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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: Wrong numbers, odd and heartbreaking

Here are a couple more wrong-number stories.

“Mine was not a message, because I answered the phone,” wrote Anne Marie Burk. “But it was most unusual. Here goes.

“My phone rang at 1:30 a.m., waking me up. I answered it and found myself on FaceTime looking at a middle-aged man with a 4-year-old girl popping up occasionally to look at the phone screen. The man asked to speak to Anne Marie. That’s my name, so I said, ‘This is Anne Marie.’ The man looked confused and said, ‘No, I’m looking for my wife’s sister Anne Marie’ and then added, ‘… in London …?’

“I told him he had reached Anne Marie in Spokane, Washington, USA.

“He replied, ‘Oh dear, I am so sorry. I must have woken you up. I’m calling from Australia and must have dialed the wrong country code.’

“Good for him to know there was a big time difference between Australia and Washington, USA. I forgave him and went back to bed, wondering about the woman in London with my name and telephone number, but with a different country code.”

Then there was this.

“Your question reminded me of a phone message from years ago that I haven’t thought of in a long time,” wrote Karin Carter. “I remember it exactly, verbatim:

“ ‘(Blank), this is (blank). He’s finally done it. (Blank) has gone and killed himself. Anyway, give us a call or come over as soon as you get this.’

“The man’s voice was tight and strained and I could hear a woman in the background wailing. I froze and my gut went cold. This was before Caller I.D., so I hit *69 to get the last number that called me. Unfortunately, it was my mother’s number so I had no way to contact him to tell him of his mistake.

“The incident really shook me. The pain in his voice and in the wail of the woman with him brought tears to my eyes. The message was so intimate.”

Karin would keep that message for years. “It somehow seemed disrespectful to delete it.”

Timing is everything: “Your offer to attend a retirement party (Tuesday’s Slice) came just a little late for me,” wrote Diane Stutzman. “I retired Tuesday (from the Bureau of Land Management) and the party was on Monday.”

Slice answer (what you remember about your last day of work): “Giving back to the stockroom the box of unused carbon paper that had been in my desk drawer since my first day 28 years and eight months previously,” wrote Ivy Moore.

Today’s Slice question: When someone in Spokane refers to another person being from “Up north,” what does that usually mean?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Would you rather have the NBA or NHL in Seattle?

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