Back in the days before Internet and caller I.D., I met a man through a personal ad named Paul B. We talked on the phone a number of times and I wasn’t so crazy about him, but decided to meet him anyway to see if there was any chemistry. There was something about him that I didn’t like, but could not figure out exactly what. He seemed very nice. He was intelligent, well spoken and funny. I decided I would meet him and see if I felt differently in person.
At the time I was working in Manhattan, so I told him to meet me on the corner of 53rd and Lexington. It was close enough to walk from my office without giving away where I worked.
The time and day came to meet. I left the office and took the short walk. I saw him. He was sitting in his big luxury car, pulled over to the side, where he shouldn’t have been parked. I knew it was him without his saying so. Not liking what I saw, I decided to keep walking. Realizing that wasn’t a nice thing to do, I walked around the block and came back. He was still there waiting for me. I again didn’t like what I saw, so I decided yet again to keep walking.
My conscious got the best of me and third time was the charm. I decided to stop and say hello.
I approached the car and asked through the passenger window if he was Paul. He said yes and asked why I walked by so many times. I told him I was nervous. He asked me to sit in the car with him to talk for a few minutes, and I told him I would, but I was leaving the door opened while we talked. He thought I was ridiculous but said ok.
After talking for a few minutes, I was more at ease. I also found something about him slightly attractive. He had pretty eyes, beautiful teeth and a nice smile. I like to try to find things I like about people.
I had to get back to my office and he asked if I would meet him for coffee one night after work. I agreed to meet him for a cup of coffee a few days later.
We met in a diner located in the county where I lived, but nowhere near my home. We had coffee. We talked. We said goodnight.
I didn’t necessarily have a bad time, but still without a reason I could not identify, I did not like him. Frankly, he gave me the creeps.
He called a few days later. I told him nicely that I didn’t feel any chemistry in person and wasn’t interested in seeing him again. He asked if he could still call to say hi. Trying to be nice, I stupidly said yes.
He called almost every day for two weeks. I never answered his calls. Finally I took his call and told him I had been away and didn’t want to talk to him after all because I didn’t really even see a friendship developing between us. He begged me to continue speaking with him and to meet him one more time. I must have said no 100 times. At this point I was still nice.
I decided to change my tactics. I agreed to meet him but had no intension of showing up.
As expected, he called the night I was a no show and he left a message for me. I still remember his words and tone of his voice. He was condescending yet very calm. I could hear shakiness in his voice. I don’t know if it was due to anger or if it was him being upset, but it was definitely there in his voice – emotion.
I never called him back.
Around two months later I started to receive phone calls in the middle of the night and early morning hours. The person never spoke. They only breathed heavily into the phone. They remained on the line until I hung up. They never hung up first. I started to sleep with my phone off the hook.
After a few weeks of these calls, I tried to contact the phone company. Unfortunately, they were on strike. I spoke with someone who explained that a trace couldn’t be put on the line due to the strike, but I should keep a diary of date and time of calls.
My phone rang one Sunday afternoon and I answered it. It was Paul. He “just called to say hello.” I was very freaked out and told him I wasn’t interested in saying hello. He didn’t say anything, so I hung up.
The night calls continued and the person didn’t say anything. Then I started to receive messages on my answering machine during the day. The messages were in what was supposed to be a disguised voice, but it was clear who it was.
The first messages talked about my appearance. The second message talked about my bad attitude. The third message was what I wore to work that day at such and such address. He gave my work address.
At this point I wanted to call the police, but because I met him from a “kink” ad, I was too embarrassed.
The calls continued – both the night calls and the sporadic messages. In the messages he always gave some kind of personal information about me. It was mostly addresses and telephone numbers, including those of my sisters and finally my home address.
I called the phone company again and was again told there was nothing they could do at this time. They told me to call the police.
During these weeks I started dating someone. I told him all that was happening. He was upset and started staying with me. The calls happened almost every night I was alone and they never once happened when he was there.
My boyfriend told a friend about the calls and the friend asked him if I knew the guy’s phone number who I thought it was. I knew the number he gave me originally. My boyfriend’s friend told him about a cross phone directory, or a reverse directory. It was a phone book that listed phone numbers in numerical order. Once the number was found, it gave the address it belonged to and the owner’s name.
We called local libraries but none had a copy for New York City (where Paul had told me he lived). Finally, I called the New York Public Library and they had a copy.
