For the past 6 months my cell number has been mistaken for that of a drug user/dealer/possible gang member

For the past six months my cell number has been mistaken for that of a drug user/dealer/possible gang member. It’s been quite a ride.

It wasn’t long after I moved back to Hamilton from an 18-month stint in Northern Ireland (I moved there for the weather and stayed for the sectarian violence) and acquired a new, local cell number from Vodafone that the text messages started.

At first it was innocent enough, at least that’s what I thought.

”Did the boots fit you bro? If not what size are they?’‘ was the first one, sent late on Saturday night as I was about to tuck myself and my three little boys into bed.

”Oh dear,” I thought. ”Two mates, probably tradies, have gone shopping together for work boots and probably bought a pair on sale and one mate is checking with the other to see if they fit. What a good friend! Gosh, I am so glad to be back in New Zealand where men do things like go boot shopping together on a Saturday.”

So I replied.

”Oh, sorry, wrong number,” I said. ‘‘But I hope you get your boot size sorted out!”. I think I may have even used an emoji.

There was no reply but I figured they were just embarrassed they had send their message to the wrong number and being typical blokes didn’t reply with a ”Sorry, ha ha!” like I usually would.

Over the weeks more texts followed.

”You up cuz?” – that came one Tuesday about 4pm, I can only assume they meant, ‘are you up’ as in ‘are you out of bed and ready to start your day”.

It was the same number as Mr Shoe Shopper and I thought ‘Oh, poor guy hasn’t updated his contacts and doesn’t realise this isn’t his mate’s number’ so I replied – with another emoji – with some of my top shelf Mum Humour.

”I’ve been up since 4am, and that was a late start for me!”

There was again no reply but maybe I inspired him to put in some long hours of his own because about 12 hours later came this:

”You been drinking cuz? Can you come get me?”

And at 5am: ”Are you sober?”

My mystery messenger went quiet for a while after that – possibly sleeping off the world’s biggest hangover – but he soon returned, and with an updated resume.

”New stockz (sic) back in biz, green and bagz,” announced one message.

”On for 2nite only msg b4 1am 4 delivery,” said another.

I studied the messages. It was clear he wasn’t talking about shopping for boots anymore. I began to suspect that my friend hadn’t ever really been shopping for shoes and maybe it was a code for something and googled ”Are boots a code for drugs?” and found out that yet is was. So was ”baby” and ”chocolate” and ”Kate Bush” and that’s like basically the three phrases I use more than any other and I began to get paranoid someone had overheard me at the playground talking to my kids and thought I was some sort of drug king pin.

”Oh my god,” I thought to myself, ”do they realise they might come across as though they are talking about drugs?”

I went and made a cup of tea – and yes, that’s another code – and it dawned on me.

”I think they may be selling drugs,” I said to the cat. She turned and walked outside to stand guard by her patch of catnip growing by the chicken coop.

I don’t know what gave it away.

I didn’t know what to do and wrung my hands and re-read some of the messages, wondered for a while if it was actually harder to type ”2nite” instead of ”tonight” on a iPhone (it is) and then decided it would be best to ignore the messages and hoped they stopped coming. The thought of changing my number did cross my mind, but I have three boys three and under, zero time and about a million places my number was listed as the ”In case of emergency with my kids or cats please call this number immediately”. Getting a new one wasn’t a feasible option.

I wouldn’t get a text message for weeks at a time. I presumed the heat was on them or maybe they ran out of stuff to sell or whatever happens to your modern day drug dealer but in my mind I pictured them on some flash holiday somewhere warm, perhaps with a jet ski, partying with Justin Bieber and a giant python named Blondie.

But, like a casually racist comment from a Republican senator during a late night twitter exchange, they were never far away.

”What u up to mate u know any might b after some 6x9s for $30 got blocks and covers on them 490 watt jvc”.

”Hey mate just letting ya know we back up n running if your on the hunt”.

I was tempted to order something just so they could pick me up a couple of bottles of blue top milk and a loaf of bread from the dairy on their way over, reasoning it would still be cheaper than using Countdown’s home delivery service.

Christmas seemed a particularly busy time for them, they worked up until Christmas Eve, and took a couple of days off before New Year’s Eve.

”Few hours late but getting there now happy new years hope it was a good one n alls well”.

It was the only text message I got wishing me a happy new year.

He was back at it this week, with this:

”Hey we back in business just doing 20 tins this time round, sticky as tell all your friend lol”.

”Tin, what’s a tin?” I said to my husband. ”Do they put something in a tin for you? Why is it sticky? What is sticky?”

Then the toddler heard me say ”sticky” and thought someone was coming over to bring him a lollipop and then one of the babies was sick on the floor again and the other one crawled over and bit my hand and I started to think this is why there’s probably such a growth industry in pyscho-tropic drugs these days.

I expect I shall continue to hear from my little friend until their, ahem, personal circumstances change.

They don’t sound like they are in a hurry to change jobs, in fact they sound like they are having a bloody great time with their lot right now and I’ve never met a drug dealer in New Zealand but the one on the other end of my phone is quite jovial. I’ve probably passed them in the aisles at Countdown when they’ve been in to grab a few hundred rolls of tin foil and a couple of bags of corn chips and salsa.

So thank you, my mystery messenger, for keeping this housewife company over the past six months or so.

Stay out of trouble.


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