Tuesday, 28 August 2007

A useful book of numbers

I don’t know why, but the Dordogne phone book was lying open on the rug yesterday and I couldn’t help noticing, at the top of the listings for each village, a section called “Numéros d’urgence”, with fire, police, medical and gas listed separately.

Then I realised what I was looking at: a book with villages listed separately! I looked up the village we’re going to live in (it only has a few hundred people) and, in seconds, had the names and numbers of all our neighbours. How useful is that?!

When did you last see a phone listing for someone even on your street? We get these tomes dropped on our doorsteps in England every year and how often do we use them? The people we probably want to speak to are ex-directory. How many trees could we save by stopping that waste of resources?

Almost immediately, I realised something else. The emergency numbers are all different. Far from being an inconvenience, this would save valuable seconds when seconds are the only things that matter. How many more lives would be saved if you didn’t have to wait for the operator to ask which service you require?

I’m beginning to think that the UK government should start looking across the Channel for ideas rather than the Atlantic.

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