How many times I've said it. She doesn't live here. "She" is the woman who had the telephone number we inherited when we moved to Marietta, Georgia, back in June. And from day 1, a certain call came at least once a day, sometimes as early as 8 a.m. Sometimes a human was on the line, sometimes a robot.
It took a few times for Lyn and me to resist answering automatically, as
we were always expecting calls from stores making deliveries,
businesses returning our calls, technology installations and such.
Early on, we'd pick up, and a voice would announce that it was looking for her. "Sorry, wrong number," we'd say. "Don't know her, don't know where she lives. This is not her number." Apparently not believing us, it would continue making the daily calls.
After a while we slowed down and looked before we answered. The name that came up on caller ID was "Matt." Now conditioned not to answer, we let our machine pick up for Matt's machine – which would leave messages saying something like "Please call back on an urgent business matter."
And so goes one intersection of technology and mobility.
After 12 years in Connecticut, with the same telephone number, we moved to Georgia, changed numbers and stepped into a slice of someone else's life. Lyn and I speculated that she who was being sought owed somebody money and had moved away and changed telephone numbers without telling Matt. That led us to thinking about what kind of person she was, why she left without telling Matt where she'd gone. How far away did she move. What kind of life does she live in her new place.
Would she get herself together somewhere and get in touch with Matt?
After a few weeks, our curiosity morphed into annoyance. I was tired of Matt ringing my phone. I had visions of Matt and his cohorts stuffed into a noisy call center, also known as a boiler room, pushing buttons on dozens of telephones, laughing when some unlucky citizen who inherited one of the numbers on their hit list just couldn't take it anymore and said in a cold, steely voice: "She doesn't live here anymore. Do not, I repeat, do not . . . call this number again."
Matt called again. This time, I called Matt back. Probably thinking he had scored and would get money from her, one of the Matts answered.
"Why do you keep calling this number when you know it doesn't belong to her?" I said. "This is my number, and it shouldn't be on your list. Take it off."
"Oh," he said, "I'll take care of that."
I called a little later and got another Matt. I asked if my number was on his list. Yes, he said. It shouldn't be, I said. His genial response: "I'll make sure it's removed."
That was three days ago. Since then, we have been Matt-free. Yet, I am wary. Those who live and work in boiler rooms are tricky; any day, a Matt could start calling under another name. Bill, or Mark, or Sue.