Sunday, May 15, 2005

Is there such a thing as a wrong-number magnet? Because I think I might be one.

First, there was the guy who called a few times not long after I moved here, clearly thinking he was calling someone else. I politely explained the error to him, he was apologetic, and he never called again. The problem: Before the error was explained, he'd written my phone number on his wall. The next night, an irate, shrieking woman called -- either she was his jealous SO and didn't like him calling other women, or else she was his mom and had to clean the writing off the wall. That one degenerated into mutual and simultaneous yelling before I hung up on her. Fortunately, she got the message and never called back either.

There have been a few others of little consequence, but the most recent was either about five years old, or drunk. Or maybe both. This would have been mildly amusing had it not been one-thirty in the morning. And, of course, when someone has rousted you out of bed at one-thirty in the morning, and the message on the caller ID reads BLOCKED CALL (something that none of your family members, nor any of your close friends, does with their phones), and you bark an extremely gruff "Hel-LO!" with emphasis on the "Hell!" part, and you really want to give this person a piece of your mind, the first thing he or she will say, in either an infuriatingly angry or even more infuriatingly innocent voice, is:

"Who's this?"

Well, I don't know. I've really thought about this long and hard, and it's one of those tough philosophical questions. I mean, do any of us really know who we are? Do we see ourselves as others see us? Am I defined by my simple being? My work? My relationships to other people? My immortal soul or transcendent spirit?

My usual response is a much shorter "Well, who's THIS?" After all, I'm sure the person on the other end of the connection must be in an equally reflective mood. I'm sure we could have a very profound conversation about all of this.

Of course, there's a much simpler answer. You're a person who thinks it's a great idea to make social calls at one-thirty in the morning; you're obviously not distraught, not reporting a crime or a death, and haven't mistaken my number for the police or the emergency room. I, on the other hand, am a now-very-angry woman who has to get up early in the morning to go on a field trip, and has had all the phones in the apartment go off in a cacophony of rings and jingles and, in the case of the basement unit, "The Flight of the Bumblebee", who would hunt you down and sting your sorry butt if I had my way and could, in fact, talk to bumble bees and make them agree to help me out.

The happy ending is that I did eventually get back to sleep, and did make it to the meeting point for my field trip, and went out with the local mycological society for a foray on the spacious and beautiful property of an extremely gracious, 87-year-old former member. It's been a little too cold for good mushrooming, or so I'm told by people who, unlike me, have actually been mushrooming before. But, this is a caring and sharing group, and thanks to them, I've eaten my first fresh morels. (For everyone wondering if morels have an inflated reputation or are, in fact, all that: They are, most definitely, all that. You bet your ascocarp they are. All those years in Michigan, the morel heaven of the U.S., and I have to move to New York State to get fresh-picked morels. Go figure.)

And, when I got home, there was a queen bumble bee buzzing around my front stoop. Good girl. This is a sign. I know you're a loyal minion, at my beck and call. Note to anyone who mistakenly dials my number in the middle of the night: If you hear buzzing, hang up if you know what's good for you.


At 4:13 PM, Blogger Maribeth said...

When I was a kid, our phone number was one digit off from the local pizza place. My brother and I got in big trouble from Mom and Dad for taking orders.

Later, in college, our phone number was the former phone number of the college radio station. If we were in a good mood, and happened to have a CD of the song someone requested, we played it loudly into the phone.

Finally, the one time I plugged a telephone into our land line (which we use only for Internet service), someone called looking for an auto body shop.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Julie said...

There's a coincidence. When Rick and I lived in Watertown, Massachusetts, our number was one digit away from that of an auto body shop as well. We got lots of calls from people wondering when their cars would be ready.

The two weirdest Watertown calls: The people who thought we were a doctor's office, and the ones who thought we were the police department and kept screaming for help. I tried to keep the latter one on the phone so that I could help her find the actual police department number, but she just kept shrieking "Send a cruiser! Send a cruiser!" and hung up on me. I still wonder sometimes just what was going on.

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Growing up, our number was one off of a local Mexican restaurant. We'd occasionally take reservations, which the actual restaurant never did.

Even though we've been at our current number for 10 months, we continue to get calls for the person who had it previously. Worrisome is that he apparently used the number for his business, some sort of brokerage. I wonder if he's laughing it up in Brazil.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Richard Mason said...

For about four years I lived in an apartment where we got a ton of wrong numbers. Most were for some family that must have previously had the number; the calls were still coming after three years!

In addition, we got a collect call from someone in Armenia at 4:00am our time; another collect call from somone in a Missouri prison; and calls with a fax tone, over and over and over again from someone in Morocco. Finally the person from Morocco called to angrily tell us to hook up the fax machine.


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