I was at the Olive Bench Garden in KL playing with some dogs and having a field day taking photos with Aikee when my mother messaged me to give her a miss call to let her know that I’m safe and sound in KL. It’s probably a common concept of letting your love ones know you are safe, “Bao Ping An”, without having to incur the hefty overseas charges.
Of course these days we all carry mobile phones that comes with caller id so we’ll know exactly who missed called us. But when I was as young as 6 years old, my mother already taught me how give her miss calls. Whenever I finished school late due to enrichment classes or rehearsals, I would go to the public phone to give my mother one miss call with a distinctive 3 rings before disconnecting to let her know that I’m done and she can come pick me. At that time, mobile phones were practically unheard of and my home phone didn’t have any caller ids.
Later on in life, when I first went on travel trips with the school, I also learnt how to give miss calls to my mother to let her know I’m safe and sound. My family didn’t own a pager and neither was mobile phones popular yet. This was the time before Nokia released their famous 3210 mobiles. So what I did was to call the local operator to let them know that I want to make a collect call to my family back in Singapore. The name I used is “Karen Ashley MeiSze”. In case you misunderstand, Meisze is not my Chinese name but a code word. When my family picks up a call from the operator, they will reject the collect call but they already know that I have arrived and I’m well. Which is the meaning of meisze or Mei Shi! However if I needed any help, the collect call would just be under the name of “Karen Ashley”.
Fast forward to today and I still use the same trick! I don’t use call collect but I will use the miss call method. Not only for letting my family know I’ve arrived safely overseas but I also use it to call my overseas friends with foreign numbers to let them know I’ve arrived at the pre-arranged meet-up location!
Travelling the world, I learnt that it’s a common technique used among all races and countries. The Italians even have a word for it – “squilla il telefono”. In UK and Australia, they would say ” I’ll prank you” and in the Phillipines their word is “miskol”. In Bangladesh, the number of miss calls in their network is as high as 70%.
And just for interest sake, I even found out that the number of missed calls conveys different messages in different parts of the world!
2 miss calls – I’m running late.
In Syria, 5 miss calls – I’m online now, come find me to chat!
In Bhutan, the customers would miss call the farmer. The number of miss calls shows the number of milk they want!
In India, businesses give miss calls to their customers to let them know their goods are ready!