Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hello There in Tucson: Part IV

(continued from previous post)

Oops, my error. Hanging up on Ms. Hello Hello was a really dumb move. Why, oh why, did I do that? I guess it was the shock of recognition. I don’t know what I expected, but I never expected her to answer the phone.

Ms. Hello Hello always called during the day, when no one was around. Well, OHM suspected there was a party in progress. Maybe Ms. Hello Hello chugged down a couple margaritas and got up the courage to call us from a friend’s phone. Maybe she figured that she could finally speak to a real person. On the other hand, maybe she figured that 9:30 p.m. was a good time to play phone games and annoy the heck out of us.

By Sunday morning, I figured that I didn’t have anything to lose, so I called Bina. On the first try, I got a busy signal. On the second try, I got Bina. I expected her to deny any knowledge of the calls or to hang up on me. However, she seemed willing to hear me out.

I explained that someone apparently had called my house several times from her phone on Saturday night. She hesitated and then asked if I was in Arizona. When I told her I was, she said she had been trying to call her boyfriend in Arizona and guessed that she had dialed a wrong number.

“Three times?” I asked. She hesitated again, so I took the direct approach and said, “When I called your number last night, the woman who has been leaving hello, hello messages on my phone for the last few months answered your phone.”

“Well, I don’t know anything about that,” she said. I asked if she had been at a party. “I was at a nightclub.” Okay, so Bina had a cell phone. Some people are a little careless about leaving their cell phones lying around. Maybe Ms. Hello Hello had grabbed the phone and made the calls when Bina was occupied elsewhere.

However, Bina knew that the calls had been made to Arizona. So I was sure she had at least a nodding acquaintance with Ms. Hello Hello. “If you think you might know this person,” I said, “please give her a message from me. Tell her to tell us what she wants or stop calling.”

For a while, there were no more messages from Ms. Hello Hello. However, several months later, there was another, barely audible, “Hello” message from someone who sounded a lot like her. Over the next four or five months, that woman left two or three also barely audible messages. At those times, I did not access *69 in an attempt to trace her phone number. I would have succeeded only in adding more extra charges to my phone bills. I also decided that, if she didn’t have the courtesy to talk to us, I couldn’t be bothered with her. If Ms. Hello Hello wanted something from us, she couldn’t have wanted it that badly.

Over ten years later, her identity and the purpose of those calls remain an unsolved mini-mystery. I never got to talk to Ms. Hello Hello, nor, to my knowledge, did anyone else in the household. Did she want a favor from us, or was she only trying to annoy us—and why? If she wanted something from us, if she had a valid request for help with something, I would have tried to help her.

And would I recognize her voice if I heard it today? You betcha!

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