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April 28, 2017 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Man gets wrong number text in the morning. First response is that it's a wrong number text. He's ignored contradicted. Hijinx ensue. [imgur gallery]
posted by hippybear (156 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is really something.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:57 PM on April 28, 2017


It feels like they deserve each other
posted by chavenet at 4:00 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


"People like you"
posted by chasles at 4:01 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is as real as Wrestlemania.
posted by Pendragon at 4:02 PM on April 28, 2017 [47 favorites]


I just… I don’t understand why the picture wasn’t enough. Is Jess a known prankster? Is this something she would do? Or was he indeed being trolled by one of his friends? (If so, that friend is a jerk, doubly so for the “my mother died” line.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:03 PM on April 28, 2017


iwanttobelieve.jpg
posted by uncleozzy at 4:06 PM on April 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Lukewarm addition to the "made-up story of me cleverly messing with someone obnoxious" canon. He didn't even do it from a plane or draw a seven-legged spider.
posted by ejs at 4:08 PM on April 28, 2017 [21 favorites]


[The linked article literally violates the known laws of physics]
Metafilter: I think we should keep an open mind.

[The linked article describes a moderately weird social situation]
Metafilter: 100% fake.
posted by Pyry at 4:19 PM on April 28, 2017 [183 favorites]


I once had someone text me by mistake inviting me to go along to buy some drugs. "Wrong number", I texted, considerately. "Who is this" they texted back, with a certain entitlement. I decided not to get into it.

But yeah, people are not really good at believing that they texted the wrong number.
posted by Frowner at 4:22 PM on April 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


I feel sorry for Jess
posted by Consult The Oracle at 4:24 PM on April 28, 2017 [39 favorites]


I want to know if the credit card got reinstated after they found her sleeping. How is she supposed to get lunch meat and milk if the CC is cancelled?
posted by hippybear at 4:28 PM on April 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


Come on now, it was never cancelled. Lying to your kids about consequences is like Parenting 102.
posted by ODiV at 4:30 PM on April 28, 2017 [20 favorites]


That's not actually how my parents parented me, but okay.
posted by hippybear at 4:31 PM on April 28, 2017 [21 favorites]


I want to know if the credit card got reinstated after they found her sleeping.

A lot of cards you can temporarily deactivate these days.
posted by Pyry at 4:33 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I used to have a vanity domain name. Eventually, an obscure free e-mail service came along with a similar domain name (sort of like northward vs northwind). I started getting a lot of misaddressed e-mail, and came up with elaborate bounce messages and filtering rules (eventually I gave up and just canned everything not sent to me).

I recall one guy who responded to my bounce message by accusing me of intercepting his correctly addressed message. I couldn't convince him otherwise.
posted by adamrice at 4:38 PM on April 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


I once had someone text me when it was pretty clearly the wrong number but they persisted in asking how I was doing. Something like:

Them: Oh hey sorry I haven't talked to you since New Year's how are you doing?
Me: Sorry, who is this? I don't recognize your number.
Them: It's me!
Me: Who?
Them: You know, [name]! How are things going?
Me: I don't think we know know each other. This is [col_pogo]. Did we meet at [place x or y]?
Them: Maybe at [place z]? HOW ARE YOU DOING?
Me: No, I've never been there. I think this is a wrong number.
Them: What are you talking about? How ARE YOU?
Me: I really don't think we know each other.
Them: Oh, I guess you're right. But anyway, how ARE things?
Me: I really don't think we need to talk any more.
Them: HOW ARE YOU?
posted by col_pogo at 4:53 PM on April 28, 2017 [48 favorites]


But yeah, people are not really good at believing that they texted the wrong number.

The length of this conversation does kinda strain credulity, but I'm inclined to buy it. A random kid texted me once and refused to believe I was not a classmate. There was a lot of "Quit messing with me, dude, it's totally you, we were in Mr. X's class at Y School" before he got to "Wait, so you're really not [OTHER KID]?" It was an amusing way to spend a chunk of that day's bus ride -- but then, this kid apologized instead of calling me an insincere loser, so belated brownie points to Random Kid Who Texted Me!
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 4:58 PM on April 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


col_pogo, it's about the friends we text along the way, geez.
posted by maxwelton at 4:59 PM on April 28, 2017 [15 favorites]




One time I let some random dude on the street use my phone to text his friend because he had lost his phone or some shit. And for the next three days, that friend kept calling/texting me, thinking I was that guy.

I explained several times that the guy he wanted to talk to had borrowed my phone on the street and please stop calling me. It wasn't even a language issue. Dude was just really, really stupid.

So I guess the lesson is never let someone use your phone. Their friends might be really stupid.
posted by ryanrs at 4:59 PM on April 28, 2017 [20 favorites]


Not texting, but I've had to block a couple of numbers where the people would call numerous times and were clearly trying to get me to admit I was, indeed, Jennifer. (I am the least "Jennifer" person who has ever been referred to as "Jennifer", FWIW.)

I have a toll free number which was printed by mistake on someone's invoices for awhile. It's pretty amazing how much some folks say before you even have a chance to tell them they have a wrong number.
posted by maxwelton at 5:04 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't get wrong number texts very often. The last time was at 2 AM with a worried woman trying to talk to her brother in the hospital, and I ended up having a short conversation with her about her brother's health and how shitty life is in general. Ended with a small banal platitude from me about "hope things get better for you and your brother soon" and the response was "Glad to see good people still around. God bless you." which oddly touched my cold agnostic heart. Something about getting that message, from a stranger in the middle of the night, meant a lot to me.
posted by honestcoyote at 5:07 PM on April 28, 2017 [80 favorites]


I can believe somebody would not believe they had the wrong number through several texts. What I find hard to believe is how quickly the mother went to flame thrower you're such an ass hole mode when she realized she'd made a mistake. That tracks as super fake to me.
posted by willnot at 5:10 PM on April 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


> That tracks as super fake to me.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who go to flamethrower mode the moment they find they're in the wrong. It beats being embarrassed about it.
posted by oheso at 5:14 PM on April 28, 2017 [57 favorites]


The week of my wedding, someone kept calling to make arrangements to go golfing with someone named Scully. He didn't leave a number, natch, and it was pre-cell, so I didn't have any way to respond to him and let him know that Scully was likely not going to be there for golf unless he found the right number.
I just didn't anticipate that he would keep calling Saturday morning and leaving messages on my machine: "Yo Scully. Get up! I wanna go golfing!!" (At that point, I'd lost interest in helping him, and was a little busy getting into my dress, etc.)

Helluva wedding morning. I just can't think of my wedding without hearing his voice.
posted by greermahoney at 5:21 PM on April 28, 2017 [43 favorites]


In retrospect, I should maybe have skipped the wedding and gone golfing.
posted by greermahoney at 5:22 PM on April 28, 2017 [166 favorites]


See also having firstinitiallastname@gmail.com as your email address, within in my case a somewhat but not absurdly common last name. I've explained to many people living in either the US or the UK that in fact I cannot be the person they are after because I live in Copenhagen.

Mostly it's been ok; there's a kind dude from Kentucky that I exchanged scenic pictures with for a while (his daughter married into a family with my last name; I have his wife's first name; untangling the confusion was a little complicated).
And then there's the poor person in Texas whose health insurance data I was getting for a long time. The dumbass insurance company was violating HIPAA and I couldn't do anything about it because there was no way to email them in reply to explain the problem.
The one I feel worst about though is the guy who must have used my email address on his resumé; I got quite a lot of emails about interviews for a while. I responded pointing out the error, but that can't look good. (And I didn't have a way to contact him directly to let him know, or really I would have).

Interestingly the only text I've gotten that I thought was a wrong number wasn't; you see, I'm actually the only person with my semicommon US name living in Denmark. And it turns out there are some rules about naming your children after other people's last names here (unless it's a very common last name, so you can give your kid a first name of Larson with no trouble -- otherwise you have to get permission from the holders of the last name in question). So, I got texted (in Danish, which I'm pretty awful at) a request to sign some paperwork so someone could name their child MyLastname. Eventually we figured out what was going on, and so evidently there's a little Danish 2 year old running around with MyLastname as their middle name.
posted by nat at 5:23 PM on April 28, 2017 [30 favorites]


I've had the beginning of this conversation via text; someone thinking that I really was their friend and saying, "this isnt funny" and me replying, "No, but the potential is there."
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:32 PM on April 28, 2017 [22 favorites]


I had someone with a similar name get his own email address wrong, back in the days when it was somewhat easier to mis-configure mail client software. He'd set my address as his own "reply-to" or something, so that all the replies to his mail came to me. It took tech support about a week to convince the poor guy I hadn't somehow stolen his email address.
posted by sfenders at 5:32 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


The refusal to believe it's a wrong number feels familiar to me too. My phone number is apparently very very close to the number of an exterminator in the Bronx & every few months I get a call to come take care of bedbugs or other bitey pests. Some of the callers get angry that I can't help them, or accuse me of ducking a difficult house call, or challenge me as if I've been impersonating an exterminator. ("Well, who *are* you then? How did I even get your number?")

