LOOSE ENDS: ‘Sorry, Wrong Number’

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Dolly Viscardi
“Sorry, wrong number” is not a message one hears often these days, unless a local directory has listed someone’s else’s phone number in its place. While some of us still keep a landline, there are growing numbers who have reverted to only to a cell phone. A few years ago calls started coming in and although I didn’t recognize the entire number, I knew that someone in Meeker was calling. I began fielding calls for a local woman regularly. It happened at all times of day, and once we got the number mix-up straightened out, I often spent time chatting with the caller. We recognized each other’s voices and both wanted to have a little conversation.

Now that the stay-at-home order for this pandemic has been amended all over Colorado, there is no need to break up the monotony of the day with an unexpected. Most of us have perfected the art of getting off the phone quickly because of so many unsolicited calls. Getting one’s name on the no-call list worked for a while. But one unexpected outcome of the economic shut-down has been the reduction of the daily unsolicited phone calls.

Compiling a list of everyone’s favorite things about living in a small town for this column, I noticed receiving wrong number phone calls was cited by quite a few people. While I liked the sound of a familiar voice on the other end of the phone, as well as being able to catch up with an old friend or acquaintance, I wasn’t sure anyone else found this a pleasure. It seems to be similar to trying to make a quick trip in and out of the post office or the grocery store. That quick trip turns into a much longer proposition.

Visual signals exchanged as a brief encounter turns into a gab fest usually help give both parties a clue that the conversation needs to be ended. One person’s glancing away frequently or a glazed expression are the early warning systems employed, as the other individual jabbers away. As I usually seem to be the extrovert in the situation and I have no audible clues that are the other’s person’s need to end the call, I try to keep it brief.

“Sorry, wrong number” will suffice in the future. There is no real need to tell them you recognize their voice, let them realize it much later. When we get back to running into each other at the bank, supermarket, or the post office, neither of us will remember anyway.

By DOLLY VISCARDI | Special to the Herald Times