Who Is This “Polish Tom?”
“One time I got a call and didn’t recognize the number, so I ignored it three or four times until I finally gave in. I picked up the phone and before I could say anything, a guy with a Brooklyn accent started talking in a panic.
He said, ‘YO THAT GUY WE SAW WAS ONE OF POLISH TOM’S BOYS! IF HE SHOWS UP DON’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT LAST NIGHT.’
So I said, ‘ Sorry this must be the wrong number,’ then he just started cursing and hung up. Ever since then, I have been curious what this ‘Polish Tom’ looks like.”
He Just Wanted A Friend
“This dude called from prison. After I told him he had the wrong number, he said he had nobody to talk to so he just dialed a random number.
I was young and naive, but the dude never asked for anything. We talked for a while and he told me how he got to be in jail. He was a straight-up street thug, but was trying to make good and get back to society intact. We never talked again, but I hope he made it out ok.”
“One day I noticed I missed a call from an unknown number and the area code was for a town out of state that my daughter happened to be attending an EDM music festival at. Of course, the mom in me panicked and called it back, but I got voicemail.
I left a message saying what my first name was and that I had a daughter currently in that town, and if the call was from or about her, I could be reached at ###, please call me back, etc.
About an hour later, I got a call back from a sweet older lady with a thick Southern accent telling me, ‘Sugar, I couldn’t let you worry sweetie, I dialed the wrong number, but I noticed right away and hung up. You must’ve seen it, and here I made you worry for nuttin. Your girl’s awright, my grandson is a paramedic an he says ain’t no one died up there yet, and only two boys got dehydrated so far and passed out. She’s havin’ fun I bet!’ We talked for half an hour! Shout out to you, Clara!”
There’s No Juan Here
“Usually, I’m the sort of guy who simply informs wrong-number-callers that I am not, in fact, the person they’re looking for. But back when I first got my own telephone line (at age sixteen), I noticed a sudden increase in the amount of misdialed calls that I was receiving.
The reason for this change was fairly obvious: my new phone number, by a stroke of interesting luck, was composed almost entirely of the number five. While this certainly made it memorable, it also made it far more likely for me to receive calls that had been intended for someone else.
I would wind up speaking with strangers about a dozen times a week and I developed a rather broad repertoire for informing them of their mistake.
‘Hello?’ I’d answer.
‘Hi,’ the other person might reply. ‘Is Warren there?’
‘Who is this?’ I’d politely ask.
‘This is Emily.’
‘I’m sorry, Emily,’ would be my somber response, ‘but your friend Warren is in another castle.’
Only a handful of people thought that it was funny.
Perhaps the most memorable occasion, though, was also the one that made me reevaluate my telephonic activities. I had been hanging out with my then-girlfriend, attempting to explain the finer points of the (terrible) song that I was writing, when the telltale sound of an incoming call drowned out my words. With a roll of my eyes, I reached over, picked up the receiver, and handed it to my girlfriend.
‘Um…’ she said, eyeing me. ‘Hello?’
‘Hey,’ answered the voice on the other end. ‘Where’s Juan?’ Judging by the tone and the manner of speech, the caller was only barely through puberty but was trying his damnedest to sound like an intimidating figure.
‘There’s no Juan here,’ my girlfriend replied. I had to suppress a giggle at how that sounded.
‘Bullcrap!’ the young man said. ‘I know he’s over there.’
‘I promise, there’s nobody named Juan here.’
An affected growl accompanied the next line. ‘You tell that jerk he owes me.’
By that point, I’d grown tired of listening to the exchange, and decided that I wanted to be more involved in it. I shrugged at my girlfriend, took back the telephone, and did my best to imitate the same high-but-gruff tone of voice being used by the individual on the other end of the line.
‘I don’t owe you anything!’ I barked. ‘Don’t call here again!’
‘I knew it!’ came the reply. ‘I’m going to kill you!’ Despite the apparent anger, there was also a hint of laughter in the threat. Once again, I decided to respond in kind.
‘You couldn’t kill a plant, you noodle-armed beanbag! I’ll fight you right now!’
‘I’ll kill you!’
‘You and what weedkiller?’
‘I’m just kidding, man,’ I said, suddenly dropping into my real voice. ‘There’s no Juan here.’ It should have been enough to end the call… but unfortunately, it seemed as though the conversation had progressed past the point of no return.
‘Nuh-uh!’ the young man spat. ‘No, I’m going to kill you! I’m coming over right effing now, do you hear me? I’ll kill you!’
