Thursday, August 30, 2007

708 vs. 773

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...


Anonymous said...

My friend Keith told me to look at your website. Because he knew I'd understand. My number belonged to Lancaster State prison 8 years ago. I got my phone a year or so after the area code changed. Huge organizations like the Department of Corrections publish new directories and update their websties all the time, but they definitely don't check to see if every number is correct when they do so. And, I don't think they give the prisoners the most up to date resources. As you can imagine, there are many officials in the DoC who page my number, there are many, MANY people who've worked for there over the years, illiterate moms who need to tell the son that his favorite uncle fell off a ladder, unplugging the cord for the trouble light on the way down, and they don't know if he died from a heart attack, being electrocuted, or a bump on the head but anyway he's gone. A few months ago I started receiving confidential medical records by fax on my cell phone.
Anyway, we have very different same situations, sounds like. Yours has a personal aspect and one kind of caller and I get to talk to ALL kinds of people but they aren't calling for anyone I 'know'. I'm down to maybe 3-5 calls a day and mostly, I don't answer if its a number I don't know, esp during the week. And, sometimes I'm mean to people when they call 6 times in a row even though my outgoing message gives them the right number. It works out fine I guess but still, I feel your pain. Sorta.

shapiro said...

oof! that sounds rough. my suggestion to you - figure out how to record some of these calls, keep an aural diary of how often / when they ring, and then make a radio story about it. (and let me know where i can hear it.)