Today I worked up the courage to call Bell Canada and see about getting a phone line for the Manse.
Now of course you are asking yourself: why on earth did it take courage to contact Bell about a phone line? Well, I’ll tell you: what I really wanted wasn’t so much the phone line as the phone number. And not just any phone number either; I was hoping against hope that I could get the same number that the Manse had all those years ago when I was growing up there.
I’d been putting off inquiring about it for months and months because I was afraid Bell would tell me in no uncertain terms that there wasn’t a chance of that – that the number had been permanently retired or, more probably, had been put out of circulation for a while and then given to someone else. I really really really wanted our old number back, but I feared the chances were slim.
And that fear pretty much came true in my first conversation with a Bell representative. The guy (who spoke very very very loudly) didn’t seem sure of much of anything, was unable to find the old number, asked some odd questions (like: what were the phone numbers of our neighbours in Queensborough. What has that got to do with anything?), and held out little to no hope that anything could be done. Then he started going on about filling out some sort of application and the charges that this would entail, at which point I figured I’d had enough of dealing with someone who didn’t know what he was talking about and bid him sayonara.
Ah, but then my luck turned. I called again, and this time I got the wonderful Christine, someone who had obviously been with the company for a long time and knew – I mean, really knew – how things work and how to get stuff done. I explained – as I had for the first guy, who gave no evidence of actually listening to what I was saying – that I’d bought the rural Ontario house I grew up in, and was hoping against hope to get the phone number my family once had there. And you know what? Christine listened, and she cared. She too expressed skepticism that it could be done, but said she’d try. Then she put me on hold for a few minutes, apologized for the delay when she came back on the line, and announced that (through a little bit of hook and crook on her part, I gathered) she had got me the number!
I am totally thrilled by this – and by Christine, who was awesomely helpful. The line is to be connected sometime next month. I love the closing-of-the-circle feel of this.
But speaking of circles, my only regret in the story is this: Christine tells me that there’s absolutely no way we can use a rotary-dial phone at the Manse, that the old dial technology just won’t work anymore. And this even after I told her about the cool red dial phone that I acquired several years ago at a Montreal antique shop (and keep handy for when I need to get Khrushchev on the blower). Nope, said Christine, that was the one thing she could not do for me.
Oh all right then. No rotary phones for us. No party line, either, I guess. (Hey, wait a minute: Christine didn’t even mention the possibility of a party line!) But I got what matters most: the number to reach the Sedgwicks (and the Brassards) at the Manse in Queensborough. Same as it ever was.