Friday, October 10, 2008

Caller ID

The other day, I wanted to phone a business associate - call him Harry - who I had not spoken with for some time. A catch-up call really, part of 'business development'.

My first call to Harry's mobile went unanswered: my second call ninety minutes later went to voicemail. I then reasoned thus: 'If I keep calling and Harry is busy, then when he eventually looks at his phone he's going to see 6 or 7 unanswered calls all from the same number. Looks like I'm harassing him, or that something urgent's come up.' So when I next called, I prefixed my dialling with '141' which suppresses the calling ID. At least this way all he would see would be calls from an unknown source, not a sequence of calls all from the same person.

To my surprise he picked up the call almost immediately. "Hello, this is Harry. Who is it?" When he discovered it was me, Harry was absurdly apologetic. "I'm a bit busy now. But call me back at 6.30 p.m. on this number and I'll be waiting for your call."

He was as good as his word and we had a pleasant half-hour chat. Much as I like Harry, he's normally pretty busy and I don't expect quite so much attention. So what happened?

Harry's phone would have shown "Nigel Seel" when I called - I do believe my number is programmed into his phone. He had indeed noticed my calls, but had decided - being busy - not to take them. When I called him anonymously (using 141) he must have thought that I was onto his case, and had deliberately tried to circumvent his defences. And so his guilt, at having been found out.

Who would have thought that mobile phones would generate such a surrounding cloud of higher-order intentionality!


Just for the record, the FTSE dropped below 4,000 this morning after another 10% fall. This is undoubtedly based on anticipation of a major recession, which on a parochial basis makes telecoms network investment less likely. The job market for telecoms consultants looks set to worsen.