Ma Bell Is Calling
Ma Bell was gone with the wind sometime during Sunday night and Monday morning early. She didn't return, well, really, not fully until months later. So, making any phone call, post-Katrina, from Sunday night til Wednesday afternoon was impossible. Couldn't check on anyone, they couldn't check on you. But, this is important: by Monday afternoon you could text folks.
Being technologically impaired, I did not know why my cell phone kept making that damned noise. Over and over: ditleleyditeley... ditileyditeley. And there was no one there. Then I chanced to overhear a teenager reporting storm news to her parents. They were from our area and staying in a room down the hall. "Hey," I asked, "How?". "Text," she replied with an "you-ignorant-old-person-look". Finally, those mysterious cell phone emissions were explained. My son, Jeff, who lived in Slidell 'bout 1/8th of a mile from the Pontchartrain, had been texting me. They had evacuated to my home town, Alexandria, LA, and were fine and finally knew we were, too.
So, remember, when all else fails, text.
Ma Bell is Hiring
I have a theory. Untested, mind you. But I'm pretty sure I'm right.
Now, I've told you about the phones being down and not really up for months in KatrinaLand. And we couldn't return to our home until weeks after the storm because the roads were blocked with, like huge boats, houses, lotsa furniture, and trees, trees, trees. We had to get busy calling FEMA. (An aside: FEMA became an acronym for Find Every Mexican Available. There were droves of men from Central and South America who journeyed to KatrinaLand to do the thankless work after the storm. The area would not have recovered save these folks to whom I am, and everyone in KatrinaLand need be, eternally grateful.)
Imagine. Katrina devastated, destroyed, laid waste an area the size of Great Britain (a fact). So all these people from this vast area had to call FEMA to get any help. Jan and I did shifts calling the one FEMA number (yes, one), and either getting a busy signal or being put on hold for hours. Really. Hours. It took us three days and nights of calling to finally get through.
Now, here comes my theory. Once we actually got a person on the other end of the line, well, let's be nice and say they were not as competent as one would have liked. You know the joke about the government worker who got fired... she was caught doing her job. So my theory is that since Ma Bell's lines were down, there must have been lotsa out-of-work 911 operators. Ya know, the phone sex people. And these 911 operators were immediately snapped up by Ma Bell to work as FEMA-Phone-Answerers. Sadly, they were not as good FEMA-Phone-Answerers as they were sex-phone-answerers - 'cause I certainly never became even slightly orgasmic talking to any of them. And that would have been a nice perk at that time in my life.
Ma Bell's Men at Work
I think that there are some male 911 operators. Well, if they existed in September 2005, Ma Bell hired them, too. Not as FEMA-Phone-Answerers, but as linemen... and not the Glen-Campbell-Lineman-for-the-County-kind.
Of course, the phone lines had to be reconnected, restrung, redone (whatever) after Katrina. About three weeks after returning to Slidell, as we were trying to salvage stuff from our former home, this Ma Bell Man shows up in the hood to "re" whatever to the phone lines. He was justa working at the big ole box where the Ma Bell line comes in and the neighborhood phone lines go out. After several hours passed, and I walked out to check his progress. "'Bout done," he said. And, he was gone within 10 or 15 minutes. I tried phoning a friend in town: the phone worked! Or so I thought.
About an hour later, our phone rang. I answered. "Collect call from Sgt. Josh Herman to Mrs. Sue Herman... will you accept?" "AaaaahhhhhhShhhhiiitttit!" I sounded. Ma Bell's Man fucked up the phone lines. "JAAANNN!" I yelled, and to the operator, "Please, ma’am, hold the call... our phone lines are messed up, and I have Mrs. Herman's number... please, wait... we'll get her!" Thank goodness the operator was a nice-former-911-phone sex employee 'cause she held the call until we found Sue, our neighbor, and got her to our house to speak with her son in Afghanistan... calling to see if mom had made it through the storm...
After Sue and her son talked, we phoned Ma Bell...
Have a good day, Althea.