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Wrong Number

One of my pet peeves is people who don’t practice polite phone etiquette.  I wish I had a nickel for every time someone has called our house in the last year, thinking they were getting a hurricane shutter store, and then abruptly hung up on me when I tell them in my most polite voice, “I’m sorry, but you have the wrong number.”

Here’s how I was raised.  Should I inadvertently dial the wrong number, I apologize to the person on the other end of the line for bothering them.  It takes no effort.  That’s just being polite.  Period.

I just don’t get where people have the idea that when they call the wrong number, they can just hang up without so much as an “oops.”

And people who let their children answer the phone, “Yeah?”  OH!!!!!  Don’t get me started.


A couple of weeks ago, an elderly lady called the house.  I was working at the computer, and Jensen was quietly sitting on the floor, staring googoo eyed at the DVD image of his future wife, Minnie Mouse.

The birds were singing, and there was peace in my valley.

I answered the phone, and this rather hard of hearing older woman of about 112 hollered into the phone a name that was unintelligible.

I responded with my usual polite, “I’m sorry ma’am, but you have the wrong number.”

She slammed the phone down in my ear.

A moment later, the phone rang again.  The situation repeated itself 3 more times.  Each time she hung up on me.  And I uncharacteristically became even more polite.

After one of her calls, when I explained AGAIN that she had reached the wrong number, she responded with “Well, I’ll be d****ed.  And she hung up.

And she called again.  But this time she started ranting at me.  “Somebody from your number keeps calling here because it shows up on my thingie!”

I assumed that by thingie, she meant that she had caller i.d.  I told her that no one had called her from my residence, and she argued the point with me a bit longer.  (And I was certain of this because A) I’m still in enough control of my faculties to know when I call someone, and B) my eyes were on Jensen the entire time.

She cursed me out a little bit more, and finally she hung up.  For the last time.  I kind of wished I’d utilized caller i.d. called her back to tell her that she owed my cuss jar $1245.00.

Then last night the phone rang.  A computerized operator told me that I had a collect call from (name unintelligible) at the county jail.  I knew that if I stayed on the line two more seconds, I would be receiver to receiver with more than likely, a convicted felon.  Wanted for who knows what kind of heinous crime.

I did want any well mannered person would do.

I panicked and hung up on him.

And believe me, in the span of 3 seconds, I consulted my mental checklist of any and all relatives, and concluded that none had been jailed recently.

I felt a little bit bad afterwards.  Instead of my usual customary polite, “I’m sorry, but you have the wrong number” I HUNG UP ON SOMEONE.  A CRIMINAL, BUT NEVERTHELESS A REAL PERSON.  WITH REAL FEELINGS.

I was probably his one and only call.  I’ve watched Barnaby Jones, you now.  You only get one call from jail.

And I was it.

If the alleged criminal should call again, I think I’ll give him the number of the crusty little old lady.  Reach out and touch someone, I say.

Everybody needs someone to talk to.


15 Responses to Wrong Number

  • And don’t forget the lovely people who call you and then ask, “Who is this?” when you answer *their* call. Um, who were you calling?! That really ticks me off.

    You don’t have to hang up immediately when you get a collect call. The purpose of the operator’s voice at the beginning is to give the receiver a chance to accept or decline. When it asks you if you will accept the charges, just say “no” and it will automatically end the call.

    We had the same trouble years ago, but it was on a regular basis. I was afraid that whoever it was was trying to call home and was going to get mad at the person they were actually calling for turning down their calls, not knowing they’d made a mistake. We got the phone company to block the city jail from being able to call us period. (If either of us had gotten in trouble, I guess that would have been a problem, LOL!)

    Then there was the day I was getting call after call after call from a local big prison, just like your little old lady. I finally had to call the prison and speak to no less than the warden to get it to stop. At least with that guy I had an actual first name I could work with – the city jail guy was always so drunk all he could say was “blehhh”.

  • Our number is one digit different from the local Home Depot! We get lots of calls. I am usually polite but if the same person calls a third time (we have caller id) I put on my best Home Depot voice and tell them that yes we have that and it is on sale!!

  • This made me giggle … hard.

  • My mother’s number use to be 1 number off from the local air port. She got tired of people calling her in the middle of the night so she would say that the plane they wanted just left or if the person was calling about lost luggage, that it was sent to Australia. The air port changed there number!!

  • We got the collect call from jail.

    “Yo baby, isss Ray-Ray. Pick up da phone.”

    Now everytime we drive by the local police station the kids holler hi to Ray-Ray.

  • our number must be one off from Walgreens. I get people calling asking if their Vicadin is ready yet! Or other prescriptions. I just say, “sorry wrong number!”

