Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dial 1 for Confusion

Cell phones have allowed us a tremendous amount of freedom. We can talk to our friends wherever we may be, make dinner plans, chat with our relatives, and yell at our cable provider from any place in the world. They have freed us from the bondage of land lines and the tyranny of the corded telephone. But there is something cell phones have not been able to free us from.

And that is the wrong number phone call.

I got my first cell phone in college. I was actually studying in Italy and it was more for emergency purposes than anything else. Nobody except a couple of friends back home and my parents knew I had one. I didn’t really get many wrong numbers. And if I did, they were in Italian and I couldn’t understand them anyway.

When I got back to the states I got my first brand spanking new cell American cell phone with what I thought was a pretty random Arizona cell phone number. Little did I know that number was 1 digit off from the Sunburst Resort.

People would call me and the conversation would go like this.

Hi I’d like to make a reservation.
I’d like to make a reservation for the 26 through the 30th of next month.
Um…. What?
Is this the Sunburst resort?
Oh. No.

And then they’d hang up on me all frustrated. Like I was the idiot. Like I’m running around town scratching the last digit off the phone number on the printed materials of hotels through the Phoenix metropolitan area. Some nerve I had, not taking their reservation over the phone for the hotel they didn’t call that I don’t work at.

It started happening so frequently that I thought about actually just taking the reservations and letting them fend for themselves. Hey, it’s not my fault they screwed up. But by the time I came to that resolution they stopped calling.

I also used to get calls for somebody whose nickname was “Golden Boy.” This would not have been nearly as confusing had his real first name not been Rich.

What’s up Golden boy?
Is this golden boy?
I don’t think so?
Is this Rich?
Rich Gulden?
Oh. No.

My dad’s cell phone number used to be 1 off from the towel department at Bed Bath and Beyond. People called him on more than one occasion to get a conversation that went like this.

Hi this is Fred.
Hi can I have towels please?
Can you transfer me to towels please?
You have the wrong number.
This isn’t Bed Bath and Beyond?

No you idiot face, I’m playing a prank on you. You know us folk in the bedding department, always screwing with the guys in towels. What the hell do you think?!

Did they think my dad misheard them?

Oh TOWELS. I thought you said trowels, and I was thinking to myself, man, we don’t sell any shovels.

You’d think the wrong number would result in more hilarity and less anger and frustration. People always end the calls so abruptly. As though I am going to keep them on the phone just to make fun of them.

Like my friend Julie who got a call from some guy freshman year looking to rectify problems with his girlfriend. Julie was not his girlfriend but after hanging up and trying to call his actual girlfriend only to get her voicemail, he called Julie back to ask for her advice.

Perhaps he was a womanizer of wrong misdials; perhaps he liked the sound of her voice. We all found it quite strange that he called her back for relationship advice. Perhaps he didn’t have any friends of his own. Maybe he really needed a (very) impartial third party to help solve his problem. Maybe he was really in a bind.

This must have been the thing because he called her back a third time to ask some follow up questions. And Julie, bless her heart, stayed on to chat with him to humor him and engage in a story. She really commits to the fun. And it was her thought process that I channeled recently when I had a similar scenario pop up in my own life.

Last week I was out with my good friends Josh and Marissa whose wedding I attended 2 years ago. After a dinner full of delicisiousness and more than our fair share of wine, we headed out to a pub to keep the night going. Well a couple drinks later Josh’s phone rang with an unknown number. He wasn’t going to answer it so I asked if I could. The following conversation is not exaggerated or made up.

“This is Ramon” I said as I picked up the phone.
“Oh I’m sorry I think I have the wrong number.
What number were you looking for?
(She gives some number that is not Josh’s)
Oh no that is not this number, who were you looking for?
Oh I was looking for my daughter.

It was at this point that I wondered about this woman. A. Why is she still talking to me? B. How much does she really care about her daughter if she can’t even take the time to put her on speed dial?

Where is your daughter?
She’s in her room.
Where are you?
I’m in my room.
Are you in the same house?
You are calling your daughter from inside the house?
Yes, her music is too loud and I was going to ask her to turn it down.

It was at this point that I realized this woman must really not like her daughter if she doesn’t even want to see her face to tell her to turn off her music! How far could she be away from her? Close enough to hear the music but not far enough away to need to call her?

Oh, do you usually call your daughter from inside the house?
Oh OK, well, I hope she turns down the music.
Yes me too.
Take care have a good night.
Thanks you too.

