We’ve got a home phone now. We were given a phone number to go with it. Until very recently, the number we were assigned belonged to a man named Michael. Michael has debt problems.

It’s speculation, but I think Michael deliberately neglected to give his new phone number to all of the many companies and individuals he owes money to.

The first time the phone rang at eight in the morning I was excited. Who could it be?

Turns out it was a very insistent debt collector looking for Michael, and not at all buying my phony ‘American accent’. I hung up. And unplugged the phone.

Since then, we’ve received many phone calls of varying levels of politeness, all looking for the mysterious Michael.

Debt collectors all tend to call around eight in the morning. I’ve never gotten too much info out of them, so I don’t know if they’re all from one company and waiting for me to reveal an inconsistency in my story, police interrogation style. Or break down and confess that I am, in fact, Michael, or an accomplice who knows his whereabouts.

Or possibly Michael owes money to a legion of unconnected mosbters who coincidentally alternate calling days (though not times).

Actually, I’m not entirely sure that all of the phone calls are debt-related. But they are all looking for people who do not live here.

And it’s contagious: last night an unknown number rang Chiara’s mobile. I answered. It was a giggly teenage girl with a cockney accent, looking for a Jamaal. She was sure that I was Jamaal, and that my ‘American accent’ was just a hilarious and unconvincing prank. Until I hung up on her.

The lesson here is, I suppose, that I need to work on my accent. Either a more convincing American one, or an unplaceable, yet oddly convincing Eastern European/Korean one.

To throw them off Michael’s trail.

And also I need a job, because all these debt-related phone calls are making me nervous about what I’m going to do, post-graduation.