Work for an operator

Work for an operator

The following are real conversations Directory Enquiries operators had with callers, as revealed in interviews with staff at the Cardiff DE Centre.

Caller : I'd like the number of the Argoed Fish Bar in Cardiff, please. Operator : I'm sorry, there's no listing. Is the spelling correct? Caller : Well, it used to be called the Bargoed Fish Bar but the B fell off.

* * *

Then there was the caller who asked for a knitwear company in Woven. Operator : Woven? Are you sure? Caller : Yes. That's what it says on the label - Woven in Scotland.

* * *

Caller : I'd like the RSPCA please.

Operator : Where are you calling from?

Caller : The living room

* * *

Caller : The water board please.

Operator : Which department?

Caller : Tap water.

* * *

Operator : How are you spelling that?

Caller : With letters.

* * *

Caller : I'd like the number for a reverend in Cardiff, please.

Operator : Do you have his name?

Caller : No, but he has a dog named Ben.

* * *

Caller : The Union of Shopkeepers and Alligators please.

Operator : You mean the Amalgamated Union of Shopkeepers?

* * *


  • 7 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • My mother was born in 1930 and had lots of memories of operators using a plug in board and party-lines (I remember a few myself). Once, when I was about 18, she suggested we dial 411 to answer a question. We all looked at her baffled, but she remembered when she was younger that it was a common thing to do. If you couldn't remember someone's name or some movie star or something, you dialed 411 (Information) and asked. Very often they gave you the answer. It was the equivalent of Google in her teenage years.
  • We used to call the operator to find out what time it was.
  • I believe it was in 1995 when we moved to a rural area in mid-Missouri. They could not promise us a private line. It depended on what type of line the closest neighbor had to determine if we would have a private line or a party line. My wife loved going to conferences/conventions where IT folks were pitching their products. When they would ask if anyone had any questions, she would ask them, "What if you are on a party line?" Most of them did not know what a party line was.
    We used to call the local library with questions we could not answer - they were very helpful
  • We were on a party line when I was a kid (way back in the 60's) but I didn't realize they'd still had them in some areas as recently as the 90's!

    I was talking about party lines lately with somebody else who remembered them and the 35-year-old sitting with us had no clue what we were talking about. I think they thought a "party line" was some kind of 900 number you could call to have a good time! :D
  • I remember plug-in switchboards! I used one years ago, when I was practically a child. I think switchboard operators may have invented the word multitasking!

  • Sharon: One of my older sisters worked for a local tv station on Friday and Saturday nights answering the phone (late 60's). She had one of those plug in switchboards. She had a terrible time every time Johnny Carson did something kiss someone of a different race. We all became much more aware of racism and other social mores while she worked there.
  • I was a relief operator for an answering service and mostly worked nights. I was amazed at how many people called their doctor in the middle of the night for the silliest things. (Made it easy to understand why the Docs had an answering service screening their calls.) Most callers would start right in with their symptoms and then get ticked off when I had to explain that I was just the answering service and could only relay information to the Doc.

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