Shortly after moving to Canton in 2004, when the summer months finally rolled around, I took the time outside of work to try and meet some people. Not knowing anyone and being a little unfamiliar with the territory I looked at all avenues. This didn't have much success for the basic fact that I worked 3pm to about midnight and everyone I could meet and hang out with were either at home or sleeping (like most normal people).
I was by no means desperate, but I was hoping for a change in my social life soon and it did. Just not in the way I had envisioned.
One afternoon as I was preparing to head off to work, my phone rings and an unfamiliar number appears. As I answered the female voiced on the other end says, "Charlie?! Where are you? And how do I get to the gym?" At a loss as to who Charlie may be, I told her she must have had a wrong number. She apologized and we hung up. No more than a minute later my phone rings again and its from the same number. On a cell phone in her car the girl says, "I'm sorry I know I just called you, but would it be possible for you to give me some directions?"
This seems a little weird, but I'm game. I have only lived in Stark County for a few months, but I have a Stark County map on my apartment wall in order to help myself out with the new surroundings. Eager to help I consulted my map and gave her the directions she was looking for. Once she received her requested information and located her destination, we continued to chatting. Lauren tells me she's 21, a personal trainer and has just moved here from Hawaii. As our friendly conversation continues I find out she's the step daughter of Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson, someone I talk to on a regular basis through work.
Soon enough I have to leave for work, she takes my phone number and we agree to keep in touch. It was a friendly conversation that began in the most odd way and I figured I had at least found someone to hang out with.
I get to work and tell my co-workers, Sam and Marlene, about the phone call. I tell Marlene due to the fact the phone was so random. I tell Sam because I wanted to gloat. A 21 year old female personal trainer calls you out of nowhere and you hit it off, that my friends is what heterosexual dreams are made of!!
Marlene, using her damn common sense, begins questioning everything Lauren told me. It all seemed to check out....that is until Marlene remembered that Sheriff Swanson was married to his high school sweetheart. Better yet, he had no children. As much as I hoped she was wrong, I shrugged it off and thought maybe I misheard what Lauren had said. Marlene said she would ask Sheriff Swanson about it the next time she talked to him. Sam, on the other hand, was freaking out in a jealous reaction. I rubbed it in as best I could.
Over the next week or so Lauren and I spoke several times. Just shooting the bull and eventually agreed we should meet sometime. Seems logical. As I'm thinking about what we should do, she continues to call...and call....and text..and call some more. The next few days were nuts, this girl is calling and sending me text messages at all hours of the day. Even when I mention that I'm busy or at work, she continues to give me a ring.
At work Marlene jokes that Lauren is some sort of mental patient who has found her next victim. Sam, too, suggests the girl is mental but as any good man would, he says I should at least meet the girl to see if the "package is worth more than headache". In other words, if she turns out be smokin' hot how long am I willing to subject myself to the wacko in order to show off my trophy girlfriend.
Now I'm no longer thinking about meeting the girl. I'm wondering if this girl has a life outside of annoying me and how much of a burden it would be to change my phone number.
Back at work, Marlene finally gets a hold of Sheriff Swanson. She made sure to call him with me sitting at the desk next to her. Apparently she could tell the future. Swanson confirms the has been married one time and has no children, let alone step children. Also, he says a girl fitting Lauren's background (real or fake) was reportedly trying to buy a car in the Akron area a few weeks before and gave Sheriff Swanson's name as a potential a co-signer for a loan. He had no other information and, thus, couldn't follow up on it.
Lucky for him, I was his new found informant.
I gave the sheriff the name she had given me and her phone number. And pondered a way I could get her to stop calling me. Sam continued to say I should meet the girl, Marlene is telling me to ask the sheriff about the witness protection program.
As the next few days went by I answered only a handful of the what seemed like a thousand phone calls and text messages. I used the excuse of being busy at work, she bought it. Finally, when I was ACTUALLY at work, my phone rang. I checked to see who it was and, SURPRISE, it was Lauren the leech.
Marlene, who up to this point has found the situation funny, can see the consternation on my face. It was funny...for awhile, but it now has become a serious burden. Marlene takes it upon herself to end the annoying calls. I avoid answering the phone and toss it aside, but Marlene grabs it and answers the call. She calmly says 'hello' then asks, "Who is this?" When Lauren asks the same question Marlene answers, "This Craig's WIFE! I see you have called several times and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop calling. Thank you very much!" She then hangs up. I'm stunned with a huge smile on my face. As goes with Sam and our company custodian Mary, who bursts into laughter.
Looking like she couldn't be more proud of herself, Marlene says the girl was quiet and didn't say much. And seemed to have hung up before she did. Marlene says she just thought of it and wanted to see if it would get Lauren to stop calling. And it did! For three days I heard not a word from her.
On the four day after being told I was married, Lauren did call. It was after I had come home from work and went to bed. The phone rang, seeing that it was her, I answered to see what she had to say. I was curious. After my quick 'hello' she says, "I cannot believe you are married?!" Not wanting to drag it on, I said 'yup' and hung up. Though I was relieved, I was still curious to know if she was a whack job or I if had just made a huge mistake. Sam's words continued to haunt me.
I didn't hear from her again.
Shortly thereafter Sheriff Swanson called to let me know that by using the phone number I gave him he tracked Lauren down. He confirmed here name was Lauren, but that was about the only truth that I knew about her. She wasn't 21, but 19. She wasn't from Hawaii, but from right there in Canton. She wasn't his step daughter, just some deranged girl with a vivid imagination who lived with her parents (who are still married by the way). She could have been a personal trainer, but you wouldn't find many of them who serve Whoppers part-time. Though Sheriff Swanson tells me that she was cute...for a teenager.
He also said he gave her, and her parents, a stern warning about what may come from any additional phone fantasies or attempts to use his name in any unlawful way.
"Dude! You missed your chance!," Sam says through a hearty laugh. I think he was just relieved that Lauren didn't turn out to be who she said she was. That would have really ticked him off.
Marlene holds back the laughter, but the phrase "I told you so" was written all over her face. I'm a little disappointed, but happy to know I wasn't taken for more than just my trust.
I never heard anything more from Lauren. Though, still to this day, I'm very good friends with Sheriff Swanson. I may live and work in Akron now, but still call him through work. In those calls I refer to him as dad and he refers to me as his son. Nice to know he has a sense of humor about it.
But a few things still remain unsolved. In that original wrong number call, who was Charlie? Why didn't she know the directions to a location that was just three miles from her in her own hometown? Who was she trying to call to begin with?
We will never know.