LIFE’s lessons
Information Please

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighbourhood. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother used to talk to it.

Then I discovered an amazing person inside the wonderful device. Her name was Information Please and there was nothing she did not know.

My first experience came one day while my mother was not home. While playing, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible. I walked around the house, finally arriving near the telephone! I unhooked the receiver and said Information Please.

A small clear voice spoke into my ear. "Information." "I hurt my finger. . ." I wailed into the phone. "Isn't your mother home?" came the question."Nobody's home but me." I blubbered. "Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could. "Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger."

After that I called Information Please for everything. I asked her for help with my geography. She helped me with my math. When Petey, our pet canary died, I called Information Please. She listened patiently. "Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy, only to end up as a heap of feathers?" She said quietly, "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in."Somehow I felt better.Another day I asked. "Information Please.""How do you spell fix?" I asked.

This took place in a small town in the pacific Northwest. Then when I was 9 years old, we moved to Boston. I missed my friend Information Please very much. As I grew the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. A few years later, I was at the Seattle airport. I had about half an hour or so between planes. I called my sister, who lived there now. Later, then without thinking, I dialled my hometown operator and said, "Information Please". Miraculously, I heard the familiar voice again, "Information." I heard myself saying, "Could you tell me please how-to spell fix?'

There was a long pause. Then came the soft answer, "I guess that your finger must have healed by now."

I laughed, "So it's really still you, I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time.""I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls."

I asked if I could call her again when I visit my sister. "Please do, just ask for Sally." Just three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered and I asked for Sally. "Are you a friend?" "Yes, a very old friend." "Then I'm sorry to tell you. Sally was sick. She died five weeks ago." But before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?" "Yes."

"Well, Sally left a message for you,"Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean'." I thanked her and hung up. I did know what Sally meant.

Author unknown