About a week ago, I got a call on my cell phone. Practically nobody calls me on my cell, and when I saw the 603 area code I figured: wrong number. Or worse, maybe one of those awful scam calls like the one with the boat horn. (When I become a supervillain, I will legalize hunting those people for sport.) This was thankfully only a wrong number, from a guy who asked, in a difficult-to-understand and possibly slurred voice, for Christine. I had to ask him to repeat himself twice because I couldn’t understand him. But finally I got the gist, said “Sorry, wrong number,” and that was that. I thought.
A day or so after that I got another 603 call. This time it was a woman asking for Christine. Weird. Anyway, I figured probably whoever owns that phone put in the number wrong.
Last night the third one came: another guy, who I don’t think was the original caller, asking for you-know-who. At this point I got curious and checked my incoming calls. All three calls came from different numbers in the 603 area code.
603 is New Hampshire. It’s about six or seven hours’ drive away from where I live, and I don’t know anyone there. I did go there once, while visiting relatives who lived in Boston at the time, when we went up to the Pheasant Lane Mall. That’s literally my only tie to New Hampshire. Also, and I can’t stress this enough: My name is not Christine.
One wrong number I kinda get. Getting the same wrong-number call repeatedly over a long period because of people transposing digits, that I get too. My parents still get phone calls for a bank after 16 years in their house, and I constantly get calls for a pharmacy on my home phone. When my wife and I first moved in, we were besieged for weeks by this one confused old lady in the Rome/Utica area who kept trying to call her son, Murph, in Texas, and forgot to press 1 for long distance; she’d actually argue with us that she called the right number. And we’ve had parades of debt collectors looking for people who don’t exist, or for “Tanya” who I’ve mentioned before who intentionally fake-numbered all her creditors. But this Christine situation, that I don’t get.
All I can think is that Christine is a real person who recently got a new phone, and has been giving out the wrong number by accident to all of her friends. For all I know even the area code isn’t right. But I’m sure now that I’m going to have to deal with five or six more calls like this, at least, so I need a game plan.
Verbal abuse is out of the question, because the people calling me genuinely have no idea they have the wrong number; it’s not their fault their friend is an idiot. But I need some way of getting the message back to her circle of friends that she needs to stop giving out her number incorrectly. And to make matters worse, once they know that, how are they supposed to tell her?
I’m amazed at the myriad ways phones have failed us as a technology. Many of those failures seem like they ought to be addressable. Who do you call to deal with a situation like that? Whatever you do, don’t call Christine, because she doesn’t know her own number.
[Update: Oops. The movie with the prom queen was Carrie. Not Christine. The joke behind the title of this post no longer makes any sense.]