I was minding my own business at work today, busily responding to emails and brainstorming the best strategies for maximizing my department’s annual sales figures (or something like that, anyway) when the phone rang. This is when the randomness started.
“This is Sabila,” I said, by way of greeting. I was met by a brief silence. “Hello—“ I started to say when a woman spoke up.
“Is this Sabila K?” she asked.
“Why, yes, it is.”
“Hello. This is --- ----.” She paused as if her name meant something to me.
“How can I help you?” I finally asked.
“I realize your time in the office is valuable and I don’t want to take up anymore of it, so I’m wondering if I can email you.”
“What is this concerning?” I asked her, wondering if this was another one of the dozens of daily film rights requests that are for reasons beyond my comprehension, transferred directly to me.
“Well, I want to break into publishing—“ she started.
A wide-eyed, aspiring writer, I thought to myself and my usually iron-clad corporate heart softened a bit for this stranger. I started my speech about the importance of finding an agent and the fact that unsolicited manuscripts would not be accepted, blah, blah, blah when she interrupted me.
“Thanks for the advice, Ms. K. I eventually do want to be a published author but, for the time being, I’d like to work in publishing and would appreciate your insight as to how I can break into the industry.”
This was all sounding a bit single-white-female-ish to me.
“How did you get my contact information?” I demanded (politely, of course).
She chuckled the most monotonous and rehearsed chuckle I’ve ever heard. “It’s a funny story, actually,” she said, not sounding tickled in the least. “I was flipping through a book at the Strand yesterday and I found your card smack in the middle of it.”
“Like, what?” I asked.
“It was right there, in the middle of the book, tucked between the pages,” she confirmed.
It was my turn to grow quiet.
“Which book was it?” I asked, wondering where else in Manhattan my business cards were cavorting.
“You know, I can’t remember the title but it was a self-help book. Something about
being stuck in a rut and beating a dead horse and looking for new avenues in life,” she explained vaguely.
“Oooo-kay,” I managed to say.
“Yeah,” she agreed. “So, can I email you?”
Could I have said no to a person who already had my email address? I don’t know but I mumbled a “sure” and hung up on the woman as she was thanking me profusely.
How did my business card end up in a book that didn’t sound, from the stranger’s shoddy summary of it, like one of ours? Who was using my business card as a bookmark? Should I be offended if someone was, in fact, using my lovely vertically-aligned business card as a book mark? And, again, where else in Manhattan are my business cards slooting around, giving out my digits to strangers?
It’s all rather troubling.