10/03/2012 01:48 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2012

A Frustrating Fact of Telephone Life

Who was on the phone?

I don't know. They hung up.

They didn't say anything?

No, they just hung up.

That's weird. Who do you think it was?

How should I know?

Don't we have caller I.D.?

Yes, but I didn't recognize the number.

Don't you think we should call them back?


To find out why they were calling us. What if it's something important?

If it was important they wouldn't have hung up.

What did you say to them?

I said, "Hello."

Did you say, "Who's calling?"

No, I never say that. Besides, they hung up before I could say anything else.

Who hangs up without saying anything? I would never do that. Don't you think that's weird?

Well, in the old days people used to dial wrong numbers and hang up all the time.

Yeah, but the old days were weird. Nobody ever knew who was calling until they picked up the phone. It was a ridiculous system. I think we should call that number back.

What if the reason they didn't say anything is because they don't want us to know who they are?

Why wouldn't they want us to know that?

Maybe they're doing something illegal.

Like what?

Well, anything. Maybe they were transacting a drug deal and called this number by accident.

That would be really weird.

And if we call them back, they'll see our phone number on their phone, and then they'd able to find out who we are.

I don't want drug dealers knowing who we are. Can't we block our number from showing up on their phone?

We decided not to get that feature on our land line, remember? So our friends would know it was us when we called them.

Isn't there an app we can use to override that feature? It seems like we should be able to block our own phone number once in awhile if we feel like it.

Maybe. Except if we did that, the person on the other end might wonder why we're blocking our number. It makes us look suspicious, like maybe we're drug dealers too.

I just don't get why someone would hang up without saying anything. Maybe they were having a heart attack and thought they were calling 911.

If they were having a heart attack then I would say we definitely don't want to call them back. That would just make the situation more confusing, don't you think?

There should be, like, a rule that you can't hang up without talking. Unless you're having a heart attack. If a person answers the phone you should be required to tell why you're calling, even if it's just a mistake.

That seems like it would be really hard to enforce.

But it might cause a few people to say hello instead of just hanging up, and they might find out the number they called by accident has people on the other end who are interesting and they'd become friends, and isn't that what all this communication technology is supposed to do--help people connect with each other and build a global community?

Yes, but there are a bazillion phones out in the world, and it's inevitable that mistakes will happen, so there's really no way you'll ever be able to keep track of every person who calls your number, and you just have to stop thinking about who it might have been and move on.

But that means we're doing the same thing a people did in the old days when somebody called and hung up without saying anything.

Right. Some things in life never change.

That's really, really weird.