Phone Phun

My family moved fairly frequently while I was growing up, so we were constantly acquiring new addresses and phone numbers.  My parents got pretty good at knowing exactly when to forward mail so that the least possible amount got lost in the shuffle, how to settle into a new home quickly, and all of the details that go with moving.  It seemed miraculous to me as a child. My mom’s mom was certain that we were running from the law.  To my knowledge, we weren’t.

One of the moves took us about an hour north of Houston, where we got a kind of high number of odd phone calls.  One or two of them could have been chalked up to run of the mill misdialed numbers, but they were a lot more consistent than that.

I was probably 5 years old, which means that my brother and I were home with Mom all day while Dad was off being a good breadwinner.  So the phone would ring (only during regular business hours), Mom would respond with her typical, “Hello,” and she would hear, “Hey, Darlin’!” at the other end of the line.   Mom is Southern, but being called “Darlin'” still caught her off guard sometimes.  It’s expected in line at the Piggly Wiggly, not from a stranger on the phone.

Sometimes there was an added, “How about 2 P.M.?” at the end of the greeting.  Hmm, indeed.  I didn’t actually think about that too carefully when I was 5.  I just knew it was weird.

Mom politely replied that she thought they had a wrong number.*  After we’d been receiving those calls for a good long time, she decided to ask a few questions.  Turns out that the nearby barber shop called “Charles and Darlene’s” had our same phone number with two numbers in reverse order (87 instead of 78 or something like that).  So they weren’t saying “Darlin'” at all.  They wanted to  make an appointment, and they assumed Darlene had picked up the phone.
I love how simple mistakes can turn into long-running mysteries.  These guys had no idea they were calling someone’s house and saying what would be really strange to a total, well, stranger.  They thought they were talking to Darlene, their friend who had been cutting their hair with Charlie for years and years.  I think my brother actually got his hair cut there, too.  Small mysteries and small mistakes make life so much more interesting.
The best misdial I ever got was probably when I flew into Panama and my phone somehow started intercepting lots of local calls.  It wasn’t nearly as mysterious as the Charles and Darlene’s incident, but it added some spice to my time in the airport.

*It’s probably important to restate that I was 5 at the time.  My memory could be completely wrong.  In Hannahland, this is how it happened.

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