Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mistaken Identity

It all began last Friday. The phone calls. First just a couple.

Me: Hello?

Caller: Hello, I'm calling from XYZ School in the Veneto region. Am I speaking to Maria Rossi? (Let's just use this alias to protect the innocent.)

Me: No, I'm sorry, you must have the wrong number.

Caller: Well, let me just check. Is this 1234567891?

Me: Yes, it is, but I'm not Maria.

Caller: Well, this is the number we have in our data. Could you tell Maria we called?

Me: I don't know Maria. There must be some mistake.

Caller: Maria has won a post as a substitute teacher at our school and we absolutely must inform her. (pregnant pause... like they expect ME to do something about it)

Me: Look, I'm sorry, but I'm not Maria, my name is Saretta. I don't know Maria. I don't live in the Veneto region. I live in the province of Bari and I am not looking for a job!

Caller: Oh well then, goodbye...

Take this conversation and multiply it over the next 3 days by...oh, I don't know...about 30 I would say. Just about enough to drive me mad.

There were various "types" of callers in the bunch. I divide them into 3 basic groups: 1) those who thought the mix-up was a good laugh and were good-natured about the whole thing; 2) those who were surprised and concerned and begged my forgiveness for having bothered me unnecessarily; and 3) those who wanted Maria Rossi from me, come hell or high water!

These, as you can imagine, were the worst. I found myself trapped in impossible conversations with school officials with bull-dog like tenacity. I learned all kinds of interesting facts about Maria that certainly should never have been given out to a complete stranger on the telephone.

Caller: Are you sure? Were you, by chance, born in Naples in 1967 and are now currently a resident in (town's name)?

I had to just bite my tongue not to respond, "Oh, yeah, now that you remind me, that is me! I am Maria! How could I have forgotten?"

After call number 35 or 36 I had to take things into my own hands. Not only was I being driven crazy by a constantly ringing cell-phone, but poor Maria was losing out on a whole lot of possible job opportunities. With unemployment being what it is in this country, and the fate of the vast army of substitute teachers being as precarious as it is...I started to feel responsible for this person.

So, I decided to find her, and find her I did! Where? On Facebook, of course! (See what a social network expert I am becoming!) Turns out that while my cell-phone number is something like 1234567891, hers is 1234567892 and somewhere along the line a mistake was made in writing that number down.

Maria was quite thrilled to hear from me, and to hear that she had been called by so many schools. Luckily for her, she is already working somewhere until June. In an email exchange she asked me, "will they call me in September?"

That may have been the last straw...


Rosa said...

That was kind of you!
See, Facebook has it uses...I found my daughter a last minute house for her Uni studies through Facebook - The accomodation office suggested looking there!

Saretta said...

I hope another person would do the same for me!

Fabrizio Zanelli said...

Some of their questions are absolutely weird. Once after 5 mins where I was desperately try to convince her she dialed the wrong number: "But are you sure I am not talking with plumber?" / "Listen, you're talking with his majesty the prince of Torino and I am quite annoyed" ...Silence... Then: "ok, ok, ok, I am sorry *perhaps* the number I have is wrong" -- You see: "Perhaps" -- In any case just saying something absolutely and clearly false convinced her in some way.

The question is: considered that ignorant people are everywhere -even if sometime I feel that this country must have winned a sort of ignorance's nobel award-, do these kind of... incidents happen in USA too?

Maria Verivaki said...

greeks are just as hopeless when it comes to telephone manners - and, no, they wouldnt be as nice as you were