March 8, 2008

Sorry, wrong number

I get an incredible number of missed calls on my cell phone. It's probably about 10 to 1 for the calls that I receive. I usually have my phone close by (El Jefe would definitely argue this point) but I don't feel the need to carry it to the bathroom or to bed with me or when I go to feed the chickens or when I'm doing laundry or answering the door or cooking and some days I just forget to turn it on....okay, well, I guess El Jefe is right.

The surprising thing is that most of the missed calls are not from anyone already in my phone list. Maybe my few friends have changed phone numbers (had their cell phones stolen) and they are trying to call to let me know. Can you tell I don't use my phone much?

The missed calls could be the one ring signals to call someone back. But most of the time, when we call back it turns out to be a wrong number which invariably takes 5 minutes to confirm. So now we just ignore the missed calls. It seems that no one uses voice mail. I wonder why.

Here is a typical wrong number conversation that happened last night, translated from the original Spanish:


Me: Hello?

Caller: ........

....... (digesting my Americanized hello)


Me: Helloo?

Caller: ......

....... Alo?

Me: Hello.

Caller: Alo? Alo?

Me: Alo.

Caller: Can you hear me?

Me: Yes.

Caller: Blah, blah, blah, Pancho, blah, blah, blah.

Me: I think you have the wrong number.

Caller: Who is speaking?

Me: ......(trying to think of a polite way to ask, "What difference does it make who I am if you have the wrong number?")
.......... You have the wrong number.

Caller: Yes, but who is speaking?

Me: There is no Pancho here.

Caller: Is this blah, blah, blah (maybe a radio station*)?

Me: No, sorry, you have the wrong number.

Caller: Is this 555-5555?

Me: No, you have the wrong number.

Caller: It's not blah, blah radio station?

Me: No

Caller: Okay. Thank you.

Me: Bye.

It would be easier to say "Wrong number!" Click! but I look at it as a non-threatening way to practice my telephone Spanish (it's a stranger) and we don't pay for incoming cell phone calls in Honduras (it's on his dime). Some callers are even more persistent and determined to make me admit that I truthfully am the person that they intended to call.

I'm beginning to understand this approach, however, as I've heard El Jefe make calls where the person's wife will seem confused, saying "Who? Jose? What? Who is this? Who are you calling? What do you want? Jose who?" literally for minutes. Just as El Jefe begins to think that he does, in fact, have the wrong number, she'll hand the phone over to her husband, without, of course, telling her husband who is calling or what he wants or anything else she gleaned from her 15 questions.

The same thing can happen when calling businesses, believe it or not. El Jefe can say, "Is this Electricos?" and after a 5 minute conversation with a very confused employee who says, "What? No. Who is this? Who are you trying to call? What? No. Who?", he'll finally hear, "Well, yes, this is Electricos. What do you want?"

By the way,
telephone calls in a foreign language are hard! I've had some successful telephone conversations lately. I've rescheduled a dentist appointment, discussed a neighborhood meeting, did not renew my newspaper subscription and explained why, and later did renew plus arranged a convenient time to give the collector our payment. This wasn't just listening and saying okay, but actually involved offering alternatives and asking questions. I'm feeling really good about that.

* Apparently call in radio shows cause a lot of wrong number calls. Trish gets them, too.

Newer posts Older posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...