A member of the National Board of the YWCA, traveling in the West, found some of her plans changed and decided to return to her home in Chicago.
She left the train at Reno to send a telegram to her husband. The message she handed to the young woman operator was, “HAVE SUDDENLY CHANGED PLANS, RETURNING HOME AT ONCE. LOVE.” It was an ordinary message describing her situation at that moment.
But she received an unexpected reaction from the woman operator, who read it thoughtfully and then said, “I hope you won’t mind my saying it, madam, but it does do me a lot of good to send a message like this once in a while.”
Reno, Nevada is a town of casinos, but it is also a town of divorce. It is the only one in the US that accepts a divorce registration without the consent of the spouse, on condition that the applicant has stayed in Nevada for a minimum of 6 weeks. As a result, it attracts many people who want a quick divorce. But some change their minds during the 6 weeks of their stay, or even upon their arrival in Reno after the long trip from home. The operator interpreted the message as, “I have changed my mind. I’m returning to you. I love you.”, and misunderstood that the woman in front of her had just changed her mind about getting divorced. She wanted to share with the woman her own happiness in sending out a message that would keep the woman’s family from falling apart at the last minute.