後來我才發現，在那具神奇的裝置，竟住著一個不可思議的人物，名叫 "請接服務台 "。她是個無所不知的萬事通，不但能提供任何人的電話號碼，還會準確報時。 某天，母親外出拜訪朋友，我和那個住著仙女的黑盒子，首次發生了接觸。當時我正在地下室的工作檯旁玩耍，一不小心拿槌子打在自己的手指上。
我朝剛好位在我頭頂的話筒叫喊「請接服務台！」 只聽得 " 喀 " 、 " 喀 " 二聲後，一個微細卻清晰的聲音傳入我耳際，「服務台」。 好不容易找到聽眾，我禁不住淚如雨下，對著話筒啜泣著說「我的手指受傷了。」 對方問：「你母親不在家嗎？」 我答道：「只有我一人在家」我哭得更傷心了 「有沒有流血？」她又問。 我說：「沒流血，但手指被槌子打到，很痛。」
「你能從冰箱裡拿到冰塊嗎？」 我說可以。 「去取一小塊冰來，把它按在你受傷的地方」，那聲音又說。 從此之後，一遇麻煩我就撥 "請接服務台 "。她會告訴我費城的地理位置，幫我解數學題目。我在公園裡抓到一隻花栗鼠，她教我用水果及堅果餵它。
後來，我們家的寵物，金絲雀貝蒂過逝了，我撥電話給 " 請接服務台" ，告訴她這個惡耗。她聽完，跟我說了些大人安慰小孩的話，可是我仍然非常傷心。 我問她：「為何這樣一隻歌聲美妙，且給我們家帶來這麼多歡樂的小鳥，最後落得只剩一堆羽毛呢？」
她一定是感受到了我的哀傷，因為這次她用嚴肅的語氣回答說：「保羅，永遠記住，牠還可以在其他的世界裡唱歌。」 我突然覺得舒服了。 又有一天，我又打給 " 請接服務台" 。 「服務台！」耳邊響起那已變得很熟悉的聲音，「請問【FIX】怎麼拼？」我說。
上述事件發生在美國西北臨太平洋的一個小鎮。到我九歲時，我們雖舉家遷居東北部的波士頓市，我卻一直非常懷念我的朋友。由於 " 請接服務台 " 是居住在老家的那個舊木盒裡，我從未想過要去使用那支放在新家客廳桌上的新話機。 後來年歲雖然漸長，幼時在電話機上的種種對話的記憶卻歷久彌新。每當心中產生困惑和不安之時，我總會回想起我那位朋友往日賜予我的安全感，我終於能體會她花在我這位小朋友身上的耐心、寬容和仁慈是何等可貴。
數年後某天，我乘飛機赴西岸就讀大學，途經西雅圖，趁約半小時的等機空檔，我和當時居住在那兒的姐姐通了個電話，之後幾乎是不假思索，又撥了另一個號碼 ──老家小鎮的接線生，「請接服務台」我說。 奇蹟似的我又聽到那熟悉、微細、卻清晰的聲音「服務台」剎那間，毫無預備的我竟聽見自己說，「能不能請你告訴我【FIX】如何拼？」 好長一陣寂靜之後，傳來那依然柔和的聲音，「我想你的手指現在該痊癒了吧？」 我不禁興奮的笑了出來。
「真沒料到你仍在這裡工作」我說，「我想你大概無法了解，昔日你對我的意義是如何重大。」 她回道：「我想你大概也無法了解在那段時日，你的電話，對我有多麼重要。我自己未曾生育子女，所以經常盼望你打電話給我。」 我告訴她，這些年來是如何的想念她，並問她以後若回來探望姊姊時，可否再打電話給她。 「你一定得再打給我。」
她說：「我叫莎莉。」 三個月後我再度回到西雅圖。一個陌生的聲音回答說：「服務台。」我說：「請找莎莉。」「你是她的朋友嗎？」她說。 我回道：「是的，是非常老的朋友。」「很抱歉，過去幾年莎莉因為生病，所以一直在上兼職的班，她已在五個星期前去逝了。」 在我即將掛上聽筒之際，她說：「稍等一下，你叫保羅嗎？」「是的」 「莎莉有留言要我轉告你，她把它寫在一張小條子上，讓我唸給你聽。 她說：請告訴他，我仍堅信還有其他的世界可讓我們唱歌。他會懂我意思的。」 我謝過她，並掛上聽筒。 是的，我的確明白莉莎的意思。有心或是無心的幫別人一個小忙，也許會佔用自己一些的時間、一些的心力，但是受到恩惠的人卻會感謝你一輩子.......
