Wrong Number

So I answer the phone, and this twelve-year-old girl wants to order a pizza.

“You have the wrong number,” I tell her. She apologizes, and that’s the end of it.

About a month later, it happens again. And I recognize the girl’s voice. I tell her, “Wrong number. Sorry.” Why am I apologizing? She made me get off the couch.

My phone is silent for many, many weeks. Until she calls again.  And this time (and I’m very proud of myself for my on-the-spot cleverness, because I did not plan this in advance) I say, “Okay, hold on a second,” while I reach for the order pad over by the pinball machine.  I’m going to put a stop to this.

“Okay, whattaya want?”

“A large pie (that’s what we call ’em in New York) with roasted peppers, mushrooms, and meatballs.”  (I love meatballs and mushrooms on a pizza.) 

IMGP7994 I’m at a loss for what to say; I’d never worked in a pizza place. “Uh huh …”

 “A Sicilian with pepperoni and anchovies …”  (I love anchovies on a pizza too.  Maybe I should move in with these people.)


I write the order in the air so that I know how long it should take. “Uh huh …”

“Okay … uh … mushrooms …” I’m stuck again. Stage fright.

 And then I put myself in my shoes if I were ordering a pizza, and I say, “What’s the name?”


Then I forget for a moment where I work; suddenly I’m wearing my Chinese food shoes. “Okay, ten—fifteen min.”


“Oh, uh … fifteen minutes.”


I jump back into my pizza shoes. “Yeah.”


I chuckle and think how I would give anything to be standing at the counter picking up my order when little Miss Higgins comes in for hers.

And then I forget about it.


A few days later, I’m in the paint/wallpaper/hardware store with my boss picking up supplies for our job that day. It’s taking awhile, so I go outside to wait. I start reading the matchbook covers on the ground, the 15-Minute Parking signs, the phone number in the window of the pizza place next door. The phone number … in the window … of the pizza place …

No, it’s not my phone number; it’s theirs. But the handwriting on the glass makes it look like mine. My number ends in 6778. But the pizza guy’s number ends in 6118, and the little hooks at the top of the ones could easily be mistaken for sevens. This is too delicious—one of those coincidences you read about only in fiction.

Later that day, my boss and I make it a point to go in there—instead of our favorite deli—for lunch. Because I just gotta know. And when Rico gives me my slices, I ask him, “So did Higgins come in here a few nights ago for an order and you guys didn’t have it ready?”

“Yeah. How’dja know?”

“Because I took their order.”


“Yeah,” I said. “They kept calling me, and I got fed up with them getting the wrong number, so I took their order.”

“That was you?!” Rico screams.” “We were lookin’ all over the place trying to find their order! Nobody knew nuthin’ about it!”

I really couldn’t help bursting out, and I almost sprayed Coke all over the place. When I stopped laughing, I said, “Sorry.” And I meant it. I liked Rico. And he was okay with it.

And the Higgins girl? Well, I never heard from her again.