Early on at the Blackberry Valley Road trailer, circa 1992, I called the phone company and asked them for a new phone number. I wanted an easy number to remember and asked them if they could give me one. I don’t remember the cost, but there was one. I think they said it would cost $25 to pick a number. I couldn’t afford that so I asked them to give me what they could. They gave me 246-0100. That was cool; I was stoked!
They told me that I had be there when they hooked the phone up. I told them I couldn’t do that because I had to be at work and couldn’t get off. I was disappointed. I had no friends, no visitors, no cards, no calls and this was the day before email and Facebook. I was a lonely man who had no one to talk to and for all I knew the world didn’t know I existed. (Read: self-pity)
Fortunately they came up with an alternative plan when they found out I had an answering machine and phone that was unused. They said I could set the answering machine up and turn it on and all they had to do was hook the service up and call the phone I hooked up. This worked and I was glad. They told me the day they would come. Done, cool.
A few days later they came out and hooked me up and when I got home I checked the answering machine and was stunned. I had 18 calls on it. No way! “This was impossible” was my first thought. Bu then I thought, “The world knows I exist!” I began playing the messages back and came to find out the number they gave me was the old number for WSSL Radio Station. I got their old number! What a hoot.
People were calling me from all over the Upstate asking me all kinds of things. They would call early in the morning, during the day, at night and well into the morning. I was having a blast! Okay, I was bored out of my head. This was my new fun. I started answering the phone saying WSL and not WSSL because that was the radio station’s call letters and I didn’t want to get in trouble. There was a little bit of integrity, just a little.
The people would ask me for requests of songs I never heard of, e.g. “Another Tear in Your Beer.” They would call and ask for the weather report or sometimes just to talk. One time a lady called and asked if the Bristol race was going to be a go for the weekend because it looked like rain. I said it was on. She went. Come to find out it rained the race out that weekend. Oops. I also began a contest line for folks to compete for prizes. I’d ask dumb questions like “what color is your refrigerator.” That was hilarious I thought.
Eventually WSSL called me and asked to stop doing this because they were getting complaints. I told them I wasn’t affiliated with them and I could do what I wanted. Okay, I had a bad attitude. They threatened me, but I continued for awhile until it got real old. One “tipsy” lady called around 2AM and I talked to her for two hours and “led her to Christ” whatever that means. It was a bit surreal.
This was an unusual time for me. After awhile it got quite annoying, but for a season it filled in some very large sadness in my life.