"Information Please"by PaulVilliard
When I was quite young, my family had one of the first telephones in our negihtborhood. I remember well the polished oak case fastened to the wall on the lower stair landing. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I even remember the number-105. I was too little to reach the telephone, but my mother talked used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it. Once she lifted me up to speak to my father, who ws away on business. Magic!
Then I discovered that somewhere inside that wonderful device lived an amazing person-her name was "Information Please" and there was nothing she did not know. My mother could ask her for anybody's number; when our clock ran down, Information Please immediately supplied the correct time.
My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-receiver came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool-bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn't seem to be much use crying because there because there was no one home to offer sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving the stairway.The telephone! Quickly I ran for a footstool in the receiver and held it to my ear. "Information Please," I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.
A click or two, and a small, clear voice spoke into my ear."Information." "I hurt my fingerrr—" I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough, now that I had an audience. "Isn't your mother home?" came the question. "Nobody's home but me," I blubbered. "Are you bleeding?" "No," I replied. "I hit it with the hammer and it hurts." "Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could. "Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it on your finger. That will stop the hurt. Be careful when you use the ice pick," she admonished. "And don't cry. You will be all right."
After that, I called Information Please for everything. Iasked for the help with my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was, and the Orinoco—the romantic river I was going to explore when I grew up. She helped with my arithmetic, and she told me that a pet chipmunk—I had caught in the park just the day before—would eat fruit and nuts.
And there was the time that Petey, our favorite canary, died. I called Information Please and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was unconsoled: Why was it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to the whole families, only to end as a heap of feathers feet up, on the bottom of the cage?
She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in." Somehow I felt better. Another day I was at the telephone. "Information," said the now familiar voice. "How do you spell fix?" I asked. "Fix something? F-I-X."
A that instant, my sister who took unholy joy in scaring me, jumped off the stairs at me with a banshee shriek—"Yaaaaaaaaaa!" I fell off the stool, pulling the receiver out of the box by its roots. We were both terrified—Information Please was no longer there, and I was not at all sure that I hadn't hurt her when I pulled the receiver out.
Minutes later there was a man on the porch. "I am a telephone repairman. I was working down the street and the operator said there might be some trouble at this number" He reached for the receiver in my hand. "What happened?" I told him. "Well, we can fix that in a minute or two." He opened the telephone box, exposing a maze of wires and coils, and fiddled for a while with the end of the receiver cord, tightening things with a small screwdriver. He jiggled the hook up and down a few times, then spoke into the phone. "Hi, this is Pete. Everything's under control at 105. The kid's sister scared him and pulled the cord out of the box."
He hung up, smile, gave me a pat on the head and walked out the door. All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. Then, when I nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston—and I miss my mentor acutely. Information Please in that old wooden box back home, and I somehow never thought of trying the tall, skinny new phone that sat on a small table in the hall.
Yet, as I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me; often in moments of doubt and perplexity, I would recall the sense of security I had when I knew that I could call Information Please and get the right answer. I appreciated now how very patient, understanding and kind she was to have wasted her time on a little boy.
A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane stopped in Seattle. I had about half an hour between connections, and I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister who lived there now, happily mellowed by marriage and motherhood. Then, really without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my home operator and said, "Information Please."
Miraculously, I heard again the small, clear voice I knew so well: "Information." I hadn't planed this, but I heard myself saying, "Could you tell me, please, how to spell the word 'fix'?" There was a long pause. Then came the softly spoken answer. "I guess," said Information Please, "that your finger must have healed by now." I laughed. "So it's really still you. I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during all that time...." "I wonder," she replied, "if you know how much you meant to me? I never had any children, and I used to look for your calls. Silly, wasn't it?" It didn't seem silly, but I didn't say so. Instead I told her how often I thought of her over the years, and I asked if I could call her again when I came to visit my sister after the first semester was over. "Please do. Just ask for Sally." "Good-bye, Sally" It sound strange for Information Please to have a name. "If I run into any chipmunks, I'll tell them to eat fruit and nuts." "Do that, she said. "And I expect one of these days you'll be off for Orinoco. Well, good-bye." Just three months later I was back again at the Seattle airport. A different voice answer, "Information," and I asked for Sally. "Are you a friend?" "Yes," I said. "An old friend." "Then I'm sorry to have to tell you. Sally had only been working part-time in the last few years because she was ill. She died five weeks ago." But before I could hang up, she said, "Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Villiard?" "Yes." "Well, Sally left a messge for you. She wrote it down." "What was it?" I asked, almost knowing in advance what it would be. "Here it is, I'll read it—'Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean.'" I thanked her and hung up. I did know what Sally meant.