Think about the oddest “wrong number” phone call you’ve received. I remember picking up a voice mail left by a panicked homeowner—who was looking for a plumber. I guess the “Dennis & Laurie can’t come to the phone…,” didn’t make it clear we weren’t the local Roto Rooter. I hope they didn’t drown trying to bail out their basement before figuring out they had misdialed.
But the most persistent wrong number I received was when I was serving as a missile launch officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. One of our launch control centers, designated Hotel Zero One, happened to have the same four digit extension as the downtown Pizza Hut. If a hungry person on base dialed the three digit Malmstrom AFB base exchange but the four digit number for Pizza Hut they reached a nuclear missile launch control center, forty feet under the soil of Montana.
You would think that my standard greeting, “Hotel Launch Control Center, Captain Brooke speaking,” would be their cue this was not a place that delivered pizza. But several times a month I would answer the phone and then have someone place an order for a delivery from Pizza Hut. During the first few months I patiently explained their error, but, I have to confess, eventually I just repeated their order. I then told them to expect their pizza in in thirty minutes. I’d like to say that I was trying to do my part to create a more fit fighting force by depriving my fellow Airmen of grease laden pepperoni specials. In reality I was just annoyed.
The odd thing is nobody ever called back asking what was the hold up on their pizza delivery. I wonder how many got mad after an hour and called Pizza Hut versus those who just passed out on their sofa after their sixth Budweiser.
The award for the most unusual wrong number though has to go to my friend who was handling phone duty one day at the squadron ready room. The phone rang and when he picked it up he said, “12th Strategic Missile Squadron, Lieutenant Trahan speaking.” (Note that usually at this stage in the story I would say, “Names have been changed to protect the innocent.” I haven’t done that because he is in fact, guilty.)
A befuddled woman—evidently hard of hearing—asked, “Do you have any flights to Calgary.”
The astonished Lt. Trahan said, “Ma’am, this is a missile squadron. We don’t have any flights to Calgary.” Then being a quick thinking LSU grad he added, “We could get you there, but it wouldn’t be any fun.”
It might not have been fun, but man, what a ride!