July 25, 1997
More than half of the people in the world have
never used a telephone in their entire lives.
Astounding but true.
My immediate reaction? The Third World isn't
But their phoneless paradise can't last forever.
Someday soon, even the furthest reaches of the back of beyond will
get phone service.
Imagine a small mountain village in Mongolia.
Ghengis Khan (no relation) is the first to get a
telephone installed in his hut. Because of their
policy, BM (Bell Mongolia) couldn't give Ghengis a
specific time to come and install the phone. They
could only give him the choice of the first half or
the last half of the rainy season.
No sooner had the installer left when Ghengis
got his first call ...
"Hi, I'm Mongo and I'm calling from MT&T.
Are you happy with your long distance company?"
"I don't know, this is my first call."
"We'll just mark you down as undecided. With
MT&T long distance is only fifteen groats a
minute and if you sign up now we'll throw in a free
bucket of water buffalo milk as a bonus. So, can I
sign you up, or should we send over a horde to burn
down your hut?"
Although Ghengis didn't know anyone outside the
village, he prudently decided to switch to
He had just settled down to a big bowl of gruel
when the phone rang again.
"Hello. I'm calling on behalf of the Frostbite
"Sorry, I already gave three toes and a finger
at the office."
Ghengis was beginning to wonder about the wisdom
of installing a phone when it rang again.
"Hello, I'm doing a survey about Yak cleaning
products. Is the lady of the hut in?"
"I'm sorry, she's down at the river beating our
clothes on a rock. Can I take a message?"
"That's okay. I'll call back."
Ghengis had only just sat back down to his gruel
"Hi, I'm calling from the Save the Yeti
Foundation. Do you know that paranormal
investigative journalists have hounded the
Abominable Snowman almost to extinction? For the
equivalent of just a groat a week, you can adopt
"Hi Rick, I got tickets to the Marilyn Manson
"I'm sorry. There's no Rick here."
"Is this Mongolia 50124?"
As Ghengis reached for the phone again, he was
experiencing a new feeling. A tightness in his
chest. A throbbing in his temples. He wanted to
It wasn't the ancient blood lust of his fur-clad
warrior ancestors who made Europe tremble beneath
the pounding hooves of their war ponies.
It was called stress.
"I'd like to tell you about an exciting business
opportunity. If I told you that you could make
money without ever leaving your hut ..."
Ghengis went back to his dinner. It was stone
cold. He shoveled it morosely into his mouth.
The telephone was supposed to improve his life.
After all, he wasn't getting any younger, and
yelling from the mountain tops at his cousins in
the valley wasn't any picnic.
"Hi, this is Bell Mongolia. Now that you have
the benefits of phone service, you need call
answer, call waiting and call forwarding so you
won't miss any of those important telephone