ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷

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OCD & War-Dialing San Francisco

There are, as a few close friends already know, two stories that emerged from my evening working as an extra on the Jennifer Aniston movie earlier this month. One of the stories is ongoing and whether it will come to a good or bad ending is yet to be determined ... but the other is worth noting just for entertainment value.


Those who know me are doubtless familiar with my alarming propensity to lose valuables; on the night of filming, I ended up misplacing my billfold somewhere in San Francisco's Chinatown, and spent Sunday morning calling up all my credit-card companies cancelling my cards and fuming about my spotty memory. Until my replacement cards come in, I was cut off from my money and was going to have to survive on what cash I have in my pockets in the meantime.

Weds morning, 11:30, my phone rings:

"Mr. Chang?"


"Hi this is Goofus McBumblefark from Citibank ... somebody in San Francisco called us to say he found your wallet. Would you like his number?"

"Oh man, thank you. YES!"

"It's 415-202-XXYZ."

After repeating the number back at him, I wrote it down. Being in the middle of work, I had to finish editing the proposal I was drafting before calling the Samaritan who found my wallet, but I was in good spirits ("Hurrah, somebody found my wallet!"). After thirty minutes elapse, I dial:



"Hi, Citibank called to say you found my wallet?"

"Uhhh ... you got the wrong number dude."



I look at the number I wrote down again. Now, I distinctly remember double-checking the telephone number with Goofus McBumblefark from Citibank before hanging up, so I was puzzled at how I ended up with a misdialed call. No matter, I called up Citibank to clarify and, after a maze of automated message prompts, I finally get a live operator and explain my situation:

"So I got a call this morning from someone in Citibank saying that a person found my wallet and dialed the 1-800 number on my credit card to report it ... I was given this individual's telephone number earlier, but I think there was a mistake, because I got a wrong number."

"Well let me look that up for you sir, would you mind holding?"

"That's fine,"

long pause

"Sir? uhm ... we don't have records of anyone calling you regarding a found wallet."


Immediately, I suspect I was the target of a social-engineering attack ... but upon consideration, realized that didn't make any sense - during the phone call, Goofus made no effort to pump me for information - no request for a social security number or other commonly-asked pieces of identifying details. Furthermore, there is no way somebody could have gotten my phone number from the contents of my billfold (my business cards only have my office extension). Talking with this Citibank operator, I learn that every conversation regarding a card member's account normally results in the operator making a note on the account - and best we could figure out, Goofus McBumblefark who took the call from the Samaritan screwed up and failed to properly annotate my account AND read to me the wrong number. Given that Goofus was just one of six thousand operators in Citibank's giant call center, it would be impossible to locate him, so unless Mr. Wallet-Finder calls up Citibank AGAIN, I was SOL. *Headslap*

At this point, an ordinary person would throw his hands up in frustration, chalk up the incident to the general unpleasantness of life, and move on. But, as those who know me can testify, for better or worse (often worse) I am no ordinary person. One of more troublesome consequences of my raging egoism is my inability to accept losses - I've been known to pour insane levels of effort and resources to fight for pyrrhic victories. (An aside: knowing this about myself, this is exactly why I do not gamble. Determination and fortitude in the face of setback are good things in many circumstances, but in a casino those same traits have been the ruin of smarter men who burn through credit lines and ATM cards chasing down losses like an abandoned puppy).


So I stare at the bum telephone number that Bumblefark misread to me and turned it over in my mind for a few minutes, trying to figure out how to connect with the guy who found my wallet. Ok, let's assume that the area code and first three digits were read correctly. I did a reverse-trace and found that the block of 10,000 numbers prefixed with 202 in the 415 area code were owned by AT&T Wireless. Ok, that tells me a bit of information. Let's further assume that the number Bumblefark read to me was off by just a little bit.

I tore off a fresh notepad and wrote the original, incorrect number on the top:


and began to make a list.


and so on, shuffing digits one or two away from the misread number in hopes of hitting the correct combination.

Pick up the phone and dial the first on the list:


"Hi, Citibank called and told me you found my wallet?"

"Uhhhh ... no."

"Oh, sorry."


Cross that off the list.

Dial again.

"Hi, Citibank called and told me you found my wallet?"


"Oh, sorry."


In between every failed call, I am cursing a blue streak at Goofus McBumblefark and the entire crew of gibbering chimps who work Citibank's call center for fumbling the number of my Samaritan, determined to make at least one hundred outbound calls that day and every day for at least a week to chase down my billfold.

Call #37. My blood pressure is roaring at about 200/150 at this point, but I put on my 'game face' voice as I dial the next number on my list.

"Hi, Citibank called and told me you found my wallet?"

"Oh yeah! Hey I found your wallet Sunday morning ... "


I quickly make arraingements to meet him in SF that afternoon; turns out he was an out-of-work transient, and I gave him a $50 reward and my heartfelt thanks.

While my bank cards and related effects were safe (I had no cash in my wallet at the time), there were a number of irreplaceable items of sentimental value that I didn't want to lose; after a roller-coaster of emotions, Wednesday ended with my billfold back in my custody and my obsessive-compulsive win-at-all-costs personality further vindicated.

Now back to beating my co-worker's high score in Minesweeper ...

PS: Question for the RPG-geeks: does this experience allow me to recover a point of Willpower?

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