Tag Archives: calling international

Intimidating phone numbers

21 Feb

Few things scare an American more than a foreign phone number. I should know — I have one, and it still scares me. I’ve had it for months now and still haven’t memorized it. It’s quite awkward when I call to make a dinner reservation and have to say “Um, hold on…” when they ask for a phone number, then have to frantically look it up in my email.

To Americans, foreign numbers seem to go on for ages. My UK mobile number is 11 digits, only one more than my US cell number, but it might as well be 20. I guess when calling from the US you have to dial 011, the international access code, then 44, the country code, then 20 the London area code, making my 11-digit number 18 digits. But I also think it’s because American numbers are so neat — (555) 555-5555. It doesn’t seem like 10 numbers, it’s three numbers, which are the same for everyone in your city, then three numbers followed by four. That makes it easier to digest than 08456027281, which is the number for Argos direct. I just received a voicemail from them requesting a delivery date for the guest bed I ordered. I was impressed that the man pronounced my last name correctly in his Irish accent, but he rattled off the phone number like he was being charged by the nanosecond. I had to replay the message not once, not twice, but four times in order to take the number down. I noticed most people in Britain do this — they leave their number in a voicemail almost as an afterthought and rattle it off as if you should know it. They don’t pause anywhere, it’s just a string of 11 numbers said as quickly as humanly possible in an accent I’m still working to comprehend. If my voicemail did not have the option to repeat multiple times, I would never be able to call anyone back.