Of course my first thought whenever someone starts off with a hesitant not to be rude, but is usually an apprehensive, “Oh, no.”
“Yes?” I answered.
“Um?” I could tell that she was having a difficult time picking her words, “You don’t like being called at home?”
There were so many things wrong with the question/statement that I didn’t really know where to begin. For starters, I am not really even home. That is to say, if she had tried to look me up in the Houston white pages (where I am not listed) and found my number (if I were listed) and called that number, then all she would have gotten would be my answering machine. I am not home, in my home. And it is not that I don’t like being called at home. Call all you want. Chances are that I will not pick up, but feel free to call and call and call. Do I go around giving my telephone number out to everyone I meet? No. But then very few people do. Do many people have my telephone number? No. But then there are very few people whom I consider close enough friends.
That being said…
I answered, “No, I don’t really care. Why do you ask?” Okay, so I’ll admit that my curiosity had been peaked.
“Well, its just…” Again I could tell that something was causing her to hesitate, “Six people.”
“Six people?” Now I was intrigued.
“I mean,” she clarified, “I spoke to six people before I found one who, well, wouldn’t give me your number, but offered to call and pass a message along.”
“Ahh,” I was beginning to get the picture. It was A--- who had called earlier and told me that this person had been trying to get in touch with me and had given me her number. I did not think much of it at the time but apparently my admittedly small circle of friends/close coworkers had been teaching her the true art of phone tag. I’d say that they were doing it on purpose (I can think of at least one who really, really doesn’t care for the girl), only I don’t think even they are really that cruel (well, mostly, anyway).
When it finally all came out, the story went like this: She had first tried AnhMai’s office number. AnhMai (three guesses who doesn’t care for the poor kid) first drilled her backwards and forwards about what she wanted and then told her she couldn’t give out my number to anyone with out discussing it with me first. Next she tried one of the pharmacists in MHMRC’s outpatient clinic who I would sometimes eat lunch with (kudos to her for even thinking of that one). Unfortunately, this woman does not have my number. She did however tell the girl that she should try either AnhMai (Oh God!) or Simon and gave her numbers for them both.
So, as she did not have any particular wish for death, the girl called Simon. Now Simon has my number and probably would have given it to her if, and this is a big if, AnhMai had not already told him about the call she had received earlier and, shall we say, expressed her opinions on my number being released to any such person. Being no more suicidal than the kid trying to get in touch with me, Simon denied knowing my number and instead gave her Nguyen’s.
However, as would be in this deep, murky plot, Nguyen did not have Nguyen’s phone. S---- had Nguyen’s phone because Nguyen had left it in her car when they had gone out for thòt heo kho taøu the previous evening.
Oh, the thick, thick plot.
So anyway, being the type of person S---- is, she could not resist answering a ringing phone and so—did. Again, Nguyen knows my number and probably would have given it to this (no doubt) desperate person, but, unfortunately, S---- does not. S---- did, however, believe that she knew my email address and so told the girl to try emailing me at email@example.com.
This is not my email address.
This is a combination of two of my email addresses, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Unfortunately, neither of our key players (at this point) knew this.
The poor girl attempted to email me only to get an undeliverable mail notice (three times). So once again, she got on the horn, this time to C----. Now, this is desperation at its best. C---- and I did not part on the best of terms (far from it actually) and this girl knew this, but could think of no other alternative. Unfortunately for her, C---- (not too surprisingly) did not know my number but very civilly (surprisingly) gave her A---‘s. And so, too far along to turn back, she called up a complete stranger (to her, anyway) and asked for my number.
Now A--- was a little bothered by the idea of giving out my cell phone number (the only phone I have with me out here) to someone he did not know, so once again, she was forced to go through her entire story, what she needed, why she needed it, asked to leave her number and left only with the promise that the message would be passed on to me whenever possible.
At this point, I’m rather certain that she felt like screaming.
A--- then called me, filled me in and gave me her number. I called her back, made her repeat her story and request for the third time and then gave her the only answer at my disposal:
Still, I couldn’t help feeling bad for her. :)