The phone rings and when you answer some gorilla on the other end asks:

"Is Bob there?"
"No, I'm sorry." (There's our first mistake. Why should we be sorry for them dialling the wrong number?) "You must have the wrong number."

"Aw shit, you sure?"

At this point you feel like yelling down the phone that of course you're sure, it's your fucking house, and that you know that there is no one called Bob fuckin' livin' here.

Instead you say:

"I'm sorry (again). Maybe you have the wrong area code," and hang up, only to be interrupted five minutes later by the same asshole who's convinced you're in the wrong house.

When I first moved out, I guess I got a very popular number, because really rude people kept calling for a girl named Theresa.

I got sick of being woken up at 3 am by random people to whom she owend money/drugs/sex so I found a real easy solution. A very mean one, but an easy one.

Riiiiiing!, Riiiiiiiiiiiiiing!

Me: Allo?

Them: Is Theresa there? Tell her I need to talk to her ASAP.

Me::::sob::: I am sorry, Theresa!!! ::::SOB!:::

Them: Pause... You sure?

Me Yeah, she had a bad accident that we... we try not to talk about cause it is too...sob::: horrible....

Them: Umm...Ummm...Umm...I am sorry... Um... well, tell her Rob called...CLICK!

The calls stopped after that....

Ah, I have two of these: true stories.

1. We had a phone number once very close to that of a pizza place. We had lots of calls, but there was one very persistent guy in particular who would call in series, never quite believing we weren't his source of sustenance. Finally, one day when my brother was visiting, this guy called maybe three times in a row. On the fourth call, my brother answered and very politely simply took his order....

He must have called the real number to complain when the delivery didn't arrive, because we never heard back from him.

2. The ultimate wrong number, though in a slightly different sense, was done by old Ma Bell herself. I discovered that my long-distance service had been slammed, from Sprint to AT&T, at an exorbitant price. It took me two full days to get past the denials that AT&T "never" slammed people, to find out what happened. As you may know, AT&T sends out "checks" for $10 or $15; if you cash them, you have agreed to a change in service.

Turns out, AT&T had mailed one of these come-ons to a guy who had had the phone number 2 people and over 3 years before. Naturally, he cashed the check: free money for him.

It took literaly months to get the charges straightened out and off my bill.

"Hello?" I'm tired, just woken up, and now I've got to pee.

"Hello, NAPA auto parts? I'm looking for a carburetor for a 1976 Volvo Turbo Diesel."

"You have the wrong number."

"Is this five four four, four nine eight eight?"


"That's the number to NAPA in the phone book."

"Well, sir, this is a private residence. I know this is the number in the phone book. You can't believe everything you read, sir."

"Oh. Okay." Pause, "Would you know where I could get a carburetor for a '76 Volvo Turbo Diesel?"

"Sir, diesel cars don't require carburetors."

"You sure this ain't NAPA?"

When people call the wrong number, they make it out to be your fault because they picked up the phone with expectations, and when you answered, you ruined their plans. You're not what they wanted.

When I was sixteen, my mother and I moved into a little house, far, far away. She was hiding from my father then, and she asked the telephone company for an unlisted number. "Certainly," said the communications technician. "I have the perfect number for you! It became available yesterday. 555-6591."

By the end of the week, we started getting some fairly off-kilter phone calls. Sometimes there was heavy breathing. Sometimes there were several people at once. They called at midnight. They called during breakfast. All of them, looking for Gail. Most of them became pretty angry if I told them Gail wasn't around. "It isn't fair," they whinged, "since Gail told me I could always reach her on this number. Did you send her away? Did you make her leave?"

"Is there anyone else there?"
"Why, yes," I said, "there's me."
"What's your name?" he asked. "Do you want to talk?"
"No," I said warily.
"Well, what use is your phone number then?" he snarled. The phone clicked softly in my ear as he ended the call.

A month later (by which time the sound of the phone was giving me a nervous twitch in my eye), my mother handed me the receiver. "It's for you," she said quizzically.

I lifted the phone to my ear. "Hello?"
"Hi," said a soft voice with a gentle drawl. "My name is Lisa. I'm Gail's sister. I understand you've been getting a lot of phone calls for Gail?"
"As it happens, yes. I didn't write them down; there were rather a lot of them..."
"That's okay," she said smoothly.
"Er, if you don't mind my asking, what does Gail do for a living?"
"Oh, Gail runs a fantasy phone sex hotline. Our number - well, your number now - is published in magazines all around the country."

"By the way," she mused, "you sound very young: sixteen, I think?"
"Going on seventeen," I replied.
"Gail runs a special service," she said. "She picks up the phone, pretending to be some housewife, then changes her tone and pretends to be a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl. The boys probably thought you were toying with them. You have a nice voice; no wonder they kept calling back."
There was a pause. "Do you work, after school...?"
"I work at a bookstore."
"You could work from home..." her voice trailed off as I hung up the phone.

In summary, sometimes people who get the wrong number make it out to be your fault because they're disappointed that you're not a middle-aged phone sex operator pretending to be a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl.

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