Trouble On the Line

The topic of the week is about mistaken identities on the phone or strange/funny wrong numbers.

I nearly used up the story last week about how I was often mistaken for my sister on the phone either by all the relatives or when we worked together, which caused considerable communications problems at the office. She is quite a character and before we were married, my husband knew enough never to take the chance in mistaking her for me. He knew my sister could easily lead him on to say to her what he intended to say to me, but it got very old hearing him on the other end of the line ask “Nickie?” when I answered the phone at my family’s home…so much so that at one point I said, “NO, do you want to speak with HER?
From then on, he asked her she was me. He learned.

But wrong numbers have been a real problem for me.

A a few reoccurring ones happened. I once got a call from someone who identified herself as a writer and asked if she could ask me a few questions. The woman sounded suspiciously like my sister lowering her voice and since my sister was the one who always wanted to be a writer, I played along. The woman then asked me about gestation of horses. You see, when we lived in Colorado, our exchange was 433; in Boulder one was 443. A dude ranch there had the same number as we did, except for the wrong doubled number in the exchange and I got calls for them constantly, so much so that I learned much about the family who ran the place.
I got calls from workers who were running late coming into town,(sometimes in the middle of the night). I got misdialed numbers from their family and friends. I was asked about equipment I [they] had listed in the paper for sale. My son was asked if we were putting up hay even after he had informed the woman who called that they had the wrong number, (he was nine and very amused). The worst part was that a tourist guide that went to all of the major hotels in Denver misprinted my number as the ranch’s. I got so many calls that I said I’d be tempted to get a couple of horses and cash in on it, but I had a townhouse; not even one Shetland pony would have fit next to the deck. Finally, the manager of the Radisson called me to double-check his information, apologized and promised to straighten it out with the tour book people.

I never got another call asking for horses or hay.

Soon after we were married and had a new phone number, I was very surprised to get a call from an aunt of mine who never called me. After a comedy of errors, it was not my aunt at all, but a woman who sounded like her and, apparently, I sounded like the niece she was trying to reach. I had been getting calls for the woman who was a deadbeat and I could not convince the creditors that I was not her. (They even lied and told me they were from a carpet-cleaning service and had a deal for me/her.) I begged the people to look the number up under our name in the phone book, but it didn’t work. Then I knew why; not only did the woman have the phone number just before me, but I also sounded like her.

Before we arrived in this small town in Kentucky, almost everyone had had the same number forever and there had been one exchange: 348. About the time we moved in a boom started and they added another:349. Of course, I got calls for the 348-xxx number all the time, or one number off. There was a very , shall we say, popular female in the area and she had one number different than ours. Let me tell you, she got around. I let a drunkard ‘friend’ of hers get away with waking me at 3:00 AM a couple of times, but I finally gave it to him, the gist of which was that if he was going to get drunk and call “B”, he’d better be more careful about dialing the number and not scaring the wit’s out of people in the middle of the night , thinking it was some emergency. I bawled him out so bad he never called again.

I wonder if he ever called “B” again, for that matter.

Shortly after, they decided to put a racetrack in on the other side of town. I got continual calls for them, again, they were one number off and some people insisted that my number was listed for that place in a guide, AGAIN. I tried to get the track to approach the publication, but they blew me off. I instructed the family not to give the track’s number to callers; let the track lose business or get complaints, then maybe they’d straighten it out. During race season, I let the recorder,(pre-voicemail), screen my calls, with this message: “You have reached 502-349-xxxx; this is a PRIVATE HOME. If you wish to speak with the family, please leave a message after the beep. Thank you.” Yet, I often received messages such as: “Yeah, uh, I was callin’ to find out when y’all’s trials start”. Nobody listens.

One friend from Colorado used to make fun of me and whenever she’d want to talk, I got recordings like this: “If this PRIVATE PERSON in this PRIVATE HOME would receive a PRIVATE call from a PRIVATE friend…” Or “I have a horse I’d like to enter in a race”, even though it is a car racetrack. She found it all very humorous…SHE found it humorous.

Another “friend” here would call for years and always greeted my “Hello? with ”Is this the racetrack?” He also found himself very amusing. It was funny the first time…only the first time.

Here, people are paranoid. I do one misdial, caller ID kicks in and the people call me back to ask what I wanted, how I got their number and to stop bothering them…after one time.

One New Year’s Eve my sons misdialed when they calling my mother to wish her a “Happy New Year” at midnight. The woman whose number they misdialed called me several times afterward, telling me there were no coincidences and that I called her for a reason…there was no reason and she was unreasonable. It was obvious that she was disturbed so I talked her down. In a small town, it is particularly frightening.

My mother once received quite a number of calls in a row from a fellow with a heavy Spanish accent asking for “Rosita”; he simply didn’t understand that he was calling the wrong number. My mother had taken Spanish many years before, plus, Italian and Spanish are quite similar, but I could not convince her to explain to him in his native language that he had the wrong number. She was afraid he’s start a string of Spanish that she would no longer able to follow.

I often wonder if he ever found Rosita.

I did not intend to tell this story, but since Janette brought up a similar situation…
Some years ago my sister’s then-boyfriend used to call her in the wee hours of the morning during the break he had at work. One night he called her and asked, “What are you doing?” Although she had been sleeping, she said, “Waiting for you to call.” He then said something so outlandish to her that she never told me, but just as she said “WHAT?!!!” to him, call-waiting beeped in. At the time there were a few volatile situations in the family, so she told him, “Wait!”. She had every intention of reading him the riot act when she got back to him, but when she switched to the other line, there was her boyfriend; she had an obscene phone caller on hold …and had told him  she had been waiting for him to call! Ooops.

Can anybody top that one?

I’d love to hear any strange calls or comedy of errors on your phone.

About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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6 Responses to Trouble On the Line

  1. Holy cow!! Now those are a lot of wrong numbers!!


  2. jeff7salter says:

    wow, this is a collection of whoppers. I love the aunt story and the “popular” girl in town. So sad about the nutty lady who kept pestering you about coincidence.


  3. Sometimes my answers don’t get posted,Jeff; I didn’t ignore you, Sorry…Mrs.Glitch is me!
    The woman was a sad case, head-case, Jeff and maybe loneliness on New Year’s Eve had something to do with it. I gave her time.
    As for the aunt, you have heard me…I am always told that except for sounding something like my sister and one of her daughters,I don’t have an ‘average’ voice…and although my aunt has a better voice, she had an unusual way of speaking…and the dead-beat’s aunt talked the same way!


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