Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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A Page From the Past

There was this guy – I’ll grant him anonymity in this space, but some of you know him – who used to carry around a voice pager so that his employer could get a hold of him on short notice. This was in the mid-1980s, when cell phones were still kind of exotic. Beepers and pagers were pretty common, though. I carried one myself when I delivered singing telegrams for a living. It had a single line monochrome readout that would show me the phone number I needed to call when it went off. But voice pagers were pretty cutting-edge, at least in our neighborhood.

Paging someone on one of these voice pagers was simple enough. You dialed their pager number and left a brief voice message. After a delay of a minute or so, they would hear your voice coming out of their pager. After obtaining this fellow’s pager number, I had all the tools I needed.

Our friend was over at my parents’ house, sitting in the living room surrounded by members of my family. He was on call for his employer so his pager was in his pants pocket. When the moment seemed right, I slipped out of the room and placed a phone call from the back bedroom. I hung up and quickly returned to the living room, where I sat and quietly waited for the message to be broadcast.

Suddenly, a frantic voice began to emanate from our friend’s pants: “Help! Help! Let me out of here! It’s stuffy in here!” Our startled friend immediately smacked the pager to shut it off. He instantly turned toward me and began to cuss me out, though he did so between spasms of laughter. He knew he’d been had, fair and square.

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