Seven things I know about a complete stranger
Updated: Dec 1, 2020
I've always been fairly blase about how I use my mobile phone. I used to sign up to things here there and everywhere - reward schemes, notifications, information texts, the works.
Not anymore. Why? Because of Emmeline.
Who is Emmeline? I hear you ask. Is she someone you know well? An old friend, perhaps? Or someone you've met more recently?
The truth - Emmeline is neither of these things. Emmeline is a total stranger to me. But, after inheriting her old phone number six months ago, she is also someone that I know far too much about simply due to the calls and texts I receive.
Here are seven things I know about Emmeline:
One: Her name
This came first. When I gave my number to register for a CVS account, I was asked if I was Emmeline. I said no, and didn't think anything of it again. That is until someone called me one day.
"Emmeline?" they said. "Emmeline?"
I have since received multiple calls and text alerts with it included. I have been asked if I am her at more than one retail store when signing up for rewards. I'm now in no doubt of her name whatsoever. Including her middle name and surname, which were included in one message,
Two: Her child's name and where he goes to school
Neither pieces of information were linked in one message, but between school alerts and the reminder for a dentist appointment (including place and time) these two bits of information were simple to put together.
Three: The door code for her work
There was a group text conversation I ignored for a while because it seemed to only ever be about bad traffic and brunch. I assumed it was spam it was so random.
Until the door codes changed at work. Then, in the middle of the chatter about who was stuck on the freeway, I realized that not only was it a group of colleagues, but that I could now theoretically get into their workplace.
I said at that point that I was not Emmeline, and was swiftly removed from the group. But, still. What if I hadn't?
Awkward. Or dangerous. Depending on how you look at it.
Four: where she goes to church
Every Sunday I got a text, as well as every holiday. The church is easy to find - I Googled it in seconds. I also know the name of the pastor, the names of some of her church friends, and that one of their mother's sadly passed of COVID back in April. I know that Emmeline is regularly in others' 'thoughts and prayers.'
Five: that she is an inspirational speaker
Or, so she's told. 'Your speech was amazing!' a message once said. 'I am so inspired!' someone else wrote.
This is the part I'm most curious about. What does Emmeline speak about?
I can only assume it's not about some lady she's never met receiving messages on her behalf.
Six: which political party she supports
Or, if not now, who she supported in the not too distant past.
These messages were frequent in the lead up to the election: the lobbying, the reminders to vote and so on. All from people from the State where she is, which I know, because ...
Seven: both her postal and street address
... I know where she lives. This was sent in a text message asking her to check if her details need updating. Yes, I replied. Yes they really do need to update these details, I said.
I mean Emmeline no harm. In fact, for the purposes of this I've even called her something other than her real name. I have unsubscribed to as many things I have been able to, and replied to numerous messages saying 'I'm sorry this is a wrong number'.
I nonetheless feel like I know far too much about her. In addition to the above I also know where she grew up, what her husband does for work and what State they now live in. It wouldn't take much to try and figure out what those inspirational talks are about.
For this reason, have decided to be much more careful about how I use my own phone.
Either that, or keep my number for 80 years, so no-one is ever able to piece together my life like I have been able to with poor, unsuspecting Emmeline.