You know those obnoxious guys you somehow gave your number to that now won’t leave you alone? The ones that text you all the time, calling to leave voicemails that at first seem charming, then sound desperate, and sometimes eventually turn even threatening? You berate yourself for giving the guy your number in the first place, wondering where your Girl Mojo was when you needed the courage to just tell the pest to bugger off, but sometimes we allow ourselves to be pressured into giving it to him, if only just to get him to go away. We used to give out a fake phone number, but the males caught on to that, and now rudely text or call us immediately after we finish rattling off the false digits to make sure that our phone vibrates when they press ‘Send’, thereby being able to call us out on our obviously failed strategy to get them to go away. Some might say that we were the rude ones to lie, but usually by that point we’ve tactfully tried declining to give our number in various ways (“Sorry, I have a boyfriend,” or, “I’d rather not, thanks”). They’re still the rude ones for persisting, so I say have no qualms about deceit! Alas, lying doesn’t often work like it used to.

We all know that we shouldn’t be afraid to just be bitchy when needed, and tell the guy to fuck off, you’re not giving him your number; but there are times we give it to him not out of annoying pressure. Sometimes we give it out of fear.

Tuesday evening found me in Glendale, California, walking back to my car in the Americana’s parking garage after a lovely dinner with a girlfriend of mine. Since I’d been running late when I arrived and parked in a hurry, I’d taken the nearest stairwell down to an alleyway, and had no idea where the main lobby entrance was. I was sandwiched between two huge buildings. I found that I couldn’t enter the parking garage the same way I had come out of it, as the stairwell door I’d taken onto the alley locks from the inside. I was wandering around the loading docks, trying to find a way up to the cars, when this long-haired, dark-skinned Asian guy comes bounding toward me.

“You don’t look like you belong here,” he says, winded, “where are you trying to go?”

“I’m trying to get to my car.” I explained the locked stairwell door situation.

“Oh, you have to enter through Nordstrom. Hey, do you model?” What a great line.

“No,” I tell him.

“Well are you Brazilian?” he asks, as if that was another great line. He’s staring at my chest this whole time.

So begins an awkward conversation that gets weirder and weirder. He told me his name was Jay, and then told me all about his past “modeling career”, and he wouldn’t give me directions to Nordstrom when I ask for them. He kept prattling on about how I should model because I have such a “lithe physique”, and the way his eyes were roaming my body creeped me out. I was only wearing jeans and a baggy tank top, but I might as well have been wearing a mini skirt with a push up bra. Suddenly the loading dock seemed very dark and quiet, and I noticed no one else was around and he was sort of subtly cornering me. I couldn’t easily get around him and onto the alleyway, and when I’d take a few steps toward that direction, he stayed in front of me. While his manner seemed affable, my intuition was definitely giving me unsafe signals.

“I know you just said you ate dinner,” he said, “but do you wanna get a bite to eat?”

“No, thanks.”

“I’d love to take you to dinner sometime this week.”

“Thank you, but I have a boyfriend.”

“Bring him, I’ll feed him, too!” What?? Then his hand goes to his jeans pocket and he pulls out a cell phone. Here it comes… “Can I get your number?”

I remind him that I have a boyfriend. Then he turns serious, and calmly says to me, “I won’t tell you how to get to Nordstrom until you give me your number.”

It was disconcerting. I felt like huffing away and telling him that I’m sure I can find Nordstrom on my own, but I also felt trapped and scared. If I didn’t give him my number, would my raped body be found in the loading dock dumpster the next day? These things frighteningly do happen. Still, I tried to fudge out of it.

“How about I take your number?” I suggested. Sometimes this is enough to appease the guy and get him to leave you alone, even though he knows you’re not going to call. Not this Jay fellow.

“See,” he told me, “I don’t give out my number to people whose numbers I don’t also have.” His brown eyes were so glinty.

I took out my iPhone and said I’d text him, so he gave me his number and I sent the text as promised. He checked to see that he got it, assured that he now had my number, and then switched back to affable mode. He told me how to get to Nordstrom, then asked if I needed an escort.

“No thanks,” I said, already anxiously booking it down the alley.

“I’ll walk you anyway.”

“I have to call my mom back,” I truthfully told him, “she’s waiting for me.” He shrugged and kept walking next to me.

