We get people who call our phone number by mistake all the time. Usually I catch the mistake quickly and send the caller on their way. Once in a while I’ll get someone who behaves badly as if it were my fault they fat-fingered the number.
“Who is this?” they demand.
“I don’t know, I can’t see you,” I say. This is the ‘Spanky response.’ Spanky was one of the Little Rascals in the black and white TV show from the thirties and forties.
“This is John Doe,” they bark, “who is this?”
“That’s easy,” I say with a grin, “you just told me you’re John Doe.”
At this point, they either start laughing or slam down the phone. Either way, I consider it a victory.
I’ve received a few wrong numbers that were memorable. Several years ago, I got a call one evening from a woman who sounded a little like my mother and after a few moments of tentative conversation, she asked about Ole Red.
At the time, we had a dog named Ole Red. He had been mangy and half starved when he wandered up into our yard and somehow into our hearts.
“How is Ole Red,” the caller inquired. I thought this was an odd question coming from my mom. She is not a dog lover, and I didn’t realize she knew we had a dog named Ole Red but I gave her an update on the beast.
“Well, he’s laying here on the floor wanting me to scratch his belly,” I reported. “He chased a cat all afternoon and he’s about half dead,” I explained. “He’s a mess right now; he smells like a wet rug, he’s about blind and half deaf too,” I said. “It seems all he does these days is sleep and pass gas. He’s getting so old, I’m afraid we’re going to have to put him down,” I said with a tinge of sadness in my voice.
There was a long pause on the other end, and then, “Are we talking about Red Uptain?” the caller asked in a panic. (The name was changed to protect the innocent.)
When I realized she was talking about a person whose name was Red, I began to laugh uncontrollably. I could tell the woman on the other end was getting upset until I finally managed to tell her that I was talking about our dog Red and that she must have the wrong number. Once she realized that we weren’t going to put her friend Red Uptain down, she began to laugh too.
Just this week, we got another wrong number. Jilda answered the phone and the caller asked to speak to Rick. She handed me the phone and the caller launched into “when are you bringin’ my truck home? I need it this morning!” “Who are you trying to call?” I quizzed. “Rick Smith” the caller said in exasperation. “Why, is he foolin’ around with my wife,” I joked, “I’m gonna get my gun and check under the bed.” The next sound I heard was dial tone. I wanted to tell him I was pulling his leg, but apparently, he figured it out and took a dim view of my telephone shenanigans.
Life is short, you have to get your kicks where you can. The next time someone calls your house in error, I recommend that you say, “No, she cannot come to the phone, she was abducted by aliens.”