Don the Hero, Part 1

I forget how many times I’ve been a hero, but it’s alot. I’m like Batman. What’s my latest bit of heroism? I’m glad you asked.

Starting in December, I started getting calls on my cell phone from people saying they’d like to schedule a counseling session. It started slow. Maybe one each week. I would never answer these numbers I didn’t recognize, but I always listed to the voicemails they left me.

“Hi, I’m calling about your counseling services, I, um, am having a really hard time dealing with losing my husband.”

“My name is so-and-so. My husband and I are having a really hard time in our marriage and we’d like to schedule a time to do some marriage counseling.”

I think I got four such calls in December. They were interesting but I thought, well, everyone’s going to realize they dialed the wrong number and they’ll figure it out. I pictured one of those flyers on the wall at a coffee shop, with the slits of paper at the bottom, where you rip them off, take them home, and then call. I figured the guy wouldn’t get any calls, or the people would find his website and they’d all figure it.

In January, four calls turned into twelve calls.

“Hello, this is Juan and my sister is really hooked on drugs and she won’t listen to me and or nobody and I can’t sleep and don’t know what to do and I need to talk to somebody, please call me.”

“Hi, just calling again … I called a couple weeks ago and my husband is up for talking with someone about our marriage and I was told you’re really the person we need to talk with and please call me back.”

I just kept thinking things would all work out. I felt bad for these people. But surely they made more than one phone call or must’ve filled out an online form, right?

I felt like a voyeur, but I wasn’t hurting anybody. I would listen to the voicemails and then delete them …some of them were very, very lengthy and detailed and taking up memory on my phone.

In February, I got almost 20 calls. A few of the calls were repeats. And finally a woman left a message and she sounded so nice, and so desperate for someone to talk with, and because I was starting to feel guilt about all these people needing help and my not doing anything (because counseling people with real problems is not something I should be doing), I decided …something must be done.

This woman’s voicemail and plea for help wouldn’t leave me…

“Hi, um, I came across your number and I really need some help. I hear you do couple’s therapy and my husband and I really need …we …our son got really sick and it …our relationship …um …we try to talk about it and if this is something you do …that you could help with… [tears and a sniffle and her voice broke as she left her phone number twice].”

This voicemail came at about 9 in the morning and maybe I’m a sucker or too sensitive, but it weighed on my mind all day. She sounded so sincere. So sad. So broken hearted. All I could think about was I need to know what about their son. What do they try and talk about? I couldn’t take it anymore, so I called her back.

“Hi, my name is Don and I’m just a normal guy living in Michigan that has a New York City phone number and it’s a long story, but I’m calling because you left me a voicemail this morning about counseling and talking with someone and I thought I should call you back and tell you that you called a wrong number. And, I know this is a bizarre call, but you’re about the 30th call I’ve gotten about counseling and I just wanted to try and figure this out and get it fixed.”

This woman was confused but, luckily, didn’t hang up and was very appreciative…

“You’re obviously just a normal guy in Michigan, because nobody in New York is nice enough to actually call back and care this much…”

She explained she got the number from a website and told me the name of the company. I thanked her and went to the website. Sure enough it was a counseling service. I scrolled around and the phone number at the top of the page wasn’t mine. The phone number at the bottom of the page wasn’t mine. The phone number on the Contact Us page wasn’t mine.

It was one number off.

And then a pop-up form popped up and there was my phone number. There was my answer.

So I called the owner of this counseling and therapy website and left a voicemail.

“Hi, my name is Don and I’m a regular guy in Michigan who’s been getting quite a few calls looking for counseling and help and I finally talked with one of the people and she pointed me to your website and in your pop-up form-fill, it’s my phone number. Just letting you know and thinking you’d want to fix that.”

This must be how Batman feels when he saves the day and drives back to the Batcave. Except, this good doctor (or therapist or counselor or whatever he is) called me back.

“Is this Don. Wow. I cannot thank you enough. I cannot believe I didn’t know my website had the wrong number and I can’t believe you called me and I’m so sorry you got all those calls.”

We talked for a few minutes. I said he didn’t need to apologize. I said I would forward him the half-dozen voicemails I had kept. He said, if I ever need counseling …free of charge. See? That was nice. Not all people in New York City are cranky big city folk.

I’m not a psychiatrist or licensed therapist, but in a way, I still help people …well, I mean I help them if they call and direct them to someone who can actually help them.

I’ll always wonder what that woman and her husband were going through with their son. Judging from the other phone calls, maybe their son is on drugs. Maybe their son is sick. I hope things are OK. But at least, because I’m a hero, they’ll talk with someone who might be able to make things a little better.

If you’d like to tell me how amazing I am, and you have my phone number …leave me a voicemail and let me know …I’m listening.

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