Weather Forecast


Sorry, you have the wrong number

I picked up the ringing phone. "Hello -- good morning."

"Kitchen please."

"Sorry, you have the wrong number."

That was the end of the conversation. But it didn't have to end that way. That wrong number could have been the beginning of a new friendship.

Whenever I dial a wrong number, I'm embarrassed. Then sometimes I turn right around and dial the same wrong number a second time. That's a double embarrassment. But the person receiving the call could relieve the embarrassment with a light comment that really means "Anybody can dial a wrong number -- forget about it, what's your name anyway?"

So, what I should have answered for the call for the kitchen was: "You can't get through to the kitchen right now because somebody's in the kitchen with Dinah, strumming on the old banjo. But call again if you have a banjo of your own or if you like to sing."

Some people believe there is no such thing as a coincidence -- every happening that seems like a coincidence is really a subconscious reaching out or fate working toward an intended goal. So in the case of getting a wrong number -- its not a wrong number at all, but somebody trying to reach you, whether they realize it or not. So when you get a call that seems like a wrong number, instead of answering "wrong number," you introduce yourself and get acquainted with your new friend -- without discussing politics, religion or money, of course.

While I believe that many of our new inventions are mere novelties that waste our time (like video games you win by blowing up or slicing off the heads of more "enemies" and the other guy -- you can spend 18 hours a day doing it), one marvelous invention is caller I.D. The little printout tells you who is calling. If it tells you your friend, Bob Smith, is calling, you answer. But if it says "unidentified caller" you don't answer and they can leave a message if they want to. Or it may say it's from "Save the Mud Hens." You can answer or not, depending on how you feel about saving mud hens. Or if you wish for a confrontation (it's been a dull day and you want to snip at somebody) you can answer and then tell them you sent all of your money to the Mallard Preservation People and you have nothing left for mud hens.

My friend, Fred, has no caller i.d. so he takes all calls and deals with them on the spot. When he gets a telemarketer like the mud hen guy, he may jolt them with outrage: "I can't believe you are calling at a time like this -- my dear old grandmother died on Tuesday and we're having a wake here, right now. You have just violated my grieving process." The poor hired caller probably doesn't believe what he's hearing, but he doesn't dare challenge the bluff so he apologizes profoundly: "Oh, I'm so sorry. I respect your grieving -- please accept my sympathy for you and your family." I'm not kidding -- Fred really does do that.

If you know a telemarketer is calling, one thing you can do is pick up the phone and say nothing. Their equipment really doesn't kick in until you say hello. That's why there's usually a delay of a few seconds -- the caller has been alerted that one of his automated calls has been answered. So if you pick up the phone but remain silent, the call never engages. Then you just hang up, the call is interrupted and the phone stops ringing. I just did this a few minutes ago, while writing this article.

Back to the call for the kitchen. If you know the caller isn't a hired gun trying to sell you something, reach back across the line -- you may end up with a new friend who sings or plays the banjo or -- this would be a real coincidence -- her name may be Dinah.