I’d like to share a few numbers with you: 4927262920202826, 5736282018082727 and 9284748495483838.
Those are some of the tracking numbers for the Christmas gifts I bought online last month. I copied and pasted them into the shippers’ websites to track their progress. Of course, those aren’t the exact numbers. I substituted bogus numerals above because I don’t want anyone checking out my purchases. One time when I pretended to put my real phone number in my column, readers called it and then emailed me saying they got some poor lady in Metamora, who I later heard had a breakdown because her phone kept ringing in the middle of the night. And whose fault is that?
I looked up the term for a large string of integers, and I’ve discovered a whole new lexicon: quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, tredecillion and vigintillion. I’m going to play it safe and just call them all gazillions. Whatever you call them, it just doesn’t make sense that tracking a package should require so many digits.
The code 783930404X9056 was the confirmation number for my online pharmacy cholesterol medicine. I knew there were a lot of people with lipid problems, but my mistake was just counting people on this planet. I also don’t know what that X means, but it scares the heck out of me.
Here’s a similar conundrum: My house number is 9623, and no matter how many times I count the homes in my cul de sac, I usually get six. Even after three cans of Heineken Light, the most I see is eight.
My friend Jerry works at a small company. When I call his office, a prompt says: For William, press 3056, for Jerry press 3157, for Adrian press 3021. Where are the 3,000-plus phones? Imagine if we all got this pretentious!
“Mary Ellen, it’s your brother calling from Oregon.”
“Which line, Dick?”
“Huh? We only have two phone lines.”
“I know, but I hope your brother heard me say that. How cool does that sound?”
Then there’s my computer. The model number is 367892JY. I called the company and asked how many different models they have. “About 40 over the past 24 years,” they told me, so I posed the obvious question: “Do you have a model No. 6 or 12 or 27?”
“No, Sir. I think those missing numbers represent defective prototypes that didn’t pass all the necessary tests.” This makes me really happy I never flew to New York on a 742.
The original Social Security card, printed back in l936 with the number 001-01-0001, was issued to a man named Morris Ackerman. When he retired, his first Social Security check was for 17 cents. He was thrilled with how generous the government was. They sure had his number.