I called Centurylink when I realized I didn't have a dial tone on our home phone. The repairman came and tinkered about and then left, proclaiming the problem fixed. He never tested the telephone though, which still didn't work. Not only that, but the internet, that worked fine before his fateful visit, now didn't work either. It turns out he knew the problem wasn't fixed, because Centurylink had not closed the repair ticket. He must have had other plans.
I won't describe the many phone calls to Centurylink or the number of times I had to enter my phone number, repeat my name, address, and social security number, and re-state the problem. In all, I spent several hours on hold listening to recorded assurances that Centurylink strives to provide excellent customer service and my call is important to them. In any case, their automated caller confirmed that a repair technician would be at my house between 8 am and 11 am. You guessed it - no one showed up! Another hour on hold, and I was told that a technician would be here by 8 pm. Sigh. Anyway, I'm happy to say that it's finally fixed.
The exchange was destroyed by the San Francisco earthquake, but was rebuilt and continued to operate until 1949 when the rotary phone system made the switchboard obsolete. For more on the Chinese Telephone Exchange, including video footage from the 1920s, be sure to visit the fabulous foundSF website.
Here's a great card showing the interior of the Chinese Telephone Exchange.