A Letter to the Person Who Was Randomly Assigned My Old Phone Number

It’s been one year and nine months since I changed my phone number. And I know you still get messages and phone calls from people expecting to find me at the other end. I know this, because you’ve asked them–if they find me–to tell me that there are a lot of people looking for me at that number, which now belongs to you.

It just happened last week. I was at a conference and someone with your number, which used to be my number, texted you to let you know that I should meet them on the 22nd floor instead of the hotel lobby.  You probably didn’t respond. You probably already knew it was for me.

The whole situation here, it’s awful, really. How could you have known that when you got your new phone number it would be the old number of a horrible person who didn’t take the time to tell her family and friends that she’d changed it?

I know how to contact you. I could call you and then you’d have my number. Do you hate me? I imagine that if you did and I called you, you’d start posting my number in Reddit threads so that thousands of people called me and I’d be forced to change my new number. That’s why I haven’t called.

You don’t know how to contact me. You do know my name though. I don’t know yours. I don’t know anything about you, but I think you are a boy. I think you are probably young too. I think this might be your first phone and therefore first phone number. I think you probably live in the same community I lived in for a short while, but I can’t be sure. There aren’t a whole lot of people where I lived, so the area code extends pretty far. If you did some digging, I bet you could find me.

How often do people call you looking for me? How many text messages do you get for me? Do you often respond? Do you respond less now? I think I’m pretty easy to find, if people want to get in touch. But I wonder if anyone hasn’t been able to find me. I should start a “missed connections” site for people who changed their phone numbers.

Do you wonder why I did it? You probably have theories. They’re probably all better reasons than the real reason I did it. You probably think I had a stalker I had to get away from. I didn’t.

I Googled “why people change their phone numbers,” and the first link was a Facebook page. “I hate people who always change their cell phone’s number.” That’s the title of the page. The page has 173 likes. You’re probably one of them.

The second link was from trusty old Yahoo Answers. Reputable source. I took their mice advice last year, see post here. Yahoo’s users say people change their numbers because “people are calling them and being really annoying.” If that’s the case, I expect you would have changed your number by now. But you haven’t.

To be honest, I liked my old number. It was a sound number. When I got my new phone number, it was randomly assigned and I hated it. I promptly changed it to a number that rolled off the tongue like my old one did. I hope you like the number as much as I did. Maybe that’s why you’ve kept it.

And maybe someday, you’ll change numbers too. Maybe someday, you’ll understand why I did it. But I’ll do my best to explain it, because you probably don’t understand now.

Your phone number is kind of like your identity. Despite how much people are interacting online these days, your phone number is still the thing you give out when you meet someone and they want to reach you personally. And sure, once they save your number in their phone, they forget the digits and only see your name. But I desperately wanted the first identifying information I handed out to be a phone number that represented the new me.

I had changed. I graduated college and no longer called the place where we both are from home. I didn’t like that my number signaled that that was still home. Maybe it’s my generation (our generation?) but I don’t really call anywhere home. I think I will live all over the world, a few years in each place maybe, and it seems odd that my phone number is attached to a place when I’m not. I wonder if our phone system will ever change. After all, it was created when the only thing people had was landlines in their homes. So assigning numbers by location made sense. It doesn’t so much now. I wonder if someday we’ll all just have random digits that are assigned to us at birth. It’ll be our generation’s form of the Social Security Number.

Until we get to that point, we’re left to coming to terms with the concept of home meaning a dot on a map. And though my new number more accurately represents my home now, it won’t always. Home just isn’t a place to me. But it is to the phone companies, and so to play by the system, I’m left to changing my phone number.

Maybe I’ll change. Maybe eventually I will call one place home. Or maybe I’ll change my number again. If I do, I’ll do a better job of telling people. It’s the least I can do for you, to promise that I won’t cause another situation like this.

I wish you all the best. I hope the phone number serves you well for as long as you decide to use it. It really is a great phone number.

Clara

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