Friday, May 20, 2011

Telephone Phantoms

Last night at 10:30, when all was quiet at our house (except for the soft snores of The Knight), and as I was drifting off to sleep, the phone rang.

Being only half awake, I responded instinctively: It might be some emergency call from one of our loved ones. "Hello?" I said in an anxious voice, wondering who might have died.

"Hello. Is Paul there?" asked a female voice that I did not recognize.

Odd. Very odd.

"Who's calling please?" I asked, still trying to clear the sleep cobwebs from my mind

A slight pause. "Cheryl," she said.

Hmmm. We know two Cheryls, a sister-in-law, and a niece. Why would either of them be phoning to ask for Paul?

"Cheryl who?" I asked with just a hint of challenge in my tone.

Another pause. This one longer. "I'm a friend of Paul's," she said in a tone that plainly indicated she was not going to tell me anything more.

I was fully awake now. No last name. Someone avoiding revealing her identity. But why?

It was my turn to pause as I considered leveling another challenge at the mystery caller. Instead I turned to The Knight, and I said in a tone loud enough for Cheryl to hear: "Your 'Friend' Cheryl wants to talk to you." The stress on the word Friend was dripping with sarcasm.

The Knight took the phone. The first thing Cheryl asked him was, "Was that your wife?" -- as if surprised at my presence or existence.

The Knight was still struggling to wake up and also to identify the voice. He decided that she might be sister-in-law Cheryl, and asked her if that was who she was. A couple of interchanges later, she provided her last name and said she had phoned the wrong "Paul."

So, it was NOT a scam phone call from a bogus 'relative' needing money to get out of jail in Bogota. A few months back, as you may recall, we got a call from a "granddaughter" who needed money in British Columbia to get out of jail. At that time, I quickly alerted The Knight that this was a frequently used scam.

I was glad that this call was not another scam, just a wrong number. Just an unapologetic and inconsiderate caller.

After The Knight said goodbye to Cheryl, I said, "From now on, if a caller will not identify himself or herself with a complete name, I am going to just hang up on them."

Hanging up on a caller who evades revealing his/her identity is not rude. Callers who play identity games are being rude and offensive and do not deserve another moment of my time.