Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hide and seek

Most of the people with whom I associate have at least three phone numbers -- work, home and cell. On any given day, one should be able to contact them at their domicile or their place of employment or virtually anywhere else-- the store, on the road, in the bathroom, whereever!

Some of this need to always be at the beck and call of anyone who wants to contact us at anytime, anywhere, is a little annoying, but I guess that's our fault for giving in to demands of being connected and wired to the rest of the societal collective.

I live not too far from a mentality that seems not have given in, and I must take it or leave it.

While trying to get in touch with a colleague who was teaching at a remote training facility in the Cascade mountains, I had a devil of a time trying to track down the phone number. Since this facility is located on property owned by the city of Seattle, I called them. I got put on hold, forever. Then I called another number. No one was there, and the recorded voice stated that all messages would be checked twice a week. I didn't know if one of those checks would have been made on a Thursday, so I hung up. Finally, I called some executive director and ended up with his executive assistant. She didn't know the phone number, and suggested that I call all the numbers I previously tried. When I told her I had had no success, she suggested I call the general store that is about 10 miles from the location of the training facility and, in her words, "see what happens."

The lady at the general store said that, yes, she did have the phone number in question, but it was around there "somewhere." She asked her co-worker for the number. I heard her helpful colleague ask her who it was who wanted to know, and perhaps the caller could call the main training office number in another town. Fortunately, the number was found, and I was in business.

When I finally reached my destination, and before I was able to talk with my co-worker, the lady on the other end said that they don't publish the number. Well, that was helpful.

I think I have gotten used to easy access these days. With a few taps of the keyboard, I usually can track down whatever and whomever I want with relative ease. But if someone doesn't want to be found, it's frustrating.

But, I guess for people who live upriver and up in the mountains, being hard to reach is a skill they seem to have mastered. In one of these upriver towns, though, I know from experience that if they can't be found at home, or at their place of employment or out plowing the fields, they can be found at the local tavern. So, perhaps they aren't trying to hide after all. Perhaps their location just is on a need-to-know basis. And if you ain't from there, and if they don't know you, you don't need to know.


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