Seven Numbers

If you got hauled into a police station and led to a payphone, how many people could you call? I think I must be quite a freak in this current phone-obsessed culture; I only know 7 phone numbers:

  1. My home number
  2. My work number
  3. My parents’ home number
  4. T’s parents’ home number
  5. My dad’s work number (which hasn’t changed in 20 years)
  6. My parents’ previous home number (from my high school days, now obsolete)
  7. danielbalc‘s parents’ home number
  8. Update: danielbalc’s work number!

That last one is kind of an oddity; dbalc’s dad was my pastor growing up, and our family used to hang out with theirs 4-5 nights a week back in the day (or so it seems to me now). I don’t know that I ever called the number that much, but I somehow can’t forget the visualization of the particular geometric pattern in which the numbers circle around the keypad. They have since moved house, but I seem to recall that they managed to keep the number. If not, I’m down to 6 (only 5 of which are active).

T’s parents’ number is also kind of an interesting case. It’s the same exchange as our home number, and the back 4 digits are peculiarly easy to remember. I call the number once in a while, but more often I use their number when I shop at Vons (Safeway). My Vons customer discount card doesn’t swipe anymore, and it is tied to the home number from the apartment T & I & #1 briefly lived in, which I can’t remember. So I always get my customer discount by entering my in-laws’ phone number. I sometimes wonder if nana or papa are ever puzzled by register-printed coupons which are based on “their” buying history (“How presumptuous of them to give me a coupon for diapers!”)

Now, you might pooh pooh my “accomplishment,” saying “nobody knows phone numbers anymore — we all have speed-dials and cell phones!” And yes, at work I rely on VOIP phones with call histories and searchable directories (so that I rarely even use the number buttons). But I have never owned a cell phone, and our landline at home has no programmed speed-dials (or maybe it does, I wouldn’t know!)

So step up, any and all challengers, if you know fewer phone numbers! But otherwise, call Guinness, because I think I deserve a record of some sort!


17 Responses

  1. So are you saying you don’t have a cell number or you just don’t know it?

    I’m right there with you in phone number ignorance.

    1. I know my cell which is also my home number (no land line).
    2. I know my wife’s cell (but this is a recent accomplishment and I usually have to double check when giving it to someone).
    3. I know my work number but not my extension. I have to look for it every single time I’m leaving a message for someone.
    4. I also use my parents home number for club card savings. Ironically I had never noticed the pattern of this number until you told me about it. I just thought it was a cool number.
    5. Chris Fitz’ home number.
    6. Ruberad’s old home number. And even though my brother is now living in that house I think the number has changed. Too bad.

    so that’s 6 with 5 active and only 3 that I actually ever call.

  2. Weird — you’re a math person without a memory for numbers, and here I’m the writer with a strange affinity for them. If I dial a number several times in the same hour (busy signal), I tend to remember it for a few weeks. Plus I don’t use speed dial and don’t carry a cell phone, which means I dial every number by hand. All told I have about forty or fifty phone numbers in my head, ranging from friends and family, places of worship, and current and former places of work. My biggest challenge, then, would be deciding who would receive my humiliating prison call.

  3. I’ll take that challenge…

    I can dial from memory:
    1. My home number
    2. My work number
    3. My cellphone
    4. My wife’s cellphone
    5. My wife’s parents’ home number

    However, this has less to do with lack of memorization than the fact that I have all the other numbers I might need stored in my cellphone’s Contacts list.

    I can recall the number at my wife’s parents’ because it hasn’t changed since we were first dating, which was back before I had a cellular phone. She didn’t live with her parents then, but she went to school close enough that she was often there.

    And the reason I don’t know my own parents’ number is that they’ve moved since the time I signed my first Verizon contract. When they got their current number, it promptly went into my Contacts list and I can’t recall ever manually dialing it (or even looking at the digits aside from that initial entry).

  4. So are you saying you don’t have a cell number or you just don’t know it?

    I have not yet submitted to the cell-phone revolution.

    6. Ruberad’s old home number.

    You and me both then — funny!

  5. I have not yet submitted to the cell-phone revolution.

    That’s unreal. Maybe you should try this…

    A cell phone with 3 buttons

  6. Ha! I must be some kind of “Rainman” because I can remember more than 20, and I’m just getting started.

    Here’s a sampling of just San Diego: Of course, Rube’s parents, Daniel’s parents, Steve Arriola, Living Way Church (both numbers), Bruce Clegg., Dave Rudgers, the numbers of 2 girls that I dated, Mark Blum’s number (because the last four digits spelled “xlax”, and the police (911).

    In Texas, I know my wife’s cell, my mom’s number, my sisters’ number, my sister-in-law’s number, my church number, my cousin’s number, my cousin’s (who has moved away) number, my associate pastor’s cell number, my phone number when I was a little kid, our oldest deacons’ number, Wingtop’s number, my in-law’s number in Mexico (and that’s a lot of digits), and I could go on….

  7. I know

    1) my cell # (but sometime i have to stop and think hard about it)
    2) my old cell # from NC (though this one is fading FAST)
    3) my old NC landline (though this one is also fading – probably even faster)
    4) my parents’ landline (I grew up with it, but it will only last until the spring! that will be weird)
    5) my dad’s work

    um, I think that might be it. Only the last 2 without hesitation.

  8. OK, I judge that dbalc has me slightly beat, auggie is disqualified for admitted cell-memory-reliance. LN is also suspected of cell-memory-reliance, but if vindicated, she would jump into 1st place! (As cell phones take over, this whole metric becomes (!) irrelevant — eventually a person shouldn’t need to commit any more than their own cell and/or work numbers to memory, and people will never have to dial from memory ever again!)