I called my mom, and I wished that we’d agreed upon some sort of code so she would know that I was in an unsafe situation and just to stay on the line as long as I needed her. As we turned a corner and found ourselves surrounded by Americana shoppers, I felt more comfortable, but Jay kept following me all the way into the elevator, where I got disconnected with my mom. Jay followed me all the way to my car, even though it was apparent I knew where I was now, and even as I opened the door he wouldn’t go away. He was telling me he was a singer-songwriter, that he had tickets to so many fun things, and how much he wanted to take me to talk shows and concerts, and finally I just told him I really had to go and shut (and locked) the door. He smiled and waved goodbye as I drove down the ramp.

That’s how a man got my number when I obviously didn’t want to give it: by intimidating me. I could hardly believe he’d truly and effectively cornered me and basically threatened to keep me in the loading dock if I didn’t give it to him. Why a man would want a girl’s number who obviously doesn’t want to hear from him is beyond me. I think the challenge of trying to get it out of her becomes less and less about truly wanting to see her again, and more about a power play, a stubborn refusal to walk away rejected.

Since Tuesday night, Jay has been leaving me voicemails, all saying how much he wants to take me out, how he has tickets to this and that, and he’s texted me almost nonstop. I never once replied to any of it. Yesterday he texts me: “Hmmmm, so what’s up with the unreturned phone calls and ignored texts? Is everything alright?… Or are u just scared you might fall in love with me too quick? Ha ha I’m no heart breaker if you’re for real  but this is the last one if you don’t respond back right away. I’m flying soon.”

So I’m thinking, THANK GOD! He’ll finally leave me alone! Not so. He texts me a couple hours later: “Alright I think I need your help here. My brain won’t let me get you out of my head. What should I do? Lol”

So here’s what I did. I remembered an old trick that I haven’t had to use in a long time, since I’ve gotten ballsier at just saying no when a guy asks for my number. Back in the day I was too nice and didn’t want to hurt the poor, brave guy’s feelings, and I suffered the phone calls, guilt tripping texts, and huffy break-ups (um, sorry bud, but we weren’t even together). One guy was so pesky that I began to seriously consider changing my phone number. Then I thought, Why should I have to change my number, my business contact and personal lifeline that I’ve had for years, over a stupid, arrogant, ugly man who just couldn’t handle my rejections? I needed a new phone at the time, so when I was at the Verizon store and the helpful clerk was showing me how to set up my voicemail, I simply asked him if he wouldn’t mind recording my greeting for me. I explained that I was trying to rid myself of the pest, which he said he totally understood since he had sisters. The next time that douchebag called me, he was greeted not with my sweet voice apologizing for missing his call; he heard the low baritone of an Ebonics-accented man simply saying, “You have reached 310-***-****. Leave a message. BEEP!” He never left me a voicemail or sent me a text again.

I’ve used this little trick whenever I’ve found myself in those kinds of pickles, needing to rid myself of a fly on my tail because I succumbed to giving him my number. As I said though, I’ve gotten bolder about just not giving it out in the first place, so I’ve needed to use this trick less and less. My friends and family are always very confused when they call me and hear a man’s voice, leaving me messages that began with, “Um, I thiiiink this is Alice’s phone…?” Then they get a chuckle out of my craftiness when I call them back and explain.

I left Mr. Verizon’s voice on my recording for two weeks before changing it to the automatic robot woman, who simply said that, “310-***-****, is NOT available,” and I use that one to this day. Well, until yesterday. I was hanging out with one of my guy friends who happily recorded my voicemail greeting when I told him about my episode in Glendale. Sure enough, Jay called again last night, and this time he didn’t leave a message. The Male-Voice-Greeting works like a charm every time!

Thought I’d share the tip with you all in case you have any annoying/scary/pesky clingers-on that won’t go away. Instead of changing your number, just have your boyfriend or guy friend’s voice be your voicemail greeting for a couple of weeks. Usually the creepers don’t call back after the first time they hear it, but occasionally you might get the one that tries calling again a week later, just in case you foiled him. Which you did.

Gentlemen, this post was mostly geared toward the ladies, but I know you go through the same thing with crazy girls. She seemed fun and attractive at first, but now she won’t stop calling. You slept with her and now she has the wrong idea. Now if she’s your girlfriend, obviously I’d hope you’d clearly break up with her without hoping she’ll get the hint from your unreturned phone calls! But if it’s some girl that isn’t respecting your straightforward desire that she not call or text you, feel free to utilize myself or one of your lady friends to be your voicemail greeting to throw her off. This trick will probably work on females, too.

Just for fun, and in case you all somehow missed this hilariously appalling voicemail that was broadcasted nationwide, here is the link to a classic example of a douchebag pest that just won’t stop calling. Truly, this takes the cake as far as I’ve heard!