April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

One of the weirdest things about putting on your coat or jacket after months of not wearing it is all the weird things you find in the pockets. It’s like a time capsule. You get to find out who you were six months ago.

Apparently, I was the kind of guy who carried Advil everywhere. And a bentcher.

The first time of the year that you wear it somewhere—say, you pick it up in a rush on the way out to a shiur—you spend the entire time silently fishing things out of your pocket and making faces.

“Why do I have a fork?”

I also have ChapStick, a pack of mints with only one mint left (but it’s soft), and a wrapper from some food I didn’t want the kids to know I had. And one glove. One glove! Why don’t I have the other glove?

Maybe this is the other glove.

I also have enough receipts for a biographer to piece together the entire previous winter. (“And then, on December 12, he returned the floating wicks and bought the cotton ones in a size 8.” “Wow! He really is just like us!”)

Your coat has a million pockets, which you think is really cool when you first buy it, but you forget that some of the pockets even exist, so one day you find yourself pulling out things that might not even necessarily be from last year. Like I just found a pocket calculator in my Fall jacket. When on earth did I carry around a pocket calculator? Was I an accountant? How old is this jacket?

My weekday winter coat has at least nine pockets that I know of, including two that I have absolutely no idea how to access while I’m wearing the coat. They’re inside the coat, protected by a zipper that goes up and down, and the pocket is to the front of the zipper. Am I supposed to reach around my back to put my hand in?

But the most perplexing thing to find is a phone number scrawled on a piece of paper. That’s it. No name, just a phone number. Whose number is this? Why did I find it important enough to write this number, but not important enough to write down whose number it was?

“Nah, I’ll remember. How could I not? It’s pretty important!”

On the other hand, if it’s important, why didn’t I put it into my phone? After all, isn’t that what most people do nowadays? Because if you write a number on a piece of paper, you might lose the number. Whereas if you put it into your phone, then yes, you might lose the phone, but then your life will be over, and it won’t matter that you also lost the number.

There’s a school of thought that if it were really that important, you would have remembered to call the person. But then there’s another school of thought that if you specifically located a piece of paper to write this down, it must be important. Which school do we pasken like?

Maybe there are clues on the paper. For instance, is it on the back of a seating card? Is it on the back of a seating card that isn’t even your seating card? Then you know it’s important.

And let’s say it is important. Who’s it important to? Did you write it down for your sake or for his? If it was for his sake, and you didn’t call, why hasn’t he called you by now? Did he put his entire life in the hands of someone who can’t even remember to write down names with his phone numbers?

I’m still waiting for the day when phone numbers are more descriptive of the people who have them, rather than being randomly assigned numbers. They should be like email addresses, so you could at least have some clue. (“Who’s FunnyFace613? Is that a prospective employer, or the shul president?”)

And what if this number doesn’t even belong to the person who gave it to you? What if you got this number from a mutual third person, and that was the person you ran into? Now you have two names you don’t know.

So where do you go from here?

I suppose you can just call the number and solve the mystery. But let’s say you do call the number; what will you say?

“Hello, this is Yankel Friedman.”

“Who?”

“I have your number on a piece of paper, and I have no idea why. Do you?”

“I’m calling the police.”

“I tried! They weren’t very helpful.”

You’d think having a name that some people know makes it better, but it actually makes it worse.

“Hello, this is Mordechai Schmutter.”

“The writer?”

“Yes. I found your number, but I don’t know your name. What’s your name?”

“That’s funny. You’re probably going to write about this, right?”

“Obviously.”

“Well then I’m not giving you my real name.”

Though this might explain something: You know how you occasionally get a phone call where the caller begins with, “Who is this?”

“I don’t know; you called me.”

What I’m saying is, maybe he found your number in his coat pocket. He wants to beat you to the punch and ask for your name. If he waits long enough for you to ask for his, your next question is going to be why he called, and he’s going to be expected to know.

By Mordechai Schmutter

 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

 

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