It was probably around mid-summer of 1988 and I was living in Millwood, Alabama and working at a General Electric Lexan Plant in Burkeville, Alabama. Both locations were in the proximity of Montgomery, Alabama just to give you a little better perspective of where I was living and working.
I was working in the Field Engineering office which was a large, open bay area where desks sat either side by side or back to back. There was probably some twenty or so desks located in the area where some of the engineers and superintendents would sit and work when they were not out in the plant. Also working in the area was a young clerk named Natalie who was just barely out of high school. She pretty much just ran errands around the office or made copies of documents on the large office copy machine for the various engineers.
Now my best friend Jimmy, one of those superintendents I previously mentioned and myself were of such a disposition that we were seldom up to any good. And we both agreed one day that Natalie was a prime candidate for the old telephone maintenance farce and so it was that on one particular afternoon Jimmy and I decided it was time to put the plan in action.
Now the way this little scam worked, someone had to make a call to the office and impersonate a telephone maintenance worker so it was imperative that the impersonator be in the correct mental mindset so as to not bust out laughing right there on the telephone when you get your unsuspecting victim on the phone. So it was that on one particular day I opted to play the role of the telephone worker so when we knew Natalie was occupied with work at her desk, I went to get on a phone in one of the back offices of the building and made my call to her desk. She promptly answered, I explained to her that I was a telephone maintenance worker and explained to her that once a year the local telephone company had to blow the dust out of the telephone lines. I informed her that in approximately a half-hour we would be blowing out the dust in the lines of the phones in the office where she worked and that we needed someone to go around the office covering all the phones so that when the dust came out of the phones it didn’t blow all over the office or the workers. She assured me that she would take care of it immediately and hung up.
I immediately gasped a sigh of relief that I had gotten through my role in the scam without busting out laughing so I started heading up the hall to the main office to observe what I thought would be poor little Natalie running around covering telephones.
Now Jimmy had remained in the main office as an observer so he could relate to me Natalie’s actions during and immediately after the call. It took me a bit of time to get back to the main office but when I did the first thing I see is Jimmy laying on the floor laughing his ass off. Some of the other engineers had huge grins on their faces. Natalie was standing there obviously overwhelmed with embarrassment, then a few minutes later staring piercing daggers at the entire bunch. There were only two or three phones that had gotten covered up before apparently my partner in crime just busted out laughing and laid bare the perpetrated scam. And as it turned out, Natalie may have looked like she could bite nails into but she immediately joined in on the laughter and then began to tell us all how terrible we were.
Of course I was ready to kill Jimmy for blowing the whole thing. If anyone was going to give the scam away, I always feared it would be me. Jimmy claimed the reason he lost it was when little Natalie went into a panic because she was having trouble finding rags and stuff to cover the phones.
And I will readily admit that to this day I still wish the scam would have held up and I could have watched Natalie cover all those phones, especially when she got to the bosses offices. That was the only time that Jimmy and I ever ran that scam on anyone. It is, however, one of the really great ones when it can run its course. 🙂
I should confess in conclusion that I do have a bit of an ulterior motive for sharing this little antidote and that is to somewhat lead into an upcoming post featuring another of my recording projects that I consider part of my ‘music anthology’ where Natalie is once again the unsuspecting subject but for now, this will have to do…. 🙂