When the old is gone and the new comes rushing in there’s fear, excitement and tears. No one knows what to feel. Since I was a child the 411 Operators of Millington Telephone Company have been climbing the stairs to answer the calls. It has always been women. I suppose that is because of the era the business started in. The beginning was a time when women could vote but their voices were for pretty things like giving information. I remember my Aunt going to work in the 1970’s wearing what she called her uniform. It was actually very dressy clothing because the owner liked his women to be pretty. I know that sounds sexist but that’s just the way things were then. Over many years the dress code eventually evolved to logo embossed t-shirts paired with jeans. Modernization changes many things.
This small town telephone company actually began its operations in 1928 in a time before major corporations took over our country. Americans with a dream could still own their own business and be a major contributor to the local economy. The dream is dying now. Most of the long term employees have already left. Of the few that remain some of them will have to be let go. I’m afraid technology is to blame. The old ways are replaced with more efficient systems. I know it happens everywhere. The days of Mom and Pop businesses are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These things must happen for a business to remain profitable.
Tell that to the melancholy hearts. Not just to the workers who have been there for 30 years but the local people who have grown accustomed to their wake up calls from the 411 crew. Tell it to the citizens who have always counted on hearing a familiar voice when they needed a number. Some of these women have been doing this for so long that they have many of the business numbers memorized. You don’t have to wait for them to look them up. They just spout them off as if it were a recipe for biscuits. Yes, I’m melancholy too.
You would think it would not bother me so much since I never actually worked there. The Millington Telephone Company has been a part of my entire life though. Well, most of it. I have been walking in and out of those doors since my childhood. If it makes me sad, I can’t imagine what these women feel. It’s like losing a large piece of who you are.
The new owner is a good and well respected company with great aspirations. They have done a great job in keeping the employees that they could and assisting the ones that they could not. I think we all wish them well. Lord knows the local economy needs them. It’s just hard to say goodbye to small town America and its small town ways.