THE telephone room was squarish, with tables holding computer terminals and phones arranged around the perimeter. To get to the room, I had to take the elevator to the second floor, find the right service door, and ring a bell next to an unmarked entryway.
Maddy Vutrano, the telephone manager, and Mary Sullivan, the late-shift operator, were nursing mugs of coffee, alone with the phones. They were shaking their heads over a call that Vutrano had just picked up. A throaty voice said, “You’re a conniver. You’re a thief. Drop dead.” And then he hung up.
“Those are the crackpots you get at these hours,” Vutrano said wearily. “Why does someone need to say that? It just really makes no sense to me.”
Vutrano was a hearty, good-natured woman with reddish ...