Friday, June 19, 2009

The Mathematics of Wrong Numbers

What is with getting calls for the wrong number?

I've dialed a wrong number once, maybe twice in my whole life. Most people would probably claim similarly low misdial rates.

I've received maybe 50 wrong number calls, minimum.

How does this add up? It must mean there is a small number of people making a large number of misdirected calls. Are there people out there who, instead of dialing a number, just mash the keypad and hope for the best? This is even more baffling in the age of cell phones, where you can just speak a friend's name and your robot phone will call them for you.

Perhaps there are some psychological factors going on. Misdialing is an embarrassing mistake, so surely my biased self-serving memory reconstructs more instances of other people making mistakes (receiving wrong numbers) than me making them (dialing them). However, I doubt that a subtle memory bias could skew the numbers by such a large order of magnitude.

Or am I just weird? Do most of you dial just as many wrong numbers as you receive? C'mon, you can admit it. Everyone (else) makes mistakes. Leave an anonymous comment and let me know. Maybe this could be the next psychology study in my series of completely unrelated research topics.

P.S. I tried Googling "wrong number" for a nice picture to go with this post, but all I got was like 500 pictures of these guys:

P.P.S. Deciding whether or not I should get an iPhone 3GS is killing me. Luckily they're sold out everywhere so I can postpone it until at least Monday.


Khrystena said...

Perhaps they aren't dialing wrong? Perhaps they just have the wrong number period.

Reasoning - there is a doctors office here in town and the number is 1 off of our number at work. I get at least 10 calls a day with people thinking they have the right number only to find out they don't.

Anonymous said...

I don't know phone numbers anymore. Any. At all. To call my friend Nick I type NI into the contact list and his number magically appears. I am beyond horse fucked if my phone's contact list gets erased. I have a new number now and I don't even know that one either. Technology has made me dumb.

Phronk said...

Khrystena: Good point. But whether it's because the number got written down wrong or entered wrong, it seems like a LOT of errors to be making.

Dan: I think technology just frees up our brains for more important things. Like daydreaming about porn.

Balkan Style Bloggers said...

I had never really given it much thought until now. I have received many more wrong number calls than wrong numbers I've called. I would like to think it is because I put more care into making phone calls by paying attention to the numbers I am dialling. I'm very sensitive to sounding like the dumb asses that call here looking for their grandpa or their best friend Jimmy.

Or maybe it's because I just don't make many phone calls.

Are you sure you weren't typing "hot asian boy bands" by mistake 50 times? Huzzah!


Jennifer said...

A while back, I had the old number for Dan's Caribbean Restaurant. We even moved, and people would follow that whole "we're sorry, the number you have dialed has been changed to.." and call me at my new place. Many disappointed hungry people.

I admit to completely blanking on my own phone number a few months ago. I had to look it up in the phone book.

Mark said...

I will admit to skewing the numbers. Blame my mild numeric dyslexia (disnumberia?)

Phronk said...

BSB: Oh man, you're right! I was totally typing "hot Asian boy bands". I always do that. What's it called when you Google the wrong thing? Wrong Google?

Jen: Hehe, at least it's somewhat understandable if you had the actual old number.

My own number is about the only one I know, but it hasn't changed since the days when numbers mattered.

Mark: I'm beginning to think that it really is explained by a small number of people constantly dialing the wrong number. You're the second disnumberia person I've heard of after posting this.

Anonymous said...

I recently had a home phone number that Burger King listed as belonging to them on their website.

Yvonne said...

I think I had a girl named "Krystle" (<--yeah, I deliberately spelled it that way) giving out my new cell number, because on Mondays and Tuesdays for the first few months of having my new number, I got calls from different men (and sometimes the same men several times) asking for her.

The calls usually went:
Guy: "Hey baby, awesome night!"
Me: "Who is this?"
Guy: "Uh...remember me? (Cliche male bar name)? I'm looking for Krystle...are you...?"
Me: " You have the wrong number..."
Guy: "Oh sorry."

And then repeat. Because everyone dials the first number twice, just to make sure it wasn't misdirected.

Sometimes it was a long drawn out "Heeeeey...", like that's sexy or something.

While annoying, these calls weren't as creepy as the mouth breather who got my number and asked what I was wearing underneath.

Yvonne said...

And haha to the boy band. It's even funnier when you can read the name. The first two characters = "Of the East". The last two characters roughly translate to "rising god(s)".

Make of that what you will.

Phronk said...

Jack: You should have sued them for free hamburgers.

Von: That is so weird, because I once had a number that must have belonged to someone named Crystal (or Krystle) too. Except it wasn't horny men calling... it was credit companies asking sternly to talk to her. People named Crystal are sketchy, apparently.

shine said...

My old home phone number was just an area code different than a local doctor's office. I got calls all the time (first thing in the morning) from people trying to make appointments. I finally just started taking them. "Yes, sir, the doctor will see you at 8 am!"