Clyde Fahlman/Phone Company

Fahlman had 17 different managerial assignments in phone companies. They were trying to find something he could do when he left. Note: The 17 jobs and "system" no longer exist. He is now an adjunct faculty at colleges in the Portland area teaching management courses in human relations, creativity, and humor in the workplace.This is the base for his book Laughing Nine to Five.

and yes, he has crow's feet around his eyes...


Of course these phones from "phone companies" that no one ever heard of a few years back...Nokia, Sony, et al producing wireless phones are everywhere. "Cellular" we call 'em. Their designs are getting better...but gang they are not funny. It troubles me to bring this news to you.

They are a part of a master global management scheme to keep track of you no matter where you are (and what you are doing.) This is part of the 24/7 concept that makes it possible for you to work any time the "suits" want you to.

The sad thing it's working. Next time you're at an airport note how many people grab their cell phones and presumably "report in" the minute they arrive. (Some make it to rest rooms and call in from there.)

This is just too much stress. You need to lighten up. Here's what we suggest you do. Grab one of those useless retractable cords (from old phones)that are hanging around home and office. Put it in your brief case. The next time you hear someone's cellular phone ring grab your phoneless cord, put it to your ear, and say hello. This will put a stop to a lot of nonsense from higher management. Again you heard it here first.

The Ballad of the Bell System


In a Book Review of the book "Laughing Nine to Five" John Morreall writes:


A veteran of the Bell Telephone system who took early retirement at a time of re-organization, Fahlman mines his decades of work experience in creative ways to come up with funny, trenchant observations and clever exercises.

There's something about working for the phone company that brings out biting comedy, especially about bad management---witness the success of former Pacific Bell employee Scott Adams' Dilbertcomic strip, with its pointy-haired boss based on Adams' own boss at Pacific Bell."


Breaking up is hard to do. No it isn't if you're AT&T. With a little help from the Department of Justice they did it in 1984.

And now they are at it again....and the apparent underlying reason for it is to somehow distance themselves from residential long distance managed by a division once creatively named "Long Lines."

This division has been the money maker for the "system." It provided the cash for such sterling purchases as National Cash Register and now well flung cable companies. This cash cow has fallen in grace, perhaps because it continues to produce revenues and this is a source of embarrassment. It would be nice, it is understood, if someone would just buy it away from AT&T.

Wait. We have another idea. What is needed is some cool advertising that will rewaken the need for residents to call each other by long distance. In that respect we have come up with some meaninigful slogans! Like these:

We know that these slogans will be effective in generating even more revenue for this division. Here, however, is another alternative: Merge with Budweiser to take advantage of their advertising, e.g.:

"Phone light. It will never fill you up or let you down." least not until you get the bill.

But then again we must not ask for whom Bell tolls.


Phone repair is not an oxymoron.

Particularly when you understand percussive maintenance.

If the caller can't hear you bang the phone receiver on the desk. If you can't hear the caller bang the base.


I was a Bell System manager. And then I started teaching. Okay full disclosure: I began moonlighting. Now, I'm no longer a manager. I am something called an adjunct faculty in management departments at two colleges. (But surprise: There are not a lot of teachers of humor in business or management programs.)

It is entirely possible that you may need some proof that I actually teach. Okay go to: Humor in the Workplace

(There are some mean spirited people out there that maintain if you cannot manage you teach. If you can't teach you write a book. Okay, I did that too.)


You remember don't you? Those were the days you carried a lot of loose change just in case you had to use a coin box. And for emergencies you did use them. You stopped the car, got out and called. There was none of this unhealthy calling of people everywhere for frivious stuff just because you had a phone attached to your ear.

And now just try to find one. Phone companies are hiding them because they are not profitable. If you find one they are priced out of the market and/or the instructions are coded for those who don't use English as a first language.

The good news is that this may change. And its coming from European telecommunications companies.

They plan to convert "old fashioned" pay phones into terminals that customers can use to surf the Internet and send e-mail.

Here's the real good news about this. It will end road rage. Instead of anger while driving a motorist will stop his car and go to an internet coin box and flame someone.


Phone Company engineers have done it again.

Those electrical engineering degrees are paying off.

For those not familiar with phone company engineering the engineers make use of complex tables (developed by someone called Poisson) to determine something called "useage." In short telephone calls times the length of a call in seconds divided by 100 tells you how many paths you need for calls.

Okay. So what's the big deal?

Telephone Engineers have adopted this breakthrough formula in the engineering of women's lavatories!


A great formula for perspective: The good thing about:


"The trouble left here okay."

This wonderful statement was authored by telephone types when checking out circuits across the country. Paraphrased it meant that if there was trouble it came from some other source. And if it reached our location we sent it on without comment.

Today politicians have adopted this philosophy (although it would be difficult to believe they could send it on without pinpointing blame at some other location.)

The sequel at phone networks today is "re-engineering." This means (we think) an effort to integrate all forms of communication while reducing the number of people operating the system. Engineers, of course, will be added.


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Nine to Five

Author/Phone Co.

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Last updated 4/01/2007