The first few times it happened I had the idle half-wish that it was a PK Dick timeline bumping up against this one--that I am concurrently an exterminator with narratively convenient amnesia and that I should take their address down instead of trying to convince them they have the wrong number, and get on the train and go be the pest-poisoner that that universe wants me to be.

But I've come to think even that fantasy is smug & obnoxious. Not as smug & obnoxious as this dude--"I've always dreamt of the day I would get a wrong number text just so I could mess with the other person"? WTF?--but not how I want to treat strangers who are stressed out and busy and and laboring under a misconception and crying 'cause their kids' legs are covered in bites I don't know how to help with.

Wrong numbers suck. Be kind and steer people where they need to go, firmly if you can.
posted by miles per flower at 5:36 PM on April 28, 2017 [21 favorites]


I have a very common gmail. I get a lot of emails for people named Jean or Jane or John etc...most of them are auto responder type mails but every once in a while I get embroiled in some larger flame war email chain with the local Unitarian funding committee in some town in Northern California. I try to bow out with the whole "hey wrong email" spiel but it never sticks. Now they just go to my spam folder.
posted by Doleful Creature at 5:59 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have never had someone refuse to believe they had a wrong number. On the other hand, I have had the experience of sending an invite to a friend's old number and the stranger who got the message tried to invite himself along.

What I'm trying to say is, I don't know if this exchange is real, but people are so weird that it's plausible.
posted by palindromic at 6:08 PM on April 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who go to flamethrower mode the moment they find they're in the wrong. It beats being embarrassed about it.

Yeah, that's not at all unrealistic. That kind of ego protective fragility is really common and getting commoner.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:09 PM on April 28, 2017 [12 favorites]


The only thing I find unrealistic here is... Who doesn't already have an ongoing forever text conversation with family members already on their phones? I don't have to know anyone's numbers because I've got like a years worth of text conversations between me and every single person I know already on tap in my messaging app.

The dude being kind of a dick messing with someone and the person being messed with first being extremely stupid and then extremely ragey are both totally believable.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:13 PM on April 28, 2017 [13 favorites]


Ha ha, Doleful Creature, I also have a very common name as my Gmail and as a result I get all kinds of mail that is supposed to go to someone else. Intimate apologies, e-mails about Republicans running for delegate positions in Utah, .pdfs of contracts (!), etc., etc. Someone's Sprint cellphone bill has started getting delivered to me (I would apparently have to actually call Sprint to fix this, and the prospect of waiting on hold with Sprint on a complete stranger's behalf because they can't remember their own freaking e-mail address makes me feel slightly carsick). Someone has signed up for multiple job alerts in a different state using my e-mail address. Et frigging cetera.

The Republican delegation is the most annoying, not because of politics but because they seem to be using some kind of bcc'd list of e-mail addresses instead of an actual listserv, which means I have no idea how in the hell to unsubscribe.

Usually when it's just a single person e-mailing me and not a faceless corporate account, I just suggest that maybe the sender missed an initial or a number somewhere in the e-mail address and that's enough. But every once in a while someone really will act very skeptical or argue with me, which I find fascinating. So I kind of believe this story.

P.S. I am currently getting a bunch of e-mails that are supposed to be addressed to some Freemason official and am kind of scared to tell them they have the wrong address, because WHAT IF I KNOW TOO MUCH NOW
posted by en forme de poire at 6:16 PM on April 28, 2017 [20 favorites]


Now they know you know too much.
posted by hippybear at 6:19 PM on April 28, 2017 [12 favorites]


I totally believe that the interlocutor in question would go to "fuck you" territory right away, btw. I got a pretty "high-drama" vibe from them right off the bat. I also have a feeling Jess is going to be bringing a few things up with her therapist in a few years.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:20 PM on April 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


I have a feeling that whatever Jess might have to bring up about her mother began long before this misdirected text exchange.
posted by hippybear at 6:25 PM on April 28, 2017 [13 favorites]


I still have my number from when I lived in Hawaii, so I pretty much know when an 808 number comes up (that's not already in my contacts as a name), it's a wrong number.

There's one person who invites me to come over via text once in a while. I told them the first couple of times it was a wrong number. They believed me, but apparently can't stop making the same mistake. I kind of wonder how many people with one-number substitutions or transpositions of my phone number have been invited over to this person's house? We should have a party some time, all of us.
posted by ctmf at 6:25 PM on April 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yeah hippybear, that's what I mean. Very unintentionally revealing...
posted by en forme de poire at 6:32 PM on April 28, 2017


It's not so much I don't believe that there exist people stupid enough to produce this conversation as that I don't believe this particular conversation is genuine.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:34 PM on April 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


> That tracks as super fake to me.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who go to flamethrower mode the moment they find they're in the wrong. It beats being embarrassed about it.

dang it this isn’t a politics thread
posted by Going To Maine at 6:36 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Have a number that's one digit off of a radio station contest line. So so deeply want to answer, "You're a WINNER, but you must be at the station in 45 minutes."
posted by sammyo at 6:37 PM on April 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


If only we lived in a society where these encounters could lead to long-distance friendships, exchanges of newsletters, etc. That much direct interaction is more contact than I’ve had with some Facebook friends in a disturbing amount of time.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:39 PM on April 28, 2017


I had a cute text exchange with someone once that called me Auntie and told me I should bring chapati to the party sunday. They didn't believe that I wasn't their Auntie just messing with them until I told them that really, no, they have the wrong number, and my nephews call me Tante. Auntie sounded like a fun lady, though.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:51 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


The only thing I find unrealistic here is... Who doesn't already have an ongoing forever text conversation with family members already on their phones?

EXACTLY. I don't believe that this mom types in Jess's number every time she needs to ask Jess to pick up turkey, ham, and milk. People only type a number for a family member into their cell phone once. Then it's just tapping "Jess" to send a message. Of all the real life examples above in this thread, only one was someone trying to contact a family member's phone (Auntie).
posted by ejs at 6:57 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


For a little over a month in 2006, after I met my now-husband- I had an ongoing multiple texts per day conversation with 'him'. We were dating long distance, so texts and phone calls were how we kept in touch throughout the week until we could see each other on the weekends. Or so I thought.

One weekend, I ran into a bad traffic jam on the interstate on the way to his place and sent several texts complaining about the traffic. When I finally arrived he was completely baffled as to why I was so late. And then I became confused and said something to the effect of, 'well you got all of my texts'. Which is when he said: "I've never sent a text before".

I immediately sent a text to 'him' that said: "You're not who I think you are!" and 'he' responded: 'ha ha'

'he' must have been continually bemused at me for sending so many 'thinking of you', 'sweet dreams', 'have a good day', etc. texts without ever realizing that they weren't reaching their intended destination. But how often do you follow up in person with someone about a text?
posted by JennyJupiter at 6:59 PM on April 28, 2017 [43 favorites]


It's entirely possible that Mom still uses an old clamshell phone that isn't a smartphone. Not saying that I know that to be true, but this is clearly an SMS conversation, not a chat. It's being displayed on a smartphone, but who knows what the experience is like from the other end?

I used a clamshell phone up until about a year ago, so that's why I know this might be a possibility. My parents both use them, too.
posted by hippybear at 7:02 PM on April 28, 2017 [14 favorites]


I didn't save them, but I have had people text me and refuse to believe they have the wrong number. Adamantly, and rudely, until I blocked their numbers.
posted by sarcasticah at 7:04 PM on April 28, 2017


Who doesn't already have an ongoing forever text conversation with family members already on their phones?

Someone with a new phone?
posted by greermahoney at 7:07 PM on April 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


My driver's ed instructor used to brag that his phone was one number off from a Chinese restaurant that was down the street. He said sometimes when he'd get wrong numbers, he'd take the order, then go there to watch the eventual altercation.
The phrase "Christ, what an asshole" was invented for this guy.
posted by greermahoney at 7:08 PM on April 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


I haven't ever had someone not believe they texted the wrong number. I just use this phrase: "Wrong number." It's the oversharing that led to the confusion IMO.
posted by salvia at 7:31 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this has happened to me before. I think all it needs is a person known for trolling (though a salacious social situation helps too). Then when the innocent bytexter tries in good faith to correct the misunderstanding, the other party inteprets it as the troll doubling down for maximal hilarity. Fun times!
posted by iffthen at 7:31 PM on April 28, 2017


P.S. I am currently getting a bunch of e-mails that are supposed to be addressed to some Freemason official and am kind of scared to tell them they have the wrong address, because WHAT IF I KNOW TOO MUCH NOW
posted by en forme de poire at 8:16 PM on April 28 [+] [!]