With that, the line went dead, and I found myself wondering if I’d just condemned an innocent man named Juan to death at the hands of a wannabe tough-guy whose voice kept cracking. I suppose there are worse ways to go… but it was enough to make me think twice about how I answered wrong numbers.”
Cousin Al Has A Story To Tell
“I once got this call at my work:
Me: ‘(Name of company), this is John, how can I help you?’
Man sounds like he’s in pain: ‘JIMMY! This is your cousin Al!’
Me: ‘I’m sorry sir, this is John, and there is no Jimmy here.’
Cousin Al: ‘Jimmy! It’s your cousin Al.’
Me: ‘Sir, I’m sorry, there is no Jimmy here.’
Cousin Al: ‘Jimmy, it’s your cousin Al! I’m alive.’
Me: ‘…Sir, is everything okay?’
Cousin Al: ‘Who is this?’
Me: ‘Al, this is John, you called my business. But real quick, are you okay?’
Cousin Al: ‘Ohh! Sorry, I was hit by a truck.’
Me: ‘…Like in the last 10 minutes?’
Cousin Al: Hearty chuckle, ‘No, no, cousin, like two weeks ago. I was out with cousin Jimmy and I got hit by a truck walking home. When I came to, cousin Jimmy was gone and I had to call 911.’
Me: ‘Jesus Christ Al, I’m glad you’re okay.’
Cousin Al: ‘Ohh, cousin John, don’t take Jesus’ name like that. He kept me alive when that truck hit me.’
Me: ‘My apologies Al, I’m just glad you’re okay.’
Cousin Al: ‘Oh, it’s okay cousin John, I just wanted to call cousin Jimmy to let him know I’m okay.’
Me: ‘I’m sorry Al…’
Cousin Al: ‘What’s this Al business? We’re cousins.’
Me: ‘…I’m sorry cousin Al but cousin Jimmy sounds like a piece of crap.’
Cousin Al: ‘…Yeah, he kinda is. Welp, I have to get going, mighty good of you to talk with me.’
Me: ‘No problem cousin Al, I wish you a speedy recovery!’
Cousin Al: ‘Mighty kind of you, you take care.’
He hung up after that. He hasn’t called back, but I think about my new family member every day.”
He Said He Was God
“About three years ago, I was hanging out at my friend’s house playing some video games, and all of a sudden I got this random call. It wasn’t an unknown caller ID, so I could see that it was coming from our area.
The man started speaking and said my full name, my friend’s full name, and my other friend’s full name. None of us were related, just really good friends. I put the guy on speaker and said, ‘Who’s this?’
He said that he is God and knows everything. We all looked at each other and were like, ‘What is going on?!’ And then for giggles, we started asking him more questions about our moms’ names and grandmas’ names, and he literally started saying all of our moms’ and grandmas’ names.
At that point, we were literally freaking the heck out. I don’t know what was the point of his call, like he never stated what the reason was for him calling me, but he just kept spitting out facts and everything about us. What year were we born, where we live, etc.
We told my friend’s dad and he didn’t believe us, so we asked the guy on the phone to tell us info about my friend’s dad and he literally said everything about him. We could see in my friend’s dad’s face that he was spooked as well, and he told us right away to hang up. We hung up and the guy never called back.”
What Are The Odds?
“When I picked up, someone immediately went off in a worried rant about his dog who ran away, now gone for a week. When he continued with how he had looked EVERYWHERE, I stopped him to mention he had the wrong number.
But out of kindness, we talked a little bit, because I know losing a pet is horrible. I got to know the part of town where the dog went missing, many miles away, and he mentioned some details about his dog.
Well, I’ll be darned. When I went to the market later that day, I saw a dog begging that met the description. Now, in my mind, this was utterly impossible. Period. Nevertheless, I looked up the recent calls in my phone history and FaceTimed the guy… it was his dog.”
It Was The Best Conversation He’d Ever Had With His Mother
“A lady called me one day and said, ‘Hello, it’s your mother,’ the same way my mom always says it. So we chatted for 10 minutes, and for once she seems to be really listening to me.
She was acknowledging what I was saying and was very sympathetic and concerned in her short replies, so I started to spill my guts about how it’s been so hard for me lately and I was really just keeping it together for the kids but all I really wanted to do is run away or die trying.
The concern poured out of her. She told me I should go see a therapist she knows and how I have been stronger than this in the past. She was spot on about everything.
Then she said, ‘Have you told Teri?’
‘Teri who?’ I replied.
