Sorry, Right Number

LASFS was the first science fiction club to own its own clubhouse and very likely the first to have a pay phone on its premises. The value of this may seem a little blurry in an era when so many people carry a personal phone. However, in the 1980s it was the club’s lifeline to the outside world.

The pay phone was useful in “emergencies” to call parents to pick up their teenagers, or take calls from club officers who at the last minute were going to miss the weekly meeting. And the LASFSians who answered incoming calls had their own freewheeling ideas about phone etiquette.

Let David Klaus tell you about his experience:

At LASFS I used to answer the club telephone by singing the initials to the five-note theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I did that once and the voice on the other end said “This is Robert Heinlein calling long-distance. May I please speak to Bruce Pelz?”

After a moment of panic at the thought of being lightning-struck for being smart-assed to GOD, I teleported around the clubhouse until I could find Bruce, usually a much easier task than it seemed in my franticness that night.