Saturday, 2 July 2011

Who's phoning me at this time of night?

One of the not-so-good things about living on your own is that if something odd happens at night, you have nobody to consult,  nobody to stop you feeling scared. Having some company matters when you hear a strange noise, or there's a sudden problem.

In this case, it was a series of mysterious phone calls.

The first was on my mobile phone at around 1.15am. I wondered if this could be someone I knew in a late-night fix. Car run out of petrol, or something like that. But the phone display told me it was from a 'private number'. A name would come up if it were a friend. So I decided that it was simply a mis-dialled call, and just cut it off without answering.

Then shortly afterwards, at 1.30am, just when I was dropping off to sleep again, my landline rang. So it was somebody who knew both my mobile and landline numbers! There weren't too many people with that knowledge.  I answered the call this time. But all I got was silence for a few seconds. Then a sound as the person at the other end hung up. This was definitely strange. I tried not to feel concerned.

Just over one hour later, at 2.35am, the landline rang again. Now I was half annoyed, half worried. As before, the person on the other end said nothing for several seconds, then terminated the call. So far all I'd said in response had been 'Hello' - not 'Hi, it's Lucy' or anything like that. But anyone who knew my voice would know it was me.

I dialled '1471' and was told that 'the caller had not given a number'. Hmmm. That often indicated telephone sales. Which if true was something of a relief. I'd begun to wonder whether I was being harrassed by some ill-intentioned person. And yet, so far as I knew, I hadn't got any enemies. And if I was being harrassed, then it would be a first-time experience!

No, it seemed more likely that a recent online purchase had generated a follow-up sales enquiry from a 'retail partner'. That could explain how they had both my mobile and landline numbers. I further supposed that it must be someone calling me from another part of the world. It would be daytime where they were. If they were careless, they might not realise that in the UK it was the middle of the night.

Further points occurred to me. Perhaps it was a call set in motion by a machine that would instantly connect me with a human being if it detected a male voice answering the call. My higher-pitched female voice would trigger nothing. Hence the silence.

Perhaps they really wanted to speak with my father, or my former self? In other words, with 'the man of the house'? I still got exasperating landline calls from sales people asking for the old me, clearly puzzled when they heard a female voice responding. It was a departure from their script. They often then asked me, hesitatingly, if I was 'Mrs D---'. I always told them that I wasn't, that 'Mr D---' hadn't lived here for two years, and could they PLEASE remove him from their calling list? So maybe this was the scenario here: they (or a machine) kept trying, every hour or so, hoping to speak to 'Mr D---'. And if 'he' answered, or 'he' was brought to the phone, then they could begin their spiel.

So after the landline rang yet again, at 3.40am, with the same silence and hang-up at the other end, I disconnected the landline for the rest of the night, and got back to sleep.

Thankfully, my mobile didn't ring (I was loath to turn that off as well).

But in the morning I was still slightly uneasy, despite my middle-of-the-night reasoning. With every call, the line had been absolutely silent. No breathing; certainly no background noise like you get with call centres. That made it so creepy.

I was glad that I was taking a week's break. Maybe they'd give up after a week of no-answers!

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