Sorry, Wrong Number.

I don’t get many phone calls here, so a few days ago when the phone rang and a male voice with an accent said something I didn’t understand about ‘technical support’ and ‘your computer’ I kept listening a moment.  But other than those two phrases I couldn’t cypher out a word he was saying.

Excuse me.  I can’t understand what you’re saying.  What do you want?”

Another long string of words including the two phrases, unintelligible.  My hearing isn’t all that it might be.  I can’t understand what store clerks or waiters are saying half the time when I’m in town, so I nod yes, or no, as the mood strikes me and take my chances.

But this guy had something to say that might be important, and he called to say it.  Seemed prudent to me to focus my iron will and patience on the job of knowing what it was.  I tried several possibilities.

After I’d interrupted him three or four times asking him to speak more clearly, more slowly, though, he said, “Never mind.”  Spang broke the connection.

I’m reasonably certain the man was in India.  I shot a couple of phrase of Gujarati at him I remembered from Peace Corps training and he shot some back at me I couldn’t understand any better than I understood his English.

Remembering it, I recalled a story I read a while back online:

A PACKED commuter train sped hundreds of kilometres across India in the wrong direction before passengers finally realised it was pulling into an unfamiliar station.

The train left the southern town of Tirupati on Wednesday for the eastern city of Bhubaneswar, where it was due to swing north to its eventual destination of Varanasi, a city in northeastern India, The Times of India reported today.

But bewildered passengers noticed something was amiss yesterday when it chugged into Warangal – a central Indian city on an entirely different route some 980km west of its intended stop at Bhubaneswar.

The express train had managed to cross three of India’s railway divisions and travel hundreds of miles without anyone noticing it had lost its way, The Times reported.

The mistake was believed to have arisen because it was given an incorrect destination code, compounded by the fact it was a special service and many of the staff were unfamiliar with the route.

By hindsight, I don’t know whether the guy thought he was talking to someone in the US, Australia, or the UK.  I can’t for the life of me form an opinion about whether he knew something about my computer it was important I know, or wanted to tell some train pilot in New Zealand he was going backwards and another one was coming at him 90 miles an hour the other way.

This brave new world’s getting a bit complex for a 20th Century man.

Old Jules


Today on Ask Old Jules:   Old Jules, what scripture do you use most in helping you fight your demons?

24 responses to “Sorry, Wrong Number.

  1. I’ve been getting calls like this for months and, as you’ve probably guessed by now, the whole thing’s a scam. These guys are very persistent and they’re definitely up to no good, although I’m not sure how they plan to make money, probably by usuing your computer as a ‘zombie’ as I think the term goes.
    You may well have scared them off, but I think I only managed to get rid of them by lying and telling them that I don’t have a computer.
    The golden rule is – IT helpdesks never do cold calls. (In my experience you’re lucky if they talk to you when you call them).
    Anyway, I’m deeply impressed that you know Gujerati.

    • fekesh: Glad to hear it was just a scam. Gujarati was 1964 in my life. I’d be hard pressed to get much further than “T’mae kaem che?” or “Hoommm majama chunn!”. I might struggle out telling you my brother lives in Wadoda, though he’s dead, and I think he never did. Gracias, Jules

  2. I used to get wrong number calls all the time… Though not nearly as interesting as this. My cellphone number used to belong to some guy who owes a lot of debts. About two or three months after I got my new number, the calls started. Several months later, I think I finally convinced most of those bill collectors that indeed, my female voice did not belong to the man named Earl they so desperately wanted to find.

    • Hi Midnight. Old Earl’s probably still out there somewhere, maybe living under a bridge gloating about how he beat them. About the only jobs left these days are for bill collectors and process servers, I’m betting. And likely those are in call centers located in Jakarta. Glad you got some relief and thanks for coming by. Jules

  3. Lucky for me, dogs don’t care! woo woo woo!

  4. “About the only jobs left these days are for bill collectors and process servers, I’m betting. And likely those are in call centers located in Jakarta.”

    I believe you summed the situation up in a proverbial nutshell!

  5. I love caller ID, if I don,t recognize the number I let the answering machine take it or just pick up and immediately hang up.

  6. Yep, a scam – and an international one was well. Nearly everyone in my town of 1,500 has been called – including me. I just let out a big ‘ol donkey bray of a laugh: because I don’t own anything that runs Microsoft.

    • heretherebespiders: Good morning to you. Thanks for coming by. I might have let out a donkey bray without knowing it. A lot of us do those things without being aware we’re doing it, I figures. Gracias, Jules

  7. You know Old Jules, sometimes (quite often actually) I have no idea what you are talking about but it is fun to read and think about. Other times I know exactly what you are talking about and I laugh out loud. Thanks a bunch! I have a few hats also, but nothing to match your collection.

  8. Did he say his name was Bob Peterson? We get calls like that all the time.

    • Hi brushtophouse: If he did I didn’t understand him saying it. When I was a kid in the 1950s every third person who’d walk into a barbershop would say to the barber, “Bob Peters here?” and the barber would answer, “No. We just cut hair here.” Standard joke. Maybe Bob Peters has a son, or by now a grandson. Gracias, Jules

  9. I got a good laugh out of the four or five times they called here. When I can catch what they are saying, I mention being a computer technician and they hang up real quick.

  10. a fascinating story. I appreciate your efforts to try and understand what it was that he wanted.

  11. The only thing you missed was the chance to annoy them as much as they annoy the rest of the population. Get so tired of getting calls from people who don’t speak understandable English. Talk to them in a strange language the next time. Make one up if you have to!

    • Morning Gypsy Bev: During a time in my life when it was a bigger problem I used to do that. Maybe I would again under different circumstances. As it stands today, though, and in this particular circumstance, I didn’t know it was spam/scam. I assumed the man was legit and just didn’t have a command of English. Gracias, Jules

  12. LOL!! This is frustrating enough when you call them, but I can only imagine how frustrating it is when they call you!

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