Whether you're sick of sitting in traffic, trying to quit smoking or have a burning question that demands an answer, these five phone numbers will change your life:
Drivers in the country’s 50 biggest cities can call in for real-time reports on traffic conditions in their area. Using voice recognition, you identify your city, the road and the direction you’re traveling. After listening to a short ad, the service tells you whether there’s a delay on the road and how long the wait is. The toll-free service gives you much more info than you get on the radio.
Ask a question … any question!
Auburn University’s Foy Information Line, 334-844-4244
Students at Auburn University in Alabama, armed with the Internet and, as a last resort, reference books, will answer any question you can conceive of, 24 hours a day, Monday to Thursday (during the school year). The hot line started in the 1950s as a resource for students at Auburn who were trying to locate campus services and find information about grades or course schedules. Over the years, it has evolved into a no-holds-barred information database. It is one of the nation’s longest-running services of its kind. It’s technically the “Foy Information Line,” named after the Foy Student Union building that the phone service operates from, and it is free for anyone to call. They’ve gotten questions from callers as far away as Australia, about questions ranging from how many Oreos it would take to circle the globe to what’s the longest nontechnical word in the English language? It’s perfect for when you can’t get to Google. The hot line operates 24 hours during the week and until 9 p.m. on weekends.
Let’s talk about sex
San Francisco Sex Information, 415-989-SFSI
The extensively trained staff at the San Francisco Sex Information help line have been doling out advice about getting down — techniques, fetishes, STDs — since 1972. Volunteers undergo extensive training in all aspects of human sexuality, including reproduction, birth control, safer sex practices, HIV, sexual identity and gender identity. Counseling is also available in Spanish. Their hours are Monday-Thursday 3-9 p.m., Friday 3-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2-6 p.m. PST. They’re confidential and open-minded, but sternly warn that they do not provide phone sex.
Ohio Tobacco QUIT LINE, 800-QUIT-NOW
Only 3 to 5 percent of smokers who try to quit on their own manage to do so. Checking in with a counselor — like the ones who man this toll-free number, or the local services they refer you to — can bump the success rate to 30 percent.
Next time you’re slowly going insane because you can’t figure out the name of that song, call 866-411-SONG. Hold the phone up to the song for 15 seconds, and the service will send you a text message with the title and artist. The first try is free; after that you’ll be billed 99 cents per text message.