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Consider yourself very cool if you’re one of the few New Yorkers who managed to snag a 212 area code on your cell phone, because some people will do nearly anything to shed themselves of the dreaded 917s, 718s 646s or 347s attached to their name. As Ashley Granata of fashion website Fashim told the Wall Street Journal, “212 numbers are the new rent-controlled apartments.” Except, like most “old-school New York” trends, the coolness is based on myth.

The assumption behind the trend is that having a 212 number means you were here before 646 hit. Granata says, “I don’t pick up 917, 646, and definitely not 347. I think it’s not business-related…When I see a 212 I think it’s established and legit.” But as web content strategist Peter Feld points out, real New Yorkers (the platonic ideal of authenticity into which nobody can fit) don’t even have 212 cell phones! He says, “212 cell phones are a little phony, like fake vintage T-shirts. Real Manhattanites use 917 for their cell phones and 212 for their land lines.” Take that, hipsters.

Still, some are willing to do anything for a trend, even tread in some sketchy waters. When a 212 number goes out of service, it’s taken out of rotation for 60 days. Customers aren’t allowed to hold numbers, so the chances of landing on a 212 number when signing up for cell phone service are pretty slim. But there are apparently cell phone stores around the city where you can pick up the number discreetly. Nathan Folkman said of his new number, “I didn’t ask questions…Who knows? It was probably some mafia-run thing.” We expect the same thing will happen with 646 in 2014, when they’re expected to run out of numbers.

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