So … for the first time in some five years, I answered the third call from a blocked number — they’d called three times in succession, so, it seemed rather urgent … maybe a family member or friend in an emergency without access to their own phone for instance.

“Hello?”
“Oh, sorry, I’ve called the wrong number.”
“What?”
“I’ve called the wrong number by mistake.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I was trying to call someone else.”
“Who am I then?”
“What?”
“Who am I?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Who. Am. I?”
“I don’t understand.”
“How do you know you weren’t trying to call me, if you don’t know who I am first? Who are you and whom are you trying to contact?”
“Oh … right … I’m calling to book an appointment — I think you’re … ah … are you [my name]?”
“Who are you?”
“Sorry?”
“Before I tell a complete stranger, calling me on a blocked number, who I am, I want to know who they are first.”
“Oh, right … this is [organisation].”
“Right … then, yes, this is [my name].”

“Good — we need to make an appointment with you.”
“So I am the right person after all?
“Yes — sorry about that.”
“What?”
“Sorry about the confusion “
“Oh … right … well, anyway …”

“Yes, would you be able to contact us to make an appointment?”
“Huh?”
“Would you be able to make an appointment?”
“Well, I don’t know … it depends when you have in mind.”
“Oh, well, just get in touch with us to make an appointment.”
“How?”
“I’m sorry?”
How do I get in touch with you? — I don’t have your number.”
“Oh … well, yes … I suppose …”

“May I make a suggestion?”
“Yes?”

“I realise the decision isn’t yours to make personally, but … I don’t normally answer calls from blocked or withheld numbers — this is the first time I’ve answered one of those in some five years or so — and I know a lot of other people don’t either, so, you might like to recommend to your management that they not block the number their employees call from.”

“Oh, well, that’s not my decision.”

“Yes, I know — did say I understood that — but it might just be a good idea to mention it to the people who do make that decision.”

“I don’t make that decision, I’m afraid.”

“Yes, I know, but you might mention it anyway. It might save your employer a lot of missed appointments … with people who, like myself, don’t answer blocked or withheld numbers due to the dangers of doing so — your phone can be compromised by answering malicious calls and texts, you know … and other people can find out your sex, age and other things if you answer them … so answering random calls from unknown and/or blocked numbers when you aren’t expecting one is a bad idea all around … which is why I and other people who know this don’t answer such calls or open such text messages or emails on our phones.

Besides which, if we miss the call, we can’t call it back anyway.”

“I see … well, I’ll let them know what you’ve said yes … but we don’t do that in case people get hold of our number.”

“What?”

“We block our number.”

“Yes, I know … Why?”

“So that people don’t get hold of it.”

“What … Why? In case they call and make an appointment?
That’s
like a taxi firm that doesn’t publish its details in case people try to book a cab!”

“Yes, I see … well, I’ll mention it.
Anyway, thankyou for your time … Goodbye”

“Wait!”
“What?”

“You still haven’t made an appointment with me!”
“Oh, right, well, perhaps you could write to us?”
“What?”
“You could write to us to make an appointment”
What? I’m not going to do that!
What if I suggest a date and/or time that isn’t available? Then you’ll write to me, asking me to choose a different one? How long is that going to take? By the time I’ve received your reply any appointment slot will be long since unavailable.

Why can’t I do it now?

Whilst I’m on the phone.

You have, after all, called me for the express purpose of making an appointment in the first place!

“Oh … right … well … do you have voicemail?”

“Well, yes … and you could text me as well … but let me take your number anyway.”

“Okay, if I give you my direct number, perhaps you could call and make an appointment.”

*sigh*

“Alright, let me just …”
“It’s …”
“No, wait a moment, I have to find something to make a note of it on …”
“Oh, right, okay … it’s …”
“No … really … you actually need to wait whilst I physically locate something on which to make a note of it — it doesn’t just appear in my hand simply because I want it, I’m afraid … sorry about that.”

“Oh …”

“Right … what’s the number?”

“Okay … it’s [redacted]”

Twenty seconds later … I receive a text from ‘NoReply@[redacted]’ but, when I open it, It has quite clearly come from [real name]@[redacted] — so much for security concerns, eh?

(Asking me to contact them to make an appointment!)

This is from a different person altogether … but from the same organisation.

So, now, I have the name of … and can text any malicious payload I like to … a second person … of whose details I would, otherwise, have been completely ignorant.

(From the organisation that withholds its details lest you get in touch with it to avail yourself of the services it wants to offer you!)

*sigh*

I call my previous interlocutor …

“Hello … This is [organisation] … How can we help?”

“Hello … this is [my name] …

I received a text asking me to contact you to make an appointment and I’m a bit concerned because it came from someone else.

I don’t want someone else to cancel the appointment that you haven’t yet made for me … before I even know it has been made … because they are unaware that you have already contacted me and, so, I didn’t reply to them because I was waiting to hear back from you first — only you never did … because they put a note on the system saying I never contacted your organisation, so, clearly, I’ve changed my mind and don’t want/need one any more.”

“Oh, hello, [my name] … yes, we’d like to book you an appointment.”

*sigh*

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Okay, yes.”

“Right then.”

“Right then, what?”

“Right … we’ll make an appointment for you then.”

“Erm … yes … so, what do you suggest?”

“Well, I’ll make one for [date]… we’ll see you then.”

“No … wait … I have to check whether that clashes with anything else first!”

“Oh … right …”

[I check]

“Right … okay … that’s fine for me.”

“Good. Bye then [my name]”
“No! … Wait!”

“What?”

“You haven’t told me where.

“Where what?”

“You haven’t told me where the appointment is! What’s the address?”
“Oh … right … it’s …”

*sigh*

“Just a second … I have to find something to make a note of it on …

Okay … go ahead …”

“It’s [name of organisation … not the address … *sigh* … whatever — I’l look it up online later.]”

“Right. Okay.”

“Alright then … bye …”
“Wait!”
“What?”

“When I get there … then what?”
“I’m sorry?”
“When I get to [organisation] … then what?“
“Sorry?”

*sigh*

“Once I’ve arrived at [organisation], where do I go? Whom do I ask for?”
“Oh … well … just go to the crossroads, turn right and …”
“What!?! … Crossroads? … What!?!”

“You just go to the crossroads, turn right and …”

“No … seriously … I’m supposed to be in a building at that point.

What crossroads!?!”

“Oh … well … you’ve been here before, right?”

No … I haven’t!

“Oh!

Well, it’s quite easy really … I’ve just started here myself …

[Really? Who’d’a thought? More’s to the point … will this person still be there when I turn up for my appointment? Or will they have been let go in favour of, say … a block of concrete? Or, perhaps, a potato … or some other equally well qualified vegetable?]

… and once you’re in the building, just go to the crossroads and …”

“Really?
A crossroads?
In a building?”

[Is this some kind of drive-thru hospital or something?
Open-heart surgery ‘while u wait’?
Just pull up at the window and we’ll have your bypass done in a snip!]

*sigh*

“Look … when I get there … and I’m in the building … what department am I looking for?”

I’ll stop at this point — you get the picture … and I’m nearly in tears just remembering it all.

Suffice it to say that I was … eventually … able to make an appointment, find out where that appointment was to take place and, finally, where to go once I got there.

I just hope the surgeon is more clued in to what’s going on than the work-experience intern making the appointment — I don’t need my leg amputating … nor am I a kidney donor!

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Where Angels Fear

Where Angels Fear

430 Followers

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die.