Ethics

For the week ending 12 July 2003 / 12 Tammuz 5763

Sorry, Wrong Number

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question

I have a telephone number that is apparently very similar to someone who is a "late-night bird". On a couple of occasions I have rushed out of bed to answer the telephone in expectation of an emergency call from a family member only to hear a lame "Sorry, wrong number" from the other end. What should be my reaction to such infuriating disturbances?

Answer

A friend of mine with a macabre sense of humor had a similar problem and would answer such late-night calls by saying "Good evening, you have reached the insomnia ward of the Bad Samaritan Hospital. Do you need help in falling asleep?"

In a more serious vein, you must view such disturbances as Heaven-sent challenges to your tolerance and temper. Please remember that the party calling had no intention to reach you and it is an understandable human error to press the wrong button. Perhaps the right thing to do when it emerges that you were not the intended receiver of the call is to gently suggest to the caller that he or she exercise greater care in placing a call, especially late at night. If the disturbance becomes a regular affair it might be a good idea to ask the caller what number he or she is trying to reach, and then to call that number and ask that party to either stress to his callers the need for greater caution or to encourage them to make their calls at a more civilized hour.

Bottom line: Dont get excited, because it will be much harder to fall asleep and you may end up needing the services of my funny friends insomniac ward.

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