Sunday, April 22, 2012

Old School.

WFT Hotline, c. 1993
When I worked in the Box Office back in the day, we had this old, white, push-button telephone that you had to "flash" (press down on the hook) to get to the call waiting. The Box Office had its own phone number (as opposed to just an extension) and a distinctive ring. That phone was like a hotline. It should have been red. Actually, if I worked there now and we still had that old thing, I would totally paint it red.

We also had "the books" which were plastic-covered, three-ring binders, one for each of the  current season's shows. I took great pride in setting up "the books" as part of my summertime work-study gig. I'd decorate covers to insert into the plastic, label the sides neatly, and photocopy the reservation sheets onto three-hole-punched paper.

My best memories working at the Box Office are the days when the show was selling out and I didn't get to take the phone off my ear for my entire 4-hour shift. Just "clicking" over from one call to the next. "Wheelock Family Theatre. Please hold." When I was done, the whole side of my face was red and my ear was all cauliflowered, but I was completely jazzed from the frenetic pace of taking reservation after reservation. Reading printed directions from a small square of pink-highlighted paper taped to the desk. Explaining the weather-related cancellation policy. Reminding patrons not to park in the neighboring school's lot.

This was the early 90s. This was before the Internet, if you can believe such a time ever existed. This was when people actually called someone to make a theatre reservation and WFT printed its tickets on a deafeningly loud, dot matrix, spooled printer.

Living so far away and having not worked at The Theatre for nearly ten years, I actually have no idea what technology has done for the Box Office, but I have to believe that it's come a long way from the antiquated white "hotline." Still, there's nothing like a taking ticket orders for a show that people are just clamoring to see.

You should make some workstudy's day. Kick it old school. Call for some tickets. Maybe even pretend that you don't have a GPS and ask for directions, too.


  1. Love it... Nothing about the TTY? I love to tell stories about that. We sound cool and ahead of the times. :)

  2. I love this recollection.. and must say we STILL bridge the gap between technology and hand-craft in the WFT Bos Office.


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