The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

ANSWERING MACHINE

While we were living in a Mobile Home Park in southern Michigan we had some very good neighbors directly across the street from us who were both quite generously hearing impaired. Bill would make regular trips to Mc Donald's for coffee, about every two hours, all day long. Occasionally Helen would accompany him, not side by side, but thirty or more feet behind. This separation did not interfere with their conversations, however, they continued their dialog, which all of the neighbors could clearly understand, until they closed the door at Mc Donalds, which was a block and a half from our place.

Now Bill and Helen had not had a telephone since the time that they moved into the facility. But they had, shortly before this time, concluded that they should have one, even though they were not real familiar with many of the new devices such as answering machines. That lack of expertise did not concern Bill, because the only thing that he wanted from that phone was to be able to call somebody when he wanted something.

Another person who we also knew real well, but who was not a resident of the Village, operated a "Handyman" service and had, at different times, done repair jobs for Bill. When the time came to have the roof of his Mobile Home washed and re-coated, Bill called the number that the Handyman, Jim, had given him. It was during working hours and Jim was not at home, but his answering machine responded to the call "You have reached Jim the Handyman, I cannot come to the phone, right now, but if you will leave your name and phone number, I will call you as soon as possible."

Jim told me later that there was a short pause and then, in Bill's usual loud voice he yelled "Helen!!, what the hell do I do now, wait for him or hang up".

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