I live in Norway, which will be an important fact in the story, and at the time I was working a lot in the evenings, so I had the day off.
Well, the phone rang and I picked up saying "Hello" in Norwegian, obviously, because that's what you do. And then it got really mysterious, really fast.
After I had answered the phone, a woman blurted out in an almost breathless fashion the following phrase: "Someone just tried to call the childrens house..." In English, with a British accent. And I remember being so utterly flummoxed, I couldn't think of anything to say at all. Firstly because the person was speaking English and secondly because the statement itself was very strange. She continued relating how someone had just informed her about it, and that she thought it best to call right away, or something similar. I can't remember the exact wording.
At this point I had to tell her that I had no idea what she was talking about, which caused a sort of stunned silence, and then she asked who she was talking to. I explained who she was talking to, and after some stuttering she launched into a long, rambling explanation of how terribly sorry she was, that she had made a mistake, that somebody had left a message with the Consulate and again she must have called the wrong number. I agreed that this might be the case, and politely inquired who she was trying to reach, whereupon she almost pleadingly asked me to just forget about it, and that she was sorry to have bothered me. And then we said goodbye and I hung up.
Well, after this very strange episode, I sat there for several minutes just utterly baffled. I could certainly not forget about it. On the contrary, the more I thought about it, the more strange it seemed.
At the time we had an ISDN phone, which I had gotten from work and didn't know how to operate properly, so I pushed several buttons trying to get the caller logs. Which I couldn't find for some reason, but I distinctly remember it being a national number. So not an international call it would seem.
Then I began going through the whole conversation in my head. Although English is not my first language, I am fluent enough to recognize that "Somebody just tried to call the children's house" is not a very logical opening phrase. Children being in possession of a house is perhaps not in itself mysterious, but it is certainly uncommon. I briefly considered it being some kind of reference to an orphanage, but that would still be a strange way of saying that. Why not use the term "orphanage"? She spoke (to me at least) perfect English, like a native speaker, without any trace of accent or dialect. So the whole sentence was strange. And why should it be such a big deal that somebody had, presumably, tried to call this house? The whole thing was a bit absurd. At the start of the conversation the woman seemed really concerned about this, and I got the feeling she got almost impatient with my stunned silence. She didn't try to explain in any way, as if what she said should be self explanatory and I would know what the phrase "children's house" referred to. And also then, I must presume, why this was such a big deal.
So the more I thought about it, the more evident it became (to me at least) that this had to be some kind of code phrase. The other thing that seemed evident was that the woman had panicked a bit when she realized that she had called a wrong number and now related this to a random citizen. In her panic, and eagerness to make it all go away, she had inadvertently mentioned a the word "consulate". I guess because she was a bit flustered. Which was perhaps not so wise, in the end, because that's what made me get in my car and drive down to the local police station.
I have seldom felt more foolish than when I stood at the counter, looking at the incredibly bored police officer, trying to report my "mysterious" phone conversation. I still remember him, sort of looking at me and asking: "So, you think it might be some sort of code, then?" I can still feel the color slightly rising as I write this, even now after all these years.
Well, what could I do? I felt like a fool, and said as much, but I just felt I had to report it, and now I had. He could do with the information what he wanted, because I had done my "civic duty" I felt. At that point he proceeded to make a phone call, while he told me to wait. After a short conversation, he buzzed me through a door and said that someobody would come and talk to me.
To cut an already too long story short, that somebody turned out to be from the PST (the police security services here in Norway). They deal with counterespionage and such, so in a way I guess this was a bit of a vindication for me. He took everything very seriously, took copious amounts of notes, and asked me several questions. After the interview, he even thanked me for reporting it, and then I got out of there. Still feeling a bit foolish, but not as foolish as I had when I first came down to the police station.
I never heard any more about it, nor did I receive any more strange phone calls. But it still bugs me that I will probably never get to know the real story of this whole episode. Was it really someone involved in something clandestine that succumbed to Murphy's Law and called the wrong number, or was it just some weird woman calling random strangers? Some kind of prank? In case it was, it was very well done, and she was a very good actor.
I still believe that it really was something that I shouldn't know about, intruding into my otherwise mundane existence, but there is no way I will ever know now after all these years.
And it bugs me a bit, still.