Days of the Operator-Assisted Calls

My boss forwarded an email about a software supplier that has a branch in Singapore. I tried to avail of the trial software but the trial button was not enabled so I emailed the company to ask for assistance. They quickly replied and asked me to contact 747-xxx-xxxx so that their account manager/s can assist me. I googled Singapore’s country code and found it to be 65. So, I tried to contact the company by dialing 0065-747-xxx-xxxx. I heard an “unreachable tone” so I tried to dial again. I asked a friend who’s based in Singapore if there’s a 747 on their landline and he suggested that that number could be a “redirected” number. I was so sure that that landline was from Singapore so I mentioned to him that my boss thought that that number was from the USA. He agreed with my boss and he even showed me a link that I sent to him days back with that number written above the software company’s head office in Reno, Nevada. Ouch! I should have been more careful in perceiving things! Just because the first advertisement came from their Singapore office does not mean that the 747-xxx-xxxx is a Singapore landline number. Lesson learned.
How I miss the days when direct dialing was not yet possible and we have to be assisted by telephone operators whenever we need to place a long distance call or overseas call. I was very fond of placing a long distance call and talk with a telephone operator back then. Some operators were serious and stiff while most of them were friendly. There was even a time when one of my mother’s many godchildren was the one I was talking with.

“Uy, si Iris ba to? Saan ka tatawag? Ah sa Makati? Kumusta mo ako kay Ninang, ha?”
How sweet. =)
One of my admirers in college was bold enough to place a collect call from Baguio and he so missed me a lot; he talked with me for an hour! I knew it was a collect call and I was polite enough not to reject the call and I was also stupid enough not to end the conversation; it costed our telephone bill PhP500 for that call; back in the mid-90’s, that was a big amount for a telephone call.
I love Piltel operators and for me, they were the friendliest telephone operators; they wouldn’t show impatience if they could not connect your call to the person that you needed to call. When I was in Baguio, I had this Sunday habit to go to Piltel in Session Road after my Sunday mass at the Baguio Cathedral (I was a Catholic) to place a long distance call to my parents in Bataan. (I was teary-eyed when I passed by Piltel-Session Road in 2008. Memories, memories.)

It was sometime in 1996 when PLDT launched its direct dialing system in Balanga. This was a system enhancement and a reduction in labor cost, too because this new system would not need an operator to assist us in placing a long distance call.
Fast-forward to 2011 when having a cellphone is considered a necessity rather than a luxury. I was just thinking this afternoon; would it still be possible to get the assistance of a telephone operator even if I’m using a cellphone and not a landline phone? I guess, if that were possible, I would hear the voice from the other line saying “Ma’am, this 747-xxx-xxxx is NOT a Singapore number; let me help you place an overseas call to the US instead.”