“Hello? Are your phones okay now?” A familiar, mellifluous middle-aged lady’s voice.

“I guess so,” I said. “They’ve been down for three days and all weekend, but I guess they’re working now.”

“I’ve been worried about you. What’s going on? Is it the construction?”

I swiveled around to face the manager, brandishing the phone and said, “Did you know the phones are working again?”

Ann was hunched over her desk, juggling numbers on the staff schedule and entering them into a spread sheet on the pc screen. “Really?” she abstractly replied. “They weren’t working this afternoon.”

“Congratulations!” I said to the lady on the phone. “You’re the first in-coming call we’ve received in a week.”

“Really?” came that familiar trill, identifying her as no one else but our mysterious Weather Lady who regularly calls each of our public service desks at all of our locations around the county asking for a detailed five-day forecast from weather.com

The first few times I was perfectly polite and professional, but then came a time when I was working alone at the desk and surrounded by unwashed masses of needy, whiny patrons.

“What about the chance of measurable precipitation?” the Weather Lady was pressing me on the telephone. “Are you really on weather.com? I need the extended forecast.”

“Ma’am, there’s nobody here but me tonight and people in front of me asking for help. Can you call back later? We’re open till nine.”

“Oh. I’m so sorry,” she said, her voice abashed. And hung up.

Hours later, shortly before closing, she called again. “Can you talk now?” she said. “Really, I’m so sorry about before. I know you have work to do. I can try again tomorrow, if you’re too busy.”

“Now’s good,” I said. “I’m sorry I was abrupt. It’s kind of crazy here when we’re already short-staffed and people call in sick. I mean we’re operating with a skeleton crew already, while they re-model the building.”

“Oh, I’m sure it must be terribly stressful and I don’t want to be a bother.”

“No, really. Now’s a good time to call. Most people have gone and all the homeless had to go back to their shelter.”

“I’m glad for you. Everybody there is so nice and you deserve a break once in a while.”

“Well, it’s a job,” I sighed. “So here’s the five day forecast for Ogden vicinity..”

I picture her with a glass of wine and the tv on, sound turned off, alone in a nice home. Divorced. Childless. Agoraphobic. Articulate. White. Comfortable. Lonely. Somehow has discovered a life-line to other people in calling public libraries and talking about the weather. It’s endless fascinating, you know. So unpredictable, by turns benevolent or harsh–sometimes both at once–you know what I mean, when the sun’s shining on you, maybe, but you can see it’s raining across the valley, and thunder clouds forming on the horizon?

One night she called was particularly slow and I was so bored out of my mind I was actually glad to hear her voice. “So, what’s your name?” I said. “My name’s Bob and I talk to you all the time but I don’t know your name.”

“I’d rather not say. It’s not important. Hey, have you heard of warm-lines?”

“Worm-lines?” I said, picturing some kind of trail in the mud left by worms.

“Warm-lines,” she said. “Just google it. Can you get me a phone number for a warm-line I can call now?”

http://www.warmline.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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