Educational experience

Flashback a decade or two to when this IT pilot fish works for a college as it moves professors from typewriters to computers and networks.

"My boss was a retired teacher who considered herself an expert on the phone system, as she was the one who called the phone company to have phones added or maintenance done," says fish.

"She was good in her subject area and was often asked to speak as a guest lecturer at other schools."

And fish notices that whenever she's leaving on a trip, she always leaves the office carrying a box. And her parting words are always "If you need me, just call! You have the number!"

Fish doesn't actually have a cell phone number for his boss, but he can't think of any reason he'd need to call her on the road, so he doesn't worry about it.

But one day, the boss does her usual pre-trip routine and emerges from her office without the box -- just her desk phone -- and says, "If you need me, just call! You have the number!"

Why are you carrying your phone? fish asks.

"Well, so people can call me, of course!" boss says. "I always take my phone and plug it into the jack at my room so people can reach me!"

Fish's jaw drops. It doesn't work that way, he tells her. The phone number stays with the phone jack.

"These are special phones that I paid a good price for," boss replies haughtily. "They most certainly do work that way!"

Fish asks to see the phone. As she watches, he plugs the boss's phone into his phone jack, then carries his own phone into her office and plugs it in.

Then he tells her that he will call his number, and then steps into an adjacent office and dials his number. Not surprisingly, the boss's phone rings.

Sighs fish, "She turned very red-faced but exclaimed that I was playing a trick and didn't have time to discuss the matter. She grabbed her phone and marched out.

"When she returned, I overheard her making numerous calls to the phone company.

"When her next trip came, she left the phone behind."

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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