How Four Numbers Made Me Feel Welcomed

Pixabay: 526663. Free for commercial use; no attribution required“What’s your phone number?” I ask a friend.

“5226,” they reply.

I’m visiting a different state, and being given only four numbers bewilders me. Then I remember where I am. Everyone in the area has the same area code and prefix, so the first 6-digits are all the same. It’s been that way for a long time.

Even though they have to dial 10-numbers to make any call—yes, even local ones—they give out only the last 4-digits when asked their number. It saves time and locals don’t even think about it. I feel honored I’m still treated as a local, even though I moved away years ago. But I have family here, come back regularly and our family roots go back a few generations, so that counts for something.

It’s one of those things that remind me of small ways I feel connected to a place. If I had no history with the area, the 4-digit response to my phone number question would make no sense at all. It would remind me of my outsider status, like hearing a foreign word and having to ask what it means.

Instead, my moment of confusion is quickly replaced with familiarity. Right, I remember. That’s all they need to tell me. The rest of the numbers are known. With that awareness, I experience a sense of being part of the group. They didn’t have to translate for me. I knew the language. This was still home.

 

Photo source: 526663 on Pixabay


 

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10 thoughts on “How Four Numbers Made Me Feel Welcomed

  1. I have never heard of people only giving the last 4 digits. That’s pretty neat, though. Easy to remember.

    For years I have lived in an area with multiple area codes, so one had to provide EVERY. SINGLE. DIGIT. And then I moved to an area with… 2 main area codes. A few people assume you should know which one they have. It’s quite annoying since there are so many outsiders with different area codes that you don’t know who’s who.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think giving out all 10 numbers is way more common in more places (at least urban areas) these days. It’s not uncommon for people to have cell phones that were bought in different area codes. When they move, they often keep the old number.

      My mom remembered her first number. The entire thing was 3 digits. So my 4-digit story reminds me of that earlier era. And it is neat, and is the only place I’ve been where that happens.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. That does really smack of a tiny community. I remember when I moved here, there were only two prefixes and I had a four-party line. I think some of the older folks, recalling the single-prefix days did still use the four-digit numbers. Then people started asking them, “is that 247- or 259-?”

    Liked by 1 person

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