Now they know you know too much.
posted by hippybear at 8:19 PM on April 28 [1 favorite +] [!]


Worse yet. Now WE know they know you know too much.
posted by Samizdata at 7:44 PM on April 28, 2017 [14 favorites]


One of these days, my friends and family will finally understand I tend to only text using a SMS-email gateway and stop getting mad when I don't respond promptly BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE A SMARTPHONE. I have a dumb as a stump phone, a tablet, and a PC. Doesn't work if there's no WiFi. (P.S. As pleased as I am with SwiftKey, I hate doing anything long on a tablet keyboard.)
posted by Samizdata at 7:49 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


how often do you follow up in person with someone about a text?

I can tell you exactly how long: forty-three days. That’s how long it took me to realize that I wasn’t texting my best friend’s cell phone, I was texting my best friend’s home phone.
posted by tooloudinhere at 8:06 PM on April 28, 2017 [18 favorites]


Even even worse: Now they know that we know that they know that you know too much.

This places all of us in jeopardy. Except for them.
posted by hippybear at 8:07 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


Your dumbphone doesn't support text messaging? My 1998 vintage cell phone received. My 2000 vintage sent and received texts. (Wasn't actually SMS since it wasn't a GSM phone)

Even early Sprint PCS phones had that horrible WAP-based text messaging system. Interoperated with Cingular, even. Still was way worse than the built in texting on my early Nokias, though.
posted by wierdo at 8:09 PM on April 28, 2017


Back before texting, I took a (land line) phone call at work one day. It was an older gentleman looking for books on some military history topic. I told him that he had the wrong number. He hung up. Called back a couple minutes later. I suggested that perhaps he wanted the library. Five or so phone calls later I had explained multiple times that he had reached a lab at $state-university, suggested that he look up the library's phone number, pointed out that it could be found on the university's web site, etc. He got progressively more irate each call, and refused to believe me. He was quite certain, it turned out, that he was calling a used and rare bookstore by the name of Bygone Books. At some point I had him read the phone number that he was trying to call , xxx-xxxx. I confirmed that it was our lab's phone number, but that we were, still, a lab at $state-university. Boy was he angry the next time he called. He was calling from $other-state, and I was just a being so ride by continuing to insist on this deception. Something about young people these days, etc.

So I inquired where Bygone Books was. Turns out Bygone Books was in $third-state. I gently suggested that, as we were (as I had mentioned) a lab at $state-university, and Bygone Books was in a separate state, that he likely had the correct seven digits but wrong area code. So then he grumpily asked me for the area code of $third-state. I suggested that the operator or the internet would likely have that info, but that I did not know it myself. He was again upset by my unhelpfulness. He offered no apology for any of his anger towards me once his error was explained, of course. But at least he didn't call again.

So yeah, I find this text conversation totally believable:(

(Epilogue: a few years later, I was headed to a conference at $third-state-university with some other folks, and we actually drove past Bygone Books! No one else in the car quite understood why I was so excited, though.)
posted by eviemath at 8:27 PM on April 28, 2017 [65 favorites]


Come on now, it was never cancelled. Lying to your kids about consequences is like Parenting 102.

Oh wow, this is helpful. Would it cost me anything to learn about Parenting 101, or is that something I should just know already?
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:30 PM on April 28, 2017


The only cell phone trick I know is when I miss one of my wife's texts asking me where I am, I text "right here" the next time I'm sitting next to her, about an hour later.

It doesn't always go over that great.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:34 PM on April 28, 2017 [30 favorites]


Now I want to know where you were an hour earlier.
posted by hippybear at 8:35 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


> It doesn't always go over that great.

QFS ...

oheso.SO patiently tolerates my "Good Morning!" message each morning as we sit two meters apart over coffee. (She's usually at the kitchen table and I'm at the coffee table.) Ditto "I'm home!" as (or after) I walk in the door.
posted by oheso at 8:39 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


You probably picked it up from your parents or community, SpacemanStix. No need for payment! And please don't edit for content.

Sorry hippybear, reading the comment again I came off a bit condescending instead of tongue in cheek, which was my intent.
posted by ODiV at 8:40 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Everyone saying "This couldn't be true because of X" is making a lot of assumptions based on their own experience with technology. I have coworkers who Google our organization's website. Every. Single. Time. It's a four-letter (but two-suffix) domain. Coworkers who listen to the entire voicemail message before hanging up after two seconds of breathing into the phone, without leaving a message. Coworkers who haven't discovered autocomplete, and hence type an entire 30-some character URL into the location bar without once realizing the browser is prompting them from its history.

Every one of these coworkers has at least one college degree.
posted by oheso at 8:44 PM on April 28, 2017 [37 favorites]


I had this happen to me once and it was actually a call! I picked up and it was clearly someone trying to call his daughter who hadn't come home the previous night, and even though he could hear my voice did not believe it wasn't her.

Me (on a VA number): Yeah, you've called a student in Chicago.
Them: You...WHAT? You're in CHICAGO!? What are you doing in Chicago?!

I finally convinced him I wasn't his daughter, at which point he hung up...and called back.
posted by capricorn at 8:51 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


You probably picked it up from your parents or community, SpacemanStix. No need for payment!

Sorry, that was just a little bit a of joke about people who say they would charge for 101 content, but not 102.

And please don't edit for content.

You are right, of course. I was a little worried my comment was going to come across as combative. I look at it now and I still think it's way more sarcastic than I intended!
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:54 PM on April 28, 2017


This one time a guy left a text trying to hook up with a girl.
I text him back letting him know he has the wrong number.
He texts again, saying no he doesn't.
I say yes, yes you do, I'm not the girl your looking for.
He goes into something about us having a connection the night before at the bar.
I say that sounds lovely, I'm not her, you have the wrong number, I'm a guy.
He gets irate and insists he has the right number, and now I'm sure she gave home the wrong number on purpose.
I say I'm sorry, she gave you the wrong number, I'm not her.
He digs deeper, pushes harder, and generally makes a nuisance of himself, so I call, and I say, listen to my voice, I'm not the girl from last night.
And he says well put her on the phone then.
I tell him I can't, I'm the only one at this number and I don't know who she is.
Yes you do.
No I don't. Dude look, she isn't here, it's the wrong number.
NO ITS NOT!
OK then, you want to go on a date with an old man?
There's a pause
And then he whispers "It's not the wrong number." And hangs up
posted by evilDoug at 8:55 PM on April 28, 2017 [86 favorites]


As someone who once had a land line that used to be a fax number before I got it (I received upwards of two dozen fax calls per day) my best moment was tracking down a number that seemed to account for a good chunk of the calls coming in. It was one of those shitty fax marketing people, and I put the wheels in motion to file a CRTC complaint against him and his home "fax marketing" business - in writing, via snail mail, cc'ing him - and he contacted me, profusely apologizing and insisting that I would be receiving no more fax calls from him.

To the best of my recollection, the call ended like this:

Me: So I won't be getting any more fax calls from you or any of your numbers?

Him: I took your number off all our lists!

Me: Good. Because I know where you live. How do you think I knew where to send that letter? [hangs up]

I'm comfortable with having made an implied threat (that I would have never, ever acted upon, to be clear) towards a fax spammer.

To add to the mystique of this land line, this same number was one digit off the number for a family doctor. I got lots of calls from people who sounded like older patients of his - so if they got me directly, I'd tell them that no, they had the wrong number, here's the number for Dr. so-and-so (I had looked him up after the first rambling message about an appointment, and kept his number posted near the phone).

If they left a message on my voicemail, I'd call them back and let them know that Dr. so-and-so didn't get the message because they had the wrong number. I didn't want anyone to miss an appointment or anything - this was medical care, not a pizza delivery order, after all.

tl;dr: My old land line number was one huge pain in the ass for seven goddamn years.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:00 PM on April 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


Now I want to know where you were an hour earlier.

I have a bad habit (good habit?) of not always paying attention to my phone. Or I'm driving.