My boyfriend and I trekked into Manhattan and to the library, only to find a dead end when we looked it up. All it said was “business number.” When we investigated, it was a roll over line to a business phone number.
The calls continued.
One day I decided called the operator. I simply dialed “0.” I told her that there was an unfamiliar phone number on my phone bill and gave her the phone number. Maybe because it was a business, she told me the name of the company to which it belonged! It was a real estate company, but not a big franchise name. This was my first victory.
Instinct told me, based on the kind of car he drove and his clothing, that he had a lot of money. I guessed that he was an owner of the company. I looked up and called the main number for the real estate business and spoke with a secretary. I told her I was a secretary at (made up a company name) and that my boss left a letter for me to send to the owners of her company, but I couldn’t read his handwriting. I asked her the name of the owners. She asked if I knew if the letter was being addressed to the father or son. Knowing his age, I figured he was the son. She gave me his name.
The name she gave to me was not the name of the person I knew. The name she provided was a biblical name. A Hebrew name.
In order to confirm my suspicions, I asked a male friend call the business, ask for him and talk real estate. I listened on a phone extension. It was definitely him. He had a very distinctive, gritty-type voice.
I now knew he was this person, “A.P.,” and judging by his name, I knew he was a religious Jewish man. Having already seen him, I knew he was not Hasidic, but I knew he was definitely Orthodox. I knew his business was in Queens, NY. He told me he lived in Queens as well.
I now worked for a different company and no longer worked in Manhattan. I was comfortable in that while he continued to leave messages, he never left my new work address or even mentioned that I changed jobs.
There was a an Orthodox Jewish man I worked with who lived in Queens. I told him all that had happened and asked him if he ever heard of the Real Estate business that “A.P.” owned. He told me yes but he didn’t know the owners. He said he would ask his friends if they knew him.
I knew that the religious Jewish communities in New York were very close knit and everyone knew everyone. I knew we would get something more.
We hit the mother load. One of my work colleague’s friend not only knew the guy, but was friendly with him because they went to the same synagogue. We found out he was married and had three children. We found out the name of his temple. We looked him up in the phone book and he was listed, so we now also had his multiple home phone numbers and address.
My boyfriend, friends and I started our counter-attack slowly. We called his home and one of the phone numbers was to his wife’s cosmetic business. We left a message on her answering machine to call Paul B. at the phone number he had given to me. We left this message two or three times, so she would definitely be familiar with the name Paul B.
Our next step was to call his home number. When someone answered, we asked for him by name. If they asked who was calling, we would say Paul B. We did this a number of times and would hang up when came on the phone and said hello. He never answered the phone himself.
We left messages for him at his office, home, temple and with his Rabbi.
My boyfriend eventually started talking to him when he would get on the phone. At first, all my boyfriend would say was “shame, shame, shame.” This lead to “thou shalt not commit adultery,” which then lead to him reciting passages from the Old Testament.
The non-speaking messages at my home continued, but the voice messages stopped.
Many months now passed since I began keeping a log of the calls made to my home. I finally called the phone company again and talked to someone in authority. They told me I never should have had to go through all of this and even with the strike, they could have helped me. It was a frustrating call, but a productive call. They completed some kind of report that was in conjunction with police. I never had to face or talk to an officer.
After only a couple of phone calls with the phone company, one day I received a call from them saying they would be tracing all incoming calls beginning on such and such date, which was a few days away . I believe I still have this tape recording of their message.
The day before the trace was going to be in affect I received a message from the disguised voice that said, “I will never call you again.” I do not know if it was coincidence or if he somehow knew the trace was going on the next day. He never called again.
Based on his knowledge of my attire and when my boyfriend was around, this person had clearly been watching me. I was very lucky in that he never approached me in person, and very lucky he never attacked me. I was additionally lucky that the few resources available to me worked in my favor.
I realize now how stupid I was. I should have contacted the police as soon as he started revealing personal things about me. I was young. I was stupid. I was lucky! Nonetheless, we definitely fucked him up!
I dedicate this piece to a new friend. She knows who she is.
I look at my life sometimes and cannot believe the things I’ve experienced. I told a friend tonight that some day when I am a old lady and I die in my sleep or during sex (lol), I will die knowing I’ve lead a very exciting and satisfying life.