If you want to know why the telecommunications business is in so much trouble, consider this: When we left for Ann Arbor, of course we disconnected our telephone here. I asked about reserving the number for 10 months, so it could be reconnected without hassle later. Of course I could do that — if I was willing to pay 60 percent of my current bill for those 10 months.
In other words, we have a new phone number now. And because this is an exchange on the action-packed south side of Fort Wayne, about half our calls are wrong numbers. And about half our wrong numbers are collect calls from the Allen County Jail. These come with an automated voice announcing their source and the caller’s name, and I never know what to do, other than hang up. I want to tell poor Whoever-it-is that they have the wrong number, but they can’t hear me (I tried). What must they think, I always wonder, when they realize their call has been refused? “Aunt Lettie must be terribly disappointed in me,” perhaps.
The other day we got another wrong number. A heavily accented voice requesting another mystery name, in halting English, while someone spoke rapid Spanish in the background. “Sorry, you have the wrong number,” I said, and we hung up. Two minutes later, another call, this time a young child speaking perfect English, the same Spanish in the background, asking for the same person and then, was this the number he thought he dialed? It was; I told the kid it was ours now. “OK, thank you very much,” he chirped. Just another day in the immigrant’s narrative.
Yes, we have Caller ID; did you know the Allen County Jail turns up, like almost everyone else, as an “unavailable” number? It does.
I wish I had more to report, about everything and anything, but I think I’m going through one of those dry periods that comes along once in a while. Fortunately, Richard Cohen isn’t:
It just so happens that when it comes to Iraq and other matters of foreign policy, we are wrong — tragically so. George Bush has conducted a bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy through which he has alienated allies by repudiating treaties and by telling them, in the inimitable words of Teresa Heinz Kerry, to shove it. As for the war in Iraq, it has been everything our carping foreign critics said it would be — unnecessary and unending. If, as it is said, an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters can produce “Hamlet,” then the French can be right from time to time. They were about Iraq.
I’ll try harder tomorrow. For now, it’s, whoa! Nine-fifteen! Time for bed!