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Tacitly Yours

Caller ID makes dialing wrong numbers a little more embarrassing

Dialing a wrong number is a somewhat embarrassing move that used to be less embarrassing if no one picked up the phone and informed you that you had, in fact, called a complete stranger. You know the feeling, you dial the number, look at the keypad and then instantly realize that you were one number off. Then you quickly slam down the phone before someone can pick it up.

I can't tell you how many times I have done this. I always feel a little dumb.

But one thing that can make this once anonymous move worse is the invention of caller ID. Caller ID boxes, as just about everyone knows, bring up the phone number of the person who is attempting to call your house. This means that when you dial that wrong number, slam down the phone and feel as though you have escaped embarrassment, someone will call you on it...literally.

That stranger whose house you called now has the ability to call you back and ask why you attempted to reach them. I hate this, because most of the time when a person calls our office asking if someone called them, I can't say for sure if it was me. After all, I dialed a wrong number and who's to know which telephone I accidentally dialed.

Caller ID is an interesting invention and one that has a tendency to be abused. One form of abuse comes when people see phone numbers flash up on their little caller ID boxes, pick up the phone, hear your voice and then have your phone number forever. My cell phone number is one I rarely give out, but the other day I called someone from the car because I was lost and the next thing I know that person was calling my cell phone fairly regularly. I was a little miffed that someone would basically steal my phone number from their caller ID box.

I will admit that I have abused my caller ID service in the past, but only once that I can remember. I was going through the caller ID on my cell phone and I came across a missed call from a number that looked somewhat familiar. I called that number, and who answered the phone but my friend's husband. When he answered the phone I felt completely stupid because I didn't know what to say. It ended up that my friend had borrowed her husband's phone one day and had called me from it. My caller ID logged the number in and since her cell phone number looks an awful lot like her husband's...well, you get the picture.

Needless to say, that experience cured me from ever calling back strange numbers that flash across my caller ID screen. If I don't know you and you call my cell phone or my house, I won't call you back, unless you leave me a good old-fashioned message on my answering machine. It's just so much easier that way.

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