Years ago before cell phones, people had phones that were plugged into the wall in their homes. And believe or not, when the phone rang, you had no idea who was calling. AND.... if you wanted to leave a message, you had to do it on something called an "answering machine." Oh, they still sell them today, usually bundled with a cordless phone, but every year more and more people are giving up their "land lines" and just use their cell phones. That's how it is at the Crazy RxMan ranch too. I'll even bet there's some of my blog readers that don't even know what an answering machine is. It is a relic of the past, much like telephone booths and 8-Track cassette players.
One of my favorite stories regarding an answering machine was back in 1988. I had one of these relics and the recording simply said, "We're not here, leave a message" which I recorded extremely quickly thus making it funny to the caller. I made it sound like I only had one second to record an outgoing message. It probably doesn't sound like that would be funny now, but it was back then. I often would get laughter at the beginning of messages left for me.
But that's not the funny part of this story. This is: One day I come home to find 12 messages on the answering machine. My relic from the past had LED numbers indicating 12 messages. So I press PLAY to get the messages going. In the first message a lady has called, stating that she saw my ad in the newspaper (this was also before Craigslist and eBay) regarding the mare I had for sale, how the ad sounded great, how "they" wanted to come by and see the mare TODAY, and to please call "them" back.
The problem is, I didn't have an ad in the paper, nor did I have a mare for sale.
The messages that followed were from the same lady... only there was a progression of urgency with each message left. At about the fourth or fifth message there was a plea... something about a daughter and a death in the family and how they really want to come see the mare. Then there was anger with the last four messages, using phrases like "Why won't you call me back?" and "Damn you for ignoring me!" and "What the F*** is wrong with you?!"
At this point I really want to find out what's going on, mostly because it's become so interesting at this point, but also for safety. This lady had become very angry in her messages and I don't want to get shot over a damn horse I don't even own. So I looked in the newspaper classifieds under HORSES for SALE. I found that there was indeed a mare for sale, but that the phone number was one digit off from my phone number. Evidently this lady saw the ad and in the process of dialing the number, she pressed one wrong digit, sending the phone call to my home. As the day progressed without me returning her call, she likely kept hitting REDIAL on her phone, over and over, and calling the wrong number over and over.
So I called the number she left on my answering machine. She answered and I attempted to explain that she had been dialing the wrong number all day. To my surprise, this made her FURIOUS and she started yelling at me on the phone. Swear words pierced my ear as she yelled. And then she started accusing me of making up the whole story to keep her from looking at the horse.
When she finally finished her ranting, I said, "Maybe you should take a look at the ad in the newspaper again. Then maybe..." but I couldn't finish my statement because at that point she hung up. I didn't call back. She didn't call back.
I don't know if she looked in the newspaper again or was able to purchase the mare she wanted so desperately, but the lesson you can derive from all this is very clear. No matter what decade you're in... if you're going to call someone, make sure it's the right number. And also know that if someone does something that embarrassing they're probably never going to apologize.