And that was it. We will never know if her daughter turned down the music. Perhaps I could have been more helpful, given her more guidance, suggested more solutions.

Or maybe I could have just transferred her to towels.


Megan said...

I love a good story about a wrong number. I always try to have as much fun with it was I can.

One time I thought I was calling a friend's husband whom I jokingly flirt with sometimes. I asked him if he was going to happy hour, told him I was going to give him a big hug to make all the other ladies jealous, and if he was lucky I would let him buy me a drink.

Then I mentioned his wife and he had this clueless tone to his voice..."my wife??"

Turns out it was just some random guy whose number was similar to my friend's husband. And then he tried to get me to tell him where the happy hour was so he could come join us.

I hung up. But I had a great story to share with my friend and her husband at happy hour.

A_scala said...

keep it up buddy.. my cell number is 1 digit off from a child doctor.. you can only imagine the parents i get calling.. take care.. scala.

Julie said...

Aww that guy asking for the dating advice WAS random... :)

Now my work Blackberry is 1 number off from some sort of free immigration legal aide office. The calls and mesages I get are so sad. I even got a collect call once, which I felt really bad rejecting...

I guess I've grown up into a hardened individual, no longer willing to talk to (non-English speaking) strangers.

Jeninacide said...

One time when I was about 7 I got in big trouble with my mom for riding my bike too far away, so that I was out of her sight. She freaked out and it was a huge ordeal. I called my aunt up to tell her all about what had happened. The lady who answered the phone tried to interject at the beginning of the (LENGTHY) tale to tell me that she wasn't my aunt- but all I said was "Haha... you are being so funny!" Then I got all the way through my story, like 10 minutes later and the lady said "That's nice sweety, but you have the wrong number, this is not your aunt."

I hung up, as mortified as a seven-year-old could be. Then I called my aunt with TWO STORIES. Haha.

Caroline B said...

My mobile is used so rarely that I can make £5 worth of credit last 6 months...
I did get a persistent wrong number one evening last year - the police kept ringing to ask if I was Julie who had called them for help. I kept telling them they had a wrong number but felt sure they didn't believe me - they even rang the following morning to check. Maybe they needed to see if Julie was still alive...we'll never know as they had the wrong number.

Old School/New School Mom said...

This is amazing. I, too, got my first cell phone my junior year abroad when I was in London. No wrong numbers to speak of there. Then I came back to the States. 10 years later, this happened with both a land line and a cell phone!

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

You should of transferred her to that resort, she needs a vacation if she can't hop a few stairs and pound on her daughters door to tell her to "turn down the damn music"!

Funny stories, enjoyed them all!!!

Jenny DB said...

I would have transferred her to towels. This reminds me of what fun you can have with telephone solicitors if you're in the mood. Years ago we just put them on the phone with my 3 year old brother who kept insisting he was the "man of the house" - apparently they are not 'allowed' to hang up with someone who is engaging in conversation, so he would talk to them for .. well along time.. ask so what exactly is this 'credit repair' you speak of... can it help me with my legos? bahah. good times.

scarlethue said...

A place I used to work was one number off from the local hospital. Usually it was just people asking for a room, like "Can I have Bob Smith's room, please" or "Room 102, please." But occasionally we'd get a crazy one, like the guy who launched int a story about breaking his arm before even asking if this was the hospital, or the woman who was going into labor and didn't know what to do.

And speaking of wrong number calls in which the conversation continues, my friend got a text from some guy she didn't know trying to set up a date with a woman, and after he confirmed that he was indeed texting the wrong woman, proceeded to ask her if she was interested in going to lunch with him anyway. She said no.

Ava said...

I'm totally going to do this next time I get a wrong number. Bloody brilliant.

Nancy said...

LOL - I can't believe you carried on so long with the lady calling someone in her own house. She must have been lonely or something. Or lazy.

Tahereh said...

ahahaha what a great post.

hilarity at its height.

well done.

(also, can you transfer me to customer service?)

Pat said...

We haven't gotten any wrong number calls recently. But many years ago, when cell phones weren't as popular as they are now, my husband would get calls from people looking for drugs. His number must have been very similar to a drug dealer's. He received 2-3 calls over the course of about 6 months. Finally we called the police and they said they wanted to be notified the next time it happened and wanted to set up a sting. Luckily it never happened again.