Tom Ross: Newspaper reporters get the strangest phone calls
January 17, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Old McDonald had a farm. And an oil patch. And an auto salvage yard, too.
It’s interesting to sift through some of the unexpected telephone messages a newspaper hack receives when his phone number is published in print eight to 10 times per week.
In the last six months or so, I've received two messages, spaced a couple of weeks apart, from a fellow seeking employment at my dairy farm, not just for himself, but for his spouse, as well.
"We're a husband and wife team, and we know dairy farming," he said.
I called the fellow back on both occasions and patiently explained that although I have a strange affection for the dairy industry, I don't have any openings down on the farm this winter. E-I-E-I-O.
When I think about it, I might be a wealthy man already if I owned a dairy farm with 800 cows chewing their cud, a couple of oil wells in the front yard and an auto salvage yard on the back 40.
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In addition to the messages about employment in the dairy industry, I have received two messages in the past 13 months from men in Oklahoma and Texas inquiring whether I have any jobs for roughnecks up here in the Sand Wash oil field.
Do I look like Jed Clampett to you? OK, maybe there is a slight resemblance (and up through the ground came a bubbling crude … oil that is, black gold, Texas tea).
Finally this week, I put down the handset after a phone interview and noticed my message light was on. I punched in the numbers to retrieve it, only to receive an urgent entreaty from a woman saying she needed to get her Audi to my salvage yard as soon as possible. She added that she also would leave a message on my cellphone.
I called her back in Ohio and explained that I am a journalist and do not have a salvage yard, but it's possible that five years ago I wrote a column about the treasures to be found at the local salvage yard.
She was confused at first, then chagrined.
"Well, is there a salvage yard in Steamboat Springs?" she asked.
I looked up the number of M&M Auto for her and I assume the Audi is there right now adjusting to its new neighbors.
You might be wondering why this is happening to me, and I've reached the conclusion that people are Googling subjects like "oil industry jobs Colorado" and some of the many articles I wrote on the subject in 2012 and 2013 are popping up. Without actually reading anything on the page, they scroll down, see my name and phone number at the bottom of the article and place the call.
The way things are going, it's a wonder people aren't calling the newspaper asking us to ship them heart-shaped boxes of infused chocolates for their valentines.
Uh oh. I could come to regret ever writing the words "infused chocolates for valentines." My phone is ringing off the hook as I write this.
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