I did other student work over my mid-1950s’ college years, but my best job was all-night switchboard operator for the campus telephone service.
Located above the heating plant, the switchboard served as a communications hub. Using brightly colored cords, I connected dorms, offices, and the outside world, responding to incoming calls with the same descriptive greeting: “College Central.”
Women operated the switchboard by day, men at night. There were three night-shift guys; we rotated, reporting for work every third night — in at 10 p.m., out at 7 a.m. At 11 p.m., the switchboard closed to the usual telephone contacts; however, it remained open for emergencies. Learning how to handle the 3 a.m. requests taught me how to be at the ready for others. Words from an ancient Welsh folk song kept me company throughout each night: “The moon her watch is keeping.” I, too, kept watch.