I was working on the layouts for one of Jeff €™s stories and was excited to tell this girl I was trying to impress more about it. But, as those young love conversations do, we moved off-topic pretty quickly, jumping from one topic to the next. I don €™t remember much about those conversations now, but I still remember the distinct click the phone made when we switched from talking about the Iraq story to discussing her misadventures at the local laundromat earlier that evening.
That click became a regular occurrence on our office line €”popping up as you €™d move towards or away from more politically charged topics €”and was followed not long after by intractable problems with our office phone line. Occasionally you €™d pick up the phone and, instead of a dial tone, you €™d get the digital static of a modem; other times you €™d pick up and there €™d be a few moments of silence followed by a click and a dial tone. Mid-conversation you €™d sometimes find your voice beginning to echo, then snap back into normality. And of course, sometimes the phone would stop working entirely, and a bewildered customer service representative would mutter words about things being €œflagged € before putting me on hold. The line would usually start working quickly after those service calls.
Finally, after an extended period of bad dial-tones and calls getting cut off, the line just entirely went dead. A particularly dogged technician came to the office. He spent time in our space, time in his truck, time up on a pole. If I remember right, he even drove to one of the main switches near us. Finally he came back, looking completely bewildered and said, €œI really don €™t know what to tell you. It €™s almost as if your line goes somewhere else before it comes to us. € 1