Nooo! I don’t have the wrong number! Give me Bob!

Here I go again, babbling about wrong numbers. No, it’s not about what we say when someone else gets a wrong number, or people not listening to answering machines in people’s homes. This one happens very rarely, but it happens. I volunteer at a Distress line, a phone line that people phone when they’re upset, need help of some kind, or are outright at the end of their rope. I also have to answer another line that people phone if they need emergency shelter. I answer this line by saying, “Emergency shelter line.” This becomes important.

I picked up this line the other day, and answered it just the way I said I do. The voice on the other line didn’t miss a beat. He said, “Yeah can I speak to Robert?” Sometimes people get confused when they call this line. They think we are one of the shelters or that we can connect them with individual people at agencies. So I asked him where Robert worked. He said, “Oh, is this not RME Engineering?” Does RME Engineering sound anything like Emergency Shelter Line? Come on, it wasn’t like he called somewhere and the person just said, “Hello?” I swear people are in their own little worlds nowadays. But, should this surprise me? No.

I’ve also had telemarketers call the distress line trying to sell me magazines. I understand some of them aren’t actually able to hear you until a couple seconds later, but this one could definitely hear me. There was no pause, no automated dialing. He would have heard what I said. If I ever have the misfortune of being a phone drone, if I ever dial a number where the person answering says “Distress Line,” I will just apologize, say I have the wrong number, and move on. Really, there’s no hope of a sale. The most you’re going to get is a stern explanation that you’re tying up an important line and a quick goodbye.

Some people insist they in fact have the right number. That’s fun. I had a friend whose number was just slightly different than the university, and they got so many irate people yelling “Why aren’t you answering the phone like the university?” It happened every day. They even had to put the university’s number on their answering machine because I guess they got a few irate messages too. Come on people! If they’re not answering the phone like the university, news flash, they probably *aren’t* the university!

So, are people going deaf? Do we all mumble when we’re answering the phone? What is it?

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