Funny Foreign Phone Conventions

I have been stressing over a number of matters during the last week; so much so that Neil joked that for me, it’s not March, it’s FREAKuary.

Yesterday, an English friend called me about one FREAKuary concern that had gone from just bad to godawful, and which tangentially involved him. As he always does, he left a message for me which I couldn’t understand. He said, “Give me a shout at oh-double-one” blah blah blah. I couldn’t understand anything after the “one” because my mind had gotten stuck on “double.” I know “oh” stands for “zero” but “double?” The American mind cannot parse that number, and therefore it just shuts down. Did he mean his number started as 021 or did he mean 011? I replayed the message and once again, my brain shut down. Double is not a number, therefore all that came after it was meaningless.

Russians and Germans are almost as bad at telling me their phone numbers. They’ll cheerfully say something like “call me at 17-20-23.” Whereupon, I look at my phone dumbfounded because I don’t see a “17” button. But after a few minutes, I can figure out double-digit numbers, and everything is ok. But then, they’re giving me the numbers in Russian or German; when they speak English, they dumb them down to single digits, just like Americans.

Well, the Englishman did get a call back, because I had his number (taken off his business card which has no dubitable doubles in it), and got an earful of FREAKuary as a result. So maybe next time he leaves me a message, he’ll be even more oblique in giving out his phone number, ’cause I’m not so sure he really wanted to speak to me after that.

1 Comment

  1. Joel Meadows

    Are you serious? I didn’t realise that as that was obviously me who left you that number. You forgot to mention the whole Zed/ Zee thing too:)

    Reply

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