    One time when I answered the phone with a Hello? The person yelled at me for not answering, “Hello this is Walgreens” I had to reply back, “well… this ISN’T Walgreens, this is a private residence.” They hung up on me….

  • The call from the county jail was a scam!! We keep getting them. I finally turned up the volume enough to hear the recording say ‘an inmate’ from such and such county jail. I have had several. If you keep listening, the recording will tell you that, if you accept the call, it will be so much for the first minute and so much for each additional minute. I asked my friend who is married to a constable, she asked him, and he said it is a scam. If it was their one phone call and you hung up on them, a jailer would call you back and say so-and-so is trying to reach you from the jail.

    It is a good thing you hung up.

  • Hahaha, this is too funny. I completely understand about the phone etiquette thing. I get really peeved when people are impolite on the phone. One of my (elder) daughter’s friends calls occasionally and she has the WORST manners on the telephone. It’s bad enough that I am not overly approving of this friend as it is, but unfortunately she compounds it with her terrible manners. Not that it’s her fault. She’s seven, and no one has taught her better. I just try to be EXTRA polite when I talk to her in the hopes that some of it will rub off.

    Here’s a story – we have Vonage, and a couple of years back a collections company kept calling us about some other person’s account that was in arrears. We patiently explained several times that it was the WRONG number and asked that they not call again. Nevertheless, we were still fielding several calls a day. Even on the weekends! *Grrrrr* So my hubby got a brilliant idea, being the brilliant man that he is.

    One of the amazing things about Vonage is that you can forward your calls to any other number you so choose very easily, and you can even choose how many rings it has before it forwards, so the hubby looked up the collections company’s name, and had all our calls forwarded BACK to the company’s own operators for a week. We did have to tell everybody we typically talk to so that if we couldn’t catch their call, they wouldn’t freak out. It ended the collections calls pretty darn quickly.

    Should we get any more annoying calls like that again, I’m planning on forwarding our phone calls to a 1-900 sex line. It’s terrible, I know, but just thinking about it makes me laugh. :O)

    We now have Google Voice numbers (which are FREE), and if you get a call from an unknown number with them, not only does the caller have to say their name when they call (so you can easily screen), but if you get an annoying call from a wrong number, you can go into your account online and very easily mark that number as “spam,” which basically means that you will NEVER GET ANOTHER CALL FROM THAT PERSON AGAIN. Besides the fact that Good Voice has some AMAZING features, that was one of the biggest selling points for me. And it’s FREE. I *LOVE* it. Check it out here:

  • When I reach a wrong number I always give the number I was trying to dial to the person to make sure that I didn’t make a mistake. We had an instance when I was working in Asheville where people would dial a number, & get our work number – they weren’t dialing our number! It was some strange party line business with the phone company – but I didn’t think they did party lines anymore!

  • Apparently, you’ve hit on a pet peeve everyone has! 🙂

    We haven’t got very many wrong #’s before so I don’t have as much experience. I am guilty of not teaching my children how to properly answer the phone. We don’t have caller id but usually just my husband or a friend calls so I don’t worry as much when my children answer.

    Funny story – last Thanksgiving apparently my youngest (1 1/2) had picked up the phone and hit redial. She called our “adoptive” grandparents from church and was just chatting away in her baby talk way. The “grandmother” thought I had dialed the phone for her to talk but I had *no* idea she was on the phone. (I was busy getting a turkey dinner ready!) I didn’t even know it had happened until she told me at church the next week. So it’s a good thing you had an eye on Jensen!! I think it’s amazing that people don’t believe that they really have the wrong number.

  • Thank you for always making me smile! I’ll have to tell you how to get rid of squirrels if you ever need to know…:-)

  • I am in love with Kristen!!!! That is some awesome info and ideas!

    And I am cracking up at your jail calls. It is a total scam. We used to get them too.

    The funniest call we ever got was some irate woman who looked up the wrong “J. Smith” in the phone book – and left this long screeching message on our machine, ranting about how he was a deadbeat and he needed to answer the da*n phone and give her some money…”CAUSE MY BABY NEEDS PAMPERS AND MILK!!!!”. We kept it on the machine for over a year and played it whenever we needed a laugh!

  • PS I am totally linking to your blog posts about your little boy dog. Hope that’s ok 🙂 My daughter thinks she’s a cat these days and it just makes me think of you. Misery loves company and all that…

  • I think you’ll be forgiven that one hang-up!!

  • This was too funny. I needed a good laugh. Thanks for sharing.
    Love Kristen’s ideas, too. I have Vonage and will be taking advantage of that service.
    Glad I found your blog.