Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Using Telephones

The first thing you might do when you come to USA is calling someone. So this is a good time to tell you about telephone usage.

Telephone calls within U.S. are considered "local" (within the area of the caller) or "long distance" (outside the area of the caller). Local calls
Within a short region are free unless made from a public pay phone, which is a coin-operated machine.

Long distance calls are charged at varying rates, depending on how you make the call (which long distance carrier/company you use), for how long you speak and the time of the day. Note that the telephone companies in the U.S. are private. Each local region is assigned an "area code". So the phone numbers are denoted as (area code)-123 4567. Where 123-4567 is your actual phone number.

If you are calling a number within your "area" then you should dial only the phone number. If the call is outside your area. You need to dial 1-(area code)-123-4567, which is the long distance call. Again, sometimes when the area code is the same as yours, you may still have to dial a "1" before the number without the area code e.g. 1-<7-digit> To make an international call i.e. to India you need to dial 011-91-- e.g. 011-91-22-1234567. Here 011 indicate an international call. 91 is the country code for India. 22 is the "area code" for Bombay and 1234567 may be the actual phone number you want to dial.

Other important facilities provided are -
1. Yellow pages (Tel. directory) Advertisements and Telephone numbers of businesses.
2. Emergency Telephone Number There is one emergency number that you can dial for any type of emergency, which is 911 (Fire/Ambulance/Police).
3. Directory assistance Local telephone numbers - 411 Long distance - 1-(Area Code)-555-1212 Toll Free number enquiry - 1-800-555-1212
4. Toll free

Most of the 1-800 numbers are toll free. You will not be charged for the calls you make to such numbers. Some telephone numbers have alphabets in them such as 1-800-COLLECT. To dial this number, just press the digit on the telephone pad which has the corresponding alphabet you want to dial on it, simple!.

Most people use answering machines, which are connected to their telephones, or some kind of voice mail system. It has a standard pre-recorded greeting which is played when you call up and then after some beeps, it records your message. Initially you will feel like you were talking to a dead person, but soon you realize the importance of owning an answering machine. We bet you'll buy one too!.

Using the PUBLIC "pay" phones
The important difference is, you need to insert the money first then dial the number. To operate a pay phone you need 25 cents. This pays for one local call. If your call is not connected your money is returned in the "coin return" slot.

Collect call - If you want the called party (person whom you are calling) to pay for the call then you make a collect call. To make a collect call pick up the receiver and press 0. Let the operator know that you want to make a COLLECT call, the operator will connect you to the phone number you need. But before that the operator will check with the other party if they want to collect (pay for) the call. An easier way is to dial 1-800-COLLECT from any phone and just follow the recorded instructions.

Time zones
There are four time zones in the U.S.
1) Eastern TZ
Example : Massachusetts, New York, Florida etc.
2) Central TZ ( lags Eastern TZ by one hour )
Example : Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana etc.
3) Mountain TZ ( lags Eastern TZ by two hours )
Example : Colorado, Utah, Wyoming etc.
4) Pacific TZ ( lags Eastern TZ by three hours )
Example : California, Oregon, Washington etc.

Daylight saving
As the name suggests, the time is set in such a way that maximum day
light could be used. e.g. During summer, the sun rises at around 4-5 o'clock. So the clock is set forward by one hour. This forces all activities to start one hour earlier so that maximum daylight is used till late in the evening.
Therefore : The Clock is set back by one hour on the first Sunday of November 1 (Fall Season) at 2:00 am. Clock is once again set forward by one hour on the first Sunday of April at 2:00 am. (Spring Season). The easiest way to remember this is FALL BACK, SPRING AHEAD. By the way, Arizona is the only state, which is not affected by day-light-saving. People there do not ever change the time in their clocks.
Dollar : 100 cents Quarter: 25 cents
Dime : 10 cents Nickel : 5 cents
Penny : 1 cent
Initially there is some confusion since the quarter is exactly of the same size and shape as the Indian 50 paise coin.

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