The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Oh, heck! I've been hacked

The Spirit of Tehachapi


January 18, 2020

Pat Gracey

I awakened in a perfectly agreeable mood. It was time to write my article for The Loop newspaper and I even had a fair idea of what I was going to say. The phone rang and in thirty minutes I had ten calls asking if I had sent them a message by email. I had not. They said the message did not sound like something I would say. The "hacker" did not send me the message so I can only remember what the "hack-ees" told me it said. Apparently, the message read I was traveling and remembered that it was my niece's birthday and was not able to send her a gift card on eBay. I requested that they send it to her and I would duly repay after my traveling was over. No wonder it did not sound like me. My travels only take me to the post office, church, grocery store and Veterans' Hall. I have the smartest friends in these United States and Ireland. Yes, a friend in Ireland received the scam/spam "hack". All of my email friends knew it was not from me. "Hack" is a dumb word, anyway. It can mean most anything. Ever hear of someone who had a "hacking cough?" I remember that a broken down taxi used to be called a "hack" as well as an aged, broken-down horse. Chopping wood with a hatchet is called "hacking" as well as writers who will write anything for a price. I don't like cheaters but I'm a forgiving person. I would like for them (the hackers) to rot in jail until they have written fifty thousand times, in perfect Palmer Method Longhand script, "I will never hack anyone's computer again." As I say, I'm a forgiving type.

I would like to be able to include in my computer correspondence to friends some of those little "emojis" that make smiling faces and things like that. I don't know how to call them up but it doesn't keep me awake nights. I believe I can put it at the bottom of my bucket list. Plenty of time; Lord willin'.

Years ago when I used to be a telephone operator in the City of Tehachapi we had little signals; verbal, of course, that operators knew and were time saving. When the number did not answer you told the customer, "I'm sorry, the number does not answer." When talking to a long distance operator you'd just say, "D-A, operator." She'd say thank you and get off the line. Sometimes the line was busy and we'd say "B - Y, operator." This one always left me wondering who thought it up. N-F meant "No Phone." It should have been N-P. Someone who flunked spelling probably slipped that one in. There were many others but that's just a sample.

The customers were sometimes cranky and even insulting when the number didn't answer but mostly they were kind and considerate. One such lady was Mrs. Dora Delzer who lived in Cummings Valley and who answered when her number rang. She was on a party line with about six other people. Cummings Valley is pretty open and one could easily see their neighbors' vehicles as they drove by. When we would ring someone on the line (they all had special rings) Mrs. Delzer knew where they were. she'd pick up the receiver and say, "Operator, they're over at 'so and so's' house." I'd thank her and ring "so and so's house."

The long distance operators did not appreciate Dora and would say, "Madam, please get off the line." She would and I would ring the number where both Dora and I knew the folks had gone. We, as operators, were not allowed to say "they're over at so and so's house.'" So I would ring their number and when it did not answer, I would say, "D-A operator." Remember that means it doesn't answer. The long distance operator said thank you and her party did not get to speak to the person they were calling. Mrs. Delzer was a fine person. I still have her recipe for Porcupine Meatballs.

There was another method of abbreviated communion such as a telegrapher who did Morse Code. Rollo Carr was the Station Master of the Monolith Depot. I recall riding past the Depot for years in the thirties and forties but never realized when it disappeared. His family lived in the depot right alongside the tracks. I once asked Rollo's daughter, Barbara, if there was adequate room to live in the Depot. She said her brother had to sleep in the lobby at night.

A telegrapher operated an early form of communication that came in on a wire. Words came across in the form of dots and dashes. A different form of emojis where one hears the sound and just imagines the picture.

Each Depot had its own signal but all of the messages came through and could be heard by all. Barbara said Rollo could sit back in his chair and decipher any messages that came though. Some messages were jokes from other key operators for all to hear and decipher.

The early Native Americans of our land used to communicate with one another at a distance with a bonfire and a blanket. The puffs of smoke released were deciphered by those watching. We've come a long way.


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