Crosstalk and Telephony

(yes, a bit XRPimental)

Later, Serge found himself staring dull-lidded into space still pressing the handset against his ear long after he had finished his series of answers and the sultry-voiced “woman” had long given up. Now the old phone emitted a static straight from the deepest reaches of Hell, a static Serge didn't mind at all, straight into his brain.

When Viv, Serge's roommate and ex-partner, unemployed sound engineer and member of a Dark Web, analog-worshipping cult known as the Analogians, arrived home and found him hovering atop his feet like an astronaut on a spacewalk, clutching the receiver and seemingly mesmerized by the Hell static, she was relentless in her tongue lashing:

“Didn't I tell you to never listen to what is officially known as permanent signal in US telephony jargon, or permanent loop in the British, a condition in which a POTS line is off-hook without connection for an extended period of time indicated in modern switches by the silent termination after the off-hook tone times out and the telephone exchange computer puts the line on its high and wet list? Huh? Look at me!”

Serge didn't, so Viv continued. “Otherwise your permanent signal will morph into a howler tone which would subsequently bleed into adjacent lines via crosstalk!”

Serge didn't budge. His open mouth flexed into a gaping smile. Viv wouldn't have any of it, and charged Serge to untangle him and save his ears, first trying to wrest the ancient headset from its stuck position glued against the side of the poor soul's head, before attempting to rouse him from his waking slumber of white noise dreams with a handful of well-placed slaps to the face. None of it worked.

Serge did proceed to wrap himself tighter in the tentacular spiral cord of his beige plastic block of a phone, slightly tighter around the neck, until the headset slipped from his hands and dangled off his shoulder, bouncing between his bony knees, until he managed to grab it again and place it back to his ear. Serge felt no pain while the incessant tone did cause him to nod out on his feet again, and that's when the howler tone kicked in:

“Howler again?” Viv rolled her eyes.* “Serge! This technological innovation was a miraculous innovation composed of the DTMF tones—* and # played alternately. The howler is only to be used as a telephony signal to alert a user that the telephone has been left disused for an extended period—not on purpose— which effectively disables the line, stopping the magnetic field caused by an incoming call from ricocheting a tiny, squared-off magnetized ball between two metal bells, which creates the ring most laymen take for granted.”

To all Viv said and did, Serge was oblivious, he just wanted his tone back.

*That tone of increasing intensity is intended to alert telephone users to the fact that the receiver has been left off the hook without being connected in a call. If you were in the UK, a warbling signal sounding rather like an alarm siren is played at steadily increasing volume down a telephone left off-hook and unused on telephone lines provided by BT and many PABX extensions. (from Wikipedia)

For Coilers' listening pleasure, and facts and trivia about analog phone signals, please read/listen on:

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