A couple recently complained that they had been inundated by phone callers trying to contact God after a spoof article had given out a very similar number as that of the Deity. For a laugh I dialled the offending number.
“Thank you for calling God,” said an automated voice. “Calls are monitored and may be recorded for security, quality control and training purposes. Please enter your date of birth.”
Thank you. Please enter the first and last digits of your mother’s maiden name.
I did so.
Thank you. Please enter the first line of your address followed by your post code.
Thank you. Please wait while your identity is confirmed.
Silence … Then:
Please choose from among the following options:
If you want to speak to Jesus press 1.
If you want to speak to Allah press 2.
If you want to speak to Brahma press 3.
If you want to speak to Buddha press 4.
If you want to speak to the Emperor of Japan press 5.
If you want to speak to any other god or goddess please press 6.
Resisting the temptation to dally with laughter-loving Aphrodite, I pressed 1.
The voice resumed.
To help us to deal with your call effectively please continue to use your keypad. If you want to save a loved one from a terminal illness press 1.
If you want to shag Angelina Jolie press 2.
If you want to win the lottery press 3.
If you want your favourite team to win a major sporting trophy press 4.
For a statement of the balance of your unconfessed sins press 5.
For any other request press 6.
To hear these options again press the hash key. To return to the main menu press star zero.
I selected 4. (You better believe it!)
Thank you. Your call is in a queue. Your call will be attended to as soon as possible.
The Hallelujah Chorus came down the line.
After three minutes:
Thank you for your patience. Your call is important to us and will be attended to as soon as possible.
More Hallelujah Chorus.
Another three minutes later:
All of our lines are busy. We apologise for the delay. Please continue to hold and your call will be attended to as soon as possible.
I had just begun to think that, had I been anxious to save a loved one from death, I might well be too late when the heavenly music was interrupted by the ring tone and a male voice with a barely intelligible south Asian accent addressed me:
Thank you for calling God. My name is Archangel Gabriel. How may I help you?
I want to speak to Jesus.
I am very sorry. Jesus is on the other line just now. Would you like to speak to one of his special advisers?
The familiar automated voice returned:
If you want to speak to the Pope press 1.
If you want to speak to the Reverend Ian Paisley press 2.
If you want to speak to Sir Fred Goodwin press 3.
If you want to speak to Tony Blair press 4.
If you want to speak to Nick Griffin press 5.
As Barry Duke was not among the options, I reluctantly opted for 4.
Again the ring tone. Then:
Hi, Jack. Tony here. We’ve managed to get the waiting times at the call centre down to half what they were under the Tories. I’m a pretty straight sort of guy and Saddam Hussein must have had weapons of mass destruction. How can I help?
I want the Scotland football team to win the World Cup.
There was a long silence. Then:
Oh! You’ll have to speak to the Almighty about that. I’ll transfer the call.
More Hallelujah music.
Then, three minutes later:
If you want to speak to Jesus press 1…
I gave up.
• Jack Hastie’s piece first appeared in the June 2012 issue of the Freethinker.
Incidentally, a few years earlier a man from Greater Manchester was inundated with phone calls from people mistaking him for God.
Andy Green, of Irlam, Salford, shared the same mobile phone number as the Almighty – at least according to the 2003 movie Bruce Almighty, which featured Jim Carrey as a man who meets God and obtains his private phone number, shown on screen.
After it was released, Green received up to 70 phone calls a day from people asking for his help and forgiveness.
The 28-year-old sandwich shop manager said:
I thought it was a bit strange when I got calls from a couple of people last week saying they wanted to speak to God. People have been asking me all sorts of weird questions. One guy said he had no money so I told him to get a job.
Green was not the only person suffering as a result of the film. Dawn Jenkins, a Florida glassmaker, also had the same phone number and was receiving up to 20 calls an hour.