I gave out the prompt for our Fun in Writing group a couple weeks ago. We were talking about being on the phone and how rude some people are, so I decided Wrong Numbers was a good one. This is what I wrote.
I've gotten a lot of wrong numbers over there years. A few of them stick out in my mind. Back when I was in college, I often slept in. My classes were later in the day – on purpose – because I often had to work late on crews for the various plays we were staging. We had only one phone and it was in the living room. I can't stand to hear a phone ring. Since it was back in the days before voice mail, some people would let the damn thing ring 10 or 15 times before hanging up. My room was in at the other end of the house, so I'd have to walk all the way out there to answer it.
If one of my parents was excepting a call, they would bring the phone into my room when they left, plugging it in by my bed. I got several unwanted calls, some of them wrong numbers.
One day, I was sleeping in. My parents were gone and I hadn't gotten in until 4:00 in the morning. The phone rang right next to my bed. I muttered a blurry hello.
“Is Steve there?” the woman on the other end snipped.
“No Steve here,” I mumbled. “You have the wrong number.”
“This is the number he gave me.”
“Then he gave you the wrong number. Goodbye.”
I hung up. She called back less than a minute later.
“I want to talk to Steve. I know he's there!”
“Lady, there's no Steve here. You've got the wrong number.”
“This is the number he gave me.”
“Then he gave you the wrong number on purpose. There's no Steve here!” I hung up again.
She called back again.
“I want to talk to Steve!”
“Okay!” I bellowed. “I'll just roll over and wake the bastard up!”
She hung up and didn't call back. I kind of felt sorry for Steve. I have a suspicion she probably came after him with a knife. I watched the obituaries for several days after that, looking for the name Steve to come up.
A few years later, after I married, we moved into a small house in a not so nice part of town. The phone company gave us a number that had belonged to a minister who had, apparently, a unique way of ministering to the women in his flock. We hadn't been there more than a week when I got the first call.
“I wanna speak to the Reverend!” A very angry man yelled at me.
“You have the wrong number.”
“I don't have the wrong
number! I know this
is his number. Put him on the phone!”
I hung up. The angry man called back.
“Sir, you have the wrong number. There is no Reverend here.”
“This is his number! I know it's his number! He got my wife pregnant and I wanna know what he's going to do about it!”
I hung up again and he called back. I unplugged the phone. Nervous and worried, since it was nighttime and my husband was at work, I left it unplugged until morning. Once I plugged it back in, the calls started again. I got even more scared, worried that they would come to my house in an angry mob. Then I remembered, “Oh, yeah! The phone number doesn't go with the house.” However, since I was tired of angry men yelling at me and calling me names, I contacted the phone company who kindly changed my number.
I watched the obits after this too, wondering if an angry husband caught up with the Reverend.
Some interesting calls started after we moved to our current home. Our number is one digit different from a local charity – and the County Parole Board.
The calls from the charity don't bother me. They are usually polite and apologize for calling. I give them the other number and assure them it's all right. I get a lot of calls like that. I had one lady who used to call every month or so, an elderly lady named Rose. She was sweet and sounded lonely, so we would chat. I know after the first couple of times, she called on purpose, but that was okay.
My least favorite wrong number was for the parole board. A young woman called:
“Who do I make the check out to?” I couldn't understand her at all. She mumbled and ran her words together. Also, I wasn't expecting to get a call like that.
“Who do I make the check out to?” No further explanation.
“I'm not sure I understand.”
“Are you stupid?” She was yelling by this time. She spoke very slowly. “Who do I make the check out to?”
“Just who do you think you're talking to?”
“Is this the County Parole Board?”
“Did I answer the phone, Hello, County Parole Board?”
There was a pause and she hung up.
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