7.31.2008

Today's calls: Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob and Ann

An open letter to the people who formerly had our telephone number:

Dear Bob and Ann,

It's been a year now since we moved into our new house, and we're still getting phone calls for you. Sure, the number of calls has dwindled, but we continue to get one every day or two.

We want you to know you're on the minds of people here. They're still calling. We do our best to be nice to them.

It was strange at first. Day and night, the phone ringing, people asking for "Bob" or "Ann." Some days, we'd get calls from four or five different people, all seeking someone who didn't live at our house. You were getting more calls than we were.

We had to wonder: How long had the phone company kept our new number out of circulation before assigning it to us? (Clearly, the answer was "not long enough.") Who were you, Bob and Ann, and why didn't you alert people that you were getting a new phone number? How did you get so danged popular?

This wasn't your usual "wrong number" problem. If we said "wrong number" and hung up, the phoners would figure they'd misdialed and would call right back. They knew Bob and Ann's number, by golly, had it right there in front of them, and this was it. We learned to say, "Bob and Ann don't have this number anymore."

Most callers responded with the quick "sorry" and disconnect you'd expect. But some felt moved to quiz us. Where had Bob and Ann gone? Did we know a new number for them? They hadn't mentioned anything about moving away . . .

We felt these callers' pain, but we had no answers for them. We tried to find your new number, Bob and Ann. (We knew your last name, of course; all those callers had informed us.) But you weren't listed anywhere.

We told ourselves the problem would resolve itself in time. People would learn your whereabouts, and they'd stop calling us, looking for you. But the calls kept coming.

As the months went by, we started to feel a certain kinship with you, Bob and Ann, even though we've never met. We began to worry about you. How come nobody knew your new number? Were you getting word of all the medical and dental appointments the offices kept calling to confirm? Wasn't it dangerous to miss those appointments? Were your very lives in jeopardy?

We began to speculate on what could've happened to you. People don't just up and disappear, leaving no forwarding address or phone number. Had there been some terrible accident? An act of terrorism?

Was your vanishing part of some bigger secret? Had you fled town to escape a scandal? Were you dodging creditors? Were you in the witness protection program? Had you been kidnapped by a cult? Were you abducted by aliens?

We became so concerned, we even considered alerting the authorities (or at least the tabloid press) to your apparent disappearance. But we decided to write this letter instead.

So, Bob and Ann, if you're out there, let us hear from you. Tell us where you've gone. At the very least, give us your current phone number so we can pass it along to our callers.

You reached out and touched many people here. Your friends are worried about you. And so are we.

So give us a call, Bob and Ann. Please.

You know the number.

(Editor's note: Nearly four years later, and we still regularly get calls for Bob and Ann.)

1 comment:

kerry said...

Cuz - Consider yourselves lucky (that's right, I said, LUCKY) that the previous owner of your number didn't owe everyone, and his dog, money. The last house I lived in was the recipient of calls for years, too - from creditors. They don't believe you aren't Bob! - Kerry