Or, I'm playing Ms. Pac Man at Kwik Trip. I can get pretty far on one quarter these days.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:03 PM on April 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


And then he whispers "It's not the wrong number." And hangs up

This kind of made me want to track down the woman he was looking for just to say "YOUR INSTINCTS WERE TOTALLY RIGHT THAT DUDE WAS A TOTAL CREEP"
posted by en forme de poire at 9:06 PM on April 28, 2017 [31 favorites]


Getting good at a Pac Man game is very satisfying. I memorized patterns for the original, but never got far with the different action of Ms. Pac Man. Go you!
posted by hippybear at 9:08 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


The only cell phone trick I know is when I miss one of my wife's texts asking me where I am, I text "right here" the next time I'm sitting next to her, about an hour later.

I get the "where are you" messages frequently when in big box stores because I get easily distracted. I've learned a new way of being annoying. I respond by hitting the "Share your location" button, which sends her a helpful map with a dot of where I am. Sadly, the location reported is only precise to the street address, but that's not my fault.

SpacemanStix: I'd recommend trying this at home as a new variation on "right here".
posted by honestcoyote at 9:11 PM on April 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


Your dumbphone doesn't support text messaging? My 1998 vintage cell phone received. My 2000 vintage sent and received texts. (Wasn't actually SMS since it wasn't a GSM phone)

Even early Sprint PCS phones had that horrible WAP-based text messaging system. Interoperated with Cingular, even. Still was way worse than the built in texting on my early Nokias, though.


It does. But I hate the input method more than I am annoyed by long messaging on my tablet. Couple that with my complete inability to use SMS slang, texting from a dumbphone is painful for me.
posted by Samizdata at 9:40 PM on April 28, 2017


I once called to book concert tickets and transposed two digits. This was way back in the rotary days. (Doobie Brothers, with the Cars opening, in fact.)

I'd obviously interrupted the meal of whoever answered the phone, but she cheerfully informed me of my mistake and told me the right number. I apologized, and she wished me a good evening, and it was about the most pleasant wrong number experience I'd ever had.

Mad props to that woman, who must have dealt with similar calls hundreds or thousands of times.
posted by oheso at 9:40 PM on April 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


OMG! Calling Ticketmaster to get tickets for a popular concert in the days of primarily rotary phones was SO PAINFUL. There was a Ticketmaster outlet in the Dillards store in the local mall where you could do pretty well in the ticket draw. Although I do admit I camped out for tickets to see the Purple Rain tour for two days outside the ticket booth at the local arena, sleeping on concrete and taking part in what was basically a giant, growing party across time.

But competitive phone situations with rotary dial? Oh man....
posted by hippybear at 9:50 PM on April 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


About 12 years ago I was on this youth world tour thing where we went to a different city every week and one week we were in Antwerp. Every time we go to a new city we'd get contact details of our host families; once I got that info, I'd pass it on to my family so they can call me to check in.

My first day or so at the Antwerp host family my own family were complaining that every time they tried to call they got a really grumpy guy claiming he doesn't know me. I didn't get any phone calls, so I asked my host dad to double-check the number. I showed him the card and he said yeah, that's fine. I relayed that message, family tried again, grumpy dude gets more grumpy.

A little while later my host dad comes back to me and goes "ARGH I'M SORRY THE PRINTED NUMBER WAS WRONG IT'S OFF BY ONE DIGIT"

So I pass the new number to my parents, they call me and finally get me, meanwhile my host dad is calling the grumpy dude profusely apologizing.

(A week after that I'd end up hosted in a Catholic monastery in Koln where I fall down the stairs and injure myself the first night, so I end up bedridden for most of the week. This time my family tried to call and they did get the right place, but the guy in charge was an asshole and wouldn't transfer the calls to me.)
posted by divabat at 10:06 PM on April 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


> But competitive phone situations with rotary dial? Oh man....

Fun times ...
posted by oheso at 10:06 PM on April 28, 2017


Assholes in a Catholic monastery? Who knew?
posted by oheso at 10:08 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


I've ran across a couple types of situations in my work as a librarian that relate to this. One is the phenomenon displayed here, where someone absolutely will not back down in the face of their being wrong about something, even if it's very provably wrong, as in I've got the references right there; this is the hill that they will die on. (Especially fun when they're calling a telephone reference department and they just keep calling back to get different operators in the hopes of getting the answer that they want; then they want to escalate it to the supervisor, then to their supervisor, and presumably all the way up to the president.) The other is the polar opposite, when they get super-embarrassed about being wrong and won't hang on for the correct number even though I tell them that it's no problem.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:20 PM on April 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


In my early teens, the role-playing community I'd game with included a few guys who had severe muscular dystrophy that rendered them quadriplegic.

One day, I was surprised to show up at one of their houses, only to be cussed out for the prank I'd played on him regarding my phone number. He was upset that I'd given him a fake number which had been a terrible embarrassment to him, not to mention his mother, who had made the call on his behalf.

Until that moment, I had been unaware of the female oil wrestling team "The California Hardbodies," whose telephone number was nearly identical to mine save the transposition of two digits.
posted by Graygorey at 10:23 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Well, if this is a wrong number, why did you answer?"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:25 PM on April 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


It does. But I hate the input method more than I am annoyed by long messaging on my tablet.

If you need more proof brains (and bodies) are weird, I actually prefer T9 on a 12 key number pad to typing on a smartphone or tablet with a soft keyboard. It took very little time before I could do it accurately without even looking at the screen. In maybe a week (which was only 20 or so messages back then!) it was all muscle memory. It was almost safe to text and drive back then. :p

Definitely safer than it is now with an on screen keyboard, and more accurate than using voice recognition, despite the vast improvement in recognition accuracy over the past several years.

Tapping out messages on a number pad without T9, on the other hand, is a total nightmare. 4..3 second pause..4 just to say hi, and woe betide you if you only paused for 2.5 seconds and end up just writing the letter i. With T9 it was a simple 440774623771** to greet my SO. Or 4604663 to say I'm home. Much easier than #4446044666...633.
posted by wierdo at 10:25 PM on April 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


> It took very little time before I could do it accurately without even looking at the screen.

My son could send messages on his clamshell (or Galapagos, as they're known here: left behind by evolution) without taking it out of his pocket.

Separate issue what onlookers thought he was doing ...
posted by oheso at 10:55 PM on April 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


I love that name!
posted by wierdo at 11:05 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


About 18 years ago we had moved and our new landline was plugged into our computer, which had a program that could pick up faxes as well as voice messages. Somehow the number we got was a number that either used to belong to, or had been misprinted in a brochure of, a large health insurance company. The number had been the one to which all the various doctor's offices would fax patient health information to. Needless to say this really disturbed me but it took a while for me to figure out how to get ahold of someone at Big Insurance that would take the issue very seriously (I mentioned privacy and HIPAA etc.) but meanwhile...did you know that most doctor's offices set their outgoing faxes to go out at 3AM? Yeah, that wasn't any fun. (I shredded everything, I'd like to add.)

I even threatened to call the patients and report the mistake to get Big Insurance to move, I don't know if that lit a fire under them or not...it was surprisingly hard to get them to do anything quickly even with possible legal issues threatening.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 11:10 PM on April 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can believe somebody would not believe they had the wrong number through several texts. What I find hard to believe is how quickly the mother went to flame thrower you're such an ass hole mode when she realized she'd made a mistake. That tracks as super fake to me.

That part was the LEAST fake to me.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:37 PM on April 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


I work for Google, so I know a few people who managed to snag addresses like fred@google.com or whatever.

Apparently they are entirely unusable.
posted by Itaxpica at 11:42 PM on April 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


I had wrong call where I answered the phone and this boy immediately asked "mom?"

Immediate social work mode.

Kid was 15 and searching for biological parent. Heartbreaking conversation. I hope I gave him some support and hope.
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:37 AM on April 29, 2017 [26 favorites]


I was kind of surprised by the people upthread who called this guy out for trolling. I mean apart from just continuing to respond to her after telling her a couple of times it was the wrong number, rather than just ignoring her.

Did I miss something? I had another look. Sure, there are a couple of instance where he plays along. "Would you mind stopping at the store for me ... " But it's very low-key and it's after he's made repeated, serious attempts to let the woman know she's got the wrong number. Ditto the remark about "I've always dreamt of the day ... " He is playing with her at this point, but it's so far into her not heeding what he's saying that I didn't take it as a literal life goal for him.

In summary, poor Jess.
posted by oheso at 12:41 AM on April 29, 2017 [11 favorites]


How are you, col_pogo?
posted by Segundus at 12:48 AM on April 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


My driver's ed instructor used to brag that his phone was one number off from a Chinese restaurant that was down the street. He said sometimes when he'd get wrong numbers, he'd take the order, then go there to watch the eventual altercation.

