We’re sorry, the number you have dialed…
By Jeff Salter
This week we’re discussing telephonic mishaps. There are various kinds: wrong numbers, mistaken identities (on either end), or, as some of the Foxes have mentioned so far… getting numbers that bring problems with them.
Let’s see which categories my anecdotes fit into.
When, as a very young military family at our first permanent duty station in New Mexico, we got our phone, little did we know that they’d given us the last four digits of the base information number. Yep. No longer remember the number but let’s say it was x-1234. In that town, in that day, you dialed only the last digit of the prefix and the four particular numbers. The exchange for Clovis was 7-1234, whereas the exchange for all the Cannon AFB numbers was 5-1234. I don’t recall the actual prefixes anymore, but suffice it to say that most of the people calling from Clovis assumed the base number began with their same prefix. So… they got our home phone instead of Base Information. After we’d received some three or four dozen of these calls, at all hours of the day and night, I begged the phone company to give us a different number. They would, they said, but had to charge us a disconnect and re-connect fee. So I pleaded my case to enough different people that someone in authority, finally, recognized we were not changing numbers on a whim but out of sanity-necessity. They gave us a new number. And I always wondered if they ever just voided that number… or continued to give it out to new schmucks who moved to their town.
When we were a younger family, we moved several times in a fairly few number of years. So we’ve had plenty of new numbers in new places. [ To any youngsters reading this: in the old days you did NOT keep your phone in your pocket/purse. It had a wire that was secured to the wall and the number stayed in the town that you just left. ] I no longer remember where, or how often, but I know at each new town, we’ve gotten calls – sometimes even years afterwards – from somebody wanting to speak with [whomever]. Sometimes we’d imagine it was a relative or old friend, but often it was a bill collector or investigator of some kind. In many of those instances, the caller acted as though we were actually shielding the party in question. As though the person they wanted was right there in the room with us and we were flat-out lying to the caller. In a few cases, their behavior was insulting. By possessing the number of that bad egg, we had somehow become as guilty as they’d been (for whatever they’d done to warrant that call).
At a huge military base (McClellan AFB) in Sacramento CA, our boss (Capt. Hawksworth) came into the newsroom, where the Lt. and I worked on the weekly base newspaper. He said, “I’ve just had an interesting call from McDonnell.” Of course we both knew McDonnell as the aircraft manufacturing company McDonnell-Douglas, and we probably had a half dozen of their planes on that complex. We were appropriately interested and he went on. “I assumed he wanted to tour the base, especially the hangars, but the caller talked about getting the base to participate in a joint promotional program.” We listened closer because we both figured he was about to assign us to the project. “So I rattled off some information and told them about the contract process and the legal concerns, etc., and the caller acted confused.” So were we. The captain continued. “Finally he said, ‘Look buddy, we’re just trying to drum up some burger business from the base’.” At that point Hawksworth grinned sheepishly. “That was when I realized I was talking to McDonald’s instead of McDonnell-Douglas.” A logical mistake for an Air Force officer. He left our office space shaking his head. We both figured we’d never get a burger coupon.
About a week ago, my fancy new semi-smart phone received a text message: “Hey its [a girl’s name]. Wanna hangout today? And would u be able to pick me up at 3:10 at [a local high school name]??.”
Well, I’ve been propositioned before, but this was my first time by text message. So I replied, “I think you have the wrong number.”
She replied. “Sorry that girl took my phone.”
I wonder what would’ve happened if I had not corrected her about the wrong number and just let her boyfriend get into trouble for not showing up at 3:10.
What about YOU? Ever had any phone mishaps?