One morning in the summer of 1993 I was telephoning companies for the publisher I.V.A. in an effort to sell them advertising space in a publication going to China. That day I was using as a source the catalogue of a computer and telecommunications exhibition which had taken place in Hanover in March 1993: Cebit. (See also Entry 86).
The Cebit catalogue contained the details of about five thousand exhibiting companies.
Around 11:30 I tried, for the first time, to get through to a Danish company called Dansk Data Electronik A/S, listed on page one hundred and ninety of the first volume of Cebit; a book of over five hundred pages. From the U.K their number was 004542845011.
To my surprise I found that the phone was ‘answered’ without having rung properly and I was speaking to a man who sounded equally bemused.
Eventually I determined that I was talking to a Greek gentleman who was working for a company in Rotterdam called Behaviour Tech Computer. He was trying to dial out to a company in Poland.
My suspicions were aroused, and I flicked back through the catalogue. I found the details of this Dutch company forty pages before those of the one I had been trying to reach. Their number was 0031104049400.
I mentioned this coincidence to the man on line, and he suggested that it was clear that I must have mistakenly phoned his company whilst retaining the impression that I was dialling the Danish one.
But this is certainly not right, the two companies being forty pages apart and with quite different numbers.
And, even if I had - how to explain our calls intersecting?