The voice rang tinnily from the answering machine. "This call is for Melissa Hornswaggler. This is Miss Trust. Please call me back at extension 521 by 5pm today, at 555-2398. I believe you know what this is regarding."
I hoped this Melissa did, because I sure didn't. It was a Friday evening going on 6pm. And the message was on my answering machine.
I thought vaguely I should call Miss Trust on Monday morning, when the offices of her very unamused-sounding business might be open. So I could tell her she'd misdialed for Melissa. But what with Mighty Weekendness going on between Friday and Monday, I went into work with Monday on my mind, and it completely slipped from my mental To-Do list.
I was reminded next Friday evening...
"This is Miss Trust for Melissa Hornswaggler again. Because you didn't respond in the period of time we'd discussed regarding the matter we'd detailed, I have no choice but to go through with processing the vague thing I won't actually say on the phone. We can avoid this, however, if you call me at extension 521 by 5pm today." Miss Trust's voice was like an iceberg, and Melissa Hornswaggler had large un-seaworthy luxury liner written all over her.
I wondered vaguely whether there had been some type-o in Melissa's paperwork that made them call me instead of the Hornswaggler Estates, or whether Miss Hornswaggler had given the wrong number intentionally, trying to escape debts... Feds... or a particularly pushy Music of the Month Club.
I made a mental note to call Miss Trust bright-and-early Monday morning.
Unfortunately, the Post-It went completely unsticky in the home office of my brain and clung to some tumbleweeds and bits of fluff.
So Sunday afternoon, I was home to receive a call from a robot. "I. am. calling. for.... Melissa. Horn.swaggler. If you are. Melissa. Horn.swaggler. Press 1... NOW."
Hope sprang. I waited.
"If. Melissa. Horn.swaggler. Lives here. Press... 2. NOW."
I hung on the line. Option three... option three...
"If," continued Robojeeves, getting to the good part, "this is. NOT. the residence of... Melissa. Horn.swaggler.... Press... 3. NOW."
I pressed 3.
"You chose. 3. This is. NOT. the residence of. Melissa. Horn.swaggler. If this. is correct. press... 1... NOW."
I pressed 1.
"Thank you," said Robojeeves, and he hung up.
Putting the receiver back in the cradle, I grinned.
Yes! Finally the Great Hornswaggler Misfire has been ended and I had been redeemed for my horrible laxness. The Powers That Be now knew they had the wrong number. And they could spend their efforts tracking Miss Hornswaggler down to Chile, recovering their money plus shipping for Gordon Lightfoot's Greatest Hits or whatnot.
All was right with the world!
But 8:30pm Monday night, the call was not for me.
"Hi," said the kind, warm voice of a grandmother. "I'm calling for Melissa Hornswaggler." You could almost smell the baked cookies radiating through the phone.
"I'm sorry," I said pleasantly, "you have the wrong number."
"Is this..." she paused as if rummaging for information, "555-2901?" she asked.
"Yes, but there's no Melissa here." For an instant, I thought maybe Melissa had moved and simply given everyone and her grandmother the wrong number.
"Oh," said Grandma. "Well, she won something from a radio station, and I just wanted to contact her so we could get it to her." (pregnant pause)
Ah... Riiiiiight.... Suuuuure. A radio station calling at 8:30 at night promising prizes? Clearly, this was bait and someone was hoping that the striped hornswaggler would take a very big bite of it.
"Well, I'm sorry," I told the old fisherwoman sincerely. "There's no Melissa at this number. And I've lived here for years."
Now, I haven't heard anything in the last day or so, but I know that really doesn't mean this is over. I expect in under a week, there will be a ring at my door with a man in a uniform saying, "Candygram for Miss Hornswaggler!"
There'll be beefy guys waiting out front in the car, with a net.
It's piqued my curiosity about just what our friend Melissa's defaulted on. I've had to amend my idea about Gordon Lightfoot's Greatest Hits. I mean, these people are insistent. It has to be bigger than that. Much bigger.
It must be Justin Bieber or something.
I'll let you know if I learn anything from the Candygram guy.