The Talk for Too Long

Dufferin County History

By Nolen – Grade 5

Before she retired, Ruth worked at Bell Canada in Orangeville Ontario. She had fun working there for about 20 years, beginning in the 1980s. Ruth had the job title of “traffic operator”. A traffic operator had to answer all the calls that came into the Bell office and connect them to other calls, as needed. The staff worked on something called a “cord board” that was about 2ft x 2ft in size. They worked side by side on cordboards that were about one meter apart from one another. It took a lot of training to become a traffic operator, but it was worth it because it could be a lot of fun. For example, sometimes the traffic operators would get random calls from elderly people asking funny questions. Many times, they just wanted to know what time it was! Also, Ruth found that she had a good team to work with. If it was too busy on her cord board, Ruth could always tell another girl in the office and they would take care of it. 

One particular week Ruth was working on a really busy Friday night. She kept getting calls from two teenagers. So she picked it up and said, “Hello, how can I help you?” 

One of the teenagers replied very politely, “Hello, can I speak to someone?”.

“Who would you like to speak to?”, replied Ruth. 

“Well, I don’t know. Anyone would be fine,” replied the youth. 

Well, on one line Ruth had a teenager from Orangeville and on the other she had a teenager from Dundalk. Since the two teens were both looking for someone to talk with, just playing around on the phone lines, she simply connected these two strangers together for a conversation. Ruth and the girl working next to her chuckled, as they thought this was a fun little prank. 

The funny thing was that the two boys ended up talking together for about 1 and a half hours. Ruth was not listening to the conversation too much, but she did have to check the lines occasionally to make sure they weren’t holding up the lines for other people. To check the lines she could press a button and hear them talking. 

The two teenagers had no idea who the other one was, so they got busy trying to figure out  which street the other lived on and which town each other was from. They seemed to be having lots of fun with their conversation and guessing game.  

Eventually Ruth had to tell the two teenagers that they were being disconnected, because it was time to close the Bell office for the night. To this day Ruth still looks back fondly on her time at Bell, and this was one of the funniest stories from her career as a traffic operator.