Okay, I just need to start off by saying that I’m NOT a guy who routinely writes stories containing sexual innuendos. If you want to blame someone, blame the founders of the town in question. In 1754, the Old King’s Highway and the road from Wilmington, DE to Erie, PA intersected each other. The founders named the intersection “Cross Keys”. Later on, the village took on another name, which continues to spawn jokes. You’ll see why in a bit.
2000: I’m working at a library automation software company as a customer support technician. The libraries that bought our software and servers would call with all kinds of problems, and myself and the other techs would sort them out. This is how I ended up in this scenario.
One day, the owners of my company came up from New York City to meet with the management. After their meeting, they came to the Tech Support Area (a bunch of cubicles filled with geeks like myself). At one point, the owners and the VPs were standing outside my cubicle, waiting for me to get off the phone so that they could ask me questions about how the customers (libraries) were doing. That’s when all the planets started lining up to create the disaster which was to follow.
I wasn’t able to get off the phone, as I was in the middle of dealing with a “branch down.” It wasn’t just any branch; it was the library in the town I referred to earlier: Intercourse, PA.
I know the town was named in the 1700’s, but why would any self-respecting Quaker or Pennsylvania Dutchman give it that name? I’m thinking they were sexually repressed, and they wanted posterity to feel their pain.
Posterity? Oh, great! Now, I’m doing it, too…
When a library branch was down (couldn’t connect to the server and/or the Internet, the techs would contact the library’s Internet Service Provider (ISP), to determine if the problem lay with our software, our equipment, or the network. The branches were referred to by everyone involved by either a number or the name of the town where the branch was located.
The Intercourse branch was one of 35 in the Lancaster Public Library system. Its branch number was 25. For reasons I’ve already given, I preferred to refer to it by the branch number, even more so now as the owners and VPs were standing near my desk. But now, they weren’t just satisfied with talking to me. They wanted to observe how I resolved this issue.
I called the library’s ISP which happened to be Bell Atlantic. I was connected to one of their techs, who asked me which branch was affected. 10 pairs of ears were trained on me, and I really, REALLY did not want to say the name of the town. So, frantically, I tried to remember the branch number, and I could not. I remember it now 18 years later, but I felt like I was under a microscope, and I blanked.
The Bell tech kept asking me which branch was down, and I frantically searched my desk for Lancaster’s cheat sheet, which listed all of them. I couldn’t find it, of course.
By now, the technician from Bell Atlantic was starting to get annoyed, and started screaming at me over the phone:
“What’s the name of the f*%4$ branch!!!!!!!!”
This was threatening to become a racy version of the old “Who’s on First” comedy routine.
I almost told him: “You’re warm. You’re very warm.” But I didn’t know if he would get the hint.
In any event, he hung up on me.
I pulled off my headset, turned to the owners, smiled and said, “Another happy customer!”
They bought it.