How to Handle a Wrong Number

phoneEvery Friday night about 7 o’clock.

That’s when the call would come in.

“Is Maria there?”

The voice was always heavily accented, but the caller varied. Sometimes it was an elderly woman, maybe a grandmother; sometimes it was a gruff middle-aged man; sometimes it was a young woman.

“Maria? Can I speak to Maria?”

Every Friday night. Right around dinner time.

And each week I would explain the caller had the wrong number. There was no Maria here.

They acted puzzled. They would ask again for her.

Each week, the call came, every Friday.


They didn’t believe me. Did they think I was holding her hostage?

Sure, I could have just stopped answering the phone, but hey, it’s my phone, I pay for it, and somebody might be trying to reach me on a Friday night.

It could happen.

Weeks turned into months, and it seemed as if we were locked into a battle of wills. (“If we just call this idiot enough, he’ll have no choice but to let Maria come to the phone!”)

Finally, I was ready.

“Can I speak to Maria?”

“Maria?” I said, doing my best to sound confused. It’s not hard.


“There was an accident …

“The car – it just came out of nowhere …”

And then I did my best fake-cry.

“Oh, Maria.”


“She’s dead!

“She’s dead!


And then I hung up the phone.

That ended the wrong numbers.

Gee, I hope they reached Maria.

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