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Ricky, Don't Change My Number

By Jocelyn Geboy in News on Dec 18, 2006 8:37PM

A couple of weeks ago, the Sun-Times threw up a little blurb giving the heads up that peeps in the 630 and 815 area codes are probably gonna have to start dialin' it up, cause we keep running out of phone numbers. Now, we're not big math people. That is, we know how to do our taxes and balance a checkbook, but we don't really remember how the whole permutation/combination thing works, for instance. So, we were a little fuzzy on how we possibly could be running out of phone numbers in all these area codes we have.

2006_12cellphone.jpgFirst there was the the 312/773 split. Then there was the 708 turning into 630 freakout as well as adding the 847 scenario. It had started to get so complicated. Was the call local? Was it over 15 miles? Was it really long distance to call Schaumburg from Naperville?

But we got used to those area codes. All was well. And then came the cell phone explosion. We kept hearing that we were going to "run out" of phone numbers. We kind of blew it off. Weren't there a ton of combinations of 7 digits? You'd think nearly 8 million numbers would hold us over for awhile, but apparently not.

Then to prove all of this, we recently got a call on our caller ID from someone we didn't know. Their area code was 224. We thought it was someone calling us from out of state. Not quite. It was just Evanston. Where did this new area code come from? We never heard word one about it!

For more enthralling information on area codes, continue after the jump ...

It turns out it's another way of generating more numbers, and it's called an overlay. Instead of creating a new area code with a geographical split (which allows you to be able to get an idea about where you're calling by the area code you dial), an overlay doesn't require anyone in the current area code to change their phone number. New numbers in that area get the new area code, and everyone in that area now has to dial one plus ten digits (1+555+555+5555).

We're not sure what the big deal is, really. A lot of people we know have cell phones from different states, and since nearly everyone has free long distance these days (on land lines and cell phones), when they move, they just keep their original number. And if we're really honest about it, we're not dialing anything. We look up people and hit "talk." That's what's really embarrassing. We used to be able to rattle off all of our friends' numbers from memory, and now ... we're one of those people who would be really screwed if we lost our cell.

We suppose we'll get over it. If we got over our parents' area code being changed, we can get over anything.

Image via Nemo's Great Uncle.