For A Good Time Call…

When my husband and I bought our first home, the phone company gave us a new telephone number. The number we were given was recycled – meaning, it had previously belonged to someone else.  That “someone else” happened to be a girl named LaShawn.

Within a few days of receiving our new telephone number, it became clear that being the recipients of LaShawn’s old number was going to be a problem. Our first inkling occurred around 3 in the morning, when the sound of our ringing phone jarred me from sleep. I frantically jumped out of bed, fearing someone was calling with an emergency.

“LaShawn baby,” the voice growled, “It’s Tyrone. Where you at?”

“LaShawn?” I repeated, feeling instant relief. Everyone was okay. “I’m sorry. You have the wrong number.”

I was climbing back into bed when Tyrone called a second time. Tyrone was clearly disappointed when I answered, and he was even more disappointed when I explained that no, LaShawn was still not here, and I had no idea who she was – or where she lived.

Several nights later, we were sound asleep when the phone rang again. It was another man looking for LaShawn. When a third man called several nights after that, we started to suspect two things: first, LaShawn was popular with the gents. And second, she was giving out her old telephone number (which was now our new number) to men she didn’t want contacting her. I had a vision of LaShawn – young, slender and pretty – tearing off a slip of paper and writing down our telephone number for some creep who kept hounding her for a date. If these men hadn’t been calling our house at all hours of the night in their futile attempts to reach LaShawn, I may have found her idea clever.

At some point, it occurred to LaShawn that she could give our number to everyone, and not just the men hounding her for a late night rendezvous.  Soon, banks, medical offices, and even her family started to call. Our phone began to ring off the hook, with all sorts of people looking for LaShawn.

“LaShawn! It’s Aunt Tiana! Where you been hiding at girl?”

“Hi Aunt Tiana,” I said wearily, “But this isn’t LaShawn’s number anymore.”

“It ain’t?” Aunt Tiana said, “How can that be? She just gave me this number!”

“I know, I’m sorry. But this number used to be LaShawn’s. You see, my husband and I just moved into this house and the phone company gave us LaShawn’s old number.”

“Damn!” Aunt Tiana said, “Wait till I get my hands on that girl! Trying to give me her old number like that!”

“When you do,” I said, “Could you tell LaShawn that her doctor’s office called? And the results of her pap smear are in?”

“I sure will! Now, you take care! And enjoy your new house!”

“Thanks Aunt Tiana.”

Unfortunately, not all of the calls for LaShawn were as pleasant as Aunt Tiana. Our phone rang constantly throughout the day from creditors (let me be the first to tell you that LaShawn owed a lot of money, and didn’t seem too keen on paying these people back), social service departments, and former boyfriends.

I finally called our phone company in desperation and explained what was occurring. The representative was apologetic – and slightly intrigued – for the many intrusive calls we were receiving on behalf of LaShawn.  For an $80 fee, we could get a new telephone number. I asked if we could have a brand new number, one that had never belonged to anyone else. While that wasn’t possible, the representative explained, she could find a telephone number that had formerly been used for a computer modem. I took it.

Twenty minutes later, our new telephone number was active and our phone became strangely silent. When the phone did ring, it was someone actually calling for me, and not LaShawn. It felt like an older, popular sister had moved out of the house taking all of the drama with her.

Sometimes I think about LaShawn, and wonder if she’s made her Chase credit card payments, or if she and Aunt Tiana finally connected. I also really hope Aunt Tiana gave LaShawn the message about her pap smear results.


219 thoughts on “For A Good Time Call…

  1. I had a chuckle, sadly at your expense. (I apologize.). Eons ago I worked for a telephone company. Many days I would hear similar stories. I am so sorry your phone company charged you. That was poor customer service, in my opinion.
    Enjoy your new #, and thanks for sharing your bits of frustration.
    P.S. Call back and ask for a supervisor. Explain, in detail, or better yet, ask her, or him, to read your post. You’ve been inconvenienced over a situation you had no control over and shouldn’t be debited.

    • Awww, thanks. It’s okay you had a chuckle at my experience. It was comical (now that we no longer receive phone calls for LaShawn). Looking back, I should have addressed it sooner with the phone company. We live and we learn! Thank you for reading!

  2. When I lived for 18 months in rural New Hampshire — knowing no one, with no job — the only time the phone rang, and EVERY time — it was someone saying “I need a windshield” as our number had been that for Upper Valley Glass. It was bad enough being so lonely, but having every call NOT be for us was grim.

