My last phone number had something special about it. I got the strangest calls.
The urgent guy with the wrong phone number. One day I got home from work and my answering machine is blinking non-stop. There was a series of about 10 calls, all from the same man. First, he was in Big City and driving up to the "office," and would Sam be there at a specific time? Please call him back. Then there were 9 more calls, each one a bit more frantic than the first, as the caller drove north and tried to get in touch with Sam. There was something urgent the two of them needed to do together, that was clear, but what it was and where the caller thought he was calling were complete mysteries.
The mysterious triple caller. One night about 7 the phone rang. I answered, and there was no sound on the other end. I hung up. The phone rang again. Again, no sound. The phone rang a third time, no response again. Fifteen minutes later, the same thing. All evening long, every 15 minutes, a series of three phone calls. Once I heard a man's voice speaking in a language I could not identify, but that was it. I ending up calling the phone company about it, but they said they couldn't do anything. I finally had to turn the ringers off on all my phones. Checking my answering machine the next morning showed that the calls continued until 3 am.
The chair rental calls. My phone number must have been really close to the number of a place that rented chairs and slipcovers for weddings and the like. About four times a year, I'd have a message with very detailed instructions about reserving a certain number of chairs for a certain date and what slipcovers and chair bows would be needed. No one ever left their full name or their phone number, so I was not able to contact them and tell them that their chairs were not reserved.
Barbara Ann. Barbara Ann must have moved and gotten a new phone number that was very close to mine. Her friends and family called and left numerous messages for a month. They never left their phone numbers and they never called when I was home. Finally, one of them called on a weekend. I remember scrambling out of the shower dripping wet and running to catch the phone so that I could finally let someone know that Barbara Ann was not at this number. The calls started to die down, but it was another month before they stopped completely.
The credit card company calls. Again, this must have been a similar phone number. Every other month or so, I'd start to get calls for Brian. Brian clearly hadn't paid his credit card bill (or so I inferred; the callers never really said why they were calling, but the fact that they called several times a day sort of gave it away). I was accused of being Brian's girlfriend, of lying about his whereabouts, of lying that I didn't know him. I snapped one day and demanded to speak to a supervisor. I tried to convince her that Brian Did Not Live Here. She kept saying that this was his phone number. In a stroke of enlightenment that must have come down from on high, I asked her what state he lived in. She couldn't tell me that. I told her my state and asked her to check the area code for Brian against the state listed as his address (there was a 6 and a 0 in my area code--it's very easy, if these numbers are handwritten, to mistake one for the other). There was a very long silence, and then a very hushed voice saying, "I think you will not be bothered by these calls again, ma'am."
The random female name calls. About once a month, I'd get a message for a woman. The name always changed, Angela, Gloria, Marie. The male callers' voices changed. They sounded like husbands or boyfriends. I never did figure out what place in town had a similar phone number that would have had a rotating staff of women working there.
Trust me, my answering machine message should have made it clear who lived at that address and that it was not a business. "Hi, you've reached the Lancer family. To leave a message for Cammy, Charles or Chester, wait for the beep."
My new phone number is so boring. I've lived here two years and only had one wrong number.