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It’s unusual for the rain to fall for the entire day in Florida.
Normally, there is at least a spot of sunshine, like a glimmer of hope, that pokes through. Not today. The phone rings and it’s for Tony. I don’t know Tony, I’ve never met Tony, and I am pretty sure I will never meet Tony.
“Hey Tony!” says the voice.
“Wrong number,” I reply but the voice goes on.
“Hey, it’s good to hear your voice, I’ve been trying to get in touch for months.”
“I’m not Tony.”
“Sorry, put Tony on.”
“I don’t know Tony; you have a wrong number.”
“No, this is his number.”
“No, I got this number back in February with a new phone. It may have been his number, but it’s not his number now.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Take care,” I say.
“Yeah, you too. Hey, you don’t know anything about air-conditioning, do you?”
“Sorry,” he says.
I was given the number with the phone. The clerk told me it was a random number, but it seems it was only random for me. Tony gets calls from all over the eastern United Stated and the Caribbean.
Every other month, T-Mobile sends me a text notice complaining that I haven’t paid my bill. I check my back account and the records show that T-Mobile took the money.
I call T-Mobile to explain and they politely go over everything on the phone. I always end up with a manager and sometimes have weeks passed with this unresolved. Each time, the conversation goes to the same place, with me emailing documents to management. They respond, “Well, looking at these bank documents, it does look like you paid. We can’t find the payment though.”
I explain that what they do with the payment after it has left the bank and gone to them is not something I control—it is not my fault that they seem to lose the payment.
I tell the manager, each manager, “It’s like saying, ‘Give me a dollar,’ then taking a dollar from me, losing the dollar, and finally saying, ‘That dollar didn’t count because I don’t know where I put it. You need to give me a dollar again.’ It’s also known a theft.” They waive the fee and tell me to resend documents through their app.
I go to their website, login, upload the documents, and the screen flashes that the documents have been received. Most recently, I took a screenshot of this because my experience has been that I will get a text the following day telling me they haven’t been received. I save the screenshot.
The next day, I get a text telling me that the documents were not received. I send the screenshot to the manager I had spoken with and emailed the day before but get no response.
One of the earliest callers for Tony was his mother and later, friends from his church. Tony has lots of friends and family.
Another caller tells me Tony was an air conditioner repairman. “The best,” he says, “until he had something with his head, then he wasn’t doing so good.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” I don’t know what else to say, and I hang up.
I got this number because I am getting divorced, and my old number was on a shared account that was in my wife’s name. It didn’t matter before because we were married and there was all that “…until death do you part,” stuff.
Fortunately, in the modern world, we don’t need death, we just need attorneys. I need my own number.
I bought the phone with a discounted monthly rate. I updated my banks, creditors, employer, and various online subscriptions to make everything secure and clean.
Again, the phone rings.
“Tony!” a woman’s voice shouts joyfully, “I am going to murder you! You ghosted me and gave me a heart attack!”
“Sorry ma’am, I’m not Tony,” and I fight back the thought that given what another caller told me, I think Tony may be dead.
“Oh my…sorry,” she says.
Tony seems to be or have been, greatly loved, but no one seems to have his number or know where he is.
I ask the T-Mobile manager on the phone if they are crediting Tony with my payments. He says he can’t tell me who had the account before. “Tony clearly had the account before. I get calls from all over the world for Tony,” I say.
“I can’t say if it was a Tony but I can say the payments aren’t going to the former account owner. Good question though, sir,” he tells me.
I don’t know if it was the challenges of T-Mobile’s billing or whether Tony has died that caused the loss of his number. Maybe it’s old karma—something I did once upon a time, and now I have to learn the life lesson of patience. Perhaps I need to garner gratitude for the good things, like having friends in good health. Whatever the case, it seems that despite my best attempts, I’m not going to have my own number for a while.