Giving out a personal phone number certainly can have unintended consequences.
In some delightful cases, a wrong number leads to lifelong friendships or blind dates that lead to marriage. But in more mundane circumstances, hand over the number and your phone can ring off the hook, incessantly.
These calls aren’t from all those marketers selling everything from phone service and carpet cleaning to doggie-spa visits. Registering with the “Do Not Call” list can help prevent some of them.
No, the phone busyness I’m talking about is a direct result of me or someone else giving out the Tanners’ home-office number.For instance, I gave my number to a source one night, hoping he’d call back the next morning with the answer.
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He didn’t, but in the meantime apparently, he’d gone online for information about insurance policies. Easy: Just fill out the e-form, press “send” and someone will call you with details.
Boy, will they ever!
Except the phone number he’d accidentally typed in was mine.
By 10 a.m. the next morning, 14 different agents had called me, having seen the inquiry on the data base. They were salivating at the prospect of getting a new client.
In between, I also was getting lots of other calls, on deadline, with information I needed to finish an important story.
I probably sounded puzzled to the first couple of insurance representatives. After that, I confess to being short-tempered. A few words out of the caller’s mouth, and I instantly went into my one-breath, “he doesn’t live here, you have the wrong number, please take this number off your data base” schtick.
Finally, a kindly agent told me to call a certain number to get ours unlisted from their computer file. I immediately phoned, but the calls didn’t stop. Once the prospect-flood gates are open, they can be hellish-hard to close.
At other times, however, phone-number glitches can work out just fine, if peculiarly.
At a Memorial Day art show, we saw a lovely bell fashioned from the kind of tank that holds gases or from which a scuba diver gets air. The large bell, hanging on a slightly Oriental-looking frame, had a long-echoing, Zen-type ring, similar to what you’d expect to hear in an old Buddhist temple.
We loved the bell, but couldn’t figure out where we’d put it, so we didn’t buy it. But we also didn’t forget it.
By July 4th, we’d found an ideal spot for the bell and went back to next show to buy it. Phooey. The artist wasn’t there.
A slightly vague chap in the information booth said he couldn’t remember the name of the Santa Maria artist, who exhibited in the show only occasionally. The info guy promised to call me with artist’s name and contact details, so (you guessed it), I gave him our number.
Three weeks later, info man left a voicemail message with the artist’s name, all right, but the phone number he reeled off was painfully familiar.
It was ours.
Fortunately, I have other research resources, and with the artist’s name and hometown, I found the number and called Harold. Soon thereafter, we bought one of his bells.
Later, he called to see if I needed any help. I said I thought things were under control, but invited the artist to see where we’d put his bell.
“Inside or outside?” he asked.
“Inside, in the entryway,” I replied.
“Ah, yes,” Harold said, “By the window and the front door. Nice.”
Ummmm. How did he know that?
“You don’t remember me, do you?” Harold said with a laugh.
“We met at the art show ?” I answered.
He laughed again. “You bought a table from me off Craigslist, and because the table had to be out of our house on the very day you were moving into your new home, I brought it up to you. I can understand why you wouldn’t remember. You were uh busy.”
See what I mean? Strange things can and do happen, things you certainly don’t expect, when you do something as seemingly innocent as giving out your phone number.