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Wrong Number, Wrong Attitude

, , , , | Right | April 11, 2022

I work in assisted living as a carer. Our setup involves a collection of bungalows that are rented out to people who can’t live independently and an office that we are based in at one end of the lot.

One of our service users is a severely disabled man who is non-verbal and doesn’t have the capacity to manage his own bills, so his sister and social worker make decisions for him. I am allocated to him one morning when I hear a strange beeping.

I start looking but it stops, and I give up only for it to start up again a little later. Eventually, I realise that it is coming from a strange phone I hadn’t noticed before by the door. I pick it up and someone answers.

Caller: “Hi. I wanted to pay a bill, but your office is closed.”

Me: *Slightly confused* “Oh, I don’t handle bills. Is this for Mr. [Service User]—”

Caller: *Cutting me off* “Yes, but this was the number to call!”

Me: “Well, this is a private phone, so you would need to call the office directly.”

Caller: “But the number to call was this one!”

Me: “I’m not sure why that is but I can’t process bills.”

Caller: “Then transfer me.”

Me: “I can’t; this is a private number.”

I see a manager walk past toward the office.

Me: “Hold on, I’ll ask a manager. Is this about Mr. [Service User] or someone else?”

Caller: *Silence*

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “Are you transferring me or what?!”

I decide I’m not dealing with them anymore and go outside to call the manager over. The manager is as confused as I am but picks up the phone.

Manager: “Hello, I’m the service manager. What is it you are trying to pay?” *Pauses* “And is this in relation to Mr. [Service User] or one of our other service users?” *Pauses* “I’m sorry, but you’ve called a private number—”

The caller’s voice audibly rises.

Manager: “This is a care facility. I don’t know why this number is on your bill, but we can’t help you.” *Pauses* “I just told you this isn’t the right number. I’m hanging up now; please don’t call again.”

The manager hangs up and passes the phone back, shaking her head.

Me: “I asked her if it was about Mr. [Service User] and she said yes.”

Manager: *Shaking her head in exasperation* “I’m sure you did. I don’t know how she even managed to call that phone; that should be impossible!

Turns out the phone was installed a decade ago so that if someone rang the doorbell you could answer it and speak to them. That’s why I never noticed it before and why it beeped instead of a normal ring. We never did figure out how she called it.

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