25 Comments

  1. I’d say first woman assumes lady with phone is getting text messages and such from friends when in reality they are notifications from apps like games. But I could be wrong.

  2. Well my phone constantly receives calls that are NOT for me. I.e., robocalls. So the commentary is that she herself is not popular, it is just her device/phone number.

  3. Very often corporations are not interested in you, per se, they are interested in what you’ve looked for, where you’ve been, etc. They want your digital history. They want the phone, not you. The phone buzzing is the NSA, facebook, google, amazon, etc. all looking to collect your digital profile.

  4. @Mary McNeil: Is that a Hee Haw reference or an alt.country namecheck?

    Maybe her phone number is one of those “555” numbers they put in movies and TV shows. Maybe she’s the one who gets all the calls.

  5. You can tell if you are called by a movie character because they will end the conversation abruptly without saying goodbye. Nobody ever ends a phone conversation in the movies by saying goodbye.

  6. BR-549 was the phone number on Hee Haw for Junior Samples Auto Sales. There was a repeating cornball
    skit “commercial” where Junior described some car he had for sale and ended it stating this number while holding up a placard with this phone number on it…..I’m beginning to realize I watched way too much TV as a kid…

  7. Telephone companies can no longer afford to burn entire exchanges on individual special purposes. I remember reading that in at least some area codes, the “555-” exchange has been opened for commercial use. The number “555-1212” is still reserved as a non-functional “null” number, but companies could request other “555-” numbers if they want them.
    P.S. When I was a kid, the “844-” and “936-” exchanges were reserved for the “time” (TI4-1212) and “weather” (WE6-1212) services, so that any four digits could be dialed in place of the “1212”. I seriously doubt that this trick still works.

  8. P.P.S. @ Mark M. – The moderation algorithm in WordPress is unpredictable and uncontrollable. Bill always recovers all the “real” comments (as opposed to robot spam), but if he’s travelling it may take a little while.

  9. @ John Kowalkowski: BR-549 is also an alt.country band. I quite like them. They did take the name from the Hee Haw sketch. So, unclear which Mary was referencing.

    @ Kilby: (area code)+555-1212 gets you directory assistance for that area code. Or it did. Nobody uses directory assistance anymore.

  10. If you’ve forgotten the directory assistance number, what do you phone to find it out?

    According to Wikipedia, “Only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are now specifically reserved for fictional use” in the USA. I had cause to look this up when making up some numbers for use on fake personnel dossiers recently.

    On Topic for cartooning, the same wiki section reports that Gary Larson drew “a panel with graffiti of a 555 number by which prank calls could be made to Satan. In Australia, 555 was at the time a standard exchange, and the Australian owner of the number became the subject of harassment, launching an unsuccessful lawsuit against Larson and his syndicate for defamation.”

    The UK allows a range of 1000 numbers in 15 main areas/ cities, but for anywhere else in the country, like my area code, there’s nothing, and you have to use a general all-purpose fictional 01632 area code. That format – 0XXXX – is standard over the UK, and I suppose 01632 is slightly less noticeable when written or spoken than someone barking out 555.

  11. “If you’ve forgotten the directory assistance number, what do you phone to find it out?”

    I thought I’d read that Directory Assistance was discontinued some years ago, as well as time and weather, under the assumption that EVERYone in America has a cell phone by now.

  12. I don’t know where you read that, but AFAIK, directory assistance via either 411 or NPA-555-1212 works fine from both landlines and cellular phones.

  13. “I don’t know how DA could give out a cell phone number”

    The same way they can give out landline numbers. The difference is that you can give yourself an unlisted number, instead of having to pay the phone company to keep your name confidential. The phone company maintains the directory as a collateral service; it mostly consists of records from their own billing department, sorted and maintained for public consumption.

    The phone company gives you a small number of free directory lookups with your monthly service, and most people never go over and thus don’t see any charges for directory service. Sometimes, though, people (often children) overuse the service and get a nasty surprise come month-end. The cost of the service is high enough that services that do a lot of directory searches (like, say, skip-tracers) use alternatives to the phone company’s directory assistance.

  14. @ narmitaj – Zero as the prefix for “long distance” (actually just “city”) codes is the standard not just in UK, but throughout virtually all of Europe. The same goes for “00” as the prefix for international dialing, although that is rapidly being replaced by the “+” key and/or character.
    P.S. Schulz once drew a Sunday strip in which Charlie Brown revealed the number he was using to dial home, which at the time belonged to one of Schulz’s close friends (or creative associates). He later wrote that the first calls started rolling in before dawn, and it wasn’t until he got the paper and read the conics that he figured out why kids were calling him and wanting to speak with various Peanuts characters,

  15. P.P.S. Years ago (long before mobile phones had become widespread), one of my German colleagues resorted to blocking all long-distance calls from the house’s landline phone. A month or two later a phone bill arrived with a three- or four-digit sum on the bottom line. It turned out that the teenaged kid who was the target of the extreme measure had figured out that it was impossible to dial direct to any other town, but it was still possible to call directory assistance, get the number, and then press the corresponding key to be connected automatically, which drastically inflated the cost of the call. Ooops.

  16. From WikiPedia: Most telephone companies permit up to two listings per 411 call. All wireless carriers offer nationwide listings with 411, and some offer additional Enhanced Directory Assistance services. However, wireless numbers for residential customers are not available via 411.

    That’s what I meant – with all the different wireless companies, even tho people can keep their number if they change companies, how could one DA give out any private number.

  17. “That’s what I meant – with all the different wireless companies, even tho people can keep their number if they change companies, how could one DA give out any private number.”

    The same way it works with landline phone companies, many of which are also wireless companies.

    The phone directory business was a very profitable one. It’s far less profitable for wireless, though, because businesses are where the money is, and businesses have landlines.

  18. Thanks SingaporeBill! I discovered the band name use on a Wiki a little while later after I posted. I also found a story that claims the true origin of it was a short lived International Harvester farm grade pick up truck engine. The Broad Ringed 549. The reference was all that survived from a back story involving Porter Wagoner. Here’s the link: http://www.killcreek.com/mateys/br549ih.html

    On other phone number related rants…Why has it become so hard to get reverse number information. I remember when there were published reverse phone books. In the early days of the internet, there were a couple of reverse lookup sites that actually worked for free with a single fill in and click. Now it has become a money making scheme that rivals the phone hackers themselves. Does anyone know of a reverse lookup site that still works like the old days?

  19. Or she has a phone number where one digit looks like the local Dominio pizza’s number or one digit it is off by one number from a optician (and the digit on each looks alike) or one digit looks like a doctor’s office phone number (formerly belonging to a TV repair place) – and she got a LOT of wrong numbers even before robocalling came into existence – or even worse her number is all three as ours is. (During a major snowstorms husband will answer the Domino calls and take orders and then say “we are not delivering tonight, you have to pick up when he gets annoyed enough at the calls.)

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