    These days, some (*%@@%()_^$#@ landlord has posted (???) my cellphone number in a NJ city advertising an apartment for rent. I get calls almost every day for it, and it is hard to be polite as it’s not the callers’ fault. I have no way to fix it short of changing my cell number. But I now ignore any call with a 973 incoming area code…

    • Oh dear. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing with the “I need a new windshield” calls. How random. Though, I suppose a glass repair shop is better than, say, a doctor’s office (“Yes, I am due for my colonoscopy”) or a pizza joint (imagine how busy your phone would be on a Friday night?? “I would like 2 cheese pies and a side of garlic knots.”)

  3. Excellent Story! I absolutely loved it. I guess now I’ll thank my lucky stars I’m not LaShawn (or Tyrone). When you get calls on your cell phone though it feels so much more personal and invading. My least favorite is when people leave voicemails when your message says, “Hi, you’ve reached my name’s voicemail,” and their message starts, “Hey, (somebody else’s name), just wanted to let you know (super embarrassing thing), anyways I’ll call you later tonight.
    Keep up the great work!

    • Thank you so much! I am thrilled you enjoyed my post. Yes, there is something very … intrusive about receiving repetitive wrong calls. Especially at 3 in the morning! 😉 And you bring up a very good point: do people no longer listen to outgoing voice mail messages? “Hi, you’ve reached Bob’s cell. Leave a message!” BEEP! “Hi Larry! It’s Jill. Call me back.”

      • This is so hilarious for me because after a string of harassment issues I had to change all three of my phone numbers (home, cell, work cell). Actually had to change my personal cell twice. My work cell (which when I originally got it -old number) belonged to someone recently released from the prison system and owed money on his account (plus many, many bill collectors would call). The new number – wow! Chase, dr offices, friends, the text messages… The drawings one friend would send! Sometimes I play along like you did with the aunt… Sometimes I am frustrated with the bill collectors because I have repeatedly told them they have an outdated number… But what really gets me is – I had to change my numbers so suddenly and could not update all my old contacts with the new number… I wonder what the new owners of my old numbers think? And poor them if they are receiving the harassing messages from my harasser. Numbers need to be retired for a bit before being reused. I am pretty sure I got this chick’s number the day she turned it in. Great post.

  4. What an interesting story, it makes me want to see the humorous side on all moving situations that I’ve gone through in the past month. Your writing is loving, and I can’t wait to read more!

    • Thank you! And I received more calls for LaShawn in 1 week than I did for myself for an entire year. Not too many of us are as sought after as good old LaShawn. Though, that might be due to the fact we pay our bills and aren’t meeting strange men late at night.

  5. Very funny…thank you! It’s ridiculous that the phone company charged you $80 for a new number though.

  6. Perfect raw material for a writer…a peek into someone else’s life. Perhaps you should write a fictionalized memoir for LaShawn? It might be weel received, given that this one got Freshly Pressed! Congrats!

  7. I will confess only HERE that sometimes, when having to supply a ‘required’ phone number, such as for web registrations that SHOULDN’T require a call to me, that I have pulled a “LaShawn.” BUT WAIT! The number I gave was for a suspected ‘puppy mill’ whose ad for ‘2 litters, parents on premises’ RAN 52 Weeks a year! I figured if the AKC wouldn’t look into it then I would get even by giving out that number.I will never know if they were harassed like you were, but I did notice that they stopped advertising puppies, completely. I like to think I may have ‘helped’ that happen. 🙂

  8. I’ve never heard of anything like this happening. Our population is very low here in Australia so whenever we need a new number there’s always a fresh one available. I would’ve been furious with LaShawn

    • We live in a very populated area, so it is common to receive a recycled phone number. There is also a large medical center 2 miles away and they seem to hog most of the numbers. But hey ~ I’m Freshly Pressed because of LaShawn! So in the end, she served a purpose. 😉

  9. I feel your pain. We have an Australian phone number pointing to our HK phone. We get early morning calls on occasion from people looking for a large Australian insurance company. Some just won’t believe they have actually woken an expat family in Hong Kong and still ask to be connected through to someone who can help despite our “you’ve reached a private number” response. Hard to remain ‘polite’ that early in the morning. I can imagine men phoning at all hours would be a million times worse! (Thank goodness it is just a phone number and not your address!)

    • The late night phone calls from men were by far the most intrusive. The creditors a close second. I am so sorry you are still receiving early morning phone calls for an insurance company! It IS hard to stay polite; I can definitely say I know how you feel!

