posted Thu, 28 Sep 2006
Let me say right from the beginning that I am not a cellphone owner and I do not know the etiquette. I do gather, however, that you pay for your “minutes” and that the more calls you make and the more “minutes” you use, the more it costs you, right?
Let me also say that on your ordinary phone, it is not customary to return calls to unknown people. Or it is not my custom. The only wrong number I ever tried to call back was the guy who called me to tell me about someone’s funeral. He left this information on my answering machine and I thought he should know it wasn’t getting to the right person.
So I am avoiding preparing for a phone interview tomorrow morning. (When it rains, it pours – phone interview tomorrow, in-person interview in the place where SH lives on Tuesday, another in-person interview in Memphis October 11. Cross your fingers.) I am avoiding interview prep by updating the returned Peace Corps volunteer email list for Memphis. It’s in bad, bad shape. I am calling people for whom there is no email address.
On call #2, I get voicemail for Jane Doe, even though I am calling for Susan Jones. I have already tried Susan’s work number and was told she no longer works there. Now that I get a voicemail that is clearly not Susan’s, I start to put one and one together. I am no stranger to spycraft and making the pieces fit, not I. I’ve had my furtive meetings at the train station at midnight, passing the microfilm to the guy in the trenchcoat. I’ve had to pretend to smoke a cigarette while I stood in the doorway and watched the rain until it was safe. I can figure things out and what I figured was this was no longer Susan’s number.
So I didn’t leave a message. What would be the point? I made a note on the spreadsheet that the number was bad and went on to the next name. I felt guilty about it because I really should have been preparing for the interview (which is what I should be doing at this instant), but I pressed on.
Ten minutes later, my phone rang. “This is Jane Doe,” the caller announced.
I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Did you call me?”
“Oh. I might have.” I made the connection and opened the spreadsheet. “But I was calling for Susan Jones.”
I could sense her disappointment. “You have the wrong number.” Click.
She called me back to tell me I had a wrong number? Let me see if I understand this process. And again – cellphone owners, tell me if I just don’t understand the protocol here. I call and get the voicemail for someone I don’t want, so I don’t leave a message. She sees that someone has called. There is no message. She doesn’t recognize the number. It will cost her money to return the call. Yet she calls me anyhow.
Where is the logic here?
The end of the line
11 months ago