I'll admit it: I had a fairly insular, provincial life as a child growing up on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Someone calling my childhood home long distance—only from somewhere else within the United States, of course; never from another country—on our rotary phone was cause for great excitement; shushing all around, so that the called could hear the caller and nothing else; and then ending the call as soon as possible, because long distance was expensive, you know.
Since becoming an adult, I've been a newspaper reporter and seen all sorts of grisly and appalling things, worked in publishing in Manhattan and risked getting run over by cabdrivers and talked by phone with people across the country, and been a parent and seen and heard all sort of wondrous things and gross things. You'd think that I wouldn't have much of a sense of awe left.
But I do, and I'm approaching my fiftieth birthday.
I just got off the phone with a new client from South Korea who wants me to edit his manuscript before he submits it for publication in an English-language U.S. medical journal. It was thrilling to know that I was speaking with someone from the other side of the world, from a completely different culture, whose clock said that it was 14 hours later there than it is here and who probably didn't get that much sleep last night because he was on duty, who is doing surgery on people and making their lives more livable, ... and who wants my services so much that he didn't care about the cost of first faxing me long distance and then calling me long distance from his cell phone—he tried everything he could think of, after his ISP blocked my domain, to reach me. Long distance!
Is that cool or what? And if you think I'm a dork, I just don't care.
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