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Emma M. Nutt Day

Albo P Fossa—August 31, 2022

“Number please”

I searched. I could find no recording of Emma M. Nutt’s voice. On September 1, 1878 she became the first female phone operator. She set the standard.

She may have memorized every number in New England. (That’s before callers were fruitful and multiplied.) She was tall enough to reach the plugs high on the primitive switchboard. She worked 54 hours a week for $10 a month, for over 30 years. That’s stamina with an attitude.

Emma M. Nutt would be a super improvement over some of the robots that now answer. You know: The ones that start with “Please listen carefully: our menu options have changed.”

They try to guess what you want. They may ask, hear your response, and say, “I didn’t get that.” They’ll ask again. It’ll be a long exchange.

You tire and reply, “Representative” over and over. They may say, “Your call is very important to us.” Then, “Please hold while I transfer your call to someone who gives a shit.” Then, an ordeal of crap music.

“Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”

Meanwhile, grab your phone. Choose Settings, then Accessibility. Choose Spoken Content, then Voices, then English. I searched. You won’t find Emma. I wonder whether Emma M. Nutt sounded like one of the Siri voices.

Did Emma M. Nutt ever say, “Have a nice day”?