Tuesday Obituary: (+39) 375 704 xxxx

Tuesday Obituary: (+39) 375 704 xxxx

by Sahar Tavakoli

We regret to inform you that (+39) 375 704 xxxx is no longer in operation. Activated in the Fastweb kiosk of the Media World located on Viale Certosa, Milan, in late May of 2021, the account to which the number is linked will be suspended tomorrow as I prepare to leave Italy and return—at least temporarily—to the United States.

It had a difficult birth. In order to get the number, the provider required evidence of registration of residence with the state. In order to register with the state, one is required to list a phone number. The work-around was the kind of Rube Goldberg bureaucracy that, though derided by many other Western European states as demonstrative of Italy’s inability to effectively govern itself, has actually done wonders in stamping out various modes of financial crime*: a number would be assigned and that number could then be used to register residency with the state. Though active, the sim card to which the number was assigned would be kept in custody of the provider. Once registered with the state, and with the provision of additional documentation (a passport, birth certificate, Australian and Italian tax IDs, US Social Security Number) and a working mobile phone, the sim card would be made available in the same kiosk on Viale Certosa. The process took about a week and a half. The first message the number sent out into the world was to my mum. 

Unlike the questioning, at times suspicious, “hello?” of anglophone-calls, the Italian custom is to answer one’s phone with a confident ‘pronto'. It is a declaration that translates to ready, letting the caller know that their recipient is at attention, prepared for whoever summoned them forth and for whatever message they might be about to receive. Every call made to (+39) 375 704 xxxx was received with a lie. I was never once pronto. My Italian is not strong and people speak so quickly. Now, as I finish packing the last of my things, I wonder if I’m ready to leave Milan. Moreover, if I’m prepared for what is waiting for me in upstate New York. Like with (+39) 375 704 xxxx I will treat pronto like dua’ā. I’m going. My bags are packed and my documents are printed and stamped. Allahumma Salli ‘ala Mohammad wa Ali Mohammad: I am pronto.

For further assistance, or, if you have any questions, please contact your service provider. We appreciate your understanding and apologize for any inconvenience. (+39) 375 704 xxxx is survived by my phone whose battery is currently running a little low but who is otherwise in good health.


Sahar Tavakoli writes The Stopgap’s late news (10 letters). 

Tip Sahar