A friend's parents had a home number somewhat similar to that of a local taxi company. Some people just refused to accept they had dialed the wrong number, and in those situations it was usually easier to just reply "yeah, ok, we'll have a car there in ten minutes" than to keep arguing.
posted by effbot at 2:10 AM on April 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


Okay, I'll just go ahead and say it. When I was very young (*) my brother and sister let me know that Grandma's number was real easy - just dial 0 !

(*) This finally stopped when I left for college.
posted by parki at 3:10 AM on April 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


I once worked at a gift delivery startup that once got an 800 number. But it was the old number for a health insurance company, one that they hadn't used in 2 years. A good chunk of my work life for a couple years was taken up thusly -

(Me) "New York Gift Express, can I help you?"
(Confused, elderly voice) "....is this Western National Life?"

....followed by two minutes of me patiently explaining to them where they could find the updated number on a current bill.


Best wrong number story I have, though - I had a roommate once who had multiple nicknames, and was also was very into live action role playing games, to the point that some people would call him in character, seeking to talk to him in character. When we first moved in, there were a couple of instances where I'd answer the phone, and he'd overhear me say, "I'm sorry, did you say you were looking for James Stormrunner?" Or "sorry, did you say you want to speak to Pookie?" and he'd say "Shit, they mean me, I'll take it...." So it got to the point that any time anyone called, if they asked for any name other than mine, I would hand the phone to him.

Which was precisely what I did when someone called one afternoon asking to speak to Andrew. My roommate actually had a minute long conversation with the guy before it dawned on them both that it was a wrong number.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:17 AM on April 29, 2017 [13 favorites]


In May of 2015, I got a "Happy belated birthday, Aunt So-and-So! Sorry I'm a day late!" text message to my fairly new work cell phone. I let the person know they had the wrong number, and they apologized and thanked me.

In May of 2016, I got a "Happy belated birthday, Aunt So-and-So! Sorry I'm a day late!" text again. I responded that it was still the wrong number, and the person lol'd and swore they'd fix the number in their phone this time.

We shall soon see.
posted by tryniti at 5:21 AM on April 29, 2017 [29 favorites]


When I was a kid the phone service had a feature that allowed you to dial your own number, hang up, and then the phone would ring. I believe its intended purpose was for some kind of testing. But since we had two phones, upstairs and downstairs on the same line, it was possible to make disguised calls from "Santa Claus" or "The Police" to unsuspecting siblings. Although they eventually caught on.

Right now there's some poor man named Jose who is always missing his doctor's appointments. But I can't do anything about it because when I return the calls Jose's clinic won't help me, since I'm not Jose, and even checking into the problem violates patient privacy rules.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:38 AM on April 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


The last place I worked at, we could get a mobile plan for business use and write it as an expense. They wouldn't get numbers for us, but we were at least reimbursed. I signed up for a line.

Not a day later, a police station somewhere in the north of France had left a voice message.

Another voice message a couple days later. They were never urgent, never left a name or anyone to call back, just the station, so I thought they'd let it drop.

Well, a month later, they were still calling, so I finally replied. A policewoman asked, "Monsieur so-and-so?" - "No, sorry, this is a mobile number I picked up a month ago. He's clearly changed numbers." - "Are you an associate of Monsieur so-and-so?" I patiently gave out identifying info and invited the policewoman to phone me back at any time to check that it would indeed still be me answering. She sighed, thanked me, and never bothered me again.

When I quit my job, I cancelled the plan but kept the number so no one else has to go through similar. (We can do that with some providers here.)
posted by fraula at 5:47 AM on April 29, 2017


tryniti: You should text them about a week earlier than they've texted in the past to remind them that Aunt So-and-So's birthday is coming up.

(Possibly not.)
posted by XtinaS at 5:55 AM on April 29, 2017 [25 favorites]


I too have an email address that is my initials plus family name - in fact I have it twice, with two fairly major email providers. I get a remarkable range of emails, and it's often clear that one of my namesakes has either made a mistake typing in his or her email or has simply assumed what it must be. (It doesn't help that Gmail apparent allow you to register an address containing periods but sometimes then ignores then.)

The most amusing of these came from a livestock journal in Texas, which sent me a proof on an advert for the sale of 11 Red Angus heifers by a ranch bearing my name. I responded and explained that I was a lawyer in Birmingham (the UK one) and had neither ranch nor cows, and suggested they check they had the right email. The next day I got sent another copy, again with a request for me to approve it. This time I suggested that they call the ranch and check the email address. I also resolved that if I got sent it a third time I would simply say 'OK, I admit it, I am the ranch-owner after all' but would make some rather wide-ranging amendments to the advert, courtesy of some imaginative friends I'd shared it with...
posted by Major Clanger at 6:02 AM on April 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


Wow. I love everyone's stories. The only wrong number I consistently get is someone who has put me on a conference call list in West Virginia and I cannot get off the list because no human is involved.
posted by Peach at 6:21 AM on April 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


I got a misdirected text once saying "Hey daddy, this is Sam, can you come pick me up?"

At the time I paid 25 cents per text but I figured this person might be in trouble so I texted back "Just wanted to let you know you have the wrong number, please do not reply."

The next morning I got a reply to the text, presumably from Sam, saying "Hey, who is this?"

And I wrote back "No one you know. Please do not text me again."

I figured that would be the end of it, until later that afternoon I got this:
"Hello, this is Sam's mother. This is not her phone. Stop contacting us."

And I replied, "The only thing I've ever texted you is to ask you to stop texting me. So don't." (It cost me a quarter but I didn't want to leave the parent with the impression that I was a weirdo texting a teenage girl for no reason.)

So I find this exchange totally believable.. people seem to not grasp the concept of wrong numbers when it comes to texting.
posted by Gortuk at 6:35 AM on April 29, 2017 [10 favorites]


They also are surprisingly resistant to actually reading the words themselves and taking them at face value, instead of reading them according to whatever preoccupations are in their own heads. I wonder if it's partly because so many of the usual communication cues--non verbal gestures, tone, etc.--are either absent or harder to convey. It feels like we encounter so much BS in text online, we're getting conditioned to be less attentive to the content of the language. I also think there's a bigger issue where the connotative meanings of words are no longer being acquired as consistently among English speakers, so people's emotional responses to the same words are less consistent--there's less common understanding and feel for the tone and emotional impact of words which I think also contributes to social friction that's really more about failed communication and lack of common understanding than actual disagreement on anything substantial.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:58 AM on April 29, 2017 [11 favorites]


I love these stories: strangers bumping up against each other and what ensues.

Many years ago, in my brand-new apartment in a brand-new state with a brand-new landline, I answered the phone early on a Saturday morning.

"Hello?"
Angry woman, "Where's Peter?! Who are you?"

I figured out rather quickly that Peter used to have my current phone number.

"There's no Peter here."
"Where is he, then?"
"You have the wrong number"

I could tell that she didn't really believe me, and I imagined that she surmised I was Peter's new squeeze.
posted by honey badger at 7:10 AM on April 29, 2017


I once started to get emails sent to list off a bunch of upper class friends planning super cool weekend getaways to the caribbean, skiing trips. I politely emailed them to let them know they had mistakenly included me, and I started getting all sorts of insults, accusing me of 'hacking' their list, yelling at me to get off, etc.

So I 100% believe people who are clueless about tech and kind of assholes to begin with might start abusing you instead of owning up to their mistake.
posted by signal at 7:18 AM on April 29, 2017 [7 favorites]


They also are surprisingly resistant to actually reading the words themselves

I have a somewhat unusual first name (especially in the U.S., where it's super weird --it's more common in the U.K.). It's eight letters long, three syllables, starts with a C and ends with an A. If you're an English-speaker, it is pronounced exactly how it looks, with maybe some ambiguity surrounding long v. short vowels. I learned several decades ago that people do not read. They look at the first letter and last letter (sometimes only the first letter and fuck everything thereafter) and interject whatever sounds right to them in the middle. Correcting them only helps 50% of the time. I've had my name mispronounced by teachers for the entire school year (I'll correct for the first week or so, but after that I just start answering to whatever I'm being called). I am routinely Cassandra, Christa, Cassie, Chrissy, or Christina. None of those are my name. Cassandra is the only one that even comes close.

Anyway, having learned that lesson from a really young age, I was primed to also notice that the same rule applies to sentences and paragraphs. People often read the first word or two, the last couple words, and fill in their own thoughts in between. They think they're reading, their eyes are scanning words, but it's not going in.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:31 AM on April 29, 2017 [17 favorites]


The way we read things, the way we learn things, the way we say things, the way we respond to each other, the way we communicate.

