Failure to Triangulate
I know this because I was assigned his old phone number.
As soon as the number transfers to me I receive heartfelt texts from strangers asking someone
named Jason how he is feeling, and telling him to get well soon. One by one, I let each stranger
know that Jason has changed his number.
Voicemails from medical offices, pharmacies, and Xfinity roll in, rapidly. Daily.
Xfinity wants their cable box back.
His medical bill at the physical therapy office is overdue. It's about to go to collections.
I call that one back, and I pay it off. I wonder if I'm committing a felony or some obscure state
law that prohibits paying a stranger's medical bills anonymously.
So I am forthright.
I don't know Jason, I say. I just have his old number. I don't want this to go to collections.
Ma'am, I don't care, the receptionist says.
Do you take VISA? I ask.
My friends intervene on my philanthropic behalf to google Jason, using the scant clues we have.
If only we can find him, we can tell his friends, family, and bill collectors which number they
can now use to reach him. For weeks, I am relieved by each random text message wishing Jason a speedy recovery, because
that means he is probably still alive somewhere. And yet, after a couple months, I admit that I am
a little irritated that Verizon recycled this number so quickly. I am a little peeved that Jason or
those closest to him have not yet issued his new number to his entire contact list.
Jason's birthday is November 28th.
I know this because I receive a text message that evening.
Nov. 28 - 7:51 PM
Stranger: dick licker...happy bday...
Stranger: Lol. I am looking for Jason. Sorry for calling you a dick licker. He called me that in one of the last text messages he sent me from this number. I will let him know when I figure out his new number.
Stranger: Sorry :0
Stranger: Thank you. I will tell him you wish him well. God bless and hope life is going smoothly for you.
Stranger: Thank you! Pray for me that I don't have cancer...just had some tests done.
Stranger: Thank you for that, because the anxiety has been the worst. Going into these deep dark thoughts. I know nothing good can come from them. Unfortunately it is difficult to control. Thank you though, just a wonderful idea.
Dear God, please take care of...I don't know this person's name. Let's just call him D.L. Please let him sleep well tonight, and let him hear good news tomorrow. Amen.
I sure hope Dick Licker rests easy. I sure hope he doesn't have cancer. I hope he will tell me the
outcome either way.
You know, maybe there is a bigger purpose here? Maybe I was meant to receive Jason's old
number just so Dick Licker and I could meet and form an unlikely friendship.
I imagine the two of us sharing this text exchange amidst uproarious laughter in a pub
somewhere. Jason will be seated on a barstool between us, and he will lead us in multiple rounds
of Irish drinking songs, for some reason. Jason will keep time by rapping on the bartop with a
Tiny Tim crutch, because the physical therapy could only do so much.
Large, overflowing steins of beer in our hands will splash and foam to the hardwood floors.
Where did that come from? I don't even drink beer.
In the movie about our unlikely friendship, Jason Bateman will play Dick Licker. Jennifer
Aniston will play me, probably. I don't know who plays Jason yet.
My friends think I am getting ahead of myself here, but they agree that a lasting friendship is
more likely than not. They wait, I assume, on the edge of their seats to find out how this
Nov. 30 - 9:17 PM
DL: Found out I am cancer free, thanks for the advice and well wishes.
Now all I know is Dick Licker's phone number and that he is free of cancer.
I still don't know if Jason is okay, and I still don't know his new number.
A couple days go by. I accept that this encounter will not become an All American screenplay
I tie off the thread.
A basic administrative sign-off.
Will you please let Jason know that his prescription is ready for pickup at the CVS in Evergreen, Colorado?