someone do it for you, and then they’re the one stuck with Line 72 (Which as you will recall from previous discussions, does not exist, or if it does exist it has an unlisted number.)

            Where were we, oh yes, you’ve now foisted Line 72 off on somebody else, and you can try for Line 73 or whatever. This is called passing the buck, or in official telephony terms, “bucking the line,” which used to be a play in football until the passing game took over.

            It’s so simple, a four year old could understand it, and to borrow from Groucho Marx, “Go out and find me a four year old. I can’t make heads or tails of this.”

            I’m with Groucho. All this Line 72 and Line 36 and Line 127b business sounds a lot like an IRS form to me, and those guys are tricky you know.

            Anyway, I figure this is all the fault of somebody, and I think we ought to make him or her do something about it. I’d call 911 for help but I’d probably just get Line 72. Maybe I’ll write a letter.