Saturday, March 24, 2012

wrong number, right caller

I got another call from brooklyn tonight.

about 3 years ago, I started getting calls from a 718 number. I tend not to answer my cell phone if I don't recognize the number calling and this caller called for several weeks before he left a message. when I listened to it it was so faint I could barely make out what was being said and had to listen 3 times before I understood. it was the voice of a very old man asking if jerry would return his call.

I didn't like to leave this old fellow hanging so I called the number back. the same wheezy old voice answered and I tried to explain to him that I didn't know who he was trying to reach but he had the wrong telephone number. he seemed unable to understand and I had the impression I was talking with someone with very white hair sticking out at odd angles from his head, wrinkled face like his face had nearly dried up, and arthritic clawed hands.

finally he gave the phone to someone younger and female who asked who I was. I explained the wrong number to her and she apologized. she said her uncle likes to talk with her brother and usually waits for her to call for him but sometimes he takes his own initiative and he gets the number wrong. I said that was okay, no harm done.

the calls continued, maybe every couple months, for another year and a half. he never left another message and I never bothered to answer. it was just a semi-regular thing: my cell would ring, I'd look down and see the 718 number on the screen, and I'd let it roll into voicemail. I presume that he realized his mistake once he heard a different voice.

but my wife is in california visiting a friend so when the phone rang I answered it, assuming it was her, without pausing to look at the screen. I said, "hi," in the way I say that to her, and in return heard a very weak wheeze say, "can I please speak with jerry?" I said, "I'm sorry, there's no one here by that name" and he said, "oh, I'm sorry," and hung up.

it wasn't until after that I realized it had been nearly a year since I've last gotten a 718 call. and it wasn't until I'd realized that I also realized how glad I am to know the old man is still alive.

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