‘Your wife, Teri. My daughter!”
‘I’m not married to Teri, I’m talking about Tara.’
‘Is this Bob?’
‘No, this is Mike.’
‘Oh honey, I’m so sorry. I have the wrong number, but you hang in there and it will all work out. Goodbye,’ and she hung up. I would really like my mom to actually listen like that woman did that day.”
“I was repeatedly getting an international number and when I’d pick up, the only thing said was, ‘Hello…’ They wouldn’t hang up and faint static would follow. Also, the ‘hello’ was clearly a recording, it was super creepy.
Also, one time I had a wrong number call from the area code I live in, and when I told the guy that I wasn’t Greg, he didn’t seem to mind and asked me if I party. I said no, so he reiterated and asked if I got high. I think it was a dealer cold call.”
A Popular Girl
“I got a new phone with a new number when I switched carriers about five years ago. A year after using the new number, I started getting calls from an elderly woman asking to speak to Delaney.
I said she had the wrong number, and then she read the number she was hoping to reach back to me. Same number. This was an inconvenience for me because I’d had my phone number long enough to where people I knew had that number saved, and it’s a hassle trying to get everyone to save your new number, so I kept it hoping eventually I wouldn’t receive any more calls.
I was wrong. Apparently, Delaney was very popular, and I started getting text invitations to house parties. Her grandma called me almost every night looking for her, despite me insisting she had got a new number, and asking her to please delete my number from her phone.
The caller ID always said that the calls were coming from a town about 25 minutes away from where I live. I never found out if Delaney went missing or anything, and eventually, the calls stopped.
Fast forward to now. I ran into an old friend at a restaurant and we started shootin’ the breeze. I asked him what he’s getting into tonight, and he said, ‘Dunno, let me get your number and we can meet up for drinks.’
So I gave it to him, and wouldn’t you know, he’s already got the number saved in his phone as ‘DELANEY GIMME BRAINY.’ I literally scream-laughed in the middle of the restaurant and was asked to leave.”
Cryptic Calls Led To A Visit From The Feds
“Back in the day of answering machines and before cellular phones, I had a bizarre message on my machine. It was faint, but I heard a man’s voice saying something about a group message. This was followed by what sounded like several words and numbers. It was creepy and chilled me. I have always been fascinated by numbers stations so this one had me wondering. I’d never had a call like this.
I saved it and played it for a blind friend of mine who had way better ears than I do. He listened a few times and gave a word for word rendering. I had no idea what any of it meant, but it was creepy. I saved the message and would play it for a few people I knew.
About a week later, I got another one with different words and numbers, but it came through to me when I was there. I picked up and asked, ‘Who the heck is this?’ Click. They hung up.
I was thinking it’s a prank or a mess-up by some spy dude who called my number by accident. Either way, I had no way of knowing what that call was about. But I had like twenty more calls that evening with odd noises and voices.
I reported it to campus police and told them that I was getting odd calls and told them what was going on, and I had the police come and take a report and listen to the saved recording. The cops were at my apartment later, and during their visit, I received a call. Yep. More strange stuff. Numbers, words. Cop picked up my phone and demanded to know who it is. Click. They hung up on the cops. The cops took my info and that was it for the night. The next day, I had visitors.
It was a man and woman who identified themselves as Feds, accompanied by campus police. I was not panicked or freaked because I didn’t do anything, but I was asked a boatload of questions.
The feds listened intently to my recording. After they were done they told me — they didn’t ask, they told me — that ANY more odd calls and I was to call them on a personal number (precell days so I assumed it was a landline) and do my best to let my answering machine screen all calls
Strangely enough, I never had any more calls. I never heard another word from the feds, but I found out a few years ago that my phone (which was a campus phone) was monitored by our university after the incident (friend works there and did some digging).
To this day I have NO idea what the heck happened, and it still is freaky as heck. I really don’t care about them monitoring my phone or any of that because I’d rather they catch or stop who was doing it. But I can honestly say I have had feds visit me for receiving what clearly is a very interesting series of wrong numbers. Oh, and one time someone called me and said they were going to kill my kids because I shorted them on pills. I don’t have kids. I don’t deal. I’m not dead.”
The Very Large Jungle Beast
“I used to work at a major scientific journal as a coordinator, arranging for peer reviewers on academic papers. One day my office phone rang, and on the other end is a dude with a very thick South American accent.
Man: ‘Hello, is this the scientists?’
Me: ‘Uhh…this is [Name of Science Journal].’
