Sorry, Wrong Number!

The only mobile thing about this telephone set-up are the chairs. They swivel!

In this age of texting and portable access to online social media, I often wonder if people still use their smart phones. Oh, I should be more specific: I wonder if people use their smart phones for talking to people. I know these phones are called “smart” because they can multitask better than the mother of triplets or the Administrative Assistant of the CEO for any corporation. As you know, these phones are also alarms, navigators, mp3 players, game stations, keyboards, cameras, video players, calendars, fashion statements and  portals to galaxies far, far away. But, I hear, they are capable of functioning as voice communicators, too. I know they can. I have one. I just talked to my sisters on my cell phone, although my phone is dumb (meaning it’s not smart because I’m too cheap to pay for the monthly “data package” that my telecommunications provider keeps telling me will change my life). I’m old school.

Personally I feel a bit conspicuous when talking on my cell phone in public. It's especially awkward while driving. I can see why the laws are getting quite strict.

Beyond the possible proliferation of a shorthand language harder to understand than Klingon, neck crickification and brain tumors that future generations will have to deal with as they age, what other issues will we, as a society, have to face as smart phones take over our lives?

Wrong numbers and disrespectful telephone conversations, that’s what.  When you have built-in address books and voice commands, remembering and dialing (or punching) actual numbers is a skill that shrivels like last week’s birthday balloon. And the terse nature of texting or Twitter makes a real phone conversation seem slow, awkward and painful.

Sheesh, I got it already. Carrots and plums, bath, story, then bed. Who do you think I am? A baby? I'm hanging up now. Next time text me.

This is not to say that everyone’s phone manners deserve reporting to the Courtesy Police, or that in the good old days (when one heavy telephone was hardwired inside a home and “mobile” meant you had an extra long twisty cord attached to it) people never miss-dialed or were always polite; BUT there may be a case to be made that today’s telephone talkers aren’t as smooth as they were in the past (by “past” I mean when I was young and things were better).

What makes me even venture a guess like this? Funny I should ask. Phil came home and told me about a phone call he received at work. It was a wrong number. Keep in mind that I don’t call Phil at work unless I’m on fire (when I say “on fire” I’m not being coy and alluding to something naughty; I mean “engulfed in flames”–please keep your mind on the clean side of the gutter). He is one busy guy and I don’t like to interrupt him. The conversation went like this:

Phil: This is Phil.

Caller: Who is this?

Phil: This is Phil.

Caller: Phil who?

Phil: Phil [gives last name].

Caller: I don’t know who you are.

Phil: Sir, I believe you have the wrong number.

Caller: What number have I got?

Phil: [gives the number]

Caller: Well, that’s the number I dialed. Who are you?

Phil: I’m Phil, Sir, and you must have the wrong number.

Caller: Maybe you are the wrong person.

Phil: [looks at phone and puts it back to his ear] Sir…

Caller: Forget it. [click]

Hey, Phil, whoever you are. All I'm looking for is a little action, if you know what I mean. This friend of a friend gave me this number and said I wouldn't be disappointed. Guess what? I'm disappointed.


My last name used to sound and was spelled similar to a word that has something to do with lots of trees. For the purposes of this illustration, let’s say my last name used to be “Woods.” My ex-husband has a first name that, when read quickly could be misunderstood for a common word. For the purposes of this illustration, let’s say his name is “Guy.” Except for the made-up name, this conversation actually took place on a Saturday morning.

Me: Hello.

Caller: Yeah, I was wonderin’ if I could cut some trees across the road from my place.

Me: Excuse me?

Caller: [Audible sigh.] I need to cut some trees.

Me: Yes, I understand, but why did you call this number?

Caller: Well, it says here in the phone book that you’re the guy to call if I have a question about the woods. What’s so hard to understand about that, Lady?

Me: Our name is Woods, but we don’t have anything to do with trees, Sir. You probably need to call the Department of Environmental Conservation and they aren’t open on the weekend. Might I suggest you call them on Monday?

Caller: I work on Monday and I need to deal with these trees today. Plus why would the phone book list Woods Guy and your number?

Me: My husband’s first name is Guy.

Caller: What kind of a name is that?

Me: That’s his name, Sir.  Good luck to you and your trees.

Caller: Hey wait. I’m done talkin’ to you.

