Saturday, October 16, 2004

Strange Things Make Me Happy

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Oh sure, I'd love to win the lottery or receive a surprise inheritance from a long-lost relative. But since those happenings are few and far between, I've learned to appreciate the little things, like finding a good parking spot at the mall or discovering that the wait time is only five minutes on my favorite rides at the Magic Kingdom.

I look at it this way: God must have thousands, if not millions, of people praying for a lottery win. Since there aren't nearly enough mega-prizes to go around, it's not realistic to expect Him to fulfill all those prayers. If you pray for something more realistic, like "Please let me make the next five green lights so I can get to the store before it closes," He can afford to be more generous because it's a much easier task. Over time, God has granted me many of these small favors. Sure, they're not life changing, but I am always appreciative.

Recently, another of my silly little wishes came true. To fully appreciate it (or maybe not), it's necessary to delve back a bit into Celebration's history. Originally, all of the phone numbers were in the 407 area code, with a prefix of 566. It was like the old days, when numbers started with a prefix (like my grandma's number, Fulton 4924, or Waterfall 5942 at my earliest childhood home). But instead of a word, you could tell a Celebration neighbor, "Call me at 5942," and they would know what you meant and add the 566.

Then, as the town expanded, a new area code and prefix was added: 321-939. By the time we purchased our home, that was the standard, and we were endowed with a newfangled number that marked us as Johnny-Come-Latelys. I felt a little better when one of our neighbors pointed out that the new numbers are NASA/Disney Word (321 = countdown and 939 = WDW), but I still coveted 407-566.

I should also add that I have a weird compulsion where numbers are concerned. It's not a Rain Man thing (I am a mathematical moron), but rather an obsessive-compulsive fixation. I like phone numbers to be simple and easy to remember, preferably with lots of repetition, like 333-3300 or 252-5222. Usually you don't get much say in your number assignment, so my Celebration phone number was less than satisfactory.

At the time we started our phone service, I was told that no 407-566 numbers were available, so I had to settle for NASA/Disney. The last four digits were a string of random numbers, although I did like the fact that they made a triangle on the keypad. At least that made them easier to recall. But the obsessive-compulsive part of me coveted the phone number bestowed on my next door neighbors, which ends in two zeros. They didn't request it; it was just the luck of the draw.

I rarely gave out our home phone number, since we usually use our cell phones. We got the land line mainly for DSL, so it got to the point where I would be startled if it actually rang. My husband also used it to dial in to work, so it was busy most of the time anyway.

But when I started my travel agent business, I discovered that he was often on the line when I needed to make arrangements with clients or to call in reservations to Disney Cruise Line. Cell phones are notoriously unreliable in Celebration, so it wasn't feasible to run a business while being dependent on the whims of variable signal strength. We have both T-Mobile and AT&T; AT&T is normally the more reliable of the two, but "reliable" often means only one bar. It's so annoying to try to set up a cruise reservation with your client's voice drifting in and out. I felt like that "Can you hear me now?" guy on the commercial, and that gets old in about two seconds.

We decided that it was time to add another line, and this time I was determined to get a 407-566 number. I wasn't enough of a dreamer to expect it to be a "good" number, like 566-5600 or 566-7788, but I didn't care as long as it was a "real" Celebration number.

A while back, on the Front Porch intranet, someone had been seeking a 566 number with the last four digits spelling out something relating to their business. Someone else suggested that they search the phone numbers they were interested in on the internet. If no listing came up, they could dial the numbers to see if they were assigned to anyone. If not, they could make a special request to the phone company.

Just for the heck of it, I plugged in the digits in my name, "Barb," with the 566 prefix, and also my four-digit address number. "Barb" was already taken, but nothing showed up for my home address. I dialed it, trying to think about what I would say if someone actually answered. But surprise, surprise...all I got was a recording that it was not in service. I immediately contacted Smart City, the local phone company, to see if I could claim it as my own.

Lo and behold, it was available! Now, not only would I have an original Celebration number, but it would be next to impossible to forget. If I could remember my home address, I'd know my phone number too. My husband likes the whole NASA/WDW concept, so our old phone line can be his.

Yes, I know that this whole thing is crazy. A phone number area code and prefix doesn't really matter in the cosmic scheme of things. There isn't a secret society of 566 prefix holders (or if there is, I haven't found them yet), and all of these digits don't mean a thing to people outside of Celebration. But in my number-obsessed mind, it's cool to finally have real Celebration phone number instead of a new-fangled one.

Coincidentally, the installation date for the new phone line is also my 40th birthday. I just hope that it will work; when our original phone line was installed, it took a week or two of back-and-forth before it was reliably functional. My husband is fully convinced that our two lines will somehow be crossed and that our DSL will cease to function. Or, worse yet, that our change will somehow have a ripple effect on our poor neighbors (since we're in a triplex, that is entirely possible).

But I am taking the glass-is-half-full viewpoint. Luck was with me to get my new 566-address number, so surely God will smile upon the installer as well and guide his hands to the right connections. We will be back home next weekend, and the line should be up and functional by then, so we'll see.

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