  10. I had a similar instance happen to me. Except it was always creditors, and they were looking for one of my NOT-Favorite aunts. So I managed to obtain her new address and phone number (that she did not give to very many people because of this), then I called back each and every creditor and gave them her new information. It’s been awfully quiet at my house since then. Even some of my relatives stopped calling. Lol.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I truly appreciate it. Looking back, $80 was a bit much … though when they told me the fee, I was so weary of the phone ringing for LaShawn I would have been willing to pay a lot more. They got me when I was down. 😉

  11. The phone number I used to have was the same as a movie theater and a radio station’s. Good thing it was a Christian radio station because people calling were always very nice, asking for prayers or song requests. Only once did they offer to make monthly donations (ah, if only I was a bad wabbit – haha!). I preferred the movie theater callers because they called when I was awake at night, not like the bright and early radio station callers. Funny story!

  12. Read this and laughed pretty hard because I can relate. When I was younger my friends at the time (it was 7th or 8th grade so we were VERY immature) thought it was funny to write on the tables at the park “Call [insert name here] for a good time]” and of course everyone would call it. My parents eventually did me the favor of getting my number changed once we moved.

    • Thank you so much! I am thrilled my post gave you a few laughs. That is my goal in writing. I do often wonder about LaShawn. Hopefully life has settled down for her and she is no longer handing out her old phone number! 🙂

  13. Haha. The same thing happened to me when I was in university, but the number seemed to formerly belong to a failed politician, who had a lot of opposition. Luckily they were all day time calls, but our answering machine became quite interesting each night.

  14. Like many others here, I wonder what happened to good old LaShawn! Hopefully she got her act together but somehow I doubt it. And Freshly Pressed? Yay! Congratulations, it’s much deserved. I enjoyed reading all the comments too – funny how many people have had issues with this. I once received calls continually for weeks from creditors looking for someone and they pretty much refused to believe I wasn’t that person. It was extremely irritating. I also once had a phone number that spelled out my last name numerically and every now and then, someone would comment “wow, what a coincidence!”…um….yeah…the odds of that would be astronomical…it was intentional. *sigh* Great post Meg!

    • I would have been one of those annoying people who said, “OH MY GOSH! Did you ever notice your phone number spells out your last name??” (My father always said I should have been a blonde.) And as awful as creditors are, that has got be one really bad job! Can you imagine the job description? “Must posses brusque, assertive qualities and be willing to call people who hate you every day.”

      • Oh no, I could never be a creditor…how can you NOT take that personally after a while? I’d go home each night thinking “everyone hates me and my life sucks”. I just couldn’t do it. Working in retail and dealing with the public for many years cured me of ever wanting to talk to people, period. 🙂

      • Oh no!!! I just saw this. I’m ready to jump into the car and drive to your house ~ except I would have 2 kids with me who would eat all your food and spill juice everywhere and ask you 20 billion questions in 20 minutes.
        I hope yesterday was an isolated horrible day ~ and not one that continues. Stay strong!

      • Thank yo so much! The days are getting less horrible, so I suppose that’s something… The thought of your kids raiding my fridge and pantry is a definite smile-maker! 🙂 Today’s overcast and cold…really?…is it NOT August?….so that’s not helping my mood. A glass of red wine and a nap is what’s on today’s menu. I need a little decadent “me time”. Best to you, Meg, and thanks again for the laughs!

  15. Now I literally can’t stop saying ‘Lashawn’ in my head. We got a new number and this old lady kept calling say ‘PAT! PAT! Is that you Pat?!’ Doesn’t have the same ring to it. No pun intended.

  16. Nice….the phone company recycles and reaps the rewards from the confusion. In a related bit of humor, my parents’ number is one digit off of the private phone of Jay Leno. They would get calls from Leno’s friends and family. Finally his security officer called them and apologized and said his number was changing. We have never tried the old one, but the calls stopped!

  17. funny story, now I know precisely what to do with older cell numbers stuck in my memory. perhaps I can be the impetus for the same topic of blogging henceforth… thanks for the share….

  18. Okay, okay….you should’ve warned me not to walk the dog while reading this one! I laughed and laughed and then trampled someone’s petunias. May my neighbor’s brows freeze in that position.

    Your understated style and minimalistic tone make the funny just POP!

    I didn’t quite read all the comments here, (only the first 500,000) but did anyone remark that LaShawn’s new phone number should have been the old one for an adult film star?

    You are a gem. I hope you publish soon, so not only will you be “freshly pressed” but you can take enthralled readers to the dry-cleaners as they spend their last $$ for a great laugh.

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