Thanks for the explanation tynman, but I am still not sure. I have used numerous gun stores all over my State plus several different FFLs which were gunsmiths (one works out of his house) and/or pawn stores. In every case, I had my NICS check completed and out within a half hour. None of the folks knew me personally. I have watched them on the phone during the NICS check writing down the approval number. The only ID they have ever requested was my drivers license.
If it was a NICS temporary approval number, then I am really surprised. I will have to ask the next time I buy a firearm.