For those not familiar with the term, porting is the act of transferring a cell phone number from one carrier to another. Say you have a phone with company A and want to switch to company B and you want to keep the same phone number.

That’s porting, and the process is painful, but if you are luck it can be entertaining.

The painful part comes from the fact you are trying to get people from company A and company B — who are bitter opponents in the very competitive cell phone industry — to talk to each other. The old company has to cough up information about the account to its rival, and they just lost a customer. There’s an extra layer of red tape if it’s a work phone. Company B needs your business’s tax number and at some point they will want to talk to an “official contact.” They won’t tell you who, you have to figure out the name yourself. Here’s a hint: It’s usually someone hidden away in an uncharted corner of the finance office.

The fun part, I found, was setting up the voicemail. When I dialed in to get it going, I discovered that whatever computerized nook they gave me to store my missed calls still had some leftovers inside. It was like getting a locker full another person’s old stuff.

The former occupant’s name was Percy, according to messages left by a check-cashing business he frequented. Apparently Percy owes the business $97. One note told him they didn’t want to refer his account to the legal department for such a small amount.

There were a lot of messages from different people at the loan place. It took a long time to erase them.

Another message was left by a guy who described himself as the father of a girl Percy knows. He asked for a return call but didn’t hint at what it was about. Then there was a message from a female voice who sounded ticked off about something.

The messages dropped off after that, leaving me in the dark over how Percy’s saga turned out.

If you see Percy, tell him to call the check-cashing business. And tell him I hope things are getting better.

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