    That’s unreal. Maybe you should try this…A cell phone with 3 buttons

    I’ve seen ads for the Jitterbug (not the 3-button one, but the regular one) in magazines, and I have thought that, when I eventually do break down and get a cell phone, it will be a super-simple one like that.

    For me, though, there isn’t much point getting a cell phone. At work, I am not allowed to bring a cell phone into the building. At home I have a land line. Anywhere else I’m 99% of the time within shouting distance of the love of my life. Plus I generally just don’t like phones. Or talking. Thus my addiction to communication via blogging and email.

    Do they make Crackberrys that aren’t phones or cameras? Because I would love to have mobile internets (gmail, google maps, biblegateway, etc), GPS, MP3, etc.

  9. I too should be DQ’d for cell phone reliance. I didn’t know that was a qualification. I was the first in my family to get a cell phone and since that time I’ve had absolutley no need to memorize phone numbers. Which is also why I barely know my esposa’s cell number. All I need to know is my speed numbers which are
    1- voicemail
    2- wife cell
    5- mom cell
    6- dad cell
    8- paul cell
    9- lance cell

    the other 2 numbers that I call more than twice a month (church and parents home) are done via memory.
    Every other call from work is done via a green piece of paper stapled to the wall.

    As for your desire to avid verbal communication I can totally relate. In fact I estimate that 90% of my cell usage is actually done via TXT message, and that includes talking to my wife!

    So don’t go simple when you go mobile. Go iphone and never be apart from your blog. It needs you.

  10. I too should be DQ’d for cell phone reliance. I didn’t know that was a qualification.

    OK, so I’m still amazing then! That was kind of the point, although if you want to make your own category, it would be like I’m in the Olympics, and you’re competing in the Roids Games.

  11. I don’t own a cell phone. Don’t plan to.

    This is truly an odd post/discussion. We have two guys here who know each other’s parent’s phone numbers (one of which is obsolete) and yet they can’t see eye to eye on the sacrament of baptism! I’m sure it’s a communication thing.

    In my case, the oddity is that I somehow have retained the LWC church phone number in my head. Go figure.

    Other than that, I’ve got my own number, my work number, the work numbers of two sons, although they probably only should get half credit cause I never dial the whole number, just the last 5 digits. If they didn’t work with me here, I more than likely would so rarely call them at work that I would have to look them up. I also know my wife’s cell number and my daughter’s number, but that one I only know cause the exchange is the same as my old Poway number’s exchange, thus making it easy to remember.

    I am good at memorizing Hebrew verb paradigms, though. So, I probably could get the phone number thing down if I had to.

    If y’all are honest, you’d probably be able to add to your lists. For example, I just now forced myself to dredge up the phone number for Point Loma Credit Union’s Visa department. Sometimes I wish I would remember more. I currently have to look up Westminster Seminary’s phone number every time I use it, which is about once per month.

    Oh yeah, one more just came to me – son in law’s cell phone, which I called prolly 3 times per day back when we were trying to sell a house together.

  12. If y’all are honest, you’d probably be able to add to your lists.

    I’m open to suggestions. One of the LWC numbers I know ends with 1441 (hard to forget), and now that I think about it, I think it starts with 486 (checking) — dangit! There’s another one! And I don’t know my own church’s number. Another odd coincidence: my current pastor’s home landline bears a striking similarity to my old pastor’s (dbalc’s dad’s) home landline. But I can’t remember exactly what that similarity is, so I’m not taking a hit for knowing my pastor’s number.

  13. 5. Chris Fitz’ home number.

    Hey, tell Fitz to email me — he needs to come play Ultimate with my gang so we can get back in touch!

  14. I haven’t talked to Chris in a while. he doesn’t live there any more (at least not that I know of) but I still know the number because I used to call it often.

    You are indeed right about the church number.

    I am trying to be as honest as possible and the only one that jumps out at me is 18009011102 I think that’s corky’s pest control.

    Bruce if to do get arrested and call the church office I’ll make sure to help bail you out.

    As for the steroids allegation I don’t think that I would be any better with phone numbers even if I didn’t have a cell, mostly because if I didn’t have a cell I wouldn’t talk to anybody. I’m just not much of a phone guy.

    I’m all natural in my ignorance.

  15. Okay, sign of the times: how many passwords do you know? PINs count.

    Any single day, between work and home, I probably use somewhere between 10 and 15. But I’ve got records of dozens of accounts, well over 50. That’s mainly due to my job, which requires me to juggle subscription research databases, order materials from various vendors, and maintain a handful of web presences.

  16. That’s a good point. There was a time, I used to juggle seven! email addresses (each of course with their separate account). Fortunately, my Google account is now single-sign-on for email, documents, calendar, but I still separately have Flickr (and obsolete Yahoo! email), Amazon, PayPal. For inconsequential online “accounts” that require an email address, I try to use

    And at work, I need to log into the MS Windows network for Outlook and file access. But in addition to doing my job, I need to log on to the HR/Payroll system, the training system, the benefits management system, the travel reimbursement system. And just off the top of my head I can think of 8 other networks (mostly unix) on which I have separate accounts.

    And most important of all, of course, is my WordPress account, which only counts as one, although it gets me into maybe a dozen blogs for which I have editorial/admin privs. (Plus OBE accounts at blogspot and Xanga).

  17. Not owning a cell phone is an amazing accomplishment that just blows my mind and there are 3 people on this blog that can lay claim to this feat.

    Impressive. No idea how it is possible but impressive nonetheless.

    ….And I definitely know more than 7 phone numbers even if all of them are stored in my phone and I never dial the actual number.

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