if you've called my cell phone in the last year and i haven't picked up, you've heard a message instructing the usual (leave a message, etc.) but then you've also heard my 'this IS NOT maria's phone number, if you leave a message for maria she will NOT hear it' shpiel. for the past three years i've been getting calls for "maria," who's apparently a nurse, and who apparently gets emergency shouts out from patients at all hours.
i've argued with some of these patient-callers for longer than i'd like to admit - me insisting the number they've called is NOT maria's, and them insisting it IS maria's, and can they talk to her please? will i just get her please?
this had begun driving me crazy - not just because of all of the random calls, but because these men (it was always men) seemed to really need maria. 'she's my nurse,' they'd explain, over and over, and most of the time they did not sound well.
one man was especially incredulous when i told him the number he'd dialed was mine, and that i'd had it for the past six years, and that there was no way to reach maria through it. i kept him on the phone for awhile trying to learn more about maria, so i could track her down and explain the perennial mix-up, and by the end i think he'd taken a shine to me. he called back several times over the next few days, lonely, just wanting to talk to...anyone. finally, after the third call at work, i told him to stop. but felt pretty badly about it...felt pretty bad that i'm no maria.
so earlier today i answered another of these calls, and when i explained there was no maria at the other end of the number he'd dialed, the older gentleman on the phone was very apologetic about his mistake. as per usual i pressed him for information about the elusive maria, and finally learned the crucial bit of information that's been the cause of the dozens and dozens of maria-seeking calls that i've received over the years.
it's an area code thing. maria and i DO have the same phone number...but we also have different area codes. such an obvious, simple explanation! now i'm anxiously waiting for the next maria call, when i can instruct the caller how to actually reach his beloved nurse.
luckily, i probably won't have to wait long - there may be an ailing man somewhere out there in chicagoland, reaching for is telephone right at this very moment. i wonder if maria's ready for him...
update: forget all of the optimistic benevolence above - i'm still getting calls for maria but can't seem to help/make/force the callers to understand the situation, try as i might. and yes, legions of sick, confused old men in chicagoland are still leaving messages for maria on my phone. clearly, acceptance is the only way forward...