Words matter. Take care.
posted by carsonb at 7:42 AM on April 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


Years ago I got a series of phone calls at work from men looking for a "large blonde woman who sucks dicks", and I had to tell them that I was not that woman, or even a woman ("oh I'm so sorry, I'm not a large blonde woman who sucks dicks", with colleagues giggling in the background). But while the men were obviously disappointed, they were also remarkably polite, unlike Jess' mom (I found out that they were taxi drivers who got my number from a flyer stuck on their windshield).
posted by elgilito at 7:50 AM on April 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


Years ago I inherited a landline number from someone known to his friends (family? clients?) as "Wee Stevie". Wee Stevie had a lot of people in his life who hadn't been informed about his change of number, and who were remarkably persistent in trying to find him.

Ring, ring. "Hello?"
"Is Wee Stevie there?"
"Sorry, you've got the wrong number."
"Is that not Wee Stevie's flat?"
"No. He doesn't live here."
Puzzled pause. "Are you sure?"

Doesn't take many weeks of that to get fed up of it. ("Well, how wee is he? Wait there, I'll check the cupboards.") But they kept on trying. Fifteen years later and I will bet you anything that whoever has that number is still fielding calls for him.

My husband has firstinitial.lastname@gmail.com and gets a regular stream of email for people with some variant of that. Over the years it's become clear that three of these people in particular keep giving out their own email address wrong. There's someone involved with the Ohio Republican party who's big on guns, a student somewhere in the south of England whose family keep yelling at her about credit card bills and skiing holidays, and a lawyer in Canada.

The student is the weirdest because a lot of the emails for her come from her family, so it's easy enough to reply to an actual person to say "hi, this isn't Phoebe, you've got the wrong email" and they say "oh thanks, sorry" and then a month or so later there's an email from that same person saying "Phoebe, what's happening with the chalet, we STILL haven't heard from you!"

Given the number of times he's got emails where Phoebe herself has clearly given the wrong address (when ordering something, etc), I think that Phoebe herself genuinely believes that's her email address and keeps insisting on it to her relatives, while being (presumably?) confused that her inbox is always empty. Or maybe she's getting all Wee Stevie's emails, who knows.
posted by Catseye at 8:06 AM on April 29, 2017 [11 favorites]


It's been a while but I get a fair number of calls for the St. Regis hotel in Houston (single digit difference). At one point in time there was a business card or advertisement with my number on it.
posted by polyhedron at 8:09 AM on April 29, 2017


I got a wrong-number fax once. You might think this was some kind of Nigerian scam, but I'm sure it wasn't. My fax number at that time was 393-9393, and it constantly got calls from malfunctioning modems ... and babies.

Anyway, this fax comes in and it's from a small Ecuadorian oil broker, with a tally of previous transactions with an NYC company, and the fax is a request for a Bank Of America account number in which to transfer $4.3M.

I called the NYC company, after some reflection, and they were very suspicious of me, like I was scamming them. So I ignored it, a second followup fax came through, I faxed that back to the sender, "wrong number".

Paths not taken.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:18 AM on April 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


The flip-phone I got issued at work back in the day had (unknown to me at first) previously been assigned to a very well-known and well-liked guy who died young and unexpectedly from a heart attack. So my number was in everyone ELSE's contact list as him. No wrong numbers, but lots of people *I* called seemed unusually depressed.
posted by ctmf at 8:31 AM on April 29, 2017 [7 favorites]


But competitive phone situations with rotary dial? Oh man....

I had a friend in high school, when rotary dials were all we had, who was a master at winning those "be the sixth caller" radio contests. He had all these LPs and t-shirts and free tickets and what not. It involved knowing how long it took the DJ to answer a call and say, "You're number 4, sorry," and he would sit there with 6 out of 7 digits dialed and the rotor turned for the final digit, and sort of count off all the losing numbers in his head and then release the dial to enter the last digit and complete the call. It got so the DJs were like, "Oh, jeez, Mike, you again?"
posted by Orlop at 8:31 AM on April 29, 2017 [12 favorites]


I'm somewhat jealous; my mix ups like these are never really (a) weirdly annoying or (b) weirdly funny.

At one point, after I moved, I kept getting phone calls for Blockbuster (it was a while back). It finally occurred to me to check a phone book (another way to tell this was a long time ago) and I learned the previous owner of the number had been listed right under the Blockbuster locations. There was no great opportunities for pranks that I saw, so I just steered people to the right number when they called. In a couple of cases I was able to make movie recommendations before giving the number because the call would start with "do you have any copies of [film title]?"and I could say "you might also like..." and then give them the right number. But those stopped after the new listings came out.

One time I did have a lady phone who was quite insistent we had dated and she wanted to know how I was doing and what was up with me these days. And I insisted we had never dated and I didn't know her at all. And the call got this really strange weird vibe, because we were both being pleasant, but we were both getting angry too - she thought I was lying for whatever reason, and I was getting weirded out by her insistence that I was this other guy. To be fair, we had the same name (first and last), so we went around and around a couple of times before she asked my middle name and that was when the penny dropped and she realized I wasn't who she thought I was. At which point the call got slightly weirder, because she apologized and kept the conversation going and became somewhat flirtatious. But, despite being desperately single at that time in my life, I figured this wasn't the start of a "meet-cute" story and ended the call.
posted by nubs at 8:32 AM on April 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


Oh, and I might add, the reason I quit using 393-9393 was because some system adminstrator somewhere was very proud of an elaborately ornamented version of Mary Had a Little Lamb that he had programmed into the auto-dialer and he would demonstrate it several times a day, and the 393-9393 was some kind of opening trill, so the rest of the song would end up on my answering machine, filling it up.

Contacted the phone company, they tried to trace it, that didn't go anywhere, so I switched that to my fax line.

Also the babies, but those I enjoyed. You hear gurgling laughter and buttons pressed, and in the back ground you hear some guy saying, "Who you callin' You callin' Grandma? Huh? That's what you doing? You callin' Grandma? Good girl..."
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:33 AM on April 29, 2017 [7 favorites]


Separate issue what onlookers thought he was doing ...

When one of my kids was 6 or 7, Nano Bugs were really popular. These are little bug-shaped things that, when you turn them on, move around by vibrating. I remember standing around outside the school at pick-up time, chatting with the other parents about how much some of the boys seemed to enjoy turning them on and carrying them around in their front pockets.
posted by Orlop at 8:35 AM on April 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


My driver's ed instructor used to brag that his phone was one number off from a Chinese restaurant that was down the street. He said sometimes when he'd get wrong numbers, he'd take the order, then go there to watch the eventual altercation.
The phrase "Christ, what an asshole" was invented for this guy.


So there's a profession where, entirely aside from the (considerable) day-to-day stress, you're facing a statistical certainty that some of your students will go on to kill themselves or others as a direct result of neglecting your instruction.

What you describe is asshole behavior for sure, but I'm a little inclined to accommodate people in this vocation a release of this form as opposed to those in, say, sales.
posted by 7segment at 9:05 AM on April 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Way, way back we had somehow gotten the former number of the Palwaukee airport control tower as our number. Lots LOTS of calls from half-bagged private pilots at 3 am seeing if their clients had scheduled any flights, or checking take-off conditions or whatever. I never played with them, mostly because that was the height of the Chuck Yaeger pilot mystique voice and frankly I was kind of intimidated. Now, of course, I'd be all over them with "Have you ever seen a grown man naked?" and the like.
posted by Chitownfats at 9:49 AM on April 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


That man?

His name was Albert Einstein.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:16 AM on April 29, 2017


Ring, ring. "Hello?"
"Is Wee Stevie there?"
"Sorry, you've got the wrong number."
"Is that not Wee Stevie's flat?"
"No. He doesn't live here."
Puzzled pause. "Are you sure?"


Are you sure you weren't living in a Martin McDonagh film?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:43 AM on April 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


We got some really... odd... messages and calls at our house for awhile. Some were disturbing. Eventually I started googling our phone number and I discovered a Washington DC "transsexual escort ad" that was one digit off from our phone number.

After that, answering the phone got sort of fun.
posted by secretseasons at 10:47 AM on April 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Then there was this guy, who flagged the misdirected faxes containing customer information to the bank sending them, and still the faxes kept on comin'...

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has been faxing confidential information about hundreds of its customers to a scrapyard operator in West Virginia for more than three years, and he can't get them to stop.

