Monday, May 17, 2021


Growing up we were in a group of 3 families that did a lot together. Vacations, holidays, barbecues... the usual. Inevitably, this sort of thing leads to a lot of pranks.

And in the summer of 1975, a truly great one happened.

That year my family was moving from central city to suburb area, with all the usual preparations that entails. Because of the distance we wouldn't be able to keep our old phone number (people back then ONLY had landlines, young ones).

The other 2 moms in our 3-family group did something awful.

They printed up flyers on colored paper. It's been 46 years since then, so my memory isn't exact. But it said something like this:

"Due to my personality defects and physical shortcomings, I have no friends. Since I am relocating out of state, I am throwing a final, huge, party at my house. Food, drinks, and entertainment provided. Please call to RSVP and get the address."

And it had our home phone number.

They took the flyers to the city's largest mall, and handed them out everywhere. They put them on car windshields in parking lots. They stood at the bottoms of escalators and gave one to anyone who stepped off.

My parents were taken entirely by surprise when the home phone went wild. Call after call after call. Everyone wanted to come to the huge party that we weren't having. The phones back then couldn't be unplugged easily, either, as they were generally hardwired into the wall.

My Dad finally took all our phones off the hook, wrapped the receivers in towels to muffle the "phone off the hook screech" and put them in drawers. My parents thought it was some insane mistake until their friends confessed.

The phone kept ringing insanely until it was turned off when we moved the next week.


Anonymous said...

With friends like that….

It's Me! said...

So, after you moved, if someone called the old number, wouldn't they have gotten a message saying something like "The number you have called has been changed. The new number is: 407-867-5309"? And then wouldn't the callers have called that number? Hmmm. Well, perhaps not if they assumed the move was out of state.

jono said...

I would hate to think what they would do to people they DIDN'T like!

Shash said...

We kept getting calls to reserve racquetball courts at a local (big) fitness center. We tried telling the place that someone was handing out our home phone number but they were too dense to understand the problem. My mother started taking reservations.

Fast forward 10 years and I get a gig writing for the parent company of the fitness center, and I'm actually working at the center. I stopped by the front desk and asked for the number to call to reserve a racquetball court. It was our number. I tried explaining it to them but they still weren't bright enough to cop on to the fact that they had been giving out the wrong number for their own facility for over 10 years. Oy.

Anonymous said...

Yep. The correct response is to take the reservation, or invite them to the the other folk's address.

Or, perhaps, tell the caller that the fitness center he called has no courts.

I might have mailed a monthly summary of taken-but-ignored reservations to the fitness center CEO.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what this says about [insert your favorite pizza place], or maybe it doesn't, but their delivery phone number is ours with the two middle numbers reversed. We were taken aback THIRTY years ago when folks called for pizza delivery. For a while we considered heating up our own discount brand and delivering for the big tip.

The pizza joint hasn't changed their number and neither have we, but with the advent of smart phones, the landline answering message goes straight to voicemail and we rarely answer the phone anymore. Expecting a call, we picked up the home phone once last year, and someone still was calling for pizza. For a while we used to get calls for a local veterans home, a mental hospital, and also a job agency.

What was really annoying however, was the five years of a local hospital screech-squawking faxed reports at the end of the day. It seemed that sometimes admitting orders were being faxed, and those were really bothersome as they'd come any time of the day or night. It took a call to the CEO of the organization despite attempting to track calls to a switchboard operator or specific doctor's office, or a built-in preprogrammed fax number.

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