Me: Sir, I can’t help you. I’m just a woman who happens to be married to a man named Guy Woods. We don’t have any authority to tell you what to do with your trees.

Caller: Then you shouldn’t have your name in the phone book, Lady. [click]

Sir, I'm sorry my husband's name confused you. But mister, he confuses me all the time and you have no idea how sorry that makes me. Now let me get back to my bath. I only have Calgon to take me away...


Are these “wrong number” rude conversations aberrations? Phil was polite to the caller. I was polite and even helpful to the caller. The two callers were, what’s the word? Offensive. Belligerent. Demanding. (Okay, three words.) So I have four people: 2 with decent telephone manners and 2 poopy-pants impolite callers. As a sociologist, 4 people does not a study make, so you’ll have to help me out.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets these disturbingly hilarious phone calls.

Tell me about your telephone mishaps.

~ by Lorna's Voice on April 30, 2012.

25 Responses to “Sorry, Wrong Number!”

  1. Hey, thanks, Phil! I was playing around with some photos I took this weekend and thought this would be different.

  2. I’ve got to say that I really do like the new profile picture. The eyes definitely have it. Very striking.

  3. My younger sister has a phone phobia when she was younger. She’d run the other way when the phone rang. She’s over it now. 😉

  4. I have no clue why – BUT – I hate phones. I hate talking ont hem and hate receiving calls. No reason – just do. A necessary evil, I suppose.

  5. She probably wanted to go instead! 😉

  6. I bet you were!

  7. We used to be one digit off from a Blockbuster store. I was so happy when they closed down the store.

  8. Those are really funny wrong number stories! With smart phones, the wrong number problem had the potential to get much worse. I remember getting a message with a picture of fit guy in a muscle tee attached:

    “Sara, great meeting you at [famous DC pub]. Had a great time last night and would like to have dinner with you sometime. I’m sending you a picture so you might remember me.”

    Never did get to know this guy – my wife wouldn’t let me go out on the date. 😀

  9. That’s funny! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  10. I rather like the dumb-down version of a phone. I like to think that I’m at least as smart as some of the technology I use!

  11. zi exchanged my smart phone for a dumb one. Now I’m happy again.

  12. A friend of mine had been in an abusive relationship, and I kept trying to text her to check on her from time to time because I knew she couldn’t often answer the phone when he was around. I would say “Ginger, I miss you, call me!” Finally one day an elderly woman called me to say she had wanted to txt me back for weeks and tell me I had the wrong number, but she couldn’t figure out her smart phone! (Luckily, meanwhile, the friend got her own place!)

  13. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? It’s easier to hang up on fake people (but they do tend to be patient and courteous–unlike a lot of real people)! 😉

  14. whahahahah…LOL!!! I hadn’t looked at it like that!!
    You’re RIGHT!!

  15. Hilarious song–thanks for sharing it. You know how to have a good time, don’t you Al? 🙂

  16. I agree. They seem complicated and are very expensive. We’re old school, Harry!

  17. Oh, I bet you have. You should share some of the more memorable ones…

  18. Good grief. It’s a terrible thing when your phone leads a more interesting life than you do! 😉

  19. Consider yourself lucky! 😉

  20. I have yet to hear anyone on the other end of a cell phone — the reception is always awful.

  21. I purchased a smart phone, and soon after had to change my numbers,,for three years!!!!!,,I received calls from men looking for stephanie at 4 in the morning, yelling PARTY!! Oh and lest I forget, bill collectors also liked Stephanie…a little off topic…but still ANNOYING!

  22. Now, this is just too funny. Having answered the phone in my business for thirty years, I think I’ve heard it all. The funniest callers are the ones who refuse to accept that they have the wrong number. This is so cleverly and accurately written, as usual. I really do enjoy your pieces. 🙂

  23. Smart phone, i don’t want or need one, why would i.

    I have a cheap mobile phone and it doe’s what i need 🙂

  24. Funny stuff, Lorna. The pictures and captions are a riot. You brought back a distant memory. I use to have a BIG crush on Elke Sommer when I was a teen.

    This doesn’t really answer your question but my favorite bit about the phone is Ray Stevens’ comic song about the obscene caller “It’s me again Margaret!” I’m laughing just thinking about it. (

  25. Hahaha! I hardly talk on the phone anymore. I sure don’t answer it. One of the last times I picked up, the guy at the other end gabbed along then said, “So I am talking to a real person?”

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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