A symbol of the passing of the digits

The letter request:

So, I adored my old phone number. I’d loved and cherished it since 2000. My number’s finest quality was that I could remember it. Yet I was also attached to the journey associated with it. So, I was forced to give up my cherished phone number in an untimely manner – circa mid 2010  – by the combined incompetencies of Telstra and Virgin. Now the phone number formerly known as mine, has a new owner.  From slow-drip accounts: a “young person”, “a girl, or a preadolescent teenage boy I guess”. I know this because I failed to uniformly tell anyone much about my change in number. If you were in my orbit at the time, you figured it out. But in the last few months reports have started to trickle in, as people who haven’t called me in the last year and a half try to pin me down.


The letter:

Hi! Is that Amanda?

Jokes, jokes, I know you’re not Amanda. I’m Amanda.

But I’ve called 0414 xxx 051, right?

Jokes, jokes, this is a letter not a phone call. I’m not crazy. I thought I’d write, rather than call, because I know you’re up to here with people calling you and asking for Amanda, so please let me explain.

0414 xxx 051 used to be my phone number and now it’s yours. That’s the connection. I got a new number a year or two ago and was slow to spread the word – mostly because I was struggling to let go. See, the thing is, I was in love with my old number. Deeply and profoundly in love.

The affair started back in 2000. I’m well aware you may not have been born back then – I know nothing about you except that you own a mobile phone and, these days, mobile phone owners are getting younger and younger. For all I know you’re five years old and 0414 xxx 051 is the ten digit number that connects you with your lift from kindergarten or the number your parents pay the bill for while you watch Yo Gabba Gabba on your iPhone.

Back in the day, mobile phones were not for kids. In fact, owning a mobile phone was exclusively for self-important wankers (if you are only five years old, apologies for my language – hopefully your reading skills aren’t so advanced). For normal folk, the idea you were only contactable by phone during certain hours was perfectly acceptable. Sure there were answering machines – get this: actual machines that sat on your bench and spoke to the errant callers – but even that was different because, when you missed a call, you phoned back ‘at your leisure’. These were the days when people popped over for a cup of tea without calling and sent birthday cards in the post. And if you were going out to meet someone, you arranged the details with the specificity of an orienteering exercise, you didn’t just say, I’ll meet you in the city somewhere.

For young creative types like myself, getting a mobile phone was considered a sell-out so I was by no means an early-adopter. I was 24 when I realised that maybe this new fan-dangled craze was here to stay. I could see the benefit of owning a mobile phone but still, once I’d caved, I apologised for being so modern. When people asked for my number I’d say, This crazy thing? It’s only for emergencies.

Yet time flies and, before I knew it, 0414 xxx 051 and I had spent ten happy years together. My attitude changed significantly during those years. By the end of the decade, when someone asked for my number, I was pleased to be able to recite 0414 xxx 051 because those ten digits meant I’d stumbled across a new friend or a new job opportunity. Those ten digits meant if someone was thinking of me they could shoot me a text message to say, Hi. And if someone was in a crowded place and knew I was nearby they could call and say, Meet you by the tree to the left of the stage in ten minutes.

My relationship with 0414 xxx 051 was terminated in the most mundane way: I changed phone providers and wasn’t allowed to take it with me. At the time I was heartbroken but I’m pretty much over it now. I’ve filed it in the part of my brain where I keep old jobs, old houses, ex-loves and clothes that grew unfixable holes before I was sick of wearing them.

But in the past few months I’ve randomly run into people who’ve said, ‘You never told me you changed numbers so I’ve been calling someone who is not you.’

You don’t need me to tell you that that someone is you, kiddo. You’re the recipient of the calls for Amanda, you’re the one who’s had to roll out the ‘Sorry, you’ve got the wrong number’ spiel. I’m sorry about this, really I am. But what I’m not sorry about is that my ten digits have now become your ten digits (in a phone number way, not in a freaky double hand transplant way). I hope they bring you as many kind words, killer jokes and clear navigational instructions as they brought me. As a symbol of the passing of the digits, I metaphorically double high-five you.