Friday, November 12, 2010

Wrong Number

After 16 years with the same cell phone company (yeah, I know...UNHEARD of!) I hung up on them.  Permanently.  Well not so much THEM  (Oh Alltel, I miss your dependable service and even those dorky t.v. commercials) as the other who took them over.   They have not  been pleased that I actually believed their letter which claimed, "You don't need to change a thing!  Everything will work just like it did before, only better!"  

What's the polite word for LIAR?

And they're nowhere near as impressed with my loyalty as A, whose operators use to greet me with, "Hi.  Welcome to A.  I see you've been with us for (fill in the blank) years.  How may I help you?"  Well, except the one operator who was so overcome with our loyalty that she said, "Hi.  Welcome to A.  I see you've been with us for ...holy shit!  Um.  Sorry.  I mean 12 years.  Who stays with the same cell company for 12 years?"   
She begged for my forgiveness and we laughed together.

Long story short, we have switched to another company, which also begins with A, because they were kinder than the representative who informed me, "Well the problem is you don't have OUR plan.  Or OUR phone."  Hostile doesn't just apply to takeovers evidently.

So here it is, three weeks later and I'm still trying to get use to our new phone numbers.  That was Hubby's idea.  He reasoned that all the customers who'd somehow gotten his cell number, ones he DIDN'T give it to,  would be weeded out by technology.  I just have to fight the momentary dyslexia when I go to dial.  Our new company tried to be "helpful", giving Hubby a number ending in "43" and me the same in "34" and the one for my Mom in "35".    


Until this morning, the only complaint I have is that my phone no longer rings.  It sings to me.  Sure, I can change the song, but no longer do I hear the comforting sound of a telephone ringing while the car radio is playing.

Getting in the car this morning, I turned on the cell phone, placed it in it's handy dandy dashboard holder and put the car in reverse.  Something began singing.  Since it didn't match the beat of the old Journey song playing, I finally realized it was the phone.  Incoming message.

Why can't they make a Star Trek sound for that?  Even the Red Alert tone would help.

I listened to hear, "You have two urgent voice mails."  That made me slow to a crawl as [1] Hubby was out hunting and [2] I've never had the word URGENT used by telephone voice lady before.

And then it got stranger.

As I played the first one, a woman with an accent I have yet to place began saying calmly, "Frankie, you have to call your brother.  He's gotten out of hand.  I don't know if he's on drugs or what but he's 43 years old and acting crazy. "   It went on for another minute as my mind whirled through stages of [1] Huh?  [2] Is this a joke?  [3] Is this a scam?  [4] Is this woman really in as much peril as it sounds?

The 2nd call was the same woman, sounding a little more urgent in this 15 minutes later call which had come late last night.  She admitted she didn't know if she had the correct number but kept on talking.  What completely threw me was when she said, "And then he told me..."  as she launched into a language which I am still trying to place.  The closest to anything it even registered was something island like....Samoa came to mind and I don't know why.  Every time Frankie's brother began to curse or do something bad, she'd switch languages.  It was worrying.  Confusing.  Like a bad soap opera where someone tore the last page out of the script.

Pulling over, I looked to see who the call was from.  The woman had blocked her number.  Part of me wanted to call her back, letting her know she DID have the wrong number.  Yes, she was a stranger.  But in my mind, she was a stranger who went from calm to agitated.  And in a language I couldn't place.

All day long I wondered about the woman.  Had she reached Frankie?  Had she reached him before the drug addled, out of control brother could harm her?  I know most people would've chalked it up to a wrong number and never given it another thought.  I'm not wired that way.  I've called back wrong numbers if it appeared someone could be in danger or hurt.  Which is why a family found out at the last minute their loved one was about to be stranded at the airport because they'd been leaving messages for me all day, not the woman in route.  Or the time I called a Medic at the Air Force base who'd been frantically calling a gentleman to tell him that he'd received the wrong medication and to call immediately.  Thankfully, my call not only amazed/relieved the Medic but it gave us both a an odd way.  Seems instead of his heart medication, they'd sent an 89 year old guy out the door with...birth control pills. 

So, was the woman haunted by Frankie's brother okay?  As I pondered that for the 3rd time this morning, my cell phone rang as I was putting groceries in the car.

It was her.  And yes, she was definitely shocked to hear my southern voice. for hers had a definite New York edge.  Although, in the end, I think she was more shocked by our conversation.

As soon as she said hello, I admit it, I cut her off with, "Thank heaven you called back!  You've been dialing the wrong number and I had no way of letting you know that." 

