My mobile was ringing again with that number that I dreaded.
“Hello, could I speak to Dana Appling?”
“You have the wrong number.”
“No, this is the number we have on file.”
“Well, it’s the wrong number as I don’t know who Dana Appling is and I’ve had this phone number for three years.”
“Oh. Thank you for your time.”
In various incarnations I would receive these calls for six months or so and I would tell them the same thing. Sometimes I even tried to find out what it was in regards to as due to their having my number on file, you’d think that I’d have a right to know. Apparently I didn’t and one day, these calls stopped.
One year later, I had upgraded my phone to some Nokia model and it was ringing with a number I didn’t recognize, but assumed was just someone I hadn’t added to my address book yet.
“Hello, is Dana Appling available?”
“No, she’s not. Could you tell me what this is in regards to?”
“I’m sorry sir, but I can’t.”
The caller hung up and was then followed by similar calls over the next month. If memory serves, this was some time in 2007 and I searched around for this Dana Appling, but found next to nothing about her. Then, towards the end of that year, I received what must have been the most bizarre automated call of my life.
“This is the District Attorney’s office of San Jose. Please call us immediately in regards to your pending trial.”
That freaked me out a bit. I wondered if I had some unpaid parking ticket from when visiting my mother’s family which was now just short of being a warrant out for my arrest. Hurriedly, I called back the number that the automated service had left.
“Assistant DA, [some name I can’t remember].”
“Hi, this is Miquel Hudin, you called my phone about a pending trial. Could you please tell me what this is about?”
“Let me look up your name… no, not seeing anything.”
“Bizarre… would this by any chance be for Dana Appling?”
“Do you know her?”
“No, not directly, but she obviously gave out my phone number for something as I’ve gotten called on and off for the last couple of years.”
“Ah, well, this is credit fraud case [or something to that effect], but I can’t get in to much detail about it as you’re not Dana Appling.”
I’m starting to think that on some level, I might be.
“Okay, thanks, but you’ll take my number off the case, right?”
“Yes, of course. Sorry for the trouble sir.”
And with that, I thought I was free of Dana Appling. Ah, but despite the flippant nature of information in our digital age, it wasn’t that easy as the mobile rang again with that unknown number when I was in New Orleans in September.
“Uh yes, could I speak to the executor of Dana Appling’s estate?”
“Is this the number for Dana Appling’s estate manager?”
“No man, this is my number. It has been for the last eight years. It’s never been Dana Appling’s number. Why are you calling now?”
“Well, she has recently pass away and we are trying to collect on a lien against her estate.”
“Oh. Well, I can’t help you as you obviously know more about her than me.”
With that I hung up. I got one more call in this regard which I told the same thing, but naturally, this time around, I found reference to Dana Appling here. It turns out she was a consumer advocate of all things, which I found sadly ironic given the fact that I’d been getting so many phone calls on her behalf for some credit or loan or something that had been defaulted upon (and as I later found out might have been identity theft.) Hell, she even received a note from the Governor of California and more of an announcement here expressing sadness for her death.
Needless to say, this has been a very weird telecommunication chapter in my life which I assume is now closed given that Dana died of cancer in August. On a certain level, I can’t help but think that someone did indeed steal her name, my number, and probably some other bits of information to open up a fake charge account that they then abused. I suppose that I will never know one way or the other for sure, but I never thought that a wrong number would turn in to a narrative spanning all my years living in San Francisco.