Sunday 22 October 2006

Withheld numbers should beget withheld responses

Phone vibrates with no caller recognition

Out of the blue came this phone call to my mobile and as I wont to do, if the caller-ID shows up as Withheld or Unknown, my telephone manner is different; I would always try to identify the caller before I confirm who I am.

So, the conservation went along these lines.

Caller: Hello, Hello, Hello {In quick succession} – [Definitely, someone I have never spoken to, or maybe not in a long time].

Moi: Hello, who am I speaking to? Sometimes, I say – Hullo! Who is calling this number?

Caller: Can I speak to Akinola Akintayo?

[Now, that is really someone I have not spoken to in probably 10 years or more, in fact, that could be closer to 20 from my reckoning – amazing how much information one can glean from that]

Moi: Just a moment, and who are you?

Caller: I am [First introduces himself with a nickname he acquired long after I last met him], the brother of [uses brother’s fully qualified name – I recognize who it is and get a bit more familiar], we went to secondary school together, [yes, they were 2 years my junior], we come from the same home town [Now, you tell me, I must have forgotten that].

Moi: Ah! Yes, I do remember, how are you? We probably have not spoken for the best part of 20 years of more. I am Akin Akintayo, nice to chat to you again.

Caller: How are you? How is family?

[Do I say, I have no family, I am still part of my faraway birth family or I run a large family of one? I just say fine – But I suddenly realize, whilst in the West, a family can be one plus others, he might be expecting I am married to some super-fertile wife with whom we would be taking the population of the Netherlands to 17,000,000 which being at an estimated 16,336,346 would mean she would be have to be doing multiple births of probably 10 at a time.

He being part of a twin set would not find that strange, but I have had a few more calls that have gone along the same lines asking about my family.]

My Space and communication asteroids

It is the few more calls in days that are getting to me, I have to respond to Unknown numbers, I have been unable to extract a return number and I am of the good mind of just ignoring all Withheld and Unknown numbers as I normally do.

It transpired that my good sister felt I would like to chat to some old friend and parted with my number – we’ll have words.

Having been away from Nigeria for so many years I have to adjust to the temperament of people who have recently moved up here who could turn up at your door unannounced – I did that before 17 years ago – or call so many times in a week.

Suddenly, my communication spectrum is getting crowded out by signals from one transmitter – on a separate note, it is no wonder my home answering machine has 19 messages which probably have been gathering magnetic or electron dust for probably 2 months.

Time to wipe it clean – a bad habit - but how do you respond to a situation on your answering machine that is over 2 months old? Pray, it is nothing about winning the lottery – a bank error in my favour would show up on my bank statement, I can live with that.

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