Wade Peer says he has been overwhelmed since 2001 by internal CIBC fund transfer request forms containing the social insurance numbers, home addresses, phone numbers and detailed bank account data of several hundred bank customers.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:56 AM on April 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


The cell number I was blessed with when I moved back to the US after years abroad had recently belonged to a Vietnamese gentleman. While I still get the occasional voicemail from his health insurance company and text from random well-wishers (who seem very kind), I cannot get one of the local utilities to grok that he no longer has this number. I have spoken to a human being twice in person, and I have upon dozens of occasions used their automated phone system to indicate that No, Mr. T- is not available, because this is not the correct number for Mr. T-. They persist. It's been 9 months. It is through willpower alone that I have not engaged in some level 8 trolling of my local sewer district.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:08 AM on April 29, 2017


I have a few stories of varying intensity.

I have had the same gmail account since it was invite-only-beta, first-name-last-initial@gmail.com, and I get mountains of invoices, order receipts, insurance info, job board alerts, and interview follow-ups for anyone with my first name, from all around the world. I routinely get emails from Tata motors confirming times for some professional ethics seminar that I am apparently giving in India on a regular basis (at least annually, some times an extra one is put on for new employees), some of these include attachments that are probably not supposed to be emailed to randos on the internet such as the personal info of all the attendees. I'm assuming that whoever does work for Tata has mistyped his reply-to email address or something (because it has been going on for years).

At my previous employer I was given a work phone and the cell number was recycled, not from someone inside the company just some dude's old cell number. I regularly got texts asking me how my day was going, inviting me to parties, etc. I got invited to a really cool sounding house boating trip in the shuswaps. I had to decline because I was working, but got a pile of pictures texted to me throughout the week from these people out boating and having a good time. This went on for over a year, it became a little piece of office delight and I would keep people around the office updated on what all these misguided texters were up to and how their days were going. I did text each of them once that they had the wrong number, but then I would go with it and politely decline their invites to parties.

Recently I got a break-up text from some lady. Which is legit, I am super gay and our relationship would not work out. I just went along with it and I think we came to an amicable breakup, relatively little drama, and we are still going to be friends and go to book club. Which was really mean of me since that guy is still out there thinking he's dating this lady, at least until the next book club I assume. If there was any blow-back I didn't get it because I blocked her number, like a coward.
posted by selenized at 11:10 AM on April 29, 2017 [11 favorites]


Wrong numbers suck. Be kind and steer people where they need to go

An outfit called Dakota Care in SD just mispublished our 800# somewhere and we're getting tons of calls. The office asshole is all ragey and "fuckers need to fix this" -- like there's a magic wavey wand to undo some printed material somewhere. It's just a transposition, and when I get the puzzled silence or sorry wrong number, I ask if they're trying to reach Dakota Care, and then give the correct last four digits.

I've gotten nothing but gratitude and plenty of laughs with the boy you must be getting lots of calls commentary. Yeah we sure are, have a great day :)
posted by wallabear at 11:23 AM on April 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


My sweetheart has a name that's not so common in the US, but is the John Smith of Japan. He also has the first.last@gmail.com, which means that for the past two years he's been getting email from some French company, in French and Japanese, for some other Japanese John Smith. He's emailed them a couple times in English, and gotten his sister-in-law to write a few emails in Japanese saying "you guys, I am not the person you think I am." But he's still getting emails just about every day, including just yesterday, all the login info for their company Dropbox account. If it were me, I'd log in and leave playful "I am a stranger who has your login information because you keep sending it to me even though I have asked you not to" notes lying around, but he is not me and so just deletes the email. C'est la vie.
posted by tapir-whorf at 11:41 AM on April 29, 2017


Mr. T- is not available, because this is not the correct number for Mr. T-. They persist. It's been 9 months.

I hope you at least told them you pity the fools, though.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:35 PM on April 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid, this conversation would have taken three months, what with the postal service and all.
posted by 4ster at 1:21 PM on April 29, 2017


One time I did have a lady phone

How do you tell the difference?
posted by bongo_x at 1:41 PM on April 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


It was called the Princess.
posted by wallabear at 2:12 PM on April 29, 2017


A few years ago, there was a stretch where every night I would get a call about 2am from a very drunk, very angry man who was convinced that I'd kidnapped his mom. Kinda wish I would have recorded those.
posted by xedrik at 2:30 PM on April 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


If it were me, I'd log in and leave playful "I am a stranger who has your login information because you keep sending it to me even though I have asked you not to" notes lying around

One of my neighbors left their wi-fi totally unsecured, and their entire network was browseable. It was this way for months. I finally sent a print job to their printer saying "Nice Hawaii vacation photos on [NAME}'s computer, and I like that you have so much Collective Soul in your music folder, but you really, really should secure your wireless network." It was secured the next day.
posted by xedrik at 2:34 PM on April 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


A couple months ago I was getting calls from a woman speaking what sounded like Chinese. I tried to tell her (in English) that she had the wrong number, but she kept calling every few minutes. I belatedly had an idea, and looked up 'Sorry, wrong number' in Google translate, and when she called again, played it for her. She immediately hung up and didn't call again. So it was either a good translation that helped her understand what was going on, or it was so offensive that she hung up in disgust. I'm good either way.
posted by DowBits at 2:50 PM on April 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


One of my neighbors left their wi-fi totally unsecured, and their entire network was browseable. I

For a while when public WiFi became a thing everyone's computer would visible on the network. When I was bored in hotel rooms etc. I would browse other people's Public folders, because they're public, and a surprising amount of people kept things there. I liked to take personal photos, change them slightly (hair color, eye color, make people fatter, skinnier), and put them back. I never got to see the reaction though.
posted by bongo_x at 2:52 PM on April 29, 2017


I liked to take personal photos, change them slightly (hair color, eye color, make people fatter, skinnier), and put them back.

:(
posted by Going To Maine at 3:06 PM on April 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


As far as pranks go, it's less annoying than saranwrapping public toilets.
posted by hippybear at 3:12 PM on April 29, 2017


From the other angle: our CSO was going through Craigslist "free stuff" ads and ran across one giving away office stuff. So he texts the number and gets a reply for an address, then a query about what time he wanted to show up.

He texts back and forth a couple of times and the other side was obviously dropping slang used in the sex trade - which to him looked kind of like gibberish. He shows it to me, I tell him that he's getting propositioned by a prostitute.

He looks at me funny, thinks I'm joking or something, and he goes off to the address at the neogitated time.

Boy, was he disappointed.
posted by porpoise at 3:30 PM on April 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


Disappointed in which way???
posted by hippybear at 3:37 PM on April 29, 2017 [7 favorites]


My wife's mother got a wrong-number call one night about 10PM, from a man, obviously drunk, and obviously in a bar (clinking bottles and music clearly audible), who thought he was calling his wife to let her know, "sorry honey, he was working late, so don't wait up." This guy was both hammered and petrified: slurring badly and yet making it obvious this was far from the first time he had tried to pull this crap on the missus, and he was not optimistic.
Mother-in-law tells him, "Oh, that's OK honey... work is important, you just come home when you're done!"
This guy was obviously so excited that his ham-handed drunken ruse had worked: "Oh, thanks for understanding, honey! I love you!"
Mother-in-law hung up and had a good long laugh about how dead that drunken SOB was gonna be when he got home.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 4:20 PM on April 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


Our landline number when I was a wee vrak was 798-8885. The newly opened Worcester Centrum, a place for rock concerts, ice capades, Boston Pops, etc, was 798-8888. We got a lot of calls for tickets.
posted by vrakatar at 4:52 PM on April 29, 2017


Way back around 1980 or thereabouts I got a shiny new answering machine for my new landline number (true story, kiddies; it was, admittedly, the dark ages). For the next few years I kept getting messages for someone named Al, inviting him and his wife out to dinner or shows or, well, all KINDS of events --- Al was obviously a popular guy. Over time I learned Al was a retired Marine Corps general, interested in marathons, golf and tennis, the politics of his HOA, and breeding and training show dogs. After a while I made sure my outgoing message started by saying "this is NOT Al's phone number, please don't bother leaving any messages for him at this number, because he won't get it". Unfortunately none of them paid any attention to that, and it took something like three YEARS before even one of Al's many friends bothered to leave their own number for Al to call them back; I called them immediately to tell them mine wasn't Al's number..... turns out the whole problem started when Al's HOA transposed the last two digits of his number when they printed their HOA resident's directory.

