November 5, 2007

OK, the no carbs thing has gone TOO FAR!

Wha? The POP-CORN (767-2676) lady is gone? Those of you not from California (or Nevada) may not be familiar with the Popcorn Lady. I first read about her departure at Jeff’s Place, but last week, my favorite radio personality on KFOG was discussing it. This is huge news around here, you see.

Anyway, the Popcorn Lady was everyone’s affectionate name for the recorded voice we would call to find out what time it is. Every ten seconds, for 24 hours a day, every day, the message would change. Calling 767-2676, you would hear “At the tone, Pacific Daylight (or Standard) time will be “hour” “minutes” and “seconds” seconds. BEEP! And if you stayed on the line, you would hear the time change by 10 seconds, and so on. POP-CORN had other uses as well. Say a friend wanted you to stay for dinner, but you hated Brussels sprouts and salmon. You could say, “just let me call my mom and make sure it’s OK.” Then, dial the Popcorn Lady, ask the recording for her permission, which she would be unable to give, of course, and you were off the hook.

The tone of the Popcorn Lady’s voice is permanently etched in my brain. I imagined her to be very friendly, pretty and well-dressed. If only I could tell her how many times she got me out of things I didn’t want to do. And such a workaholic she was! Can you imagine working NONSTOP like that? Giving the time to people all day long? Well…she didn’t really do that. She had to record each number, using different inflections so she wouldn’t sound like a recording. And she amazingly didn’t sound like a recording.

Oh, and the cool thing about the Popcorn Lady was, if you were too busy to take the time and figure out how to spell POP-CORN on your phone dial, you could just dial POP (767) and then any 4 numbers. You could dial POP-CRAP or POP-POOP or POP-F#$% (that was fun when we were kids) and still reach the Popcorn Lady. I’m not sure why the phone company did that, I guess for the illiterate maybe? Or maybe for those who didn’t want to wait for the rotary dial to return to its starting place when dialing the O, R, and N. Remember how long that took? Much easier to dial POP-1111. Because when you need to know what time it is, you need to know RIGHT NOW.

If you want to hear the Popcorn Lady one last time, you can call 767-2676 one last time to hear her say the time service has been discontinued (outside of the Bay Area, use area code 916 first).

Enjoy your retirement, Popcorn Lady. Thanks for giving me the time of day.