News & Politics

Watch Out: 867-5309 Isn’t Jenny’s Real Number

“Hello,” the recording begins, “this is not the person you were trying to call. You’ve reached the Rejection Hotline.”

It’s official. The smirk you saw after asking that fox at the bar for her number wasn’t just your imagination.

The national hotline, started by Atlanta’s Jeff Goldblatt in 2001 and which now gets 72,000 a month in Washington, was to be a service to both parties: The rejector didn’t have to make a public scene, and the rejectee could hear the bad news in private.

The message on the line offers reasons ranging from the justifiable—“Maybe you just weren’t this person’s type”—to the gross: “Maybe you suffer from bad breath.”

Sarah Swinton of Arlington got the number as part of a sororitywide e-mail in college. “It was something every savvy woman should know,” she says. Swinton, who works in advertising, carried the rejection number for about two years but was afraid to give it to unsuitable suitors.

Yolanda Nelson didn’t have such qualms. The 33-year-old Southeast DC native has given the number to about 50 men. Once she later ran into a rejectee.

“He said, ‘Hey! You’re the girl who gave me that crazy number,’ ” adding that the man then thanked her, saying it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.

Think someone might do it to you? Here are the three local numbers: DC, 202-452-7468; Maryland, 410-347-1488; Virginia, 703-912-1725.