Our Home Health Center
Closing ThoughtsOpinion

Our Home Health Center

Chana Shapiro's home phone number is confused for that of a health center.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

Recently, I began to get early morning phone calls that were intended for some kind of “health center.” At first, I benignly accepted these queries, but their frequency began to get on my nerves. When I stated that the callers had reached a private residence and I asked the number these women wanted (yes, always women), I learned that it was identical to mine and had been found online. I admit that it’s flattering that one’s home is considered a health-promoting location, and I do like to think of myself as emotionally nourishing, but you know as well as I do that something was amiss.

I don’t stay up late reading mysteries for naught. Here, a personal whodunit had fallen directly into my lap, and, using my well-honed powers of deduction, clarity of reasoning and Yankee ingenuity, I immediately knew what had to be done: identify the usurpers of my phone number (possibly for nefarious purposes), confront them, and reclaim that which was rightfully mine.

In order to do that, the name of the sought-after health center was key; however, when I asked exactly whom each caller wanted to reach, I got an embarrassed, mumbled answer or, more often, none at all. Typically, once I asked that question, I was rewarded with a dial tone.

I decided to take a different approach to solve the question of identical numbers. I needed the exact name of the health center the women wanted, then I’d find details on its web page, and I’d contact my phone service provider to clear up the problem. First, I needed the name of the place.

I was pretty sure that I knew what the callers were looking for. I decided to bypass the “what number are you trying to reach” and “this is a private home number.” Those responses, on my part, were keeping me from my goal. Maybe a caller could take care of the confusing identical phone numbers for me.

This week, I finally had the opportunity to fix the problem.

Caller: Is this the health center?

Chana: Which one?

Caller: (She gave me the exact name)

Chana: This isn’t their number, but I assume you’re looking for the abortion clinic, right?

Caller: It’s for a friend, not me.

Chana: I don’t know the number, but you can help your friend and me. I’m sure their address is on their website. Does your friend know where the place is?

Caller: Yes.

Chana: When she gets there, please ask her to tell them that their contact number is wrong.

Caller: OK. (hang up)

Now, knowing the name of the place, I went online. Sure enough, there was our home number. I called AT&T, our phone provider, and eventually reached Daphne, a customer service rep. She verified my information and agreed that our home number was correct. Then, while on the phone with me, Daphne went to the clinic’s website and saw our home number there, too. Alas, she couldn’t check the account because AT&T wasn’t the clinic’s provider. She offered to try to resolve the conflict, and she promised to get back to me.

Was I willing to wait around all day while Daphne did the dirty work? You know me better than that. I decided to go to the clinic and deal with this face-to-face. I got dressed, drank several restorative cups of coffee and re-visited the website to get the address. Wow! Between the time of my initial call to AT&T and my last sip of coffee, the phone number on their web page had been changed. One numeral was now different from mine!

Apparently, the day’s early-morning caller (her friend?) did let the people at the clinic know about the identical phone numbers, and whoever’s in charge of the web information made the correction. I immediately contacted Daphne at AT&T, who was as delighted as I at the happy ending.

I’d like to tell future generations that I heroically revealed and corrected a crucial internet mistake and subsequently led to its clarification. Well, if not that, at least I can honestly claim that a mystery was solved, starting in my own little home health center.

read more: