Lily and Ernestine
on their fragile relationship

Ernestine was dragged, kicking and screaming, into cyberspace. It was years before she could put down her headset and give up the old plug board (so much easier to listen in on everybody) but now she revels, although of course she's bitter about the past.

I probably have the same love-hate relationship with technology as everyone else. Dependent on it, compulsive about turning on my computer, can't ever get smart enough about it, no matter what I buy it is obsolete before I pull away from the curb. I will always be the object of geek scorn because I will always do something really stupid with my computer.

"I gave the best years of my life to Ma Bell and what did it get me? When she went to pieces, so did I. I've got operator's hump from plugging and unplugging, I've got carpal tunnel from all those years dialing. Oh sure, everything in the workplace, now, is ergonomically correct. They worked out the kinks on me. Look at this hand: I can't even flip anybody off anymore."