In a moment of self-loathing, I accepted a new number when I got a new cell phone. Trying for nonchalance, I said the number didn’t matter, any old number would do, but the real reason I didn’t keep my old one was that I couldn’t remember it. Numbers aren’t my thing, and my cell phone doesn’t take up much space in my head. I still have a land line. I can remember that number because I’ve had it for forty-five years. Cell phones come and go, don’t they? And who did I get the darn thing for, someone else’s convenience or my own? That’s what I say to myself. Rationalization is a wonderful thing, even when it doesn’t make sense.
Anyway, I was embarrassed to admit to the so-trendy millennial sales rep that I didn’t know my old cell number and thus couldn’t ask that it be imported to my new phone, so I got a “new” number. But it was only new to me.
It had had a very busy life before it came into mine. Somebody named Alexa owned it. Apparently, she’s a lively lady (young, I think), with a lot of sumpin’-sumpin’ going on. She’s still getting calls to what is now my number. Some of the callers sound desperate to reach her and have difficulty believing me when I say I’m not her, she’s not here, I don’t know her and please stop calling.
Calls come in the middle of the night, especially Friday and Saturday. My cell phone is set to ring with a loud, old-fashioned jingle. Since it usually lives in the bottom of my purse under my sunglasses and billfold, an obnoxiously loud ringtone is the only hope I have of hearing it at all. So when that ring shatters the nighttime quiet, I leap out of bed, race to my purse, dig through it to find the phone and discover it’s for Alexa. Again.
Ignore it, you say? I can’t; I must respond. Like Pavlov’s dog, I was conditioned in my formative years, back when midnight calls meant Big Trouble. Alexa’s callers are all male and they manfully swallow their disappointment when they discover they’ve reached me instead of the elusive Alexa. They apologize politely for bothering me. I appreciate that, I guess.
Then there are the text messages, most referring to activities on which the authorities would frown.
“The blunt is lit. Come on over.”
“Are you holding? I need something.”
“Want to smoke tonight?”
I wonder about Alexa. Who is she? Drug dealer? Prostitute? Wildly popular girl-about-town? It must be a major let-down for her fans to learn that the number she used to have is now held by a person of – ahem! – mature years who is no fun. No fun at all.
You’d think if Alexa’d gotten a new cell phone number it would have sifted through to her regular callers by now. But they obviously don’t know where she is and are determined to find her. What do you suppose happened to her?
I envision her going mainstream, shedding a life on the fringes as she shed her old cell number. Now she’s a brainy student at Georgia Tech, studying engineering. She wears big, black-framed glasses and pulls her hair into a pony-tail. Or maybe she got married and is the mother of newborn twins. She takes them to the park in a double stroller. Possibly she’s studying for the ministry and volunteering in a homeless shelter on weekends.
I don’t want to go the logical route and think that my number-sharer might be looking at the world through a barred window. No need to be a slave to Occam’s Razor. Something unlikely could have happened.
Meanwhile, I just answered a video call from a polite young man with a lovely smile. I think he’s called before and didn’t believe me when I said, “I’m not Alexa.” This time he could see for himself. He’ll have something to tell the gang when they all toke up Friday night.
Guys, please take his word for it: I’m not Alexa!