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Dial 7 For Murder

, , , , , | Right | January 13, 2022

I work in a residential group home for individuals with physical disabilities. By some odd coincidence, our office phone number is only different from our local hospital by one number: a one instead of a seven. This would be only a little annoying, with the usual amount of mistaken calls, except that the hospital’s website uses a font that makes ones and sevens look almost identical. Since I know exactly what the problem is, and I know the number that people actually want, it’s normally a quick five-second exchange each time I get someone asking for lab work, a patient room number, or a doctor’s name.

Not this time.

I was working one day when the phone rang, and I answered it with my usual spiel.

Me: “Hello, [Agency], this is [My Name] at [Facility]. How may I help you?”

An older lady replies.

Caller: “Hello, I’m calling for [Doctor]. My husband had a test last Thursday and I need to know what the results are.”

It’s obvious what happened.

Me: “Ah! I’m sorry, but I think you’re trying to reach [Local Hospital]. Their number is just one off from us. You need to call [correct number].”

The woman on the other end seems to acknowledge me and hangs up. A few seconds pass and the phone rings again. I think to myself, “It couldn’t be…”

Me: “Hello, [Agency], this is [My Name] at [Facility]. How may I help you?”

Caller: “Yes, hello? I’m trying to reach [Doctor]’s office because I need to know the results of—”

I cut her off at this point, trying very hard not to learn any medical information I shouldn’t know.

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but this is still the wrong number; you need to call [correct number] for the hospital.”

Caller: “I’m not trying to call the hospital; I’m trying to call [Doctor] about the results of [test]!”

I’m surprised by her sudden aggression, but I assume she just didn’t understand. I now regret that.

Me: “Ma’am, this is a residence, not a hospital. We don’t have any doctors here and we don’t do testing of any kind. Please call [correct number].”

She hangs up then, and I hope for the best. A few minutes pass, and then, of course, the phone rings again. I see the caller ID and groan.

Me: “Hello, [Agency], this is [My Name] at [Facility]. How may I help you?”

Caller: *Practically screaming* “You need to train your people better and get me [Doctor] right now! This is inexcusable treatment! Your idiot staff has been trying to give the runaround and I’ve had it!”

I’m not paid to do customer service, and I have clients who need help, and I’m fed up.

Me: “Look, lady, I can’t make this any more clear. You need to call [correct number]. We. Are not. A hospital.”

She screams something unintelligible and hangs up. A full ten minutes pass until the phone rings again. I recognize the caller ID and consider letting it go to voicemail.

Me: “Hello, this is still [Agency], this is still [My Name].”

Caller: “What are you people doing there? I need my husband’s test results and the little Mexican boy keeps giving me this number and I know this is the right number!”

I take a second to try and process that, trying to think if she’s calling someone else in between calling me.

Me: “Ma’am, this is a residential facility with no doctors and no ability to run tests of any kind. Please, look up the correct phone number for whoever you are trying to reach, and stop calling here.”

Caller: “You’re murderers! All of you are murderers! I need help and you’re murdering my husband!”

Me: “Ma’am, I cannot help you. Call the hospital, and they will be able to do something.”

The woman just shouted “Murderer!” once more before slamming the phone down. Fortunately, she didn’t call again. I do hope her husband got whatever he needed in time, but I have my doubts.

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