Mobile Phones. They’ve revolutionized the way we communicate, the way we ignore people around us in real life, and the way we attempt to kill each other while driving.

Before number portability came along, the turnover rate between providers was a hefty 25%. People would change their providers (and consequently their phone number) whenever a bigger better deal came along. Or they simply wanted to try out another provider because their current one is run, owned, and staffed by jerks, only to find out their new provider is run, owned, and staffed by jerks.

The phone numbers were ditched and quickly recycled for new customers. This was a major factor in the number of wrong number calls, voicemails, and text messages in the 2000s.

The normal experience of activating a new mobile phone and number would be:

  1. Turn the phone on
  2. Dial a bunch of crazy codes (or have the sales guy do it)
  3. Within 24-48 hours get your first incoming call from a total stranger

This used to be the norm with land lines as well, but it was because the phone company was knowingly selling your new phone number to marketing partners. In the early days of mobile phones, marketers were hesitant to call mobile numbers because they would potentially be liable for using up valuable minutes in your calling plan. I wish this were still an issue.

I’ve received some weird voice mails over the years. Some I’ve tried to save, but if you don’t listen to them after a while some providers would forcibly delete the messages. Did I mention the cell phone companies are jerks? Then texting came along, which made it much easier to archive such wrong number gems like this transcript from 1/29/07:

7:36PM From: +17025331017 Msg: Can u tell EJ TO GIVE ME SOMETHING THAT BELONGS TO ME
Msg: Who is this?
7:38PM From: +17025331017 Msg: Her ex
Msg: I think you have the wrong number.
7:40PM From: +17025331017 Msg: Itr armando
8:22PM From: +17025331017 Msg: Tell her to give Armandos shit back
8:38pm Call: Name unknown 17025331017

Feel free to contact that number. It’s probably not Armando anymore. They may be delighted to get a cryptic message from you though. Experience has taught me that anything revolving a break-up makes for the most memorable wrong number voice mails and texts.

The Escapist

After number portability, people would keep their numbers. Unless you were trying to get someone to stop calling you – like a creditor. I got a new number when I moved to a new area code (so I could blend in). My recycled number was previously owned by a guy named Mike. At first I got a lot of calls for Mike. They all seemed kind of nervous. Maybe Mike was a drug dealer.

Then I started getting calls from creditors looking for Mike. One guy was a bit more inquisitive – he had the intuition of a repo man. I told him straight up that I’m not Mike, Mike doesn’t live with me, and that I don’t know Mike. He asked me those questions twice to listen for any wavering in my voice. I didn’t get many calls for Mike after that 😎

Fat Fingers

Sometimes people just make honest mistakes. I sincerely hope that this woman got a hold of whoever she set out to contact. It sounds like there may be an issue with the toilet:

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