She admitted she thought that was what had happened but just had to try one more time.   Asking about my number, I shared that it was a brand new one and that perhaps the one given to her had gotten a number or two turned around.  This made her inquire," If I may ask, what city do you live in?"  Discovering I resided in  South Carolina seemed to come as a shock.  And before I could help it, my southern gal kicked into overdrive and I added, "I'm glad you called back.  I was worried that you couldn't reach Frankie about his brother.  I was concerned you might be in trouble."

After a split second of silence she said slowly, "Really?"

"Yep," I answered quickly.  "I would've called you back if your number hadn't been blocked.  Your call worried me."

To which this stranger, who obviously had a lot on her plate with Frankie and his family, said in the most heartfelt way, "Bless you.  God bless you.  Thank you so much."

As we hung up, she was still murmuring, "Bless you.  May God bless you."

Funny thing, simple human kindness.  Makes your day seem much brighter if you take 30 seconds to care.  Yes, even about strangers.


mapstew said...

And this is why I like you. A lot! :¬)


Ponita in Real Life said...

Good on ya, Hope!! I have done the same kind of thing. When I split from my ex and moved into the city, my new phone number was one digit off a lawyer's and I kept getting calls for him, from clients, from services needing to deliver packages, etc. I finally had my answering machine (no, not voice mail - a real answering machine!) message state that if you were calling him to please redial with the first 3 changed to a 2. Had to do that for almost three years!

But your dilemma was much more worrisome than some business stuff for a lawyer! I'm with Map... xoxo

Brighid said...

Hope, you give me hope for the human race. Thanks for being You.

Dominic de Mattos said...

Hope, you have made my day! You gave of yourself through your caring, and that is a precious gift! How much richer the world would be if everyone gave as much!

I once had a series of texts which turned out to be to a wrong number, from an unnamed woman currently in Greece talking about handing her notice in. The thing was that my Office Manager was holidaying in Greece at the time - I was in a right panic!

expat@large said...

This IS a good story. Well told as well.

Kim Ayres said...

You're a sweetie :)

Unlike the Danny Devito character in the film "Ruthless People". There's a bit where he's in his office and the phone rings. He picks it up and says, "Hello? Debbie? Yeah, Debbie's here, who's this? Well, Ralph, uh, Debbie can't talk right now, my dick's in her mouth. How about if I have her call you back later when I'm done?

He then turns to someone else and says, "I love wrong numbers!"

hope said...

Map, that goes both ways. :)

Thanks Ponita. For me, it is the small things that make me happy. Unfortunately, lots of folks read that as "sucker!" ;)

Brighid, thanks for saying some which brightened MY day. :)

Hi Dominic! And I agree...the world would be infinitely better if we took 30 seconds to care without worrying about a reward.

Expat: thank you kindly.

Kim...maybe it's the name. ;) And I had a boss like Danny DeVito once. For 2 miserable years I was a paralegal in a legal aid office and the lawyer was a not very nice human. Our number was one digit off from a tire company and if Mr. Lawyer answered the phone, he'd set people up with fake appointments to have new tires put on their car, hang up and laugh. The office wish was that he'd get a flat tire on a dark and deserted road one night. ;)

Peggy said...

You sure shocked the blank out of this women. Now maybe she will play it forward. If not, then she will always remember you, I believe this to be true.
I know I would!
Sorry about your phone problems.
I feel your pain.

steven said...

goodness hope. i've never owned a cellphone. my wife and both my kids have blackberry's. your experience with the provider and then also with the extraordinary role you played in the life of this - to you - unknown family is unusual. wow. steven

Nessa said...

What a wonderful story - after the phone company part. :)

Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

wonderful story Hope, I am a true believer that we set by example and that what we do for others sometimes rub off on them and they in turn do for others. THis made my Sunday.

hope said...

Peggy I'm one of those saps who actually believes that if we'd all just be nice, the world would be an easier place to live.

steven; guess I'm just a sucker for those "end of the story" moments. Just wish I'd remembered to ask what LANGUAGE she was speaking. :)

Thanks Nessa!

Thanks Bill! I seem to always surround myself with the world's best blogger buddies. ;)

Susan at Stony River said...

I've got to admit -- I would have seen the Frankie stories as a benefit ROFL But then I've only had a cell phone for a few years -- no where near your record, on any network!

My incoming ringer is indeed the Red Alert Klaxon from the original Enterprise bridge -- but only when it's someone I don't like. People I like trigger the theme music instead. Unfortunately I don't hear very well, so I only know my phone is ringing when someone close by looks around and says, 'Why am I hearing Star Trek music?!'

I hope your phone woes are over now! Or at least better than being an 89-year-old man with a new set of birth control pills ROFL

Titus said...

What a story!
And God Bless You.

Onedia said...

Hello, the universe has a way of using the odd incident to good advantage. Most of us would not have bothered to be concerned for the person at the other end of a wrong number.