Gotta say, after a while I grew a little jealous of his very active social life.
posted by easily confused at 5:31 PM on April 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


I do not have any fun mistaken number stories, though my number did belong to someone who seemed to have changed his in a hurry. When I got a new cell number 6ish years ago, I got a handful of calls from Spanish speaking folks looking for a man, with bar background noise, but no one got mad when I said they had the wrong number. Then I started getting automated bi-monthly calls from the state business tax office saying my account was late, but to speak to a human I had to call back in a narrow window when I was invariably doing other stuff. After a few months I finally got ahold of the tax office to tell them I wasn't their guy and they seemed appreciative and not at all suspicious. Score 2 for my very American accent and squeaky girl voice. I hope things turned out OK for my number's former owner!
posted by esoterrica at 6:02 PM on April 29, 2017


I have a not fun mistaken number story. When I was really little, everyone in our town had the same three digit exchange (875). Around the time I was 10 or so, there were enough new people in town that a new three digit exchange had to be added (896). Around the same time, our local branch of the Ku Klux Klan decided to use their brand new phone number + answering machine to set up their very own racist Dial-a-Joke. Because theirs was a brand new number, they got the new exchange but with the same last 4 digits as our number on the old one. And that's how we started getting calls at all hours of the day and night who hung up or sometimes asked confusedly "Is this the Klan?" Occasionally, they even argued with us about how this must be the Klan because our phone number was on the wall in the bathroom or something equally awesome. Ultimately, the phone company had us enter a * code after each call that recorded the numbers, and they supposedly went after people who called us repeatedly. And that is just one more of the lovely chapters in the education of Little Hydropsyche about racism in the US.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:23 PM on April 29, 2017 [11 favorites]


The worst/best wrong number call I ever got was from someone with a distinct accent asking for someone with an unpronounceable (to me) name. We went back and forth with me being very calm and polite and him getting more and more agitated.
Finally I said, "There is no *mispronounced name* here."
"*Name*!! Get him on the phone!"
"There is no *Name* here. You have the wrong number."
"Aw, man, put that punk-ass ***** on the phone!"
So then I lost it just a little and said, "There ain't no punk-ass ***** here. We're a bunch of white folks."
Long pause. Click.
And I laughed for an hour. There was something about the combination of his frustration and my getting to use language that I am absolutely not allowed to use that still makes me laugh, even though it was very bad of me.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:34 PM on April 29, 2017 [3 favorites]






A week after I gave birth a woman accidentally sexted me a nude photo of herself.

I told her I hoped the guy was worth it.
posted by Toddles at 9:11 PM on April 29, 2017


People seem to be universally pretty stubborn about wrong numbers. A few years ago, I'd got back from a late shift at work. It was about 11pm, I was winding down... and I got a phone call from some random bloke, asking for me by name, who wanted me to drive over to his house and pick up my dog, which was apparently digging up his garden.

Problem: I don't own a dog. I have never owned a dog. And at that point in my life I didn't even want to own a dog.

I explained to him that he had the wrong person (my name isn't that uncommon), and that I didn't own a dog... and he insisted that I was lying about my dog-ownership status and that I HAD to pick up this dog, because I owned it and I was clearly just a lazy, neglectful dog owner who didn't take responsibility for her pet. I simply couldn't get through to him that I was not the person he was looking for and he'd have to call the actual owner to pick up the dog. Or the police. I didn't know. At 11.20pm, when I told him that he was wrong and also I was about to hang up, I also didn't care.

I won't say that that bloke is the sole reason my no. 1 pet peeve is people who won't admit they're wrong, but he certainly contributed.
posted by Rissa at 9:23 AM on April 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


oheso.SO patiently tolerates my "Good Morning!" message each morning as we sit two meters apart over coffee. (She's usually at the kitchen table and I'm at the coffee table.) Ditto "I'm home!" as (or after) I walk in the door.

ROU_Xenophobe and I used to message each other while sitting at computers in the same room. Once one of us replied to a funny comment with "LOL" , to which the other replied "No you're not...."
posted by biscotti at 2:54 PM on April 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


I may have told this story before here.

Some years ago, not long after mobile-number portability was made available in the USA, I decided to switch carriers and take my number with me. [aside: I recall that it took a long time for the number to actually port over—it was a few weeks. In the meantime, I was able to make calls on the new carrier, but only receive them on the old carrier. Weird.]

Months after the porting process was complete, I was out getting dinner with some friends, and I started getting a bunch of phone calls in rapid succession for someone else. After the second or third, it was obvious these were not normal misdials. Talking to one of the callers, I confirmed that they were dialing correctly, but their friend must be giving out his own number incorrectly.

An hour or so after those calls started coming in, I got a call from a technician at Sprint (my former carrier), who explained they had mistakenly marked my number in their system as available for reassignment, and had assigned it to a new customer, but they had fixed the problem and the wayward calls should stop. And they did.
posted by adamrice at 6:09 PM on April 30, 2017


Re, texting in the house...everyone in our house does this! I cannot tell you how many times I've texted my son to put down his phone and come do chores.

Re wrong numbers; remember back when leaving a message was actually a machine with a tape that recorded them? And the tapes could fill up, and then no more messages could be left. Well, I had one of those, and had neglected to set a max time for messages, so people could leave a message as long as the tape was. And one night, someone did. And readers, I kept that tape, because I laughed until I cried. And then I played it for friends, and they laughed. And we played it at conventions, and it made it into the mixed media vhs tapes that everyone traded around at the time, with movies like Apocalypse Pooh and Bambi Meets Godzilla. I cannot do it justice in text, because I'm working from 20+ year memories, and there is no way to capture the dialect, which, in this part of Texas is a really big part of the joke, but basically, a woman calls thinking she has reached her cousin, a couple of times, leaves a short message to call her back, but then finally calls and leaves a rant that I swear before god, goes on for 15 minutes, about how her cousin's son, well..."that boy ain't right." She goes on to elucidate, the many, many ways that boy ain't right, including "You know if he tries to think, he drools." Oh my god, it is seriously the funniest thing not from a professional comedian, that I have ever heard in my life.

To this day, there's a subculture of Dallas Old People who used to be the People In Black who will laugh out loud if you utter the phrase "That boy ain't right."
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:48 PM on April 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


Texting in-house/in-office.

Yeah, we totally text each other to snark when we don't want someone else in the office to know.
posted by porpoise at 11:04 AM on May 1, 2017


I once had a cellphone number that had previously belonged to someone who's primary language was Spanish and had serious credit problems. It took five years before the collections agencies stopped harassing that number. (Also, collections people are awful.)
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 11:15 AM on May 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


> I work for Google, so I know a few people who managed to snag addresses like fred@google.com or whatever. Apparently they are entirely unusable.

My wife has a firstname@mac.com address, from way back in the MobileMe days, before that address became a critical identifier for everything - iMessage, FaceTime, App Store.

So we routinely see girls - usually tweens - signing up for various services with my wife's email address, trying to message her, trying to call her on FaceTime - over and over and over again. It's like - oh, there she goes again, trying to sign up for the pony site. How do people not know their own email addresses?

(And the corollary - constant attempts to break into her account. Ever since I turned on two-factor authentication, it's a routine dance - the two associated mobile phone numbers will get login codes 3 times each, in quick succession, and then iCloud will lock the account. It's effectively a denial-of-service attack against her, to the extent that I have been trying to migrate her away to a different email address.)

For repeated FaceTime calls, the best fix turns out to be me answering it - grumpy unshaven man instead of tween friend puts an end to the calls pretty quick.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:53 AM on May 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


I had a frequent flyer wrong number texter that I eventually saved in my phone as "Heylook Aweirdo" in order to keep track of their dramatic life. The reigning theory was that they were having an affair and this is why they never saved the intended recipient's correct number.

I have a job where I make a lot of phone calls. I'm always flabbergasted when I have a conversation that goes like this, which happens more frequently than you might think:
Me: Hi, is this Blahblahblah?
Them: No, there's no Blahblahblah here. Why? What do you want?

Why do you care?!
posted by zeusianfog at 1:07 PM on May 1, 2017


Why do you care?!

Always be closing!
posted by maxwelton at 6:56 PM on May 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


When I was in college (88-92), UA had its own telecom office and handled all the phones in all the university buildings. I assume this is still the case.

Phone numbers weren't randomized at all for most cases, especially in dorms, so if you knew the pattern and which room someone was in, you could figure out their number. Campus telecom was very attached to this plan, which is key to the story.

My friend M. lived at the end of a hall on the first floor of our building, so his number was the lower bound of the range in use for that building. And unfortunately, the new campus atheltic center's racquetball court reservation number was basically his number minus 1.

As we were college students, we were given to sleeping late, especially on weekends. It was therefore unpopular with M that he kept getting calls very early on Saturdays (and other days) seeking to reserve racquetball courts. He sought relief from campus telecom, who refused to change either number.

So he did the next logical thing. He started taking reservations.

Campus telecom changed his number about a week later.
posted by uberchet at 8:54 AM on May 2, 2017 [7 favorites]


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