Off By A Number

The first phone call arrived late summer. The caller was looking for Joyce. I assured her no one by that name lived here and she’d misdialed. Giving it no further thought, I hung up.

Until it happened again the next day. This time the caller was male, and he linked a business name with Joyce. I droned out my spiel. No business or person by that name existed at this number.

By the end of the week, and after half a dozen similar incidents, I sensed something amiss. When the phone rang again, I asked the caller to read me the number they’d dialed and verified the name of the business they sought. The number was mine. I searched online to see if I could find a business website address.


The business was based in Harrisburg, Virginia. Four time zones away. Other side of the continent. The area code was different by one number. Problem solved.

Or not.

As the calls kept coming, I cheerfully explained to the callers they had misdialed and gave them the new number. Certain that everyone would soon find their way to Joyce in Virginia, I made a note of the phone number and busied myself with other tasks.

For about three weeks, the calls stopped. I’d almost forgotten about the incident until I answered another wrong number. I explained the problem one more time, frantically searching for the note so I wouldn’t give out misinformation. The calls were sporadic after that, one here, another there. I continued my cheerful explanation, wondering if the mix-up would ever end.

This week, I had just stepped into the shower when the phone rang. I dripped my way to the phone only to be met by a voice seeking Joyce.


I pulled up her website and toggled the contact button. I explained the situation and asked if she would please check her invoices and sales receipts—anything that might have a misprint on it—and get it changed. She e-mailed me back with a sincere apology and promised to find the error. Still amazed at how long one misprinted number could linger, I hoped  the problem had been solved.

Galatians 5:14 says, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

The phone’s ringing. Dare I answer it?  


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.