(GK: Garrison Keillor, TR: Tim Russell, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith)

GK: The plague of cellular phones is with us to stay, and whenever you go to dinner with your wife, no matter how wonderful the restaurant is, the guy at the next table is probably going to have a cell phone.

TR (HONKY VOICE): Yeah, we're at La Magnifique having dinner. We just ordered. Had a minute so thought I'd check in, see how you guys are doing. --- It's great. Great food, great atmosphere. You'd love it. ----You are? You're here? Sitting in back? Where? Oh. I see you. Who's that with you? Great. Well, good to see you.

GK: You walk on an airplane and everybody in first class is talking away a mile a minute----

SS (HARSH, LOUD): Hi. It's me.----Yeah, we're on our way to Chicago. I'll call and let you know when we get there.

GK: It's a great invention for people who never liked the idea of being quiet in public. You go to the symphony and people can't wait until intermission so they can call up someone and say----

TR (HONKY): We're at the symphony. --- Yeah. It's good. ---No, it's intermission. We're in the lobby. Just checking in to see how you're doing.

GK: The cell phone has very little to do with communication, it has more to do with simply announcing your movement through the world.

SS (LOUD): I'm on my way to Mother's now, and when I'm done there, I'm going to pick up Muffy at Jennifer's and stop at Dayton's and look at kneesocks and then I'll head home. Probably get there around 5:30 or 6.

GK: As a result of the cell phone craze, the Twin Cities has now added two new area codes, giving us a total of four. We used to be one, 612, and the thought of all of us being together in 612 was comforting and a real source of social identity, but now there are four area codes, and for a guy my age who remembers a simpler era in telecommunications (CRANK RINGER, TWO SHORTS, LONG)----

TR: I'm trying to call the Cities, Mabel ---- ring up Juniper 2014.

GK: For me, the idea of dialing ten digits when you're only calling Hopkins or Osseo or Anoka is odd. The world is supposed to get smaller and now Wayzata and Minnetonka and Fridley are long distance. This week I dialed a number in Minnetonka that used to be in 612 but now is 952 but when I dialed it as a 952 number I got a recorded message saying to dial it as a 763 number and when I dialed it as a 763 number I got you know what---- and of course the recorded messages are so long.....

SS (MESSAGE, ON PHONE): Thank you for using your telephone. We appreciate your patronage. All of us at Quest are doing our very best to provide you with quick and reliable service. The number you dialed is not in the 763 area code. It is in another area code that I will tell you in a minute but first here are a whole bunch of menu options that probably don't interest you but thank you for your patience. If you'd like someone from our technical staff to call you in two to four weeks and try to fix the problem, press 2. If you'd like to hear this message in Spanish, press 3. To hear the message in Old English, press 4. To order a new telephone in hopes it might solve the problem, press 5. To speak to an operator who is powerless to help you, press 6. To hear this entire message again, press 7.

GK: So I did what a person my age does in this situation, I dialed O. For operator.

SS (ON PHONE): Hello, this is Kim, how may I help you?

GK: Kim, my name is Carson. I'm an older guy, I'm in St. Paul, and I'm having trouble dialing a number in Minnetonka.

SS (ON PHONE): How do you spell that?

GK: Minnetonka?

SS (ON PHONE): Yes. What city is that near?

GK: Minneapolis.

SS (ON PHONE): I show the nearest city to be Minneapolis-St. Paul.

GK: Kim, you're not here in Minnesota, are you.

SS (ON PHONE): No, I'm not.

GK: You're in some sort of cubicle in a windowless bunker down in Atlanta or Houston or Phoenix and you've never actually been to Minnesota, have you.

SS (ON PHONE): No, I haven't.

GK: You're actually not all that clear about exactly where Minnesota is, are you.

SS (ON PHONE): It's near Minneapolis-St. Paul, right?

GK: Kim, you're probably getting paid about $4.50 an hour and your parents are paying for your Prozac and you probably live in one of those apartment concentration camps in an outer suburb and you share it with three other women and their names are Heather, Nicole, and Jennifer.

SS (ON PHONE): Kaitlyn. Not Jennifer. Kaitlyn.

GK: So how can I be angry at you, Kim?

SS (ON PHONE): Thank you, sir.

GK: You're about to shunt me onto another one of those recorded messages with the long menu at the end, aren't you.

SS (ON PHONE): Yes, sir.

GK: Kim, have a good life and, believe me, we Minnesotans do not blame you personally for this lousy service we get from (CLICK)

TR (RECORDED MESSAGE): Welcome to Quest's Service Hotline. We're sorry that you're experiencing difficulty there in----

SS (ROBOT): Minneapolis-St. Paul ----

TR: --- and we appreciate your patience while our trained service personnel in the---

SS (ROBOT): Minneapolis-St. Paul---

TR: --- office attempt to solve this problem. We at Quest pride ourselves on providing the very best service possible and look on all of you----

SS (ROBOT): Minneapolis-St.Paul---

TR: ---ites as cherished friends and partners in the Quest family of telecommunications......

GK: I figured since I've got to dial the ten digits and pay the price for everybody else having a cell phone, I might as well get one myself ----- (DIAL TEN DIGIT BEEPS) (RING OTHER END) (PICK UP)

SS (ON PHONE): Hello?

GK: Hi. Just me.

SS: Where are you?

GK: St. Paul.

SS: Oh. You sound far away.

GK: No, I'm right here in St. Paul. Doing a radio show.

SS: Is that right? How's it going?

GK: It's going okay.

SS: How long you have to do that for?

GK: Not so long and then I'll probably head home after.

SS: Real good. Well, I'll talk to you later.

GK: Okay then. You take care now.

SS: You too.

GK: Talk to you later. Bye now.

SS: Bye now.


(c) 2001 by Garrison Keillor