Wednesday, January 31, 2007


My last name is an anglicized version of a Danish surname. My first direct paternal ancestor sailed from Northern Ireland in the 1660s and settled in present day Rhode Island. There's absolutely nothing about my last name that sounds remotely Indian or Italian. Add to that there's a Chicago suburb that shares that surname and I currently live in Chicago and I'm left quite confused by a message left on my answering machine last night:

"Hello this is Caroline from Dr. Bijaj's billing department. I'm calling for Sureesh Rigati. We spoke a few months ago and I need you to call me at your earliest convenience Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm."

Now my wife recorded the greeting on our answering machine. I'm pretty sure she mentions us by name at some point in that greeting. Despite her being born British, we both have the traditional "Midwestern accent"(that is to say no discernable accent whatsoever to the average American). Was Caroline really not paying any attention whatsoever to the answering machine greeting?

We used to get calls like this all the time in our apartment, always for the same guy ("Jerome Chambliss") . Well I wouldn't say "all the time", but usually about once every 4 to 6 months we'd get a call from various different collections agencies looking for Herr Chambliss. And a week or two ago I received a call from a collections agency looking for some girl named Vanessa. I had the caller repeat the number back to me and it was my phone number, so I'm guessing before that phone number was assigned to us, it was possibly assigned to a Sureesh and Vanessa Rigati.

I'm not angry or annoyed by these calls, if anything I'm amused. But neither of them are the most bizarre call I've ever gotten... that would be this:

Back in 2002, shortly after I'd moved from Sandusky to Elyria, OH I got a call from this girl who worked at the front desk of one of Sandusky's many many hotels. She asked for "me" as in my first and last name... of course I was there (and since I lived alone, I was the only one there). So she and I got into an interesting conversation where she tried to reminisce with me or remind me of a good time we'd had at one of Sandusky's bars the week before. I rarely went to any bars in Sandusky even when I lived there, so I certainly didn't go to any after I'd moved over a half hour away. From what the two of us were able to discern some other guy who either knew me or knew of me peripherally was looking for a one-night stand, lied about his name to ensure the girl would never track him down and because he used my name, she tracked me down. Because I'd set up call-forwarding, the number she called was a Sandusky phone number and it was automatically forwarded to my Elyria number. I did try to call her back and flirt with her but I'd recently been dumped and probably sounded rather pathetic and/or desperate so she wasn't having it and that was the end of that.

What are some of your favorite wrong numbers/right numbers-wrong person/right numbers-right name-wrong person stories? Please do share....


BarBarA said...

Well, I'm sure this won't be too surprising since you know how I am about cute boys. A cute boy called me once (wrong number). I could just TELL he was cute. I was about 17 at the time. We ended up going on a date and dating for a few months.

Not to exciting to talk about - but it was fun to live.

BarBarA said...

P.S. His name was Ricky Hurt - no kidding. RICKY - if you are out there CALL ME!!!