Man: ‘Oh good. I have very large jungle beast. You must tell me what it is.’
Me: ‘I’m sorry, what?’
Man: ‘I find large beast in jungle. What is it?’
Me: ‘Well, first of all, that’s not at all what we do here; second of all even if it was, how would I be able to identify it over the phone?’
Man: ‘I don’t know–you are scientist, that is your job.’
Me: ‘Look, if you’re looking to identify an animal maybe call your local department of fish and wildlife?’
Man: ‘OK what is their number?’
Me: ‘I have no idea, I could try to look it up. Where are you located?’
Man: ‘OK bye,’ and then he hung up.”
“I had been working at [fried chicken chain headquartered in Georgia] when I was in high school. They were saddling me with 4 pm to 12 am shifts while I was still in school (side note, that job was a nightmare and I left after only three days), so I was exhausted and not thinking clearly at all during my shifts.
On my third night, we had a woman come in and ask for a water cup. I gave it to her and went back to hating the job. A few minutes later, she came back up to the counter and asked for another water cup.
It’s at this point that my brain turned back on and I actually noticed this woman. She was in her late twenties, had a very thick Vietnamese accent, was wearing very scant clothing and a lot of very crappy makeup, and her right arm was covered in small bruises that I knew were the result of improper needle punctures.
I took all this information, added in the fact that it’s about 10 and our restaurant wasn’t in the best location, and I came to the conclusion that this woman is some kind of floozy. I gave her the new water cup and watched her as she went to fill it up, taking a few sips while strutting across the restaurant, which was dead empty at that point, before setting the water cup down on the railing between two booths.
Then she came back up and asked for another water cup, this time with a receipt printed off so she could see the address. I gave her another cup along with a blank receipt, and watched as she did her sip-strut routine again, this time stopping by a booth that had an unfortunate customer in it to ask him something.
As morbidly entertaining as this was, I decided to take my food break. I got my food, sat down, and started eating while browsing my phone. This woman walked over to me, sat down in the chair across from me, and asked to borrow my phone to make a call.
My brain was fried and I just wanted to eat my food, so I let her. She made a call, I could tell it was ringing and she looked frustrated. It went to voicemail, so she dialed again. Again, voicemail. This time I saw her start dialing again, but she was typing a lot longer than the times before.
I realized that she was texting someone, but I was too confused to really say anything before she tossed my phone back onto the table, leaned back with a huff, and said, ‘If anyone replies, let me know.’
And then she didn’t get up. She was still just sitting across from me, so she’d know if it went off. I checked my messages to see what she sent, but she seemed to have deleted whatever it was. I rushed through my meal in uncomfortable silence, then got back to work. She did the water thing a few more times, and by the time I was cleaning up the front of house later that night, there were seven half-drinken water cups scattered around the restaurant.
After I finished my shift, I went to sleep, exhausted. I woke up the next morning to find that I had a string of text messages from an unknown number. I went back to my call log to see who the hussy was calling, and sure enough, same number. The messages are ingrained into my brain, and are as follows:
‘Angie, where you at, this place closed.’
‘Angie come out here.’
‘Angie, I’m at McDonalds.’
‘I’m gettin’ breakfast, you want something?’
‘I got you a mcmuffin, where you at?’
I felt kinda bad for this confused guy who’d lost track of his girl, so I did what any reasonable, naive, white highschooler would do: called him. So I did and the first thing he said was, ‘Angie, woman, where the eff you at?’
‘Oh uh, I’m sorry man, but I don’t know. I uh, this woman came into the [chain name] that I work at and asked to use my phone, I didn’t know that she had texted you.’
‘Oh yeah, huh? I get it.’
And then he hung up on me. I thought it was fairly clear that he didn’t believe me, so the next thing I did was call my boss and tell him he needed to change my hours because working right after school wouldn’t be possible. After a brief argument over him not wanting to give me different hours, I quit. No idea what happened to Angie or her guy.”
The Mysterious Phoebe
“I used to get calls for ‘Phoebe’ right after I got my new number. A lot of calls. I was always nice and let them know they had the wrong number. This went on for two years.
Near the end, I got a call from an unknown number. It was Phoebe! She said she wanted to apologize and thanked me for being kind. She also said she was pretty sure she gave everyone her new number, but if anyone calls, could I give it to them? I said sure, no problem.
I still occasionally got calls, so I politely informed them of the new number. One guy was surprised and started texting me about the whole situation. We became friends only over text, and still text occasionally to this day.”