Exclusively Online | Fall 2020 Issue

“A Lighter Look”– Hello?

Rick Meyer's regularly appearing column takes a lighter look at politics and public affairs around the world. This month: The Telephone Tree

By Richard E. Meyer




You have reached the office of Prof. Wishbone Clavicle. Your call is important to us.

[The truth: A nap is more important. The professor is asleep in his chair.]

If this is an emergency, please hang up and call the dean.

 [The dean is asleep too.]

This call may be recorded for quality assurance.

[The professor has a bad memory.]

Listen carefully because our menu options have changed.

[As recently as four years ago.]

Please press 1 for English. Por favor, presiona 2 para Español.

 [Nobody in the professor’s office speaks Spanish.]

If you are a student and wish to talk to the professor’s assistant, press 3.

[She’s not asleep.]

If you are the dean and wish to talk to Prof. Clavicle, press 3 as well.

[His assistant will wake him up.]

Because of unusually high call volume, Prof. Clavicle is busy answering questions from other students.

 [Only two have called, and they’ve hung up.]

Please stay on the line.

 [Or you’ll get an F.]

For your convenience, press 4 if you need to be excused from class. Press 5 if you have questions about your term paper . . .  

[This has nothing to do with convenience. It’s a way to avoid hiring more office help.]

Press 6 if the bookstore has run out of Prof. Clavicle’s textbook. Press 7 if you have questions about the final exam. Press 8 if you want to change your grade . . .

[Be careful!! Everyone wants their grade changed.]

If you’re tired of the History of Kyrgyzstan and want to change your major: Press 9 for Astrophysics. Press 10 for Business economics. Press 11 for Climate science. Press 12 for Ecology, behavior and evolution. Press 13 for French. Press 14 for Japanese. Press 15 for Global studies. Press 16 for International development studies. Press 17 for Mathematics. Press 18 for Mathematics, applied, Press 19 for Mathematics, data theory. Press 20 for Mathematics, financial actuarial. Press 21 for Mathematics of computation . . .

“Hey, Harry, Can I borrow your cellphone? I’ve run out of numbers on my keypad.”

“Why do you need more numbers?”

“Because the numbers on this telephone tree go up to 103.”

“What kind of telephone tree is that?”

“It certainly isn’t a fruit tree. Everything on it is a little nutty.”




The Last Laugh:

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would rather have talked.” –– Mark Twain

Richard E. Meyer

Richard E. Meyer

Meyer is the senior editor of Blueprint. He has been a White House correspondent and national news features writer for the Associated Press and a roving national correspondent and editor of long-form narratives at the Los Angeles Times.

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