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Musings On Phone Numbers And That Special One

After watching Wedding Party twice, I’ve noticed that one moment that gets the audience giggling is the part where the father of the groom, Chief Felix Onwuka (Richard Mofe-Damijo), had to answer a call from ‘Small Chops.’

 

Small chops were not on the menu, of course. It’s RMD’s code saved against the number of his lover to prevent exposure.

 

But like the real small chops, the fleeting sight of it alone invites curiosity. It’s only a starter but it is notoriously coveted.

 

Just as the movies imitate life, RMD is not the only one in the business of using codes to save numbers, and different people have different reasons and motivations for why they do it.

 

On Quora, the online Q & A platform, the question was posed, ‘What special name did you save your spouses number in your phone as?’ The answers were as diverse as they were interesting.

 

One Nishi Roy, who said she had been in a happy relationship for a decade now, said: ‘My sister’s phone rang one day and she asked me to pick it up and bring it to her. I looked at the screen and it said “Husband2. My mind went in every which way wondering, “What can this mean”?

 

She continued: ‘I did not want to invade her privacy or anything but I could not let it go. We were really close, so I asked her. I was ready for a very serious conversation when she said, “Oh, your jiju (brother-in-law) got another number for work purposes.”’

 

On her own phone, Nishi said she saved her husband’s number as “Husband”. ‘It’s important,’ she said, ‘in case I’m incapacitated and someone needs to call him.’

 

I’m told that in the U.S., it is recommended by the emergency services that people save their spouse’s or other next of kin’s number in the phones under the name “ICE” (In Case of Emergency).

 

Yet, ICE or not, people have different reasons why they save numbers the way they do.

 

In his book, entitled Memoirs of a ****boy, Andrew Cullum wrote, “My ex and I worked together. It was a very “proper” work area, very professional and stuffy. At the beginning of the flirting, she would say things like, “This is off the record, but I like your smile,” to which I’d reply, “Off the record, but I like your face.” For the longest time, that was both of our names in our phones – “Off the record.”’

 

There are those who, instead of using names, prefer to use ringtones or even an alphabet soup. Whichever method is used, how numbers are saved tends to reflect the relationship we have or what we think of such relationships – and sometimes, a desire for privacy.

 

For too long, however, that discretion has been left in the hands of just one party alone, with a lot of room for hypocrisy.

 

Can there really be privacy in world where our digital imprints trail us like stubborn flies? Just as new technologies emerge to help us secure our privacy, others are invented almost immediately to expose them. And they’re not necessarily apps invented by hackers.

 

Three years ago, for example, a company in Israel invented an app that will allow “Small Chops” know exactly how her number had been saved in RMD’s phone.

 

The app, Noknok, takes names from the contact list of users and gives them an insight into how their numbers had been saved in the phones of other users – if they also have the app. It uses the same permission as apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat.

 

So if “Small Chops” and RMD were using the app, for example, she would see how her number had been saved and maybe even ask RMD if that was really what he thought of her.

 

According to CBS News, which listed it as one of the best apps that year, within seven months of launch in 2014, the app had 1.3million users.

 

I once overheard a conversation between two women, which suggested that how the husband of one of them saved her number on his phone had led to a smouldering spousal dispute.

 

First woman: “Secret Weapon”. I could not believe it when I saw it on his phone.

Second woman (laughs heartily): What kind of name is that? Are you really sure it’s your number sef?

First woman: Something I saw with my eyes…

Second woman: I think he needs to tell you the truth o. “Secret Weapon” is pregnant with meaning. Why secret, eh? I won’t take it o…(her phone rings)

First woman: Ah, ah, what am I seeing on your phone?

Second woman: No mind the yeye man ja re. I saved his number as “ATM”.

 

With more and more liberating apps in the market, maybe we all need to install a few like Noknok that tries to bring a level playing field to relationships.

 

Yes?

 

Twitter: @azuishiekweneg1

The Interview Magazine

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