August 26th, 2007

I Saved a Marriage Today!

Well—in the interest of accuracy (see previous entry), I should explain the title before I proceed:
*        "Saved" is probably overstating it. But I maybe did keep it from imploding as soon as it might have.
*         It wasn’t today, it was yesterday. But seriously—how good a title is, “I May Have Delayed the End of a Marriage Earlier This Week?” You can see, I’m sure, why I had to go with the snappier (though admittedly less truthful) title.
I have never claimed to be a numerical genius. This lack of numbers-related brilliance extends to phone numbers. Some I remember just fine. Others not so much. Those are the ones where I pretty much remember all the right digits, I’m just not at all sure what their proper order is. One friend’s cell number falls into this category.
Friday afternoon I tried to dial that number from memory. Even as I dialed, I said to myself, “That’s probably not the right order.” But I shrugged and punched the keys anyway. (WARNING: Never, ever do that. Just look up the number, already! Take my word for it!)
As soon as I heard the voicemail message I realized I’d misdialed. Again.
A few seconds later, my phone rang. I have so many problems with this particular cell number that, even when I saw the digits in the Caller ID, I didn’t recognize them as my wrong number; I actually thought, “What a coincidence—I just tried to call her, and now she’s calling me!”
But it wasn’t my pal. It was the wrong number. Some guy at the other end of the line demanded that I reveal my identity. I mildly replied that I’d dialed the wrong number, which is why I’d hung up.
(Do you get those calls ever? Where you dial a wrong number, and hang up, and then the person calls you back? Are people so hungry for human contact that they can’t even let a wrong number slip away? Or am I the only doorknob who tries to dial phone numbers from memory? Unsuccessfully?)
No big deal, right?
That’s what I thought. Until the phone rang around one in the morning. Later it rang again at two. It rang about half a million more times. I turned the fan on to drown out the sound of it, and in the morning I checked the Caller ID.
It was the wrong number.
Okay, I admit it. It freaked me out a little. (I mean, homicidal horror movie villains have gotten their start with less inspiration than a wrong number!)
Then the phone rang again. Like an idiot, I picked up—yes, even though I could see by the Caller ID that it was the wrong number. (Maybe I’m that hungry for human contact!)
A woman asked for me by name, said someone else wanted to talk to me, and then hung up.
A few minutes later the phone rang again. My poor brother picked up the phone, and this time the caller said something obscene. (He is going to be so glad to get back to college!)
Off we went to breakfast. When we came back, there was a detailed voicemail waiting for me. In it, a woman said simply that she knew it was total BS that I had dialed a wrong number the day before, because my name had popped up in her husband’s cell phone before (well, at least I dial the same wrong number!), and she just wanted to hear from me that I knew him, and how I knew him, and she wasn’t going to kill me even though she could ha ha…. And would I please call her back.
“Dial M for Murder,” anyone?
So I called the local police department, shared this entire silly story with the very patient woman fielding calls, and on her advice, called back the woman who thought I was clever enough to convince her husband to be unfaithful—but too stupid to *67 before I called his cell phone, so my ID would be blocked.
She was receptive when I said how very, very sorry I was, that I didn’t have any idea whose number I was calling, and that I certainly wouldn’t be dialing my friend’s cellphone from memory anytime soon. “We’ve been married 14 years—we have four kids,” she told me. “If there was anything going on, I’d be mad at him, not at you—I’m married to him.” Valid point.
“You’re a girl,” she continued. “You know how it is.”
Wow! Not really.
And so—for now—here endeth my tale, the moral of which is: Technology can be a great bane, especially if you’re silly enough to chronically dial the wrong number. But it can also be a great boon, as people who receive halfhearted death threats on their voicemail thus have proof of receiving said threats. Also: this is why it’s great to be a writer. You can totally turn terror into inspiration. (Hey—that’s a good title, too, isn’t it? “Turn Terror Into Inspiration.” “Inspired to Terrorize.” “Terrifying Inspiration.” There’s definitely something there. Hmmm… must go brainstorm.)  

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