Audience Dialogue

Tales from the field (1) Geraldton

In 1993, we were doing a phone survey throughout country areas of Western Australia. One night, an interviewer dialled a number in the Geraldton area. It rang and rang. As several attempts had already been made to do an interview at this number, she thought maybe it was a farm. Bearing in mind that some farmers install enormous phone bells outside their houses, and run from great distances whenever they hear the bells, she let it ring on and on.

At last a guy answered.

"I'd like to speak to the oldest man living in your household," said the interviewer. "That's me," he said.

The interview continued for ten or fifteen minutes, covering his radio listening, his opinions about programs, and so on. Finally they reached the demographic questions at the end of the questionnaire. The interviewer collected his age group, occupation, and so on. Last of all she asked: "How many people live at that address with you?"

"None!" he said, laughing. "They wouldn't fit in. This is a phone box."

"But..but...but" said the interviewer, puzzled.

"Look, I was walking down the street and I passed this phone box. The phone kept ringing, so I answered it."