Who’s calling me from an unknown number?

A few years ago – okay more than a few – I was tormented for more than a month, by a man who constantly rang my number asking for ‘Sandra.’

20140104culture boxI tried once to reason with him; it was a disaster. He would not listen and accused ‘Sandra’ of changing up her voice and being cruel and finally begged her not to leave him. I took to turning off the phone after a certain hour at night, until I got caller ID and was finally able to ring him back. He never rang me again.

When I told the story to a colleague sometime later, he had a funny one of his own. He had just gotten home one night when his phone rang. No sooner had he said ‘hello’ than a woman gushed, ‘I’m home now, honey.’ A quick thinker, my colleague quipped, ‘well brush your teeth and ketch your bed,’ and promptly hung up. He then spent the next few minutes imagining the shock she might have received, and chuckling.

I’m sure many of you have ‘wrong number’ stories that might have been funny or annoying. Some of you would also have rung a wrong number at some point. I have done so a few times. However, I have always been cautious on the phone and have observed telephone etiquette (which includes apologizing once you realise you’re connected to the wrong number); some folks just hang up, others suck air through their teeth (suck teeth) before they hang up like it’s your fault they dialed the wrong number.

I don’t know if it still happens a lot but there was a time when lines would often be crossed and you could find yourself in the middle of a strange conversation.

Wrong number calls are also made to cell phones. And this happens easily when someone is dialing a number for the first time. Depending on the type of phone and its size, it’s easy to press 2 instead of 3 or something like that.

But then there is the crank factor. We all know about this group. Some of us even belonged to it, perhaps unwittingly, when we were children and might have been home with an older sibling or a sitter so bored out of our minds that we rang up random people and hung up, sniggering. It was/is dubbed a ‘prank’ call, which is really close to crank. While it’s funny to the kid making the call, it’s so unfunny to the adult receiving it, who might have rushed out of the bath or jumped out of bed thinking it was important.

And so as we grow older and we realise the implications or what we’re doing, we stop prank calling. At least some of us do. Those who don’t are the crank factor. Here’s how you recognise them:   1) They ring from a private (blocked) number or they find out how and block their number.

2) They breathe into the phone when you answer (creepy!).

3) They blast music, laugh manically, swear or speak Gibberish (yes, much like the gibbering idiots they are).

4) They pretend they’re really trying to reach someone else, coming up with a fictitious name and then try to engage you in conversation (sort of like the ‘Sandra’ caller).

5) They become a fixture (keep ringing you often) even though you keep saying it’s the wrong number. Eventually you get to the stage where you can recognise their voice/s. When that happens, forget phone etiquette and just hang up; this is one time when it’s okay to do so.

I mean I can understand if you’re genuinely trying to call a friend, relative or contact and you mistakenly dial the wrong number. Once you have established it’s the wrong number don’t keep calling – it’s annoying.


If you were given the number by the girl or guy you just met and were hoping to date and you stored it carefully, chances are he/she deliberately gave you the wrong number. Take a hint, it’s not happening and annoying the crap out of someone else because you can’t believe your pick-up line crashed so badly, is not going to change anything.

Finally, if you’re the type who sits at home alone with the phone book on Friday nights and rings up random people, you’re just sad.


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