Unfiltered Story #136318

, , , | Unfiltered | January 9, 2019

(In late 1996, Houston split its area code coverage — customers with service at addresses inside Beltway 8 retained the original 713, and customers outside it had their numbers changed to the new 281 area code. In late 1999, I got a cellphone, and was assigned 713-XXX-XXXX — a number which had formerly been held by an oilfield services company which had its headquarters outside Beltway 8 and therefore had been moved to the 281 area code three years previously. I regularly got calls intended for them, and initially I was patient, assuming it was a carryover from old publications and the like and would taper off as people started using new directories and so on. I even had my voicemail set to a message that would tell people to try again with the correct area code and only leave a message if it was in fact me they were trying to reach, not that this stopped me from getting a message or two a week from someone who couldn’t be bothered to listen.

As time went on and the area code change became increasingly distant, I lost patience, but of course I also had a greater number of people to whom I had given my number who would have to be informed if I changed it. So I kept on, although I no longer bothered to be polite to people using a number that was more than 5 years out of date (especially if they started out being irate at me for not returning messages left on my voicemail that clearly told them they were wrong). One of the greatest calls, though, was one I got after I’d had the number for five years myself, which means it was EIGHT years after the company’s number had changed….)

Me: “Hello?” (Remember, this is my personal cell, not a business phone.)

Caller: “Uh, hello, is [name I don’t recognize] available, please?”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone by that name.”

Caller: “Oh! Is this [oilfield services company]?”

Me: *facepalming* “Oh, them. Look, you want the same phone number, but the 281 area code instead of 713; they changed it when the new area code rolled out in 1996.”

Caller: “199— you mean, like eight years ago?”

Me: “Yep.”

Caller: “But [name] put this as his current work number, with [oilfield services company] as his current employer, on his application.”

Me: “Huh. Well, if whatever he’s applying for requires attention to detail, that might not be his strong suit. On the other hand, I guess he never calls in sick!”

Caller: *cracking up* “I guess not! Okay, so if I dial again with 281 instead of 713, I should get [oilfield services company]? Thanks for your help!”

(I’m sure she should have just signed off after I told her the correct area code and not disclosed what she did about the reason for the call, but it wouldn’t have been half as funny if she had!)

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