Jack Handy, an American writer and cast member of Saturday Night Live from 1991-2003 once said: “A good way to threaten somebody is to light a stick of dynamite. Then you call the guy and hold the burning fuse up to the phone. “Hear that?” You say. “That’s dynamite, baby.””
That might actually work if you could, in fact, get the phone call to actually go through. This brings me to the thread of this blog – Phone Calling 101 – a course that should be offered throughout Mexico for those of us who seem unable to consummate a phone call….of any kind.
David has several friends who meet each day in the town square at 10:00 a.m. for coffee and conversation. He asked, at one of these get-togethers, how does one dial any number and actually get the person to whom they wish to speak?
Without being too loquacious I will try to synopsize some of the answers he received.
If someone gives you a phone number, you dial it. Pretty upfront and one would think easy to follow. (My suggestion, don’t think…just dial.)
If, after dialing you don’t reach the party you intended to reach, or anyone at all for that matter, place a “33” prior to the number. By placing a “33” prior to the number you are calling a Guadalajara number. (Makes sense.)
If after prefacing your number with a “33’ you still don’t reach the party you intended to reach (now I feel like I’m doing a Lilly Tomlin “Ernestine the Telephone Operator” act), it is probably a cell phone number. You ask, quite reasonably, if it’s a cell number, why don’t they say so? This query usually simply gets a look like – well, if it isn’t one then it’s the other. (I can accept that.)
Okay so if it’s a cell number you place a “045” and then a “33” prior to the number. (Please folks, if I’ve got this all wrong, bear with me.)
By way of further information they also explained Mexico City and Guadalajara have 2 digit area codes followed by an 8 digit number. All the rest of Mexico has 3 digit area codes followed by a 7 digit number. Yes, for those of you who are counting, both equal 10 digits and, if you are like me, your head is spinning and the word “duh” is coming up frequently as both a noun and a verb.
To add to all of the above information we have two phones. You’ve got that right folks, a US phone and a Mexican phone. No, they do not translate (Spanish to English or visa versa). We’ve found it unnecessary for them to translate as we never get through on the Mexican phone anyway.
Another problem for us is we are used to phone numbers in the states (that’s reasonable given we both have lived there most of our lives)…a number such as 414.214.4444 tells us instantly the phone number is a Wisconsin number and, if we happen to be out of Wisconsin (we are way out of Wisconsin now!), we will need to dial a “1” prior to that number. When you are given a Mexican number it can look like, for example, 765 5249 y 50 or 763 2330. Looks pretty simple up front, doesn’t it? Don’t let that fool you. By the time you are through you will be puzzled, perplexed, mystified, baffled, bewildered, befuddled, your dialing digit will ache… well you get my drift.
The series of pictures accompanying this blog are of the various phones we have in our house. The phones are labeled both in the pictures below and at home (don’t go there it’s the only way we can remember which phone number goes with which phone). These are followed by several pictures of David in the act of using said phones (and I “use” that term lightly). The last picture is of the only “person” in our house who has been able to do anything with the Mexican phone besides grip it firmly and pray for some type of connection and a friendly voice on the other end! One good thing, neither of us will be threatening anyone soon as neither of us has received our certificate of graduation in Phone Calling “101”. Viva La Mexico!
Phones at Rest
US Phone, Diabolically Simple in Appearance
Mexican Phone - Glibly Facile in Appearance
David – Remaining Calm Under Pressure
David – Audacious in Spirit
Senior Parrot in Charge