Friday, August 3, 2012


A couple of nights ago, my phone rang. It was pretty late, but I wasn’t asleep yet. “Hello?” “Hi, it’s David!” declared the excited voice on the other end. “I don’t know anyone named ‘David,’” I told him, “I’m sorry, you must have the wrong number.” “This is Amber’s number...?” he attempted, trying to keep from getting hung up on. I shot a look at my husband to tell him with my eyes that it was for Amber again. I sighed. “This hasn’t been Amber’s number for... two years?”

Amber Rodriguez was/is a very popular person. This is one of the reasons that I think she changed her number: the phone was never quiet, she was getting calls and texts at every hour of the night.

For the first several weeks that I had the number, I was vainly attempting to get her co-workers to stop texting me what to wear to the next morning’s meeting. For the first several months, I had to explain to many of her friends that she’d changed her number. 

There was even a day that I had a series of calls from someone who didn’t speak English and was not deterred from calling constantly even if their calls were ignored for several hours (routed to my voicemail box, with my name on it) or if every time I picked up the phone I was shouting at them for waking up my kid. Finally after trying “numero incorrecto!!!” several times I got on Google translate and read out what it said for “you have the wrong number!” to which the reply was (in, infuriatingly, perfectly intelligible English), “oh, wrong number? …sorry.”

After a while I was actually getting more communications for myself than for Amber, although I did have a cousin of hers text us an invite to her graduation in Las Vegas, and after sending a text to let her know that the number had changed, she texted back something like “sorry to bother you” and then sent the same invitation text again three days later.

I hadn’t heard from any of Amber’s friends or family for quite a while when my phone started to ring again, and this time those on the other end of the line were looking for Phyllis instead. I explained patiently to her friends that she must have given them the incorrect number. After all, they didn't deserve to get yelled at. There was no way for them to know I was getting calls left and right from people who had the wrong number. 

There was one very determined kind-sounding gentleman who would apologize politely for inconveniencing me, then try again several days later. I figured that maybe Phyllis didn’t think he was as nice as he sounded to me and tried the “yeah, I’ll totally give you my phone number” trick on him, but that theory didn’t hold up when a woman called for her several weeks later.

I don’t hear from Phyllis’ friends much anymore, and my final theory is that when she got a new number, didn’t get it down correctly herself, and told it to a few of her friends before discovering that she had been wrong at first.

I had always felt that broadcasting your phone number on a social networking site like facebook was silly, or a bad idea (because if you have a public profile, anyone can get ahold of it), but now I feel that if you get a new number, you should at least let all your friends know that you changed it so that they don’t keep calling the poor sap that gets stuck with your old number.

And you should call your old number and apologize to that poor sap. On second thought, don’t do that, because they might yell at you and demand that you reimburse them for all the phone calls and texts that they got for you. So, don’t call them unless you’re willing to pay a phone bill for them. Chances are they’re sick of hearing about you anyway.

Maybe just text them your good wishes on major holidays. I can always count on Amber’s cousin to get in touch, and send me a text to let me know that she hopes I have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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