Late in 2016 I started getting calls for Mr. Sanchez.
My phone says the calls come from California, and the person calling often greets me in Spanish. The telemarketers usually speak about home improvements and local contractors or ask if I am the homeowner.
Although my phone number has a California area code, and I have worked in the state, I’ve never had a permanent address there. I’ve never been a homeowner in California either, and my ability to speak Spanish is infantile at best. The telemarketing calls are obviously not intended for me.
I’ve had the same phone number since the summer of 2012. I doubt Mr. Sanchez had the number before me and telemarketers are finally getting around to calling him 5+ years later. I think Mr. Sanchez gave my number to some business somewhere and it ended up being sold to other companies. My phone number is now on a list, but I’ll never know if Mr. Sanchez gave the wrong number—which turned out to be mine—accidentally or on purpose.
When I answer the phone and I’m greeted in Spanish, I say, I’m sorry, I don’t speak Spanish.
When I’m asked for Mr. Sanchez, I say, I’m sorry, there’s no one here by that name. You must have the wrong number.
Sometimes when the caller realizes from my hello that I’m a woman, I’m assumed to be Mrs. Sanchez. When that happens, I give them my wrong number response.
None of these responses seem to deter the telemarketers. They jump right in telling me about local contractors or asking if I’m the homeowner. They don’t care about Mr. or Mrs. Sanchez; they only care about meeting their quotas.
One day the telemarketer who’d called asked me if I was the homeowner.
No, I said. I don’t own a home. I live in a van.
The telemarketer was not expecting this answer and became embarrassed and flustered. Oh, I’m sorry, he muttered before ending the call.
Bingo! I thought. Now I know how to get rid of them.
The next time I got a telemarketing call, I was ready.
No Mr. Sanchez here. Wrong number. Nope, not the homeowner. I live in a van.
The response I got was not what I expected. My confession about my living arrangement was not met with pity. The man on the other end of the line did not become flustered and end the call. Instead, he proclaimed, You are so luck-eeeeeee!
I agreed that I am lucky and the telemarketer asked, Where are you right now?
I told him I was in New Mexico, and he said geography was kind of his thing, Do you mind telling me where in New Mexico you are? he asked.
I told him I was in Truth or Consequences, which was almost true, as it was the closest town to the BLM land where my van and I were sitting at the moment.
That’s near El Paso, right? the telemarketer asked me.
While I was glad he appreciated my van-dwelling ways, I needed to drive and didn’t want to speak to this stranger any longer.
That’s right, I said. It’s not far from El Paso.
I hear it’s dangerous in El Paso, he said.
Well, I’m not going there, I told him.
Before I could say good-bye, he wanted to know, What’s the weather like down there?
The conversation was getting ridiculous. I thought saying I lived in my van would end the call, but instead it opened up a can of 50 Questions.
I gave him a quick weather report, rapidly followed by I gotta go!
Once I hung up, I told The Man (who’d been sitting next to me the whole time and heard my side of the exchange), I thought I’d never get off the phone with that guy.
At least the geography guy was nice. I got another telemarketing call a few weeks later and it was all kinds of wrong.
My phone started ringing and showed an 888 area code, so I knew it was a telemarketing call. I answered so I could ask the caller to remove me from the company’s list. I could hear a lot of noise in the background, maybe a television, maybe kids playing, maybe both. As usual, the telemarketer didn’t even want to talk to me; he wanted to talk to Mrs. Sanchez. I told him there was no one by that name at my number and asked the guy to please take my number off his list. He answered, You’re full of shit! I’m not taking you off nothing!
I said, Excuse me? but he had already hung up. For his sake, I hope the call was not being recorded for quality assurance.
I googled the number and it seems to be some kind of scam telemarketing operation. Someone wrote of the operation, They are using Magic Jack on VoIP which allows them to spoof and robodial. I don’t know what that means, but I blocked the number as soon as the call was over.
Image courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-rotary-phone-207456/.