When a Stranger Calls


A major part—and perhaps the most mundane part— of a receptionist’s job is to answer phone calls. But some phone calls aren’t worth answering.

At least six female receptionists on BYU campus received strange calls likely from the same man. While his motives are still unclear, the mystery man claims to know what the receptionists look like and proceeds to ask them on a date promising “not to tell their husbands.” 

Abby Clegg and Hailey are two receptionists who received these calls, and they also happen to be sisters.

“I got a phone call on the secretary phone at my office, and it said it was one of a private number,” said Clegg, a receptionist in the Chemical Engineering Department. “There was this man saying that he was a professor from the Salt Lake Center and . . . At the beginning of the call, he strangely dropped that he knew some information about me.”

Abby said the man started making fun of his secretary, talking about how she was young and from Idaho and was always looking at her Apple Watch. Only Abby is pretty sure he doesn’t have a secretary—he was describing her. 

He also claimed to know things about Hailey, too, who works in the Wilkinson Center. “‘You’re the one with the brown hair and the ring, right?’ I’m the only one that’s worked there for four months that was a girl and that was married.” 

It seemed the man had a fixation on the fact that each girl was married. He mentioned their wedding rings in both calls—he even asked Hailey if she ever took her ring off when she showered. But the fact that they were married didn’t stop him from asking them on dates. 

“And then he’s like, ‘So yeah, let’s go on a date,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that,’” said Hailey. “And then he said, ‘Oh, that’s okay I won’t tell your husband.’ He said that multiple times after I said no.” 

Abby’s experience was almost identical. “And then, after a few more strange questions I didn’t say anything to, he asked if I want to spend time with him, and he promised he wouldn’t tell my husband. And then I hung up the phone.” 

Hailey received that call almost a year ago. Abby—not even two weeks ago. When Abby filed a police report, she learned she was one of at least six other receptionists who reported receiving similar calls around the same time, calls that University Police suspect come from the same man. 

And while calls like these might not seem like a big deal to some, they certainly leave a mark.

“It just really scared me. I thought he’d call again; I thought he’d come into the office. I thought something bad would happen to me,” said Hailey. “It took a little while for me to work through that fear of maybe him coming back.” Like, my heart rate would rise whenever we got a phone call from an unknown or private number.”

And it doesn’t help to know there isn’t much that can be done to stop it from happening again, as Abby learned after filing reports with both the Title IX Office and University Police. “The Title IX Office told me that they don’t know why he knew those things about me and that I don’t need to worry about it,” said Clegg. “And then the police said that he didn’t do anything that was illegal, so they couldn’t go after him or anything.”

University Police did try tracking the phone number but to no avail. So for the time being, there’s only one thing receptionists can do